And why am I still sitting in this bar, waiting for you to look at me and say you want to go home.
I’m listening to your friend’s girlfriend talk about poetry and how classical music is more legitimate than others and speak of her nihilism so that you don’t have to deal. She’s talking to me about her art as if it means anything that she only writes in moleskins so you can play your goddamn pool game and I’m just sitting here like.
The fuck is wrong with me.
Because I want to leave. I want to leave and go home and remember what it feels like to cry.
What the fuck have you done to me.
I felt better when I was around you. I felt whole, I felt like a better, calmer, more fun, more relaxed version of myself But today I feel like I’m trapped in the spin cycle of a washer Wrung out like a rag, twisted and misshapen
You asked me I don’t understand how I’m not hurting you But right now, you are. I feel like hell.
And I did this to myself And I’m doing this to myself the longer I stay The longer I let myself remain in this place where I am just inherently unhappy
You didn’t want me here I can see that Can you tell me to go home? Give me something to do other than chaperone for the people you don’t like Telling me to order your drinks, watch your shit, take your photos
Why can’t I walk out the door Why can’t I leave without saying goodbye Make you see I am the farthest fucking thing from okay
How is it your friends know more about my life than you do People I adore, who will be gone the second I develop the self-respect to say no, I deserve more
It is so inherently fucked That you told me you hate yourself So you don’t want to commit yourself to me And I hate myself so much But I just want to commit myself to you
I don’t want to hate myself I just want you to talk to me like a fucking human being And that one thing I’d asked you for To tell me when you’re done To tell me if you’re leaving me for someone you loved You can’t do.
So now, I sit here, rereading through these words, remembering my drunken self writing them and wishing they were more melodramatic than they were
But this is the truth
I thought I could handle your heartbreak and I can’t I hate how much I want you I want to be stronger, and I’m not. You told me you would hurt me, and you have.
That I’m suddenly reminded of things I thought were gone
Of that night in your garage Of you holding me steady, your hands on my knees, my hips, as I try to balance, reaching for something high above me Of the feeling of your smile
I don’t want you back I don’t want you back I don’t want you back
I hear a song,
And we’re back on your couch We’re doing nothing, together You’re telling me you like my legs Your roommate is making us drinks
Four months after you left I started seeing Someone Else. And he made me happy, for a moment And when he told me what you didn’t think to
When I felt the crack and saw him falling through I held on like he was a man thrown overboard Desperately trying to pull him back to me When he’d wanted to jump in the first place
He wasn’t what you were But I tried to convince myself he was Because I couldn’t do it again Couldn’t have the same reason twice in a row Couldn’t be the inbetween
The pause button
These things have been repeated in my mind, in my words, for so long, it feels meaningless to even try to write them out
Not that you ever would
You could come back to me, tell me you’re sorry
But I would want to say no.
How could I trust you again? I can’t live in fear of your mistakes becoming reoccurring nightmares
I woke up this morning And I don’t know why I thought of you
It’s been over a year since I’ve seen your face And I never told you then, and I certainly won’t tell you now But I loved you I want my love back I want my time and my secrets and my vulnerable words whispered in the dark
I don’t want to erase you But I need your ghost disappear Vanish under the cover of a smoke bomb And leave no trace of itself behind
Does that make sense? I want to be alone I don’t want to talk to you I don’t want to do anything I just want to be alone, but with you there
Because you won’t tell me I need to talk, or be anything other than what I am being And maybe just being with you I’ll be able to talk to someone Express the feelings that swallow me like a black hole Pulling me in Pulling me under You don’t ask that of me So I feel like I could give it
Does that make sense? I doubt it I’m rambling Sitting in a lavender scented tub with a damp notebook and a hand trying to fly away from me
I don’t want to tell you what is happening, but I also do I want you to know To help me lift some of this weight off my shoulders Not pick it up for me – you wouldn’t, and I would hate you if you tried. But just keep me company while I set it down for a while
A rest between sets A momentary pause To breathe And analyze where to go from here
Because in between the call that never came And the texts with no reply And the words still ringing in my ears Between the voices in my head telling me to stop Not to try That I will only ever fail, at everything
Because no, it’s not your fault that he’s a lying asshole But it’s on you that you said
“I’ll be patient.” “No, don’t worry about it.” “I promise it’s okay.”
When it fucking wasn’t okay.
Because you are the one that prides themselves on being chill. On never being called crazy, or at least, not to your face.
Because you have seen women, so many women, who let their emotions ride them and force men into that passenger seat. Who can’t let little things go.
But those little things add up. Those little things mean something. And chill does not mean that you don’t have emotions. That you feel nothing.
And because you’ve not been monogamous, you haven’t had a real, concrete relationship, you haven’t learned how to speak for yourself. To say, this isn’t right. This isn’t how I should be treated. You’re not my boyfriend, but you fucked up.
Instead you say You’re not my boyfriend, so I have no right to be mad. Even though you are.
And that’s on you.
For setting the standard so damn low and being annoyed when even that isn’t met.
Because my darling you deserve the moon The stars Flowers and hugs and kisses on the cheek. You deserve to have your hand held To be introduced as, ‘You know, that girl I was telling you about?’
Just because you aren’t monogamous doesn’t mean you are undeserving of respect
Maybe if you didn’t act like you knew you weren’t, and didn’t deserve to be, his number one He wouldn’t make you his number two
You’ve spent so much time bottling it inside, swallowing your emotions down, allowing tension to creep through your shoulders and to turn your muscles to cement to contain the feelings threatening to drown you. And when asked a question, instead of the answer you want to give, your flood may leak over, you may speak in nonsensical ways because you are not just batting with what you should say – you are battling with yourself if you should say anything at all.
