Picture was taken from the inside of his house
I remember the bed shaking, trembling with the sounds of a fight. I remember how the walls exploded, my fists bleeding from having been clenched too tight. I held back, my tongue a blunt knife awaiting the sharpening stone.
If you’ve ever been through abuse you would know the sense of failure you’d get. You’d mistake survival for love, tolerance for concern, maybe even forget that you have emotions every once in a while.
It’s not fair to compare her to you but it is perhaps necessary to recognise the difference. Maybe it is necessary to realise that things are not what they used to be. But it’s not fair. It’s not.
I check for solutions within five seconds of you telling me a problem even though I don’t need to. I remember birthdays, names, anniversaries just so that you wouldn’t scream at me if I forgot even though you don’t get mad about superficial things like that. I take myself out of the narrative even before it’s started.
I liken long conversation with you to kickstarting a car. Your lips are soft against my cheek and you loved how I always held you a little too tightly and you told me you felt safe every time I asked if you would never leave. This is the slow start to moving forward. Sparks are flying and they scare us, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice.
You wrote my name into your narrative after I took myself out of it. I didn’t want to think that you cared enough to keep me in mind, to wear my name around your neck like a promise. I didn’t want to believe that this was the beginning of something beautiful because I can’t bring myself to admit that I’m broken and I can’t be there for you no matter how much I want to. It eats me up inside knowing that she did this. And I’m the damn fool who loved her.
E – R – I – C – A. Erica. Her name was Erica. If I say it often enough, would it numb the pain? If I break the name down to nothing, would I be less afraid of it?
Your hands are soft on my cheeks. You whisper poetry into my tears and you make everything beautiful again and I can’t accept your love because how can I find it in me to believe that I am worthy of your love? How can I accept a gift so fragile and precious when someone else took my gift and broke it? How can I accept your love, when you handle mine with care, when you put it on your shelf and polish it every single day? How can I believe that I’m worth it?
You’re beautiful. I wish I measured up, your eyes shine, your skin glows, your voice is a star- it burns and dies but you, you are infinite. I wish forever existed. I’m afraid of dying, of nothingness, of seeing our world black out around us and I’m afraid of never seeing you again. I’m afraid that death will be what wounds you so fatally, so tragically. I don’t ever want to lose that beauty. I don’t ever want to hurt you, not now, not ever. I’m afraid of dying. And I’m afraid of hurting you.
I scream when you cry. I cry when you’re mad. But when you smile everything in the world is alright, nothing is scary, nothing is wrong. Everything is calm. I’m afraid, love. Of everything there is. Because everything kills. And I’m the coward who’s not brave enough to see it.
But your eyes breathe life into me, you keep telling me it’s alright, you remind me to breathe even when I forget that oxygen is needed and you tell me that I’m strong. That I’m brave. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe you.
Once, I woke up in the middle of the night in cold sweat, crying, weeping. You were right beside me, sound asleep. I wrapped my arms around you and held your sleeping frame tight, because I never want you to leave. Please, world, don’t take him. Please don’t let me lose him. Please don’t let me fuck up, I can’t imagine a life without him anymore.
You woke up and pressed your face into my chest.
“It’s okay, it’s okay.” You mumbled, falling back asleep with the gentlest of sighs. I held you closer.
And it was okay.