You wouldn’t be surprised, and I’m sure you’d laugh, but I broke another phone. I had to pull out an old one and charge it. Sure enough, there you were. Text messages from trysts past. Pixelated nostalgia staring me in the face. I knew what I should do. I knew what I shouldn’t do. A sane person wouldn’t go through and read them, but you and I both know I’m a masochist.
(*) “Promise me you will pity marry me if our plans fall through in 10 years. Yes, I’ll build you a wine cellar.”
(*) “You’re a goddess. Never forget.”
(*) “Your snap made me smile. You make me smile. I’m thinking about your smile.”
(*) “I miss you Nat.”
(*) “Your eyes. Mesmerizing. A man could lose himself in them.”
(*) “Sometimes you look at me and I am afraid you see everything.”
(*) “Read that Mercury was in retrograde. Laughed n thought of you. It’s all just the alignment of the stars. Keep your chin up beautiful.”
(*)“ It hurts to know you’re in a bad place. I want you to find happiness in your heart.”
(*) “I was so fucking nervous before seeing you. I always am. But as soon as we’re together I relax and it’s like being home. You’re like home to me Nat.”
(*) “I’m not saying this to flatter you but you are the most beautiful woman I have ever and will ever lay eyes on. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.”
(*) “Keep a light heart Nat.”
(*) “I just left her place when I probably should have stayed. I didn’t want to spend the night. I was also thinking of you.”
(*) “I think the world of you Nat. You’re a fucking goddess. I wish you could see that.”
(*) “Every time I get a text from you I get giddy.”
(*) “He doesn’t deserve you.”
(*) “I don’t deserve you.”
(*) “I kick myself for not making you mine whenever I had the chance.”
(*) “Do you ever wonder what it would be like if we had made different choices? If we wouldn’t have gotten with the people we’re with now or the ones before them.”
(*) “I was never ashamed of you. I never wanted to keep you a secret. I never wanted to make you feel that way. I didn’t deserve someone like you. You’re something I can’t even reach. I never imagined you’d want more. And when I realized you did, I don’t know, I was young and stupid Nat, fucked off. I would take it back if I could.”
(*) “I love you for all that you are. I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t.”
(*) “I love you yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
(*) “We lay in the beds we make.”
I’m wondering if you’re happy in the bed you’re laying in. Does she let you hold her? Does she lay her head on your chest and caress that little area in the center with those few scattered hairs? What other beds have you laid in when you’ve rubbed up against monotony in the one you made? What other beds since I walked out of your life?
That’s all you ever did was visit. This body, a hotel for your hunger. You, a well-acquainted guest, its most loyal customer.
You always said you couldn’t think of any other way to describe what being with me was like other than transcendent. You always said there’d never be a day where you wouldn’t think of me. That you would always love me. I’m beginning to wonder if you even know the meaning to any of those words. I think you saw me more as a thing you could touch to keep your hands busy when you felt bored and empty. You couldn’t see me, much less love me.
I always wrote about how our love was red. It’s the color that came to mind each time I thought of you. Red like the lipstick you liked seeing smeared on your skin. Red like the blood on my swollen lip from your teeth. Red like the color of my skin under your vehement touch. Red like the wine you poured over and drank from my body. Red like the stains on your living room carpet. Red like my cheeks each time you spoke to me. Red like our fire. Red like our passion. Red like our violence.
Red like my scarlet letter.
There was nothing pretty about our feelings for each other. There were no colors. No red. Only black like the shadows you always kept me hidden in. Black like the cavity you burrowed right through my heart to make sure nobody else could find their way there. Black like the feeling dirty every time I let you inside me. Black like what it said about my soul that it felt so right, that I couldn’t quit it, that I still liked it. Black like a nasty little addiction. Black because there was nothing pure about the words you ever said to me or any of the thoughts you had about me. Black because we didn’t exactly start out innocent. Black because we’d go on to do worse.