And through the mess you see what you fear the most. That look of ‘You’re crazy.’
But now you’re sitting here wondering why he’s not texting you when you gave him carte blanche To treat you however he choose While you say ‘It’s fine, I’m here for you.’ While you’re dying on the inside Wondering what you’ve done to deserve this
And you did not ask for this level of jackassery You did not ask to be treated like shit But you did not demand better Because you felt you couldn’t
That, my love, is what’s crazy You know you deserve more
That someone fucking up your night and saying ‘I’ll make it up to you…Netflix and chill?’ Is not enough
That someone saying ‘It’s just so confusing right now, I know she wants monogamy but…you’re just so cool.’ And then taking her on dates but ignoring you for days on end, is not okay.
That someone saying ‘I promise, she means nothing,’ taking you home with them, then announcing on Facebook she’s their girlfriend is some cheap shit.
You are allowed to be upset. You are allowed to feel. And calling out this bullshit should not be your responsibility – but it is.
Because you have to be your own cheerleader Your own advocate Your own coach and overprotective best friend
Because if you don’t set that standard so high that it provides you shade is this sweltering sunshine
The door swings open, and I look up to say that we’re closing, I already did last call, but stop when I see it’s you. And I smile.
You’re wearing a faded shirt, and those dark jeans I love so much. Boots that are not weather appropriate. Your hair is a perfectly tousled mess, but you’re already running your fingers through it again.
“Hey,” You look around at the empty place, and stay by the door. “Are you closed?”
I shake my head.
“Not quite yet. You want something?”
You nod, and try not to look too awkward as you sit where I point, a seat at the end where I can be close to you.
“What does not quite yet mean?” You don’t open the menu I put in front of you.
“It means, I’m shutting down, but can’t lock the doors for another fifteen minutes. So, it’s last call, basically.” I smile, you don’t.
“Shut up and pick a drink.” I keep working, cleaning, running mats and tools through the washer, and try to ignore your eyes on me, remind myself how to breathe, keep my heart rate down.
You ask for the beer I already know you’ll want, and grab one out of the fridge, and pour a whisky for myself. I tilt my glass to you, and you tap your bottle against it.
You keep looking around, not sure what to do with your hands. You tell me, “I didn’t think it would be this quiet already,”
I shrug, and don’t say anything. I’m waiting for you to speak, to tell my why you’re here. But instead, you just keep drinking. So I turn around and keep working.
“You always close this early?” You ask. I shake my head. I lean against the shelves, looking at you, picking up my glass again.
“I don’t want to keep you.”
“You’re not keeping me.” I take a drink, needing something to do. I’m afraid, afraid you’re going to leave, afraid you’ll decide it’s too awkward, that you need the break of other people around, other things to be distracted by.
You say it as my face is turned, and I don’t hide my smile. Five minutes to go, and I’m counting the cash in the drawer. I move around to the front, decline your offer to help, and bring the sign in, turn off the outside light, and lock the door.
And now we don’t know what to do.
Because we need to talk. We really do. But neither of us want to. Neither of us know how to. There is so much there that we don’t have answers to. So instead, you ask me how much more I have to do before I can leave. I tell you, not much, and finish what I need to finish. You’re nursing your beer by the time I’ve finished and clocked out, but I need another whisky. Badly. Need something in my hands if you’re here, looking like you do. You smell like smoke and something else I’ve never quite been able to place.
I sit down in the seat beside you, and the corner of your lip tilts up in a smile.
“Do you usually have after hours drinks with customers?”
I shake my head.
“Emma,” You don’t know where to start, I don’t know where to start. But you’re here, and I want you to be here. And that’s enough.
But this is my problem. I don’t know what happens next. I think of you and how you’ll look and what you might say, but I don’t know from here. Because in my mind, this is where it ends. It’s you being there when I need you to be there. To show me that you care.
But this is not our story. This is not you. Or anything you would do. And I know this.
But when it’s late, and hot, and I’m about to lock the door I wonder what it would be like if you were there, hoping to be let in.
If I fill my calendar With drinks Coffee Lunches Work Training Sex Then I won’t think about you Right?
If I scan through apps like it’s my job If I search for something, anything, that’s like you but not you Then will I finally forget you? Will the memory of your touch flee from my mind? Will I stop looking up when I see someone who looks like you, not want to flinch away from them, because I see you in their eyes, their nose, their movement?
And if I keep my brain occupied enough, paint my nails to stop myself from biting them, focus on everything that is not you, then each day should be easier. If I let the days become a blur, will it take a month, two, three, before I can go back to the places you took me and the drinks we had together and not care?
And with each day I don’t hear from you, will it be easier to forget why I wanted to hear from you in the first place? Remember that you are replaceable, that you were the placeholder on the road to something better?
Or, is that how you think of me? As a temporary solution to a problem you wanted to ignore, to be cast aside when it was convenient?
I will never know.
Maybe with time My resentment And my anger And my hurt Will fade
And I can think of you the way I want to With a fondness and dull ache Instead of the bubbling of something I don’t know how to process when your song comes on Or when I see your book on my shelf The bottle on my counter
So I’ll preoccupy myself. And forgive myself that I need time, and probably will for a while.
And I will hope you don’t show up Making me start all over again Unless you’re there to stay.