I stopped taking Xanax some time ago. But inside my purse, I’m carrying the last two. Just in case, I thought the day I put them there. It’s like I’m always waiting for the sky to fall. Always bracing myself for some sort of crash. Always going out dressed in my funeral dress.
There’s another world where I don’t feel like this. Where my heart fits into my chest right and I’m not terrified of anything that makes it feel alive. But I live in a world where I stopped being able to tell the difference between heartbeat and heartache.
Men have never taught me anything other than they will always try to swallow me.
Love’s never given me anything other than the sight of the steak knife cutting into the wrong breast at the dining room table I set myself.
I wonder if he can count all the teeth embedded in my blue body.
He runs his fingers through my skin, unaware of all the indentations under his caress; oblivious to the fact that he’s making me feel like who I once was, before they took residence on my flesh.
I want to escape his hands, but fuck, I don’t want to wake up and find myself out of their grasp. This is just another way of saying I’m afraid of his touch because it stitches my pulse back to my wrist again.
He’s the kind of man every woman begs god for, whether or not she believes. I know this because getting to know him has made an atheist like me wonder if there’s someone out there who has been listening.
I don’t pray, I don’t worship any deity, but I am brought down to my knees listening to Lana Del Rey:
There’s things I want to say to you / But I’ll just let you live / Like if you hold me without hurting me / You’ll be the first who ever did / There’s things I want to talk about / But better not to keep
There are so many things I wish I could say to him, but I’m afraid he’ll catch a whiff of this landfill heart and his eyes will stop lighting up the way I catch them doing so when they first land on me.
So I keep my disaster my disaster. The unwarranted fingerprints. The fists. All the trauma. The whipping post I equated to love. The ballad of the other woman. The sharks who bit chunks out of every limb. How I’ve never been loved by anyone who has laid a hand on my body. The color of exit-only signs. The bruises I kept pushing down on because I had nothing better to do with these hands of mine. The sharp edges my heavy eyes set on. The way winter doesn’t really end. The hospital bracelet. The glacier between me and my parents. Every place the poems come from.
There are pretty things I wish I could share with him, too. Like that poem I wrote about swallowing Andromeda, and how no matter how much time has passed since the last time I could reach out with my fingers and touch peace, I’ll always aspire to glow like that. How I can be so happy and so sad and thriving and healing at the same time. How this is all messy, but mine. How I’m still hoping to one day find a home to put it down, because no matter the blood loss, I still believe in love. How my greatest desire in life other than to write like a fiend – greater than even that – is the desire to take care of someone.
Then there’s the things that scare me most. The things I find myself writing new things about. The things that are all because of him. I don’t have the courage to tell him about that dream of him I had where we were walking on the beach and how I didn’t think about drowning, not once. How all I could focus on was how cool the wet sand felt on my skin and how safe it was between his hand and mine. How the sun throbbed in that tiny space, even though we were watching it rise in the east. How I stopped to pick up all the shells with little teeth because I wanted to keep him safe. How I think about even his feet.
There’s so many things I wish I could tell him, but I’m too afraid to stop standing guard at this ribcage of mine. He is a man, after all.
I wonder if he even likes me or if I’m just someone he likes to fuck regularly. I want to ask him if there’s anyone else he’s seeing. The thought makes me feel like the possum with its insides splayed out on the side of the road it should have never set foot on. I want to tell him there isn’t anyone else I’m interested in spending any of my time with. I want to lie on his chest, and I don’t mean literally – I don’t want to share that space with anyone else.
I want to apologize for anything I may write, and tell him I just can’t myself because of who I am and because of who he is, as well.
I want to tell him so many things. Like how he is reminiscent of that light you can only witness during golden hour. How I hope he’s still around when the temperatures drop these next couple of months because I want to watch movies, hold his hand underneath a blanket, and wait out the coldest nights.
I want to let my hair down in front of him. I want to let him see me messy. I want to stop being afraid of singing along with him when he’s singing. I want to grab his hand and dance with him in the kitchen. I want to wrap that smile I save for moments like this in the glossiest paper, tape a bow on it, and hand it to him. I want to tell him it’s his to keep it, if he wishes.
I want to let myself go and let the current take me to whatever shore, but there’s a tiny part of me that’s still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I don’t want to think the worst about him this way. I am 98% sure the blame lies with my trauma brain, but that 2% petrifies me to the point that I want to run away from him and forget his name, so far that I won’t ever have to feel his mouth on me again.
But that mouth – I don’t think I could walk away from that mouth. It’s too late for that, now.
Sometimes it’s me who I think the worst of. Sometimes I think he deserves so much better. He’s beautiful, warm, kind, and someone who has his shit together. I’m a bag full of bruised fruit who’s still learning how to stand straight. I ask myself what he sees in me, if anything.
I want my two front teeth and my two bottom teeth to let go of my tongue and ask him if he feels it, too, this budding and blossoming. I want to tell him how I wasn’t expecting anything soft or moving before meeting him, how I always kept things strictly physical, how he broke that rule, how sex with him isn’t meaningless.
I wish I wasn’t terrified of this simple truth: I like him, I really do.
I wonder if he knows how much I mean it when he’s kissing me goodbye and I’m telling him I’ll miss him. I do miss him when I don’t see him. That much is true. But I wish I could tell him it’s more than that. That when I say it, I’m not trying to be cute, and that I’m not really that needy. That it’s just that I’m scared he’ll change his mind, or I’ll run away afraid, before I have the chance to see him again.