I know this now. I think I knew it then, too. But you’d breathe in my neck, breathe in my hair and praise me, you’d tie me up to kiss me inch by inch and admire me, and you’d make me believe I was beautiful. I remember you making me undress in front of you, demanding that I embrace my skin for all that it is, and with the drop of each garment you repeated exactly that, “you are beautiful.” It was intoxicating. You were intoxicating. You’d pull my hair, bite me, squeeze me, choke me and spank me, like you were too hungry for me and being inside me wasn’t being close enough. You’d take my face in your hands and demand I look at you, caress my cheek with your thumb and tell me you loved me. Each time you did, your eyes were sincere enough for me to be able to pretend it wasn’t a lie.
I’d leave your place always with marks all over my body. Bruises forming from the way you and I made love. Little evidence of where you had been. Claims in your name to something you never wanted to keep. I’d carry them around the one wears a diamond ring. Like they spoke about your love for me. Like they were a promise. I’d carry them proudly. I’d wear them like my favorite dress. They’d fade from purple to blue to green to yellow to nothing. A lot like the way I felt. I could only wait for the next time I could walk through your door for you to greet me with your usual “I missed you.”
If you saw me now, would you say the same? Have you even noticed my absence? Did it hurt you at all?
I know I was the one who walked away without so much as a goodbye. But you should know by now that I was always weak for you. I couldn’t have done it any other way. You should know I walked away only because I loved you so much. I couldn’t have you in my life anymore and not be with you. I couldn’t keep sustaining myself on the little scraps you threw my way. I couldn’t go to sleep anymore knowing that if I wasn’t hearing from you it’s because she was curling herself into your side.
Losing you hurt more than leaving him ever did. I loved you more than even him. Walking away didn’t come easily to me. Slipping out the back door came with sleepless nights, came with crying because you couldn’t touch me, came with my body shaking at 3 AM. Walking away meant losing one of my best friends. It came with loneliness. Walking away came with a void in me so big, strange hands and a vodka coated mouth could not fill.
Cutting you out of my life was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but so was loving you.
I spent this whole time waiting for that Instagram post I’d come across that would tear me apart. The little jewel on her left hand that would have made my heart drop. My stomach lurching at each carat. Hers so timeless, traditional, diamond so white, big, clear and shining, where mine would have been black, maybe blue, some art deco dinner ring, sapphire glistening center stage, white European cut diamonds north and south, single-cut diamonds throughout. I’ve spent it waiting for that email from you telling me you’re sorry, telling me you still read my poetry, that you still wish things were different, but you’re engaged now. I wrote countless pages preparing me for either moment.
I wrote countless poems trying to deal with how I felt for you. I wrote volumes of poetry about the things we could have been. I’m exhausted. I don’t think I have it in me anymore. I think my veins are running out of ink for you. I can’t miss you anymore.
I am so very tired of being soft for you.
I’m getting closer to that point where I no longer wish it would have been me and you. Others were never enough. She’s never been enough. I would have never been enough, either.
If you see me somewhere, I won’t look the same. I swear to you, I have the same face, the same body you loved, but if you ever see me again, you will feel it, that you’re looking at a stranger. My eyes no longer warm, no longer wanting, no longer meltingly sweet, will look past you. They will not linger on any hair on your head for one second.
I am so very tired of being soft for you.
I am so very tired of loving you.
I can’t anymore. I don’t know if I’ve stopped, I just know that it’s not the same. I just know that I don’t dream about the lives you and I could have had. I don’t write about alternate worlds. I don’t curse the universe for placing me in this one. I just know if I ever came across that picture or that email, it wouldn’t hurt the way it would have before, I’d be number than a car crash. I just know that I want different things now, and none of those things include you. They include everything you would have never been able to give me.
You and I have always been a wildfire that could not be put out. We’ve always existed as flames, we have never been anything but. But I was always the one left doing all the burning.
I am so very tired. I am so very done.
I can’t anymore. I am so very tired of being soft for you.
If you ever see me again, please, please, don’t make eye contact. Please look the other way.