I Am Not The Girl You’re In Love With

I think we were supposed to run away with each other long before this. There was that night on the motorcycle, the loud buzzing engine that cracked through the air heavy with rain threat, as we took the backroads and their curves too fast in a rush to get to the lake, my white fingers pressed into your ribs.

You write to tell me you have not stopped listening since I left and your faith startles me. I cannot handle the music right now. There is too much noise, or too much feeling, or too many words. After the song’s opening seconds I am already switching to the next. There is no irony here, only direct correlation. I am, have become, noncommittal. “I am not the girl you feel in love with,” I hear myself say. I am almost telling the truth.

Once I told you the truth about myself. It was this: I wanted to share all the secret parts of me, the lies and the mistakes, mostly, and to hear them in return. Reciprocal brutality. The level of honesty it requires is high. Most people would consider it ridiculous and unnecessary. I just wanted to feel fearless once. I asked you, “Pinch me until I bleed.”

You only left me with bursts of red specks beneath the skin, pulled away just short of liquid.

Sometimes I run my fingers along your chest to feel for scars. You made the mistake of telling me, once, that you and an ex girlfriend carved words there, into one another’s skin. I try to picture this: the two of you, razorblades in hand, near naked on your bed. Her bra, panties, fingernails are black. You are both so serious. Then, the words:


You both giggle.

I run my fingers over your chest, but feel nothing.

I used to care about her enough to wonder if you’d notice when I started trying to be like her. I stared down every camera like it was an enemy. I grew my hair long and started rimming my eyes with black. You didn’t seem to notice. Your behavior never changed. You just told me, things were different then. I begin to wonder if my emotional barometer is off, if I’m always missing what other people see. These days I am too exhausted to be anything other than what I am.

I fall asleep. I don’t dream.

Awake, I think how nice it would be to fall asleep in your bed, to sink in to your cool, grey sheets. The music surrounds me, brings me up. It brings me out of shelter, it breaks something. I open my ribcage like a cabinet, I offer you my heart. Kiss me hard before you go it sings, dripping, as I hand it over.

I hear love where it should be hard and there we are again, another case of crossed wires.

There’s something about the water that I forgot to tell you. I didn’t mention it before but it seems important now, more important than ever. It was warm and cloudy and as I sat there, submerged up to my shoulders, I thought, this is what god’s bathtub feels like — a warm, pleasant mystery. You can’t see the bottom. You can’t see your own hands, just inches below the surface. The top was dark brown glass, the color of a muted root beer bottle.

I buried you, what’s left of you, by the sea. I put the last words I would ever say to you down on paper and signed, sealed it in an airtight jar, put it beneath two feet of sand. I know this is not permanent, but it’s permanent enough. The earth has a way of returning what’s not hers, and soon it will release what I’ve so carefully buried.

I waited until the sun began to set. The water began to rise. It’s something to hear before you see, a peculiar movement along the decibel scale, inching louder and louder until the ocean’s machinery is in your ear. The water is closer and faster, swiping at my feet and legs, leaving little valleys of sand around the mountain that is me.

My last thought as I stand to go is that you would have liked it here. Then I think that maybe I didn’t know you as well as I thought. I existed outside of you, even. I lean down and pick up a shell and know it is the only thing I hold of you, and even then it is more like memory: soon the ground will release you from your grave of sand and you will be out — out from earth, out from me, out with the tide. And I will be alone once more.