there are things i can’t say because my mouth keeps tumbling over words i’m not sure i understand the shape of yet. i am always tongue over teeth.
i haven’t heard your voice in weeks and i’m caught between an unending sob and some crumbled sigh of relief. still, i keep catching myself half dialing your number in my sleep.
if you’d answer, maybe i’d tell you that the first time i saw you, i wished fourteen year old me could side-skip across spacetime and meet fourteen year old you. only first, she’d make a pit stop at an orthodontist and get fitted for braces– so that the first time we kissed we might get lucky, snag on each other’s brackets, and end up stuck that way.
i’d tell you that the first time you messaged me on that embarrassing, knock-off version of myspace, i typed my reply approximately two hundred and three times before smashing the send key and sprinting out of my bedroom.
or that i knew i loved you less than two months into our cross country, flip-phone courtship. i would have said so sooner, but every time i started to, someone else leapt down my throat and snatched the sentence from between my vocal folds. i might tell you that after a while, i gave up and let them have it, because that was easier than hearing the things they thought would convince me otherwise.
for almost two thousand days, i book-pressed your rose petals, dog-earing the pages until the sun disappeared and i could revel in them in secret.
i might admit that the very second you put your hands on me, i wished i could plant my feet into the earth and sprout a new body—one that had only ever been touched by you.
or that every night we shared a bed, i actually did watch you sleep for as long as my eyes would stay open, and the too loud laughter that came after you asked was my horrible attempt at concealing a lie.
maybe it would slip that for days after your departure, i cleaned around the makeup smears you left on the bathroom sink so i could convince myself you were just in the next room.
or that i got drunk a few hours ago and spent the better part of my night hunched over the same sink with a pair of clippers because my knees kept turning rattletrap at the thought of your fingers tangled in my hair.
if you’d answer, maybe i’d tell you that what i’m really afraid of is you running so far and so fast that you’ll knock somebody else off their feet and topple over right beside them. i’d tell you i’ve seen it before, and every time was worse than the last.
i’d tell you that you’ve ruined me completely. that i only started feeling at home in my skin after i’d felt the warmth of yours against it. that i know i’m never going to love another woman again
because maybe i’ve never been in love with anyone else at all.