You know, don’t you. Have always known. That it won’t be happiness that ends it. You learnt this many years ago. When, in some other loss, some other love, you discovered there’s no seducing sadness.
This is how you will lose him.
A small or sudden sorrow that separates. No crawling on your belly back. The distance, suddenly, too far.
Ruins to most people. But really, ruins are just evidence, aren’t they? That’s what you asked him once. Thinking about bridges, and wild weather, and washing away. But storms are easy. You see that now. You could swim across that suffering.
But this. This quiet, calm. The questioning. The way you can’t be his answer now. This is how you will lose him.
I’ll still know the date you said yes, still see the girl with her hand to her mouth and her back to the wall, surrounded by love and alcohol – these midwives who birthed her grief, and carried her, carefully, back into the world.
I’ll still know those next years by your door and its swinging. The calendar of words and reaching from either side, and the times we didn’t speak at all. How I left a trail of breadcrumbs all over the silence – and how you didn’t follow them home.
And I’ll know the times you did.
I’ll still know the last time I saw you, love. The last, last time, and I’ll count away from this day, as if it is my midnight, the end and the beginning of everything. Wondering still, in the dark of this hour, if the way you couldn’t love me – meant I couldn’t be loved at all.
I won’t meet you for that coffee. I will not sit in glaring light and hardened air, the hover of history between us. I will not settle down across from you, nerves tapping tabletops, our eyes never holding.
Pretending I don’t want to pull you close or feel your hand against my thigh.
I will not play with sanity, or wash this clean. I don’t have that artifice in me, or your ability to skim over the storm and swell of our wild, wide sea.
I could not bear the loss so casually, the diminishing of what we used to be. You cannot, must not ask that of me. Not when I have loved you so desperately. Not when you have been my life’s fatality (love should never die unhurriedly).
I will not – not ever – love you less, or with any less of me.
“And somehow the memory of how complete we used to be – is keeping me from you.”
Speak the words you have swallowed. We have nine years of silence to fill. Let us crowd this night with all we have not said, let us cover every last second with our secrets. Whisper them soft and sure against my skin. Tell me goodbye, and tell me why.
Dust me for your fingerprints one last time, hold me up to the light and see yourself all over. Know that you were here. Here we are. Grasp at what we will leave behind. There are ways for us to end this.
Love me just enough. Then let me go. Hold tight all through these midnight hours, then stand up and watch me walk away.
My darling, there are ways for us to end this.
(Move to the window when I close the door. Press your forehead against that double glass, and strain to keep me in your sight. Stay with me – won’t you, please? Watch me tremble away from you into the night).
We have always known tomorrow would come.
To get what you want. And yet. It is still an ending. We’re only ever telling stories. The living part – it hurts, no matter how you decide to tell it.
I know you don’t watch me walk away. I know you don’t press your forehead against the double glass to keep me in your sight. There is no straining for that one last look, no time suspended in the final unblinking stare. You don’t stay with me until I am just another city glow fading in to night.
Tonight I have said I don’t want to do this anymore. I have said it in the way a liar can tell a single truth, sudden and surprising. You are asleep, or nearly asleep when I whisper it across the back of your head.
I don’t want to do this anymore. This – laying in your arms in yet another bed of tangled sheets. This staccato relationship, our little parody, where the only authentic act is how you fall asleep straight after we fuck. And I know what comes next. I can feel the separation as keenly as if you have already peeled your body from mine, already slid back in to that second skin, the crisp white shirt and pressed pants, so deftly shucked hours before. I feel you walking out the door even as your breath warms my breast and your hand remains heavy between my legs. And I decide that tonight I will be the one to go.
I have held on to you so long that my hands still clench around you. My fingertips try to press in to you one last time, to roll across your skin in a final and heroic effort to prove my identity. But you barely stir, as one finger then the next has to release its grip.
I move to the edge of the bed and I tell you I am leaving. I say other things too, they tumble from a wine-thick tongue, but in time to come I will only ever remember this. How I say I am leaving and you mumble I’ll see you soon, and how with your eyes still closed you miss the way I shake my head, no.
I know you don’t get up after I close the door behind me. I know you don’t move to the window to watch me tremble into the night. You are not looking down to see me stumble through cracks of concrete in the heels you removed so carefully over dinner, and you don’t watch as I recede to a grey as cobbled as the street below. With no neon flash of text to say goodnight, no vibrating phone to accompany me home, I know you are already sound asleep.
It is my 35th birthday and I will not cry. One wobbly foot in front of the other on this midnight street, I walk away.
Eidyia’s Note: Reposting this today because I need to remember.