by Louise O’Brien

I want to get over you. But it’s not working out that way. I have no delusions about who you really are, but my heart does. My heart has plenty of delusions left. She still believes you are coming back. She still waits for the phone to ring in the middle of the night, for the letters that never come. She’s still waiting for you to realize that life without her must be as empty as she is without you. You’re still inside her. She hasn’t been able to shake that.

The Initial Encounter
I barely noticed you. You were flapping around the party, trying to get people to pay attention to