I Almost Clicked Send, But Thought Better Of It

woman laying in orange bra
Jenny Woods

And just like that, I’m back on my bedroom floor. Here everything feels so still. Here I find it easier to breathe. Pulling the little threads up and out from the carpet, I feel exhausted. I’m getting a little tired of trying to pretend that nights haven’t been getting hard again. I’m even more tired of lying to myself and trying to ignore the fact that they’d be easier if you were here. 3 a.m. would feel a lot less threatening, even just knowing you were still a text away.

I guess the dark and ugly thing has found me again. This time downtown in heels and cleavage, hand in hand with my friends, waiting to cross the street to the bar like I’m not fantasizing about walking into traffic. It’s alive like Lazarus, and it shouldn’t be, and it’d feel a lot less monstrous if I could just talk to you. There are people here, but I’ve been alone since I stopped being able to hear your voice. I can’t talk to anyone the way I could with you. Nobody knows.

May is here and I’m still writing you poems on a weekly basis. I’m still telling myself I’ll stop. I still haven’t been able to. I’ve got that song on repeat, you know the one. I’m still creating playlists on Spotify and making them secret, acting like they’ve got nothing to do with you. I never tire of them, the same way I never tire of the ache, the same way my poems never tire of you.

Nights have gotten hard, my days harder, and I miss you.

I think about texting you. Your number is now unblocked, and it would be so easy to just say something and click send, my fingers hurt from the restraint.

I want to text you, so I text that bartender I met in Portland, instead. I let him tell me all the dirty things he’d do to me if I let him fly me there. The sexting is almost better than the drunken night we had together. I take pictures I shouldn’t for him. I know I should care more that there’s a few more floating around out there, but I don’t. I wonder what you did with the collection of the ones I sent you through the years. And just like that, I think about texting you again.

So I cut seven inches off my hair and dye it blonde, instead. I call it a lesson in letting go. I tell myself I can do the same with your memory, with you, with the electricity you left humming on my skin. But I go on a date and all I can do is think of you. Here’s an experiment: how many mouths will it take to rid myself of your taste? It doesn’t matter, I ghost every one. Here’s a confession: it could be my hands or theirs, but in that moment when I’m about to come, I have to try not to think of your name sometimes.

Here I am, trying to keep my hands over my bedspread, awake and alone. And it’s too late, or too early, whatever way you want to look at it. I keep thinking about the ocean. About losing myself in it. I just want to feel the sea on my skin and it makes me miss you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about reaching out to you. I think of what I would say if I were to text you, I type up little drafts in my Notes app, but nothing ever feels grand enough. Deep down, I know, I know, it would be a bad decision. I know that’s all you ever were.

But right now, I don’t care.

Right now I just want you there to tell me it will be okay, that I will be okay. I need to hear you tell me there will be good things. I want you to make me stop thinking about the ocean. Right now I just want your fingers in my hair and your mouth on my skin. Right now I would trip over the same damn rock, not minding my skinned knees. Right now I’m still getting high off your memories, you’re the reason for all the lighters and ashes in my bed. Right now I’d douse myself in kerosene, and hand you every single one of them and throw in a box of matches for good measure, just to be close enough to let you tell me you love me, just to let you hold me tight enough to pretend it’s not a lie. Right now I wouldn’t care if you left me with a fat lip from your kiss and sore limbs, and walked away after without watching me burn in your wake.

But the thing is, I’ve never learned how to open a door and shut it. I worked too hard to build a wall over the one that leads to you and I’m too afraid of where I’d be if I demolished it. I don’t think I could lay down the bricks and cement again.

I’ve been thinking about texting you. But where would that lead, except to heartache, except to wanting you more than I do now.

I imagine us falling right back into old habits. I imagine myself falling right back into you. We’d upgrade to pricey hotel rooms now that she has the left side of your bed. I couldn’t bear telling anyone that I’m handing myself over to you again. And then what? I feel guilty every time I kiss anybody because I can’t give them that piece I’ve only ever given you. I don’t let myself fall in love because you’re there. You give her a ring and then where does that leave me?

Second. Always second. My entire time with you I have spent it at second. I haven’t been the protagonist in my own story.

You know, I had this dream, we’d meet every year between our birthdays to celebrate them together. Every year we’d get that weekend to ourselves, to take a break from our lives, to be free. I see it going that way with just a text, and I’m weak enough when it comes to you to settle for something like it. Meeting up on other clandestine nights, lust, accelerant hearts, midnight lies, and hotel rooms. It’s all I’ve ever been to you.

I’ve been thinking about texting you because I miss you, because you make things better, because I want you in my life any way I could have you. But the only way I can is a way that hurts too much for me to be able to handle. I could live with that pain, I’m a masochist, but the thing is, there are things I dream about that you can’t give me.

I thought about texting you today but I don’t know if I could hear you tell me how much you miss me and love me. I don’t think I’d be able to swallow the lie. That’s all you can give me, right? Words. I miss you. I love you. A simple exchange for the things you’ve never been willing to give me.

I thought about texting you but realized that while I’m up at this hour in need of your comfort, there’s someone else there keeping you warm. There’s always been someone else. I’ve never been her.

I thought about texting you, but you’d just be temporary gauze over a bigger wound. You’d probably open it up more and make it worse.

I typed up a message to send you. My thumb hovered over the blue arrow on my screen. I thought about texting you, I almost clicked send.

I wanted to text you, but then I thought better of it, so I’ll cry on my pillow and comfort myself instead, and wait for the sun to make its way in through the blinds. TC mark

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