When He Gives You Roses You Will Mistake Them For His Heart

It probably feels like this:

Like something new hissing in your chest. Like a fire tickling at your toes and beginning to consume you. It’s a new type of longing you’d never known existed. Because there was once a little girl who never knew what unconditional love from a man looked like. She sat in the back of closets and pressed her knees to fake wooden floors. When she was old enough to really know how to bleed, she enjoyed it. If you hurt yourself, then when others do it, it isn’t so bad —

And the first time he sends roses it is late and I’m warmer than I’ve ever been, with his smile burning holes into my cheeks, into my bones, into my veins. I’m not beautiful but when he speaks to me I feel like I could be. I feel like the expanse of his back would be so warm under my fingertips. I feel like these dreams of him are oceans I want to fling myself into.

A couple months later and it probably feels like this:

Like a raw throat. Like stomach cramps when you think about him. A certain uneasiness inside of you. Like the wind around you knew something was coming. Like a storm brewing. And you know all about those people that go around chasing storms. They know it’s dangerous, know they’re bound to be caught in some sort of disaster. But they don’t mind. Because, you realize, it’s the thrill. You know that a lot of people are storm chasers. And now you know that you’re one of them —

So I let him show me the ways he didn’t care, long nights where my roses curled up on themselves. So I let myself show him out the door the next time he came knocking. So I let the dark show me how consuming it could be, how it ate from my guts and displayed them for all to witness. And I became a shadow of the girl I used to know, the mere remnants he thought to spare. And I became dependent on the numbness to survive.

The next roses he sends will be covered in honey. “Honey, oh, honey,” I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him: “All this sweetness won’t cover your stench.”

A couple years later, and it probably still feels like this:

Like burnt fingertips and under-caffeinated migraines. Like nails digging into palms and sweat rolling down your calves. Like you want to breathe in this concept, this moment, this shaking of your teeth, this hammering at your ribcage. Like you want to cry and laugh and punch the guy who said you were ugly in elementary school. Like, fuck it, you weren’t ugly in elementary school. Like that feeling of looking in the mirror and knowing you sure as all hell aren’t ugly now. Like bitten tongues and warm cheeks.

It feels like this.

It probably feels like love.