I think about you in the soft, tangible hours of the night when I can no longer find solace in the confines of sleep. When the night air leaking through my window reminds me of happier times spent with you, nuzzled in a haze of sunlight and laughter. Familiar times, when our smiles weren’t so elastic, our eyes not so hollow. We were the original versions of ourselves, new and soft, something time had not yet touched. It was like being young was all we had, all that mattered. I was too young, too in love with the idea of being free to see that the pain was already deeply rooted inside me. And it was just waiting, waiting for me to draw my sword, for me to throw the first punch.
Before I met you I was fascinated with hurting those around me. Not physically, of course not, but in every other way possible. I would plant doubt and hatred for themselves (and for me) in their minds just to see how they’d react. I liked to see the light disappear from their eyes, I watched how the confusion grew inside them, I waited for the paranoia and anxiety to suffocate them and when the moment came — I’d sit down in silence. I couldn’t stop myself, the disorder had taken root. The venom was in my veins, I was poison. The consequences for my brutality were just and you’ll understand why I’m writing this now, you’ll see the monster I made myself into.
You were an unfamiliar sensation, I admit. You made me jump whenever you said my name, whenever I felt you watching me. I hadn’t imagined you until appeared within my reach. And I couldn’t hurt you because I realized — you could hurt me too. I can see you now, you looked so out of context. Sitting at the edge of my bed with brown eyes searching, and finding mine unconsciously. A gentle hand patting a spot on the bed asking me to come closer. Your hair, blacker than the night surrounding us, growing past the nape of your tanned neck. A voice, like a velvet ribbon suddenly wrapping itself around me. I was rapt and completely inspired by every word that you let float into the small space between us. I was no longer myself, I was yours — something you melted in your hands, pliable and warm.
I wondered if this was love, or some variant of a sentiment I had no name for. It made me feel jolts of excitement lace the inside of my stomach, sending little of currents of electricity coursing through my skin. It would sit alone at night, in awe of what you had done to me. My hands didn’t look like mine, their contours were softer, less harsh and angular. You would catch me staring, and smiling, you’d take me by the hand. And we’d dance under the asterisk strewn sky to the sound of insects. Swaying like two palm trees in the breeze. The sound of gentle waves, like coy women’s voices beckoning sweaty men to their windows, the flicker of a firefly in the grass, squeaking swings, the sticky warmth of a summer night clinging to our skin were all precious things I tied to you hoping like a child does. Hoping, almost frantically, that you’d be happy here with me, a stranger to all your feelings.
We never expected love, at first. I was unfamiliar with the concept and all its connotations and you, you were just tired of it. But we lingered on, two strangers waiting for a train, anticipating its arrival with blank faces. Those ethereal nights always ended with you leaving too soon and me trying to savor every glimpse of you. Embedding the images into my skin, transforming each smile, every flush that crept onto your cheek into something permanent and incorruptible.
There were times when I thought I had only days left with you. You were drifting away from me; I thought it was because of something I said, something I did. I would watch you sleep and I’d lay my hand on your chest feeling it rise and fall, hoping the secrets you kept hidden inside would somehow escape. I wanted so badly to tie myself to you but I didn’t know how, I didn’t know what you wanted. There were so many reasons piling up in my head, I started to panic, unraveling inch by inch. Every minute cut me like a blade, every day I waited for you to come home and tell me to leave, became an ugly wound. But as I sat tangled in a web of confusion and doubt, cauterizing my lacerations, you were suffocating like a flower locked in a dark cupboard.
And I was the cupboard. I was the darkness, I was the absence of air. When you eventually called, I was ready to explain. I wanted to apologize but you already had your words lined up while I was trying to unstick mine from the inside of my throat. I remember finding all those memories of you and setting them on the bed hoping they’d give me an answer, while your voice, calm and low on the other line explained why you weren’t coming back home.
There were other nights, heavy nights with visceral hours that seemed to suspend me in air. Nights laden with regret, when I’d dream so profusely I’d reach for you in the dark space which once held the warmth of your presence. I would see us walking, without purpose, bare feet among the rocks of our favorite beach. Miles and miles unfolding before us as time tied us to the years we shared. We lived like seabirds, building our home out of the pebbles and shells we collected along the way. Growing old together, weathering two lifetimes simultaneously, like the rocks lining our gray shores. This recurring dream always frightens me the most because I know, it’s all chemical and electrical. Nervous impulses firing back and forth, forming successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily. I was caught between wanting this dream to be real and needing it to fade away — to whichever hell it came from. As I battled with the scar tissue of time I supposed that even dreams go somewhere to die, to leave this Earth.
Your absence has carved deep into me, the tough membrane covering all my mistakes came loose and I’m gushing once more, spilling myself everywhere. Leaving vulnerable parts of me in the hands of strangers; on car seats, smeared on skin that had no room for me. I was cut to my roots. My skin had been eroded away, I was muscle and bone once more, my soft contours had vanished. And you were somewhere far away, forgetting me, like a dream. I found myself returning to all our favorite places. I’d sit in parks and cafes waiting and hoping that you’d show up but you never did. So I let disorder and psychosis eat me alive. I let your memories fester inside until I was unrecognizable, barely human at all. I realize now that you were my punishment, the consequence of my brutality. The universe wanted to get even so it sent someone to hurt me — by loving me more than I could take.