As I’m packing away my things, I find the engagement ring I bought. Suddenly I’m flooded with the plan, how I was going to take you to the bridge that overlooked the harbour, when the time was right. The many nights I spent lying next to you, working out what to say, what would be perfect, heart brimming over at the thought of our forever. The time was never right, and now all I have is this ring. I put it back in place, at the bottom of the box, in a tangle of earrings and necklaces.
Sunshine, and the feelings of hope that come with spring. The ramshackle park bench where we sat. Your friends engaged in a polite conversation, but the words that fall from their lips don’t have any meaning. I listen attentively, making effort to find familiar syllables. Trying hard to fit in, I bite into the cake, but it turns to oil in my mouth. I gag there are the table, while the faces and voices around me spin. Nobody notices, at least not for now.
Frantic phonetics. The train. Swishing lights back and forth, flickering over my eyes. The lights so bright that I have to look away. Tears. Not mine. Outside is dark, and when I look through the window I see myself and the empty seat next to me. I lock eyes with my reflection, searching my face for meaning. If I close my eyes it still feels like you’re there. The train passes another flickering town, judders to a stop, and I file out, dazed.
Bitter broth, a sweet sickly stillness in the air above the bed where we had laid some night, under a different moon, in another time. Static sounds in the air, the hum of a fan, shadows cast from blue lights. The trees, the trees that bend and twist under the moon, the trees that go on forever. A hand reaches out, like a fever dream, the words clinging to my lips, I turn to you, resting my weary head against your chest. Your ribcage extends out as you sigh, and when I look you are gone.
My house is full of cough syrup and painkillers that are too strong for you. You tell me the syrup tastes like bubblegum, but the packet says it is orange flavour. You laugh at how my kitchen counters don’t match, and how I have never noticed until just now. I tell you that sometimes when we see things we only notice what use we can get from them, we don’t always notice what they look like and how they feel. There is an awkward silence. You take another spoonful of syrup and then you leave. I choke down two more painkillers and hope I stop feeling my heart break.
I know you’re lying to me. You’re a terrible liar.
I’d call you out, but I know exactly what you’re lying about.
I don’t want to know.
Lie to me.
Get better at lying.
When I find out I’m right, I’m going to die. I won’t tell you I knew all along, like I always knew all along. I will just die. The world is too short for “I told you so” and my silence made me complicit in the lie. I let you do this to me.
I wish you weren’t such a terrible liar.
When I leave this town, nobody will notice. There will be no ties to sever. There will be no trace of me left. You will not miss me. Just as you didn’t notice I was here, you will not notice I have gone. You will call at my house one autumn afternoon and a stranger will answer. You will start to doubt if I were ever there at all. Did I even exist? You will realise we haven’t spoken in months. When you find me, I will have changed. I won’t remember you. I will be happy. I will have a new life, a new town, people who love me.