7. If it’s too personal, call it fiction.

‘What are you scared of? I’m right here.’

So I closed my eyes and gripped your fingers and learned to let go again.

Autumn overcomes me like a sickness, a pressing melancholy each year that I wear like a coat, silky mink that turns my stomach. This year, every taste, smell, arch of sunlight is the end of an era, that one where I wandered through a haze of whiskey and bursting colours and wine on Midtown steps, all with a mouth that tasted like cigarettes, my lips tingling and swollen from hungry kissing and a thousand chemicals. The darkest hours passed with my head pressed to your chest, whispers of where we’d been and where we were going, staring into the acknowledgment that we had no future together. Matter of fact. I pretended you might last.

My whole life built to that summer. The years before were the dabblings of a child: a long-distance military boyfriend, a first love, a first ‘real boy.’ And then you. I lost my senses to childish infatuation. Living out my dreams, echoing my past, you were like looking into an ugly mirror. I fell into you so hard.

And you are all I can bear, this lingering weight I’m ready to slough off at last.

Senses expand, filling to bursting with the fullness of everything you were. Humidity frizzing my hair into a halo around my head, a beer bottle perpetually pressed to your palm, your friends trying to sleep with me, and me, me laughing it all off and playing the fool, stumbling along with my aching autumn heart in the parking lot where you told me I was so special, but you wanted her more. That metallic taste settling into the crevices of my mouth, oozing between teeth, swishing in with every breath through parted lips. Three hours before, I watched my childhood best friend bury her father after lung cancer claimed him. Then we sat in the grass and I stared at my knees and you wore a green t-shirt and smoked in the September shade.

‘Sitting here isn’t going to change anything. I have things to do today.’

You let me leave first and we called that a goodbye.

I can still taste you, and your best friend, and the boy with the basement full of bicycles, and the slip ups and in betweens and wastes of time. It’s all here, this constant reminder of how I was, for a minute, for a summer, everything I ever longed to be.

You were a whirlwind, a walking wreck, a fucking disaster.

So was I.


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