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Romance Sad

Has anyone ever told you that your eyes are expensive emerald jewels once lost underground somewhere in Zambia, purchased in an auction by your great-great-great-great-great grandfather and are now family heirlooms? I should warn you that archeologists might try to steal them while you sleep, so their many prisms can be studied until all the wonder is lost.

And have you thought about when you let your hair down? It is black as the night sky, in contrast to your milky complexion. A gateway into space. I could fall through it head-first and find myself drifting without oxygen, yet I teeter along the edge of the world just enough to lose some breathable air, for a closer look into the unknown. I should caution you of governments or billionaires who would want to fly through it with their rockets, seeking bragging rights.

I have a good mind to tell you these things, at the local IHOP, over the strawberry and cream crepes with coffee we both order—your glasses are missing, so is the hair tie that normally pulls your hair into a ponytail. Instead, you let me poke your cheek, a playful gesture disguised as a reminder of how soft your skin feels. You used to always ignore my finger pressing your dimple, but lately you close your eyes to brace for impact. The corners of your lips curl up, as if I clicked a button that activates them. You smile to save face, aren’t you, while you pretend to be in your one-bedroom apartment, or attending a John Mayer concert, where a short, boring guy doesn’t put his flaky, germy fingers on your face. Or, dare I dream, you record the warmth of my touch, to play back during your nights alone in bed, when you forget to turn the Audrey Hepburn movie off, playing back my closeness over and over, until we’re kissing in the rain over a sappy melody and an orange cat.

“I slept with Ryan last night.”

Oh.

“I was horny,” she continues, “and he kept asking for it. The sex was okay, but after we were done we were laying there for a few minutes. Then I started to cry. He asked me what was wrong, so I told him that I felt like I cheated on Tyler. And I know Tyler and I aren’t exclusive, but we might as well be. You know he’s the only one I’ve been with for the past three months. I just wish he wasn’t such an asshole all the time.”

By the entrance/exit, a family of four waits to be seated. The doors, clear as the planted trees basking in the sunlight outside, grow blurry and unfocused as it stretched further away from me. I can hear the static of an analog TV and it’s deafening. Can I avoid knocking those kids over if I bolt out of here? No, the exit’s so far now I can barely make it out. The anxiety leans in on my sternum; I clutch at it like a heart attack victim. This is how I die, isn’t it? What will my mom think? Help. HELP!

I don’t think you notice. 

“You deserve someone who actually cares about you,” I say. “Someone who doesn’t use you for your body.”

“But there’s nobody I want more than Tyler. He’s the perfect height, he’s hot as hell (have I not shown you what he looks like already?) and he’s in college so he’s going to make something of himself one day. Why can’t he see how lucky he is to have me? I mean, look at me.” 

“You sure are beautiful.”

“Right? But I don’t know what I’d do if I can’t have him. Maybe cry in the shower drinking the entire bottle of Chardonnay my dad brought me.”

Or you can end this pathetic cycle. Falling for the wrong one as predictably as 11:58pm turns to 11:59pm. Knowing another dagger will puncture your chest. It twists, and you ask why when you already know the answer is in front of you while you still have the chance. Say I don’t want to hurt anymore. Say you love her.

“Or,” I say, “you can save some Chardonnay for me, dammit! I can’t cry myself to sleep drinking warm milk.”

 You laugh, that laugh that sounds like fluttering butterflies over lavender phloxes. You recall that one time I told you I was happy: with my job, with being single. And I can’t rely on you to question that lie. So the idea of my troubled mind keeping me awake by midnight tonight doesn’t match up with the image of me you choose to accept. You cannot be bothered to cross-examine me, to wonder what I’m feeling behind the smile I wear, to ask me how my day is.

And I make you laugh some more, the best friend that I am, the nice-guy role I refuse to let go of, until I’m confident that you’re willing to eat strawberry and cream crepes with me again one day. I can picture you telling your friends what a nice guy I am, how I make your day when you’re sad. But then midnight comes, and I can only picture a Tyler, or Ryan, or [insert name of generic douchebag here] exploring the secrets of your body. 12:01am, and I assume your soul is intertwining with one other than mine right now.

My phone is the only light in my room. I open Snapchat to look for clues. Have you dropped a hint of being with someone tonight? You posted a picture of our food from earlier behind the black bar of texts He copied me—8 hours ago. You posted a selfie in your car—2 hours ago. You’re making that duck face for the 3000th time. You’re the last of the duck-facers.

I don’t know if you are aware that your lips are red and pink Starburst pieces clumped and molded together, surprisingly full of the that intense, juicy flavor the commercials promote. The next time we see each other I should teach you the face Starburst lovers make just before they lean in for a taste. 

August 13, 2021 15:58

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2 comments

Jon R. Miller
00:58 Aug 19, 2021

I loved the opening line! It drew me in. The protagonist's voice shines through as well. I really liked this. Well done!

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Jarrel Jefferson
05:20 Aug 21, 2021

Thanks, Jon. I appreciate you.

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