When I Thought You Were Gone

Mitchell Orr

When I thought you were gone and the world would finally stop spinning, I did not account for the weight of breath in my lungs and the way my heartbeat turned into a ringing. I had believed, as the hopeful do, that your sting would be like any other pain. For months, even years, I told myself I would be the same.

However, you were never a band-aid to come off quietly. No, you were always a racehorse at the end of a tether, frothing for more than the world or I could give. You kicked up gravel like a trail of exhaust, but never exhaustion – you never tired of dreaming. I could barely keep up.You believed in the sort of love between the sun and the earth, the birds and the berries, but darling – I was only ever human. I could not give you all this. I became the bearer of bad news in everything, the unfortunate piece of your paradise. Even then, I knew I had to give you up. Nobody could tame a blind stallion, no matter how it quickly it could chase the wind. I could not love you.

Honestly, though – did you ever love me? I see why you would not – you could only ever love perfection, the perfection of yourself to which I fell victim. You only loved me for my sustenance, for the way I fed the holes that plagued your mortality. Because of me, you could pretend – you could survey the world with rose-tinted glasses and make up a fairytale. I made you invincible, but you never noticed how much of myself because part of you – how much I lost for you to have that power.

Perhaps now, I should not seek you. I should not miss the way you took from my life. But suffering is a guest that lingers long after the party, and I am the host, much too drunk to shoo him out. Instead, we put on a slow song, clasp dry hands and sway – this time, we are the ones pretending you are not gone. We forget the broken bottles crushed beneath our soles. Now is an eternity for the intoxicated and brokenhearted – trauma, sometimes, is the greatest comfort.

I do not know when this will end. People like you were beautiful at a distance and up close, but in my own palm you were the poison of the worst kind. Someday, I will once again take possession of the highways in my lungs and the ringtone of my heart. By then you will be elsewhere and unhappy; I will be a different creature, holes wrapped gently with gauze, and I will finally have a chance at my own paradise.

When I thought you were gone, I believed you had made a wasteland of me. I was mistaken. I may still not believe it, but this is not an aftermath – this is the promised land, the morning after, the rebirth. TC mark

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