I never finished the book you gave me. It sits on the floor, an open wound like our last kiss at the airport. The day I invited him to my house I wrote the date you and I met on the first page. I slid our novel between a tome about love and another about empire. I said a prayer he wouldn’t see the sheen of nostalgia emanating from its pages so when I heard the bell chime I stretched a smile across on my face and opened the door wondering, is this our ending?
All the hopes my mothers had for me—that I wouldn’t fall for someone like you, broken in all the wrong places—sound as empty as his overtures feel. He is perfect. Achingly so. His face taught, mind bright, presentation impeccable, but I continue to wish he were raw. I want to see his skin peeled back, taste his marrow because I miss your eyes rimmed-red with the tears I could not stop from flowing.
Tell me you remember that night. The one when we were so drunk I couldn’t keep my hands off you even though we were on a dance floor and no one watching knew you had touched a woman before.
Tell me you remember that night. The one when you fell apart in my weak arms and asked me to hold you so tight I thought my wrists would break.
Tell me you remember that night. The one when you asked if we could try and all I could do was weep because between the distance and the pain words would not form.
Tell me you remember.
I yearn for the you you were before you knew me. The veneer of sugar charm and humor you use to mask the darkness underneath. Sometimes I wish you had stayed a phantom because the moment someone becomes flesh they can bleed. When you told me I was beautiful with your body inside of mine—pushed your reality inside of me—it was not the sensation I found overwhelming, but the confusing mixture of the sweet of your words and the salt of your anger. Thus trapped between the covers of a book and the forever of your maybe I chose the certainty of his ‘yes’.
I awake every morning too old for fairytales and too young for fiction. There I find you at the disappointed forefront of my mind, all prince charming and villain at the same time. They tell me there’s nothing better than his sleeping body next to mine. Then why, if nothing rivals the aroma of sandalwood and cedar rising from the baths I take with him, do I spend my mornings scanning screens for holograms of your face? When he asks from across the room, I lie. Because if I am honest, the truth of love is heartache.