we need to talk, i tell you, in the backseat of a dim bus, in a hallway with the lights off, in the middle of a vacant parking lot at one in the morning. & we do, but we never say anything that matters. it’s always i don’t know how to start this conversation & i don’t think it’ll last & i don’t want to give you false hope. we’re endlessly circling the point, which is that i love what you are but not who you are.
i feel sick every time we talk, like i might throw up my heart onto the ground between us. i ignore your messages as long as i can & i don’t look you in the eyes anymore, not after that. but i still end up listening to antique love songs with you on long drives home from a city i used to live in. you make me feel so young, the music promises, sickly sweet; put your head on my shoulder. so i do because you’re warm compared to the autumn air clinging to our skin, & your cologne makes me dizzy. i tell myself that it doesn’t mean anything, that we are asleep or drunk or thinking about other people. but the truth is, it’s hard to think about him when it’s your heartbeat singing in my ear.
did i tell you that when you held my hand, i closed my eyes & pretended you were someone else, or did i only say it in my head?
i can’t recall how many times i’ve gotten that i think we need to talk about last night text from you. but we speak with words, not feelings, so it doesn’t even make a difference. trying to be honest with you is like tiptoeing around the truth.
you intimidate me: leather jackets & a voice too deep for your age & injuries you refuse to explain. i’ve told you so, & maybe you thought i was flirting again. but i don’t feel any butterflies with you, just anxiety. if i could speak to you without the words getting stuck in my throat, this is what i would tell you:
– i remember seeing you cry in the hallway on the phone. my heart shattered that day in the summer & it has ached for you ever since.
– every time i look at you, your face is different; sometimes your eyes are soft & other times, you see right through me. your eyes shift colors in my memories. your features rearrange themselves like a puzzle that’s never quite completed. i think it has to mean something.
– your cousin made sure i knew that you go through girls quicker than the weather changes in a southern summer. it didn’t matter to me because i didn’t care about you at all.
you treat me differently depending on who we’re with. you only pay attention to me when we’re alone or your ex is watching us. i’m sick of it, sick of my clothes smelling like you, sick of saying yes every time you want me to come over. i want to kiss you & i want you to go ahead & move to the city & i want to forget how guilty i feel when i’m with you. i want for us to talk with feelings instead of words & for you to understand what i mean when i say that i wish i didn’t know your middle name.
i think that i am the worst person alive because i let you cook dinner for me & i wore your jacket when i wasn’t even cold & i asked to watch a horror movie so i would have an excuse to fall asleep on your chest. i know the way to all three of your houses & i pretended to really consider it when you asked me to stay the night. i don’t even love you at all. i am so used to having my own heart get broken that i never realized i could be doing it to you.
a scatterbrained, unedited mess i wrote at one in the morning. i wish i could be honest with the people i care about. i wish you hadn’t walked me back to the stadium that night after the game because i am not myself when i am alone with you.