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I’m sitting in this grey office chair, like I always do when I write. Except for the times when I’m in some other posture. No. Stating the obvious. One.
It seems recent enough to be almost tangible, but as hard as I try I can’t seem to reach it. This is everything and that is me. No. Too cliché, trying too hard. Two.
To whom it may concern: no matter how over you I think I am, I’m always proven wrong. No. This isn’t a letter. This is a manifesto. Three.
I’m going to sit here and write until I get this entire thing out and you can just deal with it, okay? This was your fault, not mine. No. Too immature. You’re not in fifth grade anymore. Four.
I want to know how you can live with yourself. How your eyes can close, heavy with sleep, even when you know you almost took a life. No. Too poetic and too accusatory. Five.
If there’s a hell, I want you to go into it headfirst. Take a swan dive for all I care. Fall into it like I fell into you. God won’t even look twice. No. Not going to get religious. Six.
“I remember you and me used to spend/The whole g****** day in bed/ Losing a whole year.” – “Losing a Whole Year,” Third Eye Blind. No. Starting with a quote reeks of pseudo-intellectualism and desperation. Seven.
Writing and rewriting, taking in and typing out. Feeling criticism in the heart and channeling it into a passion. No. You’re not going to tell him how hard you worked on this. Eight.
Most of these start the same. This one is different. No. That’s how they all start. Nine.
It’s not like I think about it now, but I thought about it a lot back then. I hope you know I’m completely over you, even though—No. This is the most obvious lie I’ve ever written. Ten.
How do I express this?
Sometimes, whenever the night wraps its hands around my neck and starts to squeeze, I wake up and go outside and listen to the crickets. They’re always out there, just in my earshot, flinging their creaky song out into the sky. I just listen to them, trying not to remember and failing miserably. The breeze wraps itself around my person and whistles through the trees, and I hear it too. A car crunches down the side street by my house and adds percussion. I listen to the night and I close my eyes and I don’t sleep. I never sleep.
If I really looked at this I’d probably rewrite it, but I’m not going to look at it. You are. So you’re going to read it, just to make up for all the times you didn’t read what I wrote while we were together.
You won’t care, after you finish this. That’s what I expect. That’s not what I want, but it’s what I expect. To even try to tell you what I want out of life is a hopeless cause. Let’s face it. You never really cared about what I wanted. Everything was about you. I’m not being mean or accusatory here; I’m just stating a fact. You went through the motions and used some pretty sleight-of-hand, and I fell for it.
I fell for everything. I fell for you.
You probably think I’m doing horribly, and you’d be both wrong and right at the same time. What’s to expect?
As long as I’m talking to you, even if it’s only hypothetically (I doubt you’ve even read this far), let’s lay out all the cards you played. It’s only fair to me.
Ace of hearts: Infidelity. The entire time we were together, you were whispering the same sweet nothings to other people. There wasn’t even the decency of staying with one “other person”. You gave in to whatever looked even slightly tempting and left me standing there with a Velcro smile taped onto my face as you ripped away my Velcro heart, piece by piece.
Ace of clubs: Abuse. The names you called me hurt at first. But I called you out on them and you did what you do best. You’re a cosmetologist, right? You cover things up and change things to make them look different. You made those hurtful words sound like declarations of love, and I believed it. And when you segued into outright insults, I acted like I didn’t notice because I cared for you that much.
Ace of spades: Lying. I can’t imagine what would go through your head that could lead you to tell me that your mother had cancer when she didn’t. I bought it, like a fool, and gave you another psychological foothold in the cracks of my fragile psyche. When you told me that you instead of your mother had two inoperable brain tumors, my glass skull shattered. I was completely inconsolable. If it weren’t for a serendipitous occurrence, I wouldn’t be writing to you at all.
Ace of diamonds: Dependence. You needed me, in your own sick way. A place for everything, and everything in its place. When you called me and asked if there was any shred that still wanted to be with you…You seemed to forget who shredded me in the first place. But laughing at you was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Because I needed you, too. You knew it earlier. You know it now.
You didn’t know.
How were you to know that you had ruled over me so thoroughly? That every decision I’d made over that fraction of a year was made for you? How were you to know that you would still be in my head, dragging me down, over a year since we ceased communication? That every time I tripped over my own feet in the hallways, I’d hear you saying “Wow, nice move, clumsy,” and try not to cry? That every time I’d do poorly on a test, you’d say, “You’re so stupid. What would anyone ever see in you?” and I’d grit my teeth and clench my fist until my pencil broke?
How were you to know that I would find out that you never had cancer? That my almost-death would have been for nothing? That your abuse would stay above my head like a perpetual aching rain? That you would be another textbook in my backpack, weighing me down?
How were you to know that when you told me about the crickets around you, the first night we talked, that I would listen to crickets two years from then and still feel a weight on my chest?
During those nights, I hear the crickets and the cars and the wind and I feel the dew on the grass and I open my eyes and I scream into the indigo depths of eternity until I feel like you can hear me and know my pain. Know the pain that you have caused. We’re under the same moon, you told me once. I hope the wind and the crickets and the moon will hear my prayer and deliver this missive to you.
Tonight will be my last time. I will go out, clutching my bathrobe about me like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. I will hold this paper up and whisper an orison into the blank eternity.
Can you see my fingers slipping, one by one? Can you feel the paper moving under my fingers?
There goes one. Four left.
If there is a God…you’ll find this. You’ll read this.
There’s another. Three.
You’ll know who this is, writing to you.
I won’t even have to say my name.
One left, sticking to the ink.
Then it will be gone, floating up to heaven. I’ll breathe out and tiptoe back into the house you never cared to visit, sneak into the room you never bothered to look at, and slide into the bed you never thought about occupying just to sleep in.
I will fall asleep with a smile on my face, because I know you can’t hurt me anymore.
And I’ll wake up the same way.
Writing and rewriting.
I’ve written and rewritten my life.
This is the final draft.