inspiration drawn from Taylor Swifts ‘cardigan’
I remember what I wore that night. An old red hot chili shirt, the rattiest jeans and slides. I didn’t know I’d meet you. I was in a rush to make an appearance and leave, eager to come home instead of staying up into the early hours of the morning. I stayed. Sensual smiles of black lipstick, red solo cups and our friends discussing politics. Your eyes kept coming back to me. The beer flowed and the party ebbed. I was drawn to you, a spider in your web. First introductions flew to first kisses.
Days blurred as we spent hours lying in bed, telling stories, learning each other’s lives and bodies. Heavy and heated kisses, mornings at the counter, pancakes and bacon with a side of being undressed. Work hours dragging until I could drive back to your place and wrap myself around your hips. You made me dinner and sat through my favorite movies (ones you claimed you hated), whispering into my ear sarcastic comments and distracting me with your soft hands. Ice cream at the beach and reaching for me in the car, a wild look in your eyes. Your Oasis shirt became my pajamas, and I could see your eyes light up when you looked at me. We free fell fast into a relationship. We couldn’t live, couldn’t breathe without each other, each other’s word, each other’s touch, each other’s skin.
Our friends mocked us for always looking at each other, but our magnetic pull was getting stronger, not weaker, by the days. We dropped behind the crowd walking home from the club. You grabbed my hand and spun me around in the light of the streetlight, playing music from your iPhone as we danced madly. Running to catch the group before getting distracted again. Spinning in the car park, your arms locked around me.
When I was having a bad day, my anxiety sky high, you came over after work bringing soup, ciabatta and fluffy socks. Your hand against my stomach, warm to the touch. Kissing my blues better on my worn velvet couch. Holding my hand and coming with me to do groceries when everything felt too much. Encouraging me to go for a small walk when I was curled in a frozen ball inside. You helped make everything dark a little brighter.
Within weeks you slipped a blue knit sweater over my head and told me “It was my mums.” That action meant more than the three words I could see on the tip of your tongue.
And I, I trusted you with my all. People warned me we were moving too fast. Too passionate, too heated, too much. That everything would go up in flames. But I didn’t have a doubt in you. They said a friend to all is a friend to none. I knew they were wrong. Your kindness and friendly mannerisms made me prouder to be your other half. You said I was your favorite.
I’d have a meal waiting after rugby training and rug up on Saturdays to watch you play. You glowed when I’d turn up in that blue sweater and your favorite scarf. As soon as the game was finished, you’d be running to me, win or lose, and scooping me into your arms. Covering me in mud in the process. Weekends were my favorite- the office couldn’t keep me away from you on those two magical days of the week. After rugby when you’d cleaned up, you’d drag me out to get hot chocolate and brownie from my favorite café before you headed back to the rugby boys. Everytime I planned a night in alone or meeting a friend you’d catch me by surprise, coming home early from drinks to spin me into your arms. The first time you bailed on the boys, you grabbed my face in your hands and whispered I love you I love you I love you as you pressed your lips to mine. I was more than happy for the change and plans. And change of dress.
When we were wrapped up in the sheets, you played ‘connect my freckles’ with the stroke of your finger, traced the jagged scar down my thigh from my hip operation and praised every inch of my body. You treated me like a queen. On the good days and the bad, always there, holding each other’s hand.
Always. Until an offer came. A great one. For you. 2 months across the coast with your company, heading their New York negotiations. I had to let you go. I had to put you first and smile and play happy. I felt like you slip through my fingers, and me, I was crumbling. You told me distance would not be worry. It was only 2 months. And that first 2 months you were right. And then your stay extended once, and then again. I came out to visit of course. The lights, the bustle, it was like nothing had changed and it was the two of us just exploring New York City. It wasn’t till you asked me not to come one weekend that my thoughts spiraled and I knew the feeling in my gut wasn’t wrong.
I wish you had just told me. Instead of pretending everything was normal, that you were faithful. My sweet James, insisting it was one-time mistake not a month-long betrayal. I blocked your number and didn’t answer your calls. Cold turkey quit it was. I didn’t want to hear your apologies.
I knew I’d see you again, we ran in the same circles. Our lives had become so intertwined. I was so mad at you for the longest time. When I heard you were back in town, it was a fresh wave of heartbreak. I’d keep catching myself in a fright, thinking I saw you in the grocery line, the flash of your blonde hair and tall frame, your classic grey hoodie. Thankfully it was never you. I didn’t want to see you till I was ready. Till I could put on a brave face and pretend I didn’t give you my everything. Till what we were and what happened stopped haunting me. I’d never had hurt hang around this long.
Once the thrill of NYC and a whirlwind forbidden romance had expired, I knew I’d hear from you again. You would try come back. Beg for forgiveness. Beg for me to take you back. I wasn’t a naïve girl falling in love anymore.
When you knocked on my doorstep, from the fist against the wood, I knew who I was opening the door to. You, you were on your knees. Eyes glistening, words dripping like honey. Betty, please please forgive me. I was silent. James, my James, I wanted to drink in the image of you. I knew I was worth more than that, more than how you treated me. My words were soft and low as I told you to stop apologizing. Nothing could change what had already happened. You stayed in the doorway as I disappeared into my bedroom, picking up something that was yours. It was time to return it.
I handed over you your blue jersey. Betty, you pleaded with me. I love you, I need you. I shook my head. No James, I thought I was your favourite. The one.
I thought I knew you. You left me bleeding.
I shut the door on him.