I wasn’t excited for your arrival that night, your trek from Idaho to come to the concert I paid for for your birthday. I wasn’t excited, but I still made myself pretty. I painted my face, slid into a red dress, chose torturous heels for what I knew to be a two hour standing concert. All for you. What a fool.
You’d told me earlier in the week if there were anyone else I could take, you wouldn’t mind. It was a three hour drive after all.
It was your birthday present, after all.
don’t come if you don’t want to, i can’t force you.
See you in a few hours.
I got myself ready, swallowed hollow tears, and waited for your car to round into my cul du sac. You got out of your car, offered me a hug. I pretended to fumble with my coat.
You said I looked nice.
I volunteered to drive.
The car ride was awkward and stilted. You asked if I had heard that Gagnam style thing. I snarked that I didn’t live under a rock. You smelled nice and I hated you for it. Your scent hung off of your clothes, the scent I tried to steal during the rocky months where you kept me purposefully on shifting ground as you continued living your life, leaving me to doggy paddle through mine. You occasionally swung me a lifeline, touched my skin as if bringing me back to shore, then pushed me further out to sea. You kept me on a hook for four months. I visited your house a few times then.
I stole shirts from your hamper, shoving them down my pillow case and caressing them when I got home to my empty bed. I missed your basement home in our long forgotten college town. I missed waking up beside you, the smell of sleep and twisted sheets in the air. My bed smelled like me and soon I drowned your shirt in my scent from overwear. Each time I saw you I stole a new shirt. But your smell never stayed long. In my car that October day, I staring ferociously forward, you staring at my marble cheek, your smell was choking me.
Stop making me miss you. Stop smelling like you. Stop smelling like the person I thought you were. Don’t look at me like that. Stop ripping me apart. Tell me we’ll be ok. Go to hell. Love me again.
I didn’t speak a word. You spoke. I drove. I shook. I lost myself. You kill me. You killed me.
In line for the concert, I stood by myself as you ran back to the car for something. My luck, the only other people I knew at this concert were in front of me in line. He asked me how I was. Were you my boyfriend. I didn’t know how to answer. I pretended to choke on my gum. He said he liked my dress. His girlfriend said we were a cute couple. I choked on my heart.
In the sweltering venue, we stood close to the stage. You dwarfed me and suddenly hugged me. I felt small. Not protected small. Not loved small. Dejected, used small.
“I haven’t hugged you yet. You look wonderful, baby. I’m the luckiest guy in the room. I’m glad I came.”
With each song you pressed yourself harder into my back, pulled at my waist a little tighter, held my hand like you meant it. Kissed my head like you cared for me. I wept silently. No one in a crowded concert hall wiped my tears away. Your touch was like ice burning into my skin. I shook like a leaf in hollow winter winds. You swayed me with the songs. Your touch lied. I cried silently and alone, our love song playing around us for the last time.
After the show we sat in my car in my driveway. My neck was killing from arching during the concert. My back was knotted like a hundred year old tree. My stupid heels cut into my toes. You pulled me onto your lap and started rubbing my back. You didn’t see my smeared mascara. You just held your mouth to mine and pressed my head into yours. You snapped my neck in two. My heart exploded.
You reached for my skirt. I pushed you away. You ran your hand across my thigh. I tried to stop crying but your empty kisses swallowed my tears. “Come on, baby. I haven’t seen you in so long.”
you haven’t loved me for longer than that.
i guess i won’t see you on new year, will i?
Don’t say that, Em. You don’t know that.
how dare you.
Don’t you think this is hard for me too? I wish I could still love you.
i don’t care if this is hard for you. you deserve pain. if i have to rely on sleeping pills to erase you at night so i can breathe for five hours of sleep, you deserve pain.
We don’t have to talk about this now. Come here, I’ll rub your back. I’ll kiss it all away.
You were brave to say that. You were brave to think I’d ever let you use me or touch me again. I gave you everything. You took it all without a second thought.
i don’t believe you ever loved me.
Don’t say that.
if you ever loved me, you would have broken just my heart. You didn’t need to shatter my entire world too.
i hate you.
did you ever love me?
It was a long year together.
I screamed into your chest. For hours I screamed. You finally watched me crying. You finally saw the mess you made. And you tried to start crying with me. I beat my hands on your chest. Your apologies fell on deaf, broken ears.
I’ll stay the night you said. I don’t think you should be alone.
i’ve been alone for four months. you know that. leave.
You slowly left my car. I pulled into my garage. I shut the door. Locked it tight. I could smell you pressed on my skin and I gagged. Peering through my blinds I saw you sitting in your car. You looked surprised that I shot you down. That hurt the most. You still didn’t think you were wrong.
While you drove toward your home in those tired early morning hours I sat on my floor in a heap of your old shirts, ripping them apart with dagger tears, smelling nothing for the first time in months.