Autumn finally arrived. And when it did, I came to a decision. Something had to give: I couldn’t keep on living like this.
It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s the sound I heard when I was 9 and my father slammed the front door so hard behind him I swear to god it shook the whole house. For the next 3 years I watched my mother break her teeth on vodka bottles. I think she stopped breathing when he left. I think part of her died. I think he took her heart with him when he walked out. Her chest is empty, just a shattered mess or cracked ribs and depression pills.
It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s all the blood in the sink. It’s the night that I spent 12 hours in the emergency room waiting to see if my sister was going to be okay, after the boy she loved, told her he didn’t love her anymore. It’s the crying, and the fluorescent lights, and white sneakers and pale faces and shaky breaths and blood. So much blood.
It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s the time that I had to stay up for two days straight with my best friend while she cried and shrieked and threw up on my bedroom floor because her boyfriend fucked his ex. I swear to god she still has tear streaks stained onto her cheeks. I think when you love someone, it never really goes away.
It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s the six weeks we had a substitute in English because our teacher was getting divorced and couldn’t handle getting out of bed. When she came back she was smiling. But her hands shook so hard when she held her coffee, you could see that something was broken inside. And sometimes when things break, you can’t fix them. Nothing ever goes back to how it was. I got an A in English that year. I think her head was always spinning too hard to read any essays.
It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s that I do.
You see her for the first time and she’ll walk right past you like you are a crack in the wall and she is a skyscraper with her head so high in the air and when you can’t sleep you’ll think about the way her eyes strayed into yours for a moment too long before breaking away and disappearing into the crowd of people.
She’ll look both ways before telling you she loves you under her breath and when she hugs you her eyes scan the empty room as if the walls had eyes and ears and mouths that could give you away.
When she’s curled up on your lap shaking with mismatched breaths you’ll wonder how someone who looked like she carried mountains on her shoulders could crumble so easily in your arms like the tornado in her mind finally hit her and knocked her off her feet.
In half-light she’ll run her fingers over your arms like she is reading words carved into your skin, binding them together into the perfect metaphor and you’ll hear it playback in your head at 4am when your head runs wild with thoughts of her.
You’ll find a safe haven on rooftops and abandoned rooms where she’ll set fire to your insides with hushed breaths between kisses planted perfectly on your lips and make you wonder how dangerous it is to play with wild flames while your body is made of paper.
You’ll stare God right in the eye and tell him that if loving her was a sin then you want no place in heaven with him because the way her lips fit perfectly on your neck is a type of paradise you’ll never forget.