Tortoise

Photo by Jose Chomali, Florida

I reread your words.

I haven’t read them in a while.

I read your letters in the order you sent them. I don’t read my replies; I don’t need to.

I remember every word I wrote to you in those sleepless nights and restless days that inevitably followed the arrival of each of your letters. Hour upon hour, I would painstakingly strip away every pretentious word and idea until my reply contained nothing but the essence of my soul. How I would refrain from suggesting that you needed to change. How I would disappoint myself by even thinking that you needed to change. How I would beg that you’d read in between the lines and absolve me from my unspoken agony.

Your words cut deep into my chest to this day. I let the pain wash through, swell and fade.

Manage…burden…unsustainable…relief…cynicism…demons…perverse…unmoved…reserves…decompress…ambiguous…waste.

I remember why it is that I have decided never again will I meet you, nor speak freely, nor smile into your eyes as I once did. With my shrinking and hardening heart, I shrink deeper into my hardening shell.

AK