My sweater smells so good.

It’s been buried in the back of my closet for months that feel like decades when the temperature climbs into the hundreds and I’m forced to wear less than what is comfortable coverage. It smells like winter quarter: used Norton Anthologies and the faint remnant of stale cigarettes on your blue flannel shirt. We were observing Venus’ path when you admitted to having a girlfriend, but by spring you had your hand up my dress. You grasped at more than you deserved from me.

I feel more alone in summer than winter. By all accounts it should be the opposite because everyone is out and engaging in social activities. The fickle find summer lovers they can abandon when the leaves begin to fall. Fall is an exfoliation for Southern California, a chance to get rid of the old to make way for the new. I’m not sure how ages break down with the seasons, but I would definitely associate with fall. I’m attempting to shed my leaves — the dead things that hang out in my mind. The regrets, the missed opportunities, the failures, the what-ifs, the hurt, the betrayals, the crippling self-doubt. I imagine these projections detaching from my synapses and floating gently to the ground where they’ll eventually create a mound for children to collapse into before being scooped away in the trash, or — perhaps — composted to create a fertile soil that will allow a seedling to grow tall and strong.

My past is fertile soil for future growth. I guess sometimes we have to break down to grow up.

I don’t care if the pumpkin color of my sweater is now “basic.” I’ve never really accepted that term anyway. Pumpkin — as a color and food — is deliciously pleasing. It’s a shame about its current negative connotations with coffee drinks and body lotion. The color is the visual representation of fall. Green becomes orangey-brown as leaves become thirsty during dry months. The tree trunk monopolizes available water to survive, forcing its delicate appendages to wither and tumble to the dry earth below. I wish there was a way to cut off the source of energy to my mental foliage. I give my life force to negative thoughts when I should just let them go.

My sweater is a hug when I need it most. It’s a place where I can hide in comfort. A soft armor protecting me from the harsh environment.

It holds me the way you wouldn’t.

If I was a tree, I would kill myself to create the paper to write the story of us. But, I’m not a tree. And there is no story. Because, you never called after you got what you wanted.

So, I watered myself with tears.

Thank you for your minutes.

Like what you read? Give Christina Ingles a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.