There are words stuck in my throat. My mind spins novels and tales and questions into a tangled mess lodged somewhere in my esophagus. I can’t swallow, can’t breathe, can’t wheeze out enough of a plea for help for anyone to hear.
I have options.
The skin trapping them is paper-thin and untouched. It would be easy to sharpen my nails and dig them into the bulging, restrictive flesh to let the contents of my throat spill out alongside the gore.
Harsh? Cradle the porcelain bowl of a toilet and stick two of those fingers down the aforementioned throat instead. A familiar sight, it would be all too easy to wash ugly words away like the waste they are.
A high building, just a tiny dot marring the late night city skyline. A step forward. Body meets concrete. If I rattle my bones apart enough, maybe they’ll free a sentence or two.
Or I could write.
But that seems too easy.
It’s just past three-thirty in the morning and I can’t – no, won’t – sleep. Won’t sleep. I won’t sleep.
In an hour when dreams are supposed to be sketching the deepest parts of my subconscious on the back of my eyelids, I’m drawing slow breaths – slow, deep, as silent as possible. Slow, because I’m lying next to you. Slow, because I’m still trying to relax my board-stiff body into an unfamiliar mattress. Slow, because I’m desperately afraid to disturb the deep sleep in-out of your lungs next to me. Slow, because I don’t want to spoil this moment with myself.
This night has been far from perfect, pointedly unromantic, and I’m sick to my stomach with the knowledge that it’ll be the last one. Sick and sad and desperate, like all silly little girls with silly little crushes and silly little debilitating self-esteem issues are said to be in times like this. I’ve imagined it many times – never romanticized, never sentimentalized – except always always always with moon eyes and hearts choking my throat and dreams spilling out from my clasped hands.
You move in your sleep, slightly. Adjusting a pillow, taking a deep breath that sounds like contentment personified. And I want to cry, somehow.
When you have less than twenty-four hours, how do you not waste it?
And so I stay awake. And I listen to the rhythm of your inhale like the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. And I bask in the surreality of the turns my life has taken to land me here. And I pretend that I am okay with my transience and my disposability and my user-friendly manual. And I listen to you breathe.
I am incomplete. Fragments of a human strung together with mental maladies and fleeting fantasies. I can feel ice cold breezes rattle through the bones of my ribcage on winter mornings. I watch people pass through me like a ghost.
I seek my meaning and definition in others, making patchwork quilts of personalities to drape over myself and hide the gore and marrow of my bones. Not a human being, but an idea and a concept, cursory and partial. A skeleton strung up before a classroom, an instruction in the things we want to pretend we don’t conceal within us.
I am not real.
Love. Noun. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection. Sexual passion or desire. Love. Verb. To need or require; benefit greatly from. In love. Idiom. Infused with or feeling deep affection or passion.
Hopeless romantic, I fall in love indiscriminately and with ardor. Love disingenuous, love passionate, love enthusiastic, love pretension. I have always known my particular brand of love as thoroughly as the skin stretched uncomfortably over my bones. As consequentially inconsequential as the word has become.
I have never known love pure, love authentic. Given love is disgust, love is being despised. Given love is cold and love will always hurt you because love is inextricably labyrinthed with hate. Love is for me to offer, not for me to receive. I want to love because I do not want to be loved.
I am not sure how to define what I feel now. It is not ephemeral, it is not unresponsive. Distant in distance only. Not a weapon, not quite a cure, but something that spans far beyond the militaristic frame I give my language of love. It is a need to consume and be consumed, to dig my fingers deep in the fabric of your soul and memorize its patterns and its texture and its scent and its taste; it is wanting you to do the same. It is a dialect of possession and ownership and jealousy, and a vernacular of unity and selflessness and I-can-do-better. Not beautiful, not ugly, not pure, not dirty, not anything in between. It is yearning to mortar my fractures and empty spaces with you, a craving to blur lines between one and the other until two are indistinct. It is a smile through heartache and not-my-homesickness and anger. Well-defined and incomprehensible, I want to write odes every time you make me feel something I never knew possible, and I choke on any of the words I could try to find.
I know love, multitudinous and various and unfathomable, so I do not know love. But I know you, and somehow I think that is enough.
When you inhabit two distinct planes of existence, how do you decide who compromises theirs to join the other?