I’m so tired of writing blocks and blocks of text about boys. The secret is that I write because it’s not scary. It’s not conflict. It’s not really being vulnerable. So when I write, it’s because I have words trapped inside of me.
Once upon a time I fell in love with a boy who tore every inch of me apart. Constantly telling me to act less gay, to behave this way, to not do this around so and so. All while making me the ass of every punchline to his friends, constantly abandoning me, and whoring around online for the attention.
When that “relationship” finally ended, I swore to never let someone see inside of my head. No matter what. That’s how I stay in control. No matter how hurt or angry or destroyed I am, I grin and carry on. The way I was raised. And not that bullshit about fake smiles and whatever. Its not a mask. Its just what I show. Hold it together because it’s what people expect of you now.
So here’s a story for *you* and you might never see it, but I’ll never repeat it again.
It was quiet and I was wrapped up in you. We were laying on the couch, and you had your legs wrapped around me. My face was flushed and thank god you couldn’t see it. I had heat running through all of my body.
My mind was whispering, “ask ask ask, you have to ask him. Make it official. This boy warms your tummy and makes you grin. Boyfriend material. Ask ask ask.”
But my supervisor called, and asked me to come into work, and I lost my nerve and my gut hurt the whole night because I’m so fucking weak.
And then shortly after we were out, three of us shopping. And I don’t even remember what exactly was said, but you said something with a dark bitter snark, and it pierced me to my core, and god damn did it twist my heart because suddenly you were that first asshole, with venomous words that make my cells ache and I pulled back my emotions so fast I’m still dealing with whiplash. Yeah it was a joke. But you used the tone. The one that makes me worthless. The one that proves I can be broken. That I was broken.
And from then it was just me running. You scared me. I couldn’t ask you to be my boyfriend. I couldn’t trust that to be true. You had the tone. So I pulled back. And everything you did just became an excuse to run more. Because it could have been healthy. It could have been amazing. But the last time I thought that I got hurt. I find shitty people so when I leave because they’re shitty, it doesn’t hurt. But you weren’t shitty. So how do I handle that? How do I risk being vulnerable? I don’t. And I ran. And then far too late I tried to deal with it. And now here I am, writing.
Well. You got written about. Maybe that’ll give you an answer as to how I felt about you. Because I can’t give you those words in person. Like an idiot I tried. I opened the wall just a smidge to try to say them. And all I got was an “eh.”
Sheets in disarray; Chaos.
It matches the storm in my chest.
The only light in the room is at the end of your cigarette,
And all I want is a taste of it,
But only from your lips.
And all I want is to write a fucking poem about you
except I don’t know where it goes
and my head and my heart are running in circles
and every time their paths cross,
there you are.
Blue eyes, not like the sky, but the ocean.
I’d swim forever, in a heartbeat,
But in the back of my mind I remember,
Your head is on my shoulder,
And this is how I’d like to end every night for the rest of forever,
But this is the fourth time we’ve played this game,
So who knows where this ends.
I tore down all my walls for you,
And you’re still a fucking fortress.
Darkest thoughts come in the darkest hours,
And I roll away, because touching you makes my soul hurt
But without missing a beat, you follow after me,
pulling me tight against you,
and the dark becomes light.
I let myself think,
Maybe you care as much as me,
Sometimes you meet someone, and they steadily dig their way into the darkest, most unapproachable corner of your heart, and as a writer, they begin appearing in everything you write. That character that you know is based on them, either loosely or obviously, or it’s three in the morning, and you’re sitting alone, illuminated by only the computer screen, and suddenly you have to put something on paper, an overload of soul, and you write, or more likely type, and it’s that essence of them that’s rolling forth, dancing across the paper, intricate patterns of words, some that rhyme, and some that make your heart ache.
And it’s been weeks, or months, or maybe years since that person was actively in your life, and all of the feelings are rushing through your blood, and you remember everything in hyper-realism, more than you would have thought possible when you actually experienced the memory as it happened.
