Drinks

She wanted to meet up one last time, and after all that I’d put her through, how could I not oblige her?

When I got to the bar, Sam was already there. She sat in a booth and faced the door, so as soon as I walked in, I knew where to find her. I approached and slid in on the opposite side, a bit afraid to actually look into her eyes.

“Hey,” she said. She smiled. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

“Hey,” I replied.

Yesterday, she had asked me over, like she usually did every few days. My normal response was to say ‘yes’ and then quickly head over to her place. There, she would cook for me, we would drink, and we would fuck. I’d fall asleep in her arms and leave in the morning; maybe 3 or 4 days later, this cycle would repeat.

But yesterday, it all changed. I was with “her,” as Sam not so affectionately called her. Her was Jaime. I had started dating Jaime months before I ever knew Sam even existed. Jaime was my perfect complement. We were both grad students at the same university, and held similar interests and opinions about everything. Jaime was safe and comfortable, and a nice break from my previous relationship filled with unwarranted jealousy and possessiveness. Jaime did not ask for much. And admittedly, I did not give much.

Then I met Sam. We were utter opposites, agreeing on a few things here and there. We argued – sometimes playfully, other times vigorously and with passion. But she could look into my eyes and see straight into me, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t resist her.

I was dating them both. And I didn’t know how long this could last, but I was balancing so many things that I was bound to drop one.

I was at a concert with Jaime, a rapper that we both enjoyed. Jaime and I did things like this together. Go to concerts, plays, baseball games. Sam and I would have our odd public outing together, at the beach or a bar, but mostly, we hung out at my apartment or her’s, and fucked.

I must have forgotten that Sam had told me she would be going to this concert. But I forgot, and just before the show began, I felt a tap on the shoulder and turned around to see Sam and her friend.

“Hey!” she said excitedly. She threw her arms around my neck and I thanked God that she didn’t kiss me.

“Hey,” I said, and instantly regretted the tone of my voice. It was awkward, fearful, and I could see the way her eyes got darker. Her head turned in Jaime’s direction, who had a quizzical look on my face.

“Hi, I’m Sam,” she said. She extended her hand and Jaime shook it.

“Jaime,” she replied.

I cut in. “Excited for the concert?”

“Yea, I am. Remember I told you a few nights ago that it was going to be the highlight of my week?” Sam quipped.

Shit.

I laughed nervously. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Jaime turn to stone.

Sam smiled again. “We gotta go back to our group, I just wanted to come over and say hey.” With that – with my whole evening turned to ashes – Sam turned on her heel and walked away.

The rest of the evening moved slow. Jaime would hardly speak. Instead of coming back to my place afterwards, she asked to be dropped off and told me she would talk to me later.

I kept looking at my phone, expecting Sam to text or call me to start a fight but there was nothing. Finally, she hit me up two days later.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” she replied. “So, who is that girl to you?”

I sighed. “That is Jaime.”

“And?”

“If you are asking if I am seeing her, the answer is yes.”

It was silent.

“Is she your girlfriend or are you just dating her?”

“No, she’s not my girlfriend. We are just dating.”

“For how long?”

“Almost a year.”

She chuckled. “Okay, well, I didn’t think we were exclusive. So I’m not mad or anything. I just needed to know that she wasn’t your girlfriend.”

We chatted back and forth, our conversation eventually ending with an invitation to come by. I did.

Sam and I continued on like this for sometime. And so did Jaime and I. I expected Jaime to say something the next time I saw her, but she was her usual self.

Until a few nights ago. Jaime was at my place, eating take-out while I graded some papers. She came and sat down next to me on the couch and the way she was staring at me made me put my pen and paper down.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I want to talk to you about something.” I nodded, waiting. “We’ve been dating for awhile now and well, I think I’m in love with you. I want us to be exclusive. I want you to be my boyfriend.”

Those words. I knew it was wrong of me to have dated Jaime for so long and never really committed to her. She had met all my friends, my friends’ girlfriends, we had gone on weekend trips together, and for all intensive purposes, we were together. Except for Sam.

Sam flashed across my mind, and I wondered how I could do this. I wondered how was I going to give her up but then I looked back at Jaime, and the answer came to me: easily.

“I love you too Jaime. And yes, I want to be your boyfriend.”

She smiled and kissed me. I thought to stop her and come clean, to tell her about Sam. But instead, I let her kiss me.

The next night, my phone rang. It was Sam. I took a deep breath and answered.

“You at home? I’m in the area and I have food,” she said, not even bothering with a hi.

“Yea I am, but uhh, we need to talk.” Silence. I decided to keep going. “I can’t see you anymore Sam.”

“Okay,” she basically whispered.

“Jaime and I decided to be… exclusive.”

“I see. Well, I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that. A lot.”

“Can we meet up one more time?… for drinks? As friends,” she said, with emphasis on the friends.

I didn’t know what else to say but yes.

So here I was, sitting across from the girl I used to date, quietly sipping on a margarita.

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That Thing

I want to fall in love again.

I want to feel that thing that makes your knees go weak

That thing that makes you smile at love songs on the radio

That thing that makes your brain achey, but your heart stronger

That thing.

 

Fight Your Instincts

You want some advice? Okay, I’ll give it to you.

Never fall in love.

Despite what the movies tell you, what books tell you, what art and music and all of that other shit tells you, never fall in love.

Do you see me? I’m half of what I used to be. The man that I was is nothing compared to the man who I am today. Love will make you better, they say. Bigger. What they mean is that love inflates you, fills you with the air of false promises and disillusion. And when love goes away, all that air escapes. You don’t shrink back to your pre-love size, no. You become crumpled, stretched out, like a condom that’s been used and carelessly thrown away.

She took half of me, maybe more. Some days, it feels like it was all of me.

The day our love ended, it felt like she plunged her hands into my chest and ripped open my ribcage, like some hack-job autopsy. Ribs broken and shattered, shrapnels of bone splintering my veins. One by one, she took my organs. My liver, my spleen, one of my kidneys. I watched helplessly, waiting for her to pull out my heart and end it all. Moments passed and my eyes – as I could not speak – asked her what she was waiting for.

She smiled and shook her head. I’m not taking your heart, she said.

I want you to remember this.

She sewed me up without a single care about the neatness of her stitches. I looked down at my chest, ruined and permanently scarred. She left me my heart so I could remember this. This pain.

So don’t do it. Fight your instincts pal. Don’t fall in love.

Well, I Never…

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Whatever.

I didn’t quite know how to fix us.

Maybe it was because I didn’t know what was broken. How could I go about finding a solution when I didn’t even know what the problem was? The egg had to come before the chicken. Or vice versa. Whatever.

I’d look at you, sitting across from me. Your eyes were turned to whatever Netflix selection we had settled on for the night, but I knew you weren’t really watching. It was hard to do anything in this place that we called home. Our days were tension-filled, moved along by civility and a shared sense of mutual disdain. Or love. Or disappointment. Whatever.

I felt like I should fix us. But I knew that I needed your help. When we would chew on our bacon and make small talk about our days, I wanted to stop you, stop the charade, and tell you that I needed you. I could not do this without you. To plead for you to help me.

I never did though.

Maybe I was selfish? I wanted to be your hero, to save us both from the fall. Instead, I followed you blindly, as you took my hand and walked us closer and closer to the edge. I could have stopped in my tracks, jerked you back towards me and done what I needed to do. What I was too afraid to do. Yea, heroic.

We fell. That night, I lay in bed. You stepped out from the bathroom and paused in the door way. You looked down then up to meet my eyes. You told me you loved me but that wasn’t enough anymore. So you were going to leave. I thought to ask again for your help, although there had never been a first request. I was selfish. I didn’t want your help. I would let my pride destroy the best thing I had.

I fell from that cliff, not bothering to look back to see if you were still standing there. Ambivalence could not be helped. Whatever.

I Am a Rock

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He sighed deeply, surrendering to his exhaustion and sinking further into me — as if he could actually go further. I smiled as he started his usual practice of placing small kisses along my back, from one shoulder to the other. His fingers intertwined with mine, squeezing. Kiss, squeeze, kiss, squeeze. I was drifting off, drifting away.

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Something

I’m looking for something, she told you. You watched her move between the racks of clothing, her fingers running softly over each piece of item. Marking them, subtly, as hers, whether she would leave the store with them or not.

Well, what’s something? you asked.

She stepped forward so you took a step, too, eager to keep up with her and to demonstrate something that you could not yet name.

Something… that is me, she replied.

You chuckled. Well, who are you then?

She turned and looked at you over her shoulder. Her stare did not go through you, no. It stopped, right at your heart like shrapnel, and exploded into smaller pieces, ricocheting through your body. Through your blood.

I’m yours, she said.

Mine?

Yes.

Simple, easy, no fuss. A declaration and nothing more. You closed the distance between you, as walls had been scaled and guards disposed of. She picked up a black dress and held it up to you.

What about this?

The Clothes (May) Make the (Wo)man

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Everything

Things always went my way. Some people said this with some hubris, a cloud of arrogance hanging over them, but me? No. I meant it. I spoke the truth.

Facts were all I had and they served me well.

Since being a small child, I had the world at my disposal. Small chunks of the world taken off, bit by bit, and handed to me on a golden platter (no, silver was not acceptable). Even as a small child, I knew the power that lay at the tips of my fingers, the very ends of my strands, the farthest synapses of my brain. What I wanted, was done.

I was a God.

But then, once I was reassured in my power, I fell. For all the things I had desired, the places I had conquered, the people who I dreamed of and left, I could not fall in love. Time and time again, they fell for me, as I had decreed. But I could never reciprocate. Tried as I might, as many feelings as I felt, as much as I had them shower me with gifts and romantic escapades, love escaped me. And then I would throw that person away, convinced that they were not the one, that it was them who were unworthy of my love and that was why I could not give it.

The lies we tell.

What is more terrible than to have everything, but the ability to love someone else?

Mad as a Hatter

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