XXXI Days of Poetry (MMXII) - Day XIV
Just one page - more a note, really.
It had gotten wet and the ink ran, but I
could still read all the words; even smudged.
There was no date, just a simple “Thursday,”
and you wrote it, “waiting in a car nearly freezing to death.”
Your words, not mine.
In this quick note,
waiting in a car,
in the cold,
on a Thursday,
you were starting Book Three.
You found something purple you
included in with the note.
You would not say what it was,
only that your mother had sewn it
when you were five and I
would have to look it up.
I smiled wryly.
That sounds like something I would do:
want to give you a small piece of me,
of my history, as if that would draw you close,
and then not explain it. Make you search it out.
Sounds like I’m rubbing off on you.
You said you missed me.
A couple of times.
Then, at the end, you said you love me.
Not a cursory “Love, ____.”
The actual words. Simple. Stark.
Stretched and splotched by rivers or oceans
or a leaking bottle of hand sanitizer
I think had been in the same bag, but still there.
Right there on the page.
Unmistakable in your beautiful handwriting
I used to call almost calligraphy.
I’m sure you’d say it was awful,
point out you wrote it in such a hurry,
but you never understood that I was always serious.
I was not trying to score points.
Your writing is an extension of you:
effortlessly beautiful, playful and elegant, open and intimate all at the same time.
Your writing is you.
I think back over the end;
the silence, the strain,
the same stupid arguments over I don’t even know what.
I think about what you said when you left,
how it had all been wasted folly.
And how later, when I foolishly called,
not willing to let go,
how you said it had been a lie,
none of it true.
I don’t know all the answers, but I know this:
I hold in my hand absolute proof,
(okay smudged proof, but no less true for the beating it took),
that whatever may have happened in the end,
however you feel now,
you loved me on a Thursday.
You can say anything you want now.
You can feel any way you want.
But you can’t take back Then.
You loved me on a Thursday,
and I have the smudged proof in my hand,
and in my memories once again.
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[Author's Note: After I wrote this I was telling someone on IM about it, and as I was describing it suddenly a second, slightly more complicated and detailed narrative hit me like a flash. I could see every single detail as if it had happened, and I frantically typed as many details as possible before the image faded. (You can see I was so angry by the end that I started swearing.) I was going to turn the second version into a story, but I kind of like the frantic pace and energy of this raw form, so I copied the original IM - timestamps (so you can see how fast I was typing it all down, before I lost it), spelling errors and everything - and present it for you here. A different take on what to me is such a powerfully evocative thought. -Hyperion]
me: can't you see him sitting there, this boy, or young man (I see him maybe 20 or 21, still an overgrown boy), trying so hard to move on with his life, to not think about her, to not curl up into a ball and sob, ashamed, unable to let anyone know, because he's not a girl, after all, and besides it's been months, and maybe he finally has had some days, even a couple of weeks strung together, where he didn't think about her - by sheer will, by refusing to, and then he finds that note, and it rips the scab open on the soft underbelly of his wound, and the memories come pouring out
me: the horrible hurtful things she'd said, the way she'd thrown away everything they'd meant to each other
me: maybe they'd been young and foolish to think such things, unrealistic, caught up in romance and naivete, but he still wouldn't trade that feeling for a kingdom of gold, and she'd so casually tossed it at his feet as if garbage
me: it never meant anything, it was all pretend, was what she told him. she'd just been playing around, going along with what he said
me: almost more than losing her, what hurt him the most was her annihilation of his memories, of "them" of the bond, their union, their forged ...fantasy, if he had to use her derisive term
me: they'd created a world that was just them, and she'd ripped it in half without so much as a shrug.
me: likely she'd also taken all her stuff out - having planned it a few days in advance
me: and the notes of hers she didn't find, she demanded he give her
me: along with all the pictures - who asks for the pictures? - and so hurt, so broken was he by all of this, he couldn't stand up to her, couldn't even begin to yell at her that she had no right to ask for all that.
me: numbly he'd given her everything she asked for, so that when she left it was almost like she'd never been.
me: a lingering trace of scent on her pillow
me: he'd held that so tightly in his arms as he cried night after night after night, long after the scent had faded, long after he was able to even pretend
me: as if she'd never been, as if "they'd" never been
me: but today, when he was going through some stuff, he found this small note she'd written when they were apart for a week when she'd been visiting her aunt up in Vermont. even a week was too long for them to be apart then, and she'd written this note and sent him some small thing - which she'd taken back in the purge - some small part of her, and written this little note, not some grand loveletter, just something dashed off quickly, but it had survived, somehow, it had not been burnt in the cold fires of her rage, masked in indifference, the cruelty she'd not bothered to hide.
me: somehow this note had survived, and though it meant nothing, though she had moved on, to some other guy, for all he knew her third or fourth other guy (he'd been so heartsick he couldn't even muster the self-destructive obsession to get jealous and track her movements just to torture himself, which he likely would have done, had he not just been wrecked), if he somehow found her, it's not like she would acknowledge anything.
me: she'd roll her eyes, sneer at him, say she put that at the end of every letter, including the note she left for the UPS man asking him to leave the package she was supposed to sign for because she had to run over to the store, and she loved the UPS man for helping her out
me: she'd probably say something like that, and then go right back to never thinking about him again.
me: but he knew. in his heart he knew, and he thought maybe she'd know too (not that he ever would face her - that very thought almost made him heave, and his knees literally did buckle), but the thought was one he enjoyed idly thinking about. it would go like I said just now, but still he knew that she would know, and somehow that supposition upon supposition upon speculation upon fantasy, somehow that was a small comfort to him.
me: he had the proof. the holy grail. no matter what venom she inflicted - perhaps because she had felt some of those things, and that made her feel bad when she inevitably left him for some guy with more money or status or muscles or something - maybe her viciousness came from the guilt she felt, which she would blame him for and lash out, or maybe she just wanted to see if she could break him, bend him to her will for no other reason than why the fuck not....whatever it was, her words were not true. maybe a little true (else, how could she possibly say those things? how had he been so wrong about her?), but not totally true. there HAD been a Them. they HAD forged a world, a place no one else would understand, a private eden forever inhabited by only their two hearts, and damn the cheesiness,
me: he meant every word of it
me: and she had felt it too, or enough of it, and he had the proof
me: maybe she hadn't loved him the whole time, as intensely as she avowed. maybe part of the time she played along - he did tend to get wrapped up in romance and passion, but if nothing else - if every other fucking thing she said and did was just some epic joke at his expense, he knew that when she went up to Vermont she missed him. missed him enough that she wrote him a note and sent him a little something. nothing huge, but it’s the thought that counted. she didn't need to do that if she was gaming him - she already had him body and soul. he would literally die for her, and he
me: had no money to speak of, but he would give her every last possession at her request. there was no need for her to "bait the hook" any more. no, she sent that note because she missed him. it made her a little heartsick to be away from him. she sent it to make him feel loved, but even more, she sent the note for her, because she did feel those things, and it made her feel all warm like a stupid dumb girl, the kind of girl she and her friends mocked all the time, it made her feel good to have those feelings, to love someone enough that she actually felt sick being away from him, and his goofy courtly manners (holding doors and chairs was bad enough, but the My Lady stuff made her want to set him on fire, and yet it also made her feel like an actual princess)
me: she missed him, missed them, enough to send that little note, and he knew, no matter what else, that his first thought was not a reach, a fiction, a lie to help soothe his shattered soul. it was dead solid truth.
me: "you loved me on a thursday."
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