We’re all made of stories.
The kind where prologues take roots in the empty basements of hearts.
My story with her started when I tried to redeem myself for hurting you.
She called a few weeks after you slipped through my fingers all over again. Called to say we should get a drink—a drink at our bar in the city. Told me it’s been too long, way too long, said it’s been a while since we last shut it down. Said she missed me and maybe we should talk about maybe giving it another try.
Okay, I said. Okay.
Okay, I told her, wanting to burn through the image I had of you that still got my heart racing. The one where I walked into my West London apartment on a December night, only to find you standing there after eighteen long months. The one where you smiled and I smiled, and I raised my arms because I didn’t know what else to do, and it felt like coming home after traveling for so very long, and you tilted your head and I saw those dimples I loved for the first time in a very, very long time. And I slid my fingers through your belt hoops, bringing you closer, and you wrapped your fingers around my neck before I tasted a true love’s kiss.
And you quickly slay my dragons with your lips.
That’s kind of how I ended up having too many drinks with her that night.
That’s kind of how I ended up remembering your lips on mine, your tongue sliding against mine, your arms around my body, as we stopped and restarted time.
After eighteen months.
Eighteen long months.
So I guess I should’ve stopped her, I should’ve told her no. Should’ve told her I was probably leading her on, that there was a reason she and I weren’t together anymore—but you were gone, and the barman was smiling and kept on pouring more alcohol, and I should’ve stopped him, but she was laughing and flirting with her hand on my thigh, telling me to have one more.
“Come on,” she slurred with a wink, “just one more.” One more drink and one more smirk, one more glass and one more smile, one more whimper and one more shot.
One more shot at saving us from falling apart.
The shot I never had with you.
“Give us one more chance,” she breathed in my ear, as I tried to drink the thought of you away, not wanting to remember how I begged you for the very same thing.
Baby, I had told you that night, I know I’m a little bit broken, but my love for you could move the earth, if only you’d let me.
But you quickly realized you didn’t want a haunted house for a home.
And she didn’t need to know that. Didn’t need to know how not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of you, where I haven’t stopped thinking about you since the day I realized I had feelings for you—that I wanted you, and only you. That’s over six years, over 2,190 days.
Okay, I said. Okay.
And I guess she liked my answer because she was laughing all over again, and—man—does she have a great smile, and she must’ve cracked a joke but it must’ve been too happy or I was maybe a little too sad, because your name fell from my lips before I could take it back. And she started talking like she knew.
“She’s under your skin. And no matter how many rational bones in your body are telling you to run away, you can’t, don’t—and won’t.”
My mouth felt too dry to swallow, so I put down my drink and looked at her. Looked at all the ways she wasn’t you—from her blonde hair to her blue eyes, from her Southern accent to her loud voice. She’s a good woman, has a good heart, and she absolutely does not deserve someone like me, but she wants me and I have to start covering you up all over again anyway.
“You’re human,” she shrugged, her blue eyes staring into mine like she needed me to believe that. “And when people leave your world, they leave scars behind,” she said, tucking my hair behind my ear like she was removing pieces of you from my heartbeat. “And it sucks when you like someone to the point that you’re powerless.”
‘Like’ is a pretty tame word for wanting to spend the rest of my life with you; for wanting to add onto your happiness every single day until the end of my days; for not being able to fuck with the lights on anymore in case I see she’s not you; for not reaching heaven every time I fall on my knees in front of her.
“But, darling, you can’t blame yourself.”
But she didn’t know; didn’t know how I pushed you away, forced you away—and I am so, so sorry.
She took my hand and I resisted the urge to take it back.
“Let me help you heal,” she whispered, her face dangerously close to mine, making me uncomfortable for reasons I do not have, made my arms and lips numb with feelings I did not share. Her fingers weren’t yours, her breath wasn’t yours, but they were stroking my skin like it soothed her soul.
“Two broken people can’t fix each other,” I warned her.
“But they can try.”
I nodded and then I shook my head, and we had to leave because the bar was closing, so we walked to the tube station—and I was drunk and she was drunk, and she mumbled words I wanted to hear from you.
“I don’t want to leave you.”
And my heart almost sounded like a heart again.
Nothing is ever forgotten—not really; not completely. Not in fairytales, not in epilogues. Not if you don’t want it to.
And I want to remember us when we were good.
“So don’t,” I replied, my eyes not leaving hers.
“Let’s go home.”
I hailed us a cab with her lips glued to my cheek.
And I thought of you once more.
I hope you remember London and Los Angeles, Zurich and New York, Vienna and Brussels. I hope you remember the waltz and the snowstorm on the Upper West Side, the late nights and the early Upper East Side mornings. I hope you remember that loving you was the best damn thing I ever did in this world—but most of all I hope you remember how my soul was at peace when you were near.
So it’s okay—you go.
I’ll be fine.