It is the time of the night when you find yourself drinking alone, lost in your thoughts. You savor the taste of a sour rosé like it’s a red vintage, holding it in your mouth like a promise, like a secret; cool, smooth liquid filling up the empty bits.
(The room is quiet, lit only by the cool glow of the TV. It seems the walls are leaning in. She reaches out her hand; a test.)
You realize you are hungry, but not for food. No, for months you have dined, allowing yourself the indulgences you would normally never have entertained – sweet, decadent chocolate ice cream; extra helpings of warm, rich pasta; gooey and sinful nachos, pulled cheese stretching in seduction. You’d learned to quiet the meanest parts of you, that counted and tracked calories, planned every meal for fear of accidentally gorging. Only once you’d decided to let your body tell you when it has been satisfied do you realize that food wasn’t what you were looking for.
(Her fingertips brush the wall. Ebony curls brush blush-hot skin. She is dizzy and blinks rapidly, catching glimpses of infomercials between thick, heavy flutters. “Definitely caving in,” she murmurs.)
For years you’d been starved, floating on air, running on the fumes of love and alcohol, caffeine and lust. Where one wasn’t, another was, and you’d shift between vices like a shadow, like the flicker of a flame.
You, oh, insatiable you, were never satisfied by these things. While basking in the delight of one, you couldn’t help but pine after another, wishing for the dreamy numbness of wine or the sultry distraction of rough hands on skin, skin on skin; before long, going overboard became second nature. The world shifting, spinning frantically as you realize too late you’ve gone from flirty and cute to messy and wasted; when you’re too deep into a relationship that was never really one at all—just pretty words and fake intimacy shrouding indifference, shrouding the convenience of you.
(The walls begin to shudder. Gently at first, but before long they are properly quaking. Dust falls from the ceiling, gray flakes like ashen snow.)
But you are proud, and stubborn, and all of the bitter things that fill you out, that thicken the soft exterior of your skin—armor of iron and wrapped leather. The things that keep you from breaking and shattering. Lean into the unpretty, you urge yourself, a half-assed attempt at self-love.
You reject her, the only one who will never leave you. And that’s who it’s always been, isn’t it? (She rubs her skin—it feels hot and scratchy, fireworks beneath flesh, sparkling. A candle burns, white flame dancing against the wick, casting shadows on the wall like spirits coming home.) For the first time in a long time, she feels full. For the first time in forever, she realizes she is enough.