I Was Going Through My Clothes When I Found Your Shirt

It was just a Wednesday night. No one was home and I had my music playing—the kind of music you hated and would turn down if it came on the radio. Ballads of heartbreak and redemption, the kind people sing to with mascara stains running down their cheeks.

I was going through my clothes to give to my mom. Ones that didn’t fit, ones that were collecting dust from not wearing, or ones I simply didn’t want anymore. I got my bags out and started sifting through.

The Adidas shoes went in easy, still in their box. Baggy sweatpants and t-shirts I bought impulsively started stacking up. I went through every piece of clothing from sweaters to jeans. Nothing went unnoticed.

That was when I put my hands on the black dress. You know the one. The low-cut one that cinched at the waist with a tie in the front. The one I wore for dinner on your 26th birthday in Vermont last March. The one I wore with sheer tights and black velvet heels. You didn’t let me keep it on for long. Happy birthday to you.

Then there was the orange dress with white flowers. The one I wore on our one year anniversary with that white sweater. I had red lipstick on that you probably wanted me to take off. We went out for drinks after eating and you entertained yourself with your phone instead of me.

I found the black pullover sweatshirt. You definitely know that one—I wore it over your place all the time. Half the time it wound up on your bedroom floor.

My sheer shirt I’d wear with a tank top was out too. I wore it to the club, the place you never wanted to go. I missed out on a lot of fun nights with friends because you wanted to stay in. I should’ve gone that night you were acting strange.

My black shirts are still all together. I wore those often around you. I never felt the need to dress up.

The long brown skirt with the buttons in the front is front and center in my closet. The skirt you said I looked like a librarian in. Yet you had no problem lifting that skirt up to get inside me.

The bags filled up as I went along. I dumped the bin out to find two shirts. A simple black shirt, the one I would always steal from you to wear. I wore it to sleep when I couldn’t see you for a few days, just so I could have something of you with me. I wore it to work to get me through my shift. It didn’t smell like you anymore. I put it aside.

I found your work uniform shirt. The one you took off your back the night you broke up with me, all because I wanted something of yours to remember you by. When I begged on my knees for you to stay as you slowly faded out. When my tears choked back the words I so desperately tried to call out to you, only to be spilled behind the dumpster.

It had the sweat stains from all those times you walked in the heat. I’d always remind you to drink water—I worried like that. I couldn’t help it. I lifted the shirt to my face and breathed in. It smelt like you. The familiar Axe deodorant you’d put on before you’d come over to kiss me as you left for work in the morning. The aftershave on the collar that you used to wipe your mouth with.

As I held on to what I had left of you, I felt warm tears stream down my face. I tried to hold them back, wiped them on the shirt, but they wouldn’t stop. Because someone new is smelling your Axe deodorant and aftershave. Someone new is in your bed who you kiss before you leave to go to work in the morning. Someone new is stealing your shirts to have that familiar scent with them when you’re gone.

My bedroom floor became my confidant. It hugged me tight as the clothes scattered around looked on, frowning. The music still played in the background. No matter how many times I wiped the tears away, new ones would form just as fast.

I looked at both shirts and felt the soft fabric. How could something so delicate be so cruel and rough? With one swift tug, the thread came undone. A melodic sound as it ripped apart. Ripping every piece I could until it was nothing but scraps. I threw them into a paper bag and into the trash.

No longer will they sit tucked away in my closet to taunt me of my past. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I write about my past and what’s caused me pain

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