It took me long enough, but I’ve started to not realize the truth — but to own it. To let it be a part of my reality. To wake up from silly dreaming.
We are apart, you and I. And we are going to stay this way. I lost your heart, and I’m not going to find it. I got to love you for 10 years — and that has to be enough. I wove myself into a pattern of us for 10 years — and I’m still getting used to having come unravelled from that. Still untangling the loose threads of myself; still learning which colors were yours, and which were mine. Which ones I like and which ones I’d rather leave behind.
An activity I never planned for, really. But here I am, and it’s okay. Or at least, it can be.
I still find my fingers stained black with charcoal, my knees white from ash, head bent down and fingers in the wreckage of our burned down house. There were so many things I loved, wanted, didn’t know how to not need. Some of them burned up entirely, some got buried under the rubble of at least one broken heart; maybe two. Maybe more –innumerable others caught in the fallout of me and you. A whole community of protective glass shattered in harmless crystals around us.
I have to tell myself every night that you aren’t coming home, that home is far away now, that the only thing I’m waiting for is to feel myself again.
I didn’t know how used I’d gotten to waiting. I still pause, stop, and turn to look for you — all the time. Ruts dug into the everyday of a painful life. Just because it’s better now doesn’t mean I don’t still act out the old scenarios. I’m used to being a character in constant foil for you. Used to dreams and stories where “we” and “us” come to my lips so easily.
But now when I remember, I’m frowning instead of smiling. There is a way to keep these charred shards together, to make them walk around like a normal person. I just don’t know how yet. And some days, I look down at my chest and wonder — am I still smouldering? Is that the problem?
But there’s no more fuel to keep the fire going. So, one of these days, the heat will fully dissipate. And one day, I’ll get this ring cleared out, squat, and begin laying the twigs of a new fire. Right now, I’m still searching for viable kindling. Stacking up piles of hardwood. Clearing ash. So much ash.
Things I did once, in a house in the country, when we looked out at the sunset and knew — the dark was falling. Winter was coming. The worst of it is yet to arrive. I am still building toward it. Preparing.
The signs of death are on the season’s doorstep. I have some serious work to get done. I only hope I am done before the freeze.