And here it is, three in the morning, and you’re reading words you didn’t even know you were thinking, and breaking, and remembering, and smiling, and biting the inside of your cheek softly.
Oh hey, remember this piece of yourself that you’d forgotten, this piece that was made by another human hand, gently pushing past your defenses, and setting up a home there. And now the other person is gone, but it smells like them, and that picture you guys took is hanging up there on the walls of that abandoned house in your heart.
And you’re standing there, and dreaming and all those shitty songs you listened to that made you think of the soul you’re missing just started playing on your itunes, and you didn’t even realize you still had those songs. And now you’re grinning, and the ache that burns inside of you isn’t sad. It’s beautiful and reminds you of how alive you are, and how even now, across space and time,
you’re still connected to another soul. Maybe forever. Even if nothing more. You are connected.
You are a question
that my lips are nervous to form.
And I would crack open your thoughts
to see how you swim in your own brain.
But what if your thoughts are the same as mine?
what if they’re not?
Phone lights up, clutching your eyes and dragging them down like an over-zealous lover. Pick it up, text from the best friend, she moved away months ago and you miss her everyday because she was as fucked up as you and you could talk and it was all easy and dandy and she was down the road just a drive and you’d wrap up on the couch between her dogs as she offered you a bowl from her friend with cancer “yeah it’s sad but he gets the best shit, take a hit, you’ll time travel.” and you do and now she’s gone and you’d play games with dark magic just to time travel back. #ThrowbackThursday she texted, a laugh to be read in the text, and you open the picture she attached and you lose your breath for a second because it was the picture she took of you and him when you all went out for Mexican and it was lame and stupid and wonderful. Of course she still has the pictures, you guys were her OTP. And now they’re both gone and here you have a throwback and it’s cute and it’s fun and you text her back playfully, but your soul is already feeling dark because you remember how hard you kissed him and how much of your soul you offered, trying to coax him in, to let him know how much you won’t-say-loved him, to convince him to be with you and to let go of the other guy, to convince yourself that it was okay that he was trying to be with the other guy and you were the fallback. It’s okay, you said over and over as you clutched your pillow tight on nights alone, and wrapped yourself up in his scent the next night you had him to yourself. You wanted the boy who didn’t want you because he was too busy wanting a boy who didn’t want him. And he broke your heart because it all fizzled out again for the third time, and you didn’t even care this time, but you cared so much and hid how much you cared by chasing anything with a pulse, and dating people you didn’t even want because at least your bed had someone in it, someone who wanted you. But you couldn’t want them because you were still wanting that same boy who didn’t want you anymore than he did all those days ago. And nothing in your head made sense, and you knew you were fine but you knew he had a fucking piece of your heart, and just like all those video games you’d loaned him, you’re never getting it back.
She picked up the picture on the mantle. There she was, draped across his shoulders, both of them grinning, frozen in time forever. Both of them had eyes that shined so brightly. She slid her fingertips across the glass, pausing on his face.
That picture was taken the night she’d fallen in love with him. Even now she could still taste the whiskey and cigarettes on his breath and smell his cologne. Standing there in the living room of their apartment she felt it swirling around her, intoxicating her; taking her down all over again, twisting her senses and clouding her judgment with every inch of his body that she’d traced with her fingers a thousand, thousand times.
She put the picture back down.
She collapsed onto the couch, her fingers subconsciously finding the burn that he’d put there when the cigarette fell from his mouth as she wrapped her arms around his neck from behind and nipped at his ear. She ran her finger in a circle around it, over and over and over, thinking of nothing. Thinking of everything.
She wanted to touch everything. Feel the memories in her skin, because maybe then she’d know what to do. She’d find enlightenment in the welcoming arms of yesterday.
She felt suffocated. She couldn’t breathe. She bounced forward and ran to the kitchen. She grabbed a glass and with shaking hands filled it with tap water. She stared at it for several seconds before finally gulping it down. She placed the glass in the sink and walked over to the wall. She stopped when she came to an uneven patch of the wall. That’s where they’d plastered up the hole. Shitty job. Uneven, and the paint was a shade too dark. They’d meant to hide it. Meant to make it go away. But it stood out in frustrating defiance. It wouldn’t go away. A permanent mark that screamed at her every day of her life. From when…
She walked to the bathroom, closing the door quietly behind her. The sink looked cold and lonely without her make-up strewn about. She didn’t like to wear a lot of make-up anyway. She hated that she had too. That she needed too. She blinked rapidly and looked over at the shower curtain. It had lighthouses on it. They had decided to make a theme of lighthouses in the bathroom.
That’s how they met. She had taken her easel out to the shoreline. She had planted herself in front of the lighthouse and refused to leave until the muses had found her and guided her paint brush to form something beautiful. He’d been walking the shoreline when he saw her, and watched her quietly from afar for two hours. Just watching as she finished her painting. Finally, she stopped. It felt rushed and she hated it, but suddenly there was this boy in front of her, asking if he could buy the painting from her. Before the conversation was finished, they’d agreed to meet for coffee the next day.
She looked up to the top of the curtain. She could see the rips in the fabric where she’d grabbed it as she fell. They wouldn’t just buy a new one. They’d patched it back together, rather than admit anything had happened to make them need to purchase a new one. She turned to the bare spot on the wall where the painting she’d done on the day they met once hung. It hadn’t been there for a long time. She never put anything else there. Every time she looked at the spot, she remembered watching it burn as shouts filtered everywhere around her. It was crueler than the kitchen wall, and it made her soul ache.
To her, that painting represented everything she and he were. And it was gone. That was the answer her soul needed.
She walked back to the living room as her vision blurred. Tears, tears everywhere. She pulled a tiny folded note from her pocket. It had his name written in flowery script. Inside, all it said was “Good-bye.”
She sat it on the mantle, in front of the picture. She picked up her jacket and slid it on, covering up the bruises he’d left on her for the last time. She checked her make-up in the mirror that hung above the mantle, making sure that her tears hadn’t revealed that the skin around her eye was black and puffy. She picked up her suitcase as her breath caught in her throat. She opened the door and walked outside. As she pulled the door shut, she could have sworn that the rush of wind that tickled her neck as it escaped from the apartment with her whispered, “Freedom.”
-July 16 —
My name is Josh Riegs. Joshua Lawrence Riegs according to my birth certificate, and as of a few days ago, I’m freshly twenty-two years old. I live in a depressingly small two bedroom apartment in the even more depressingly small town of Greenpark, Virginia. On this particular night, my roommate and best friend since we could toddle, Staci Milton, was on some sort of ridiculous escapade with her boyfriend.
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I feel kind of inspired to write a follow up piece to the little short story Gray Morning that I wrote several weeks back. But as a follow up it would chronologically occur before that story. So kind of like a prequel.
The problem being is that the whole purpose of Gray Morning was for the impact the ending has, and the short story I’d write would kind of destroy that surprise because it would explain what lead to the Gray Morning.
So I guess I’ll think on it a bit and make a decision. Keep a heads up, because I might end up writing Black Night. We’ll see.
I was sprawled across my bed staring at the ceiling. I was dizzy from watching the fan rotate. I checked my phone. I’d sent him a text half an hour ago. “Hey,” was all it said. No period, because it was meant to be left open, no smile attached because that was too much emotion. It was flat and simple, just enough to spark a conversation.
I sighed and threw my phone across the room, letting it land softly on the rug. Now it was too far away to reach, and I lacked the motivation to go get it again, so at least I wouldn’t count the seconds that passed with no response.
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*** Writer’s Note: I wasn’t happy with the way this opening flowed. I ended up trashing the concept, but the whole segment wasn’t terrible, so I’m posting it. The problem was the shift of views was done poorly, and it was too messy for me to find a way to make it smoother.***
*** Writer’s addendum: I actually did return to this piece, revised and expanded upon it. This is the rough copy that follows a plot thread I scrapped. If you are interested, you can read, but I’d recommend reading the revised, extended one instead***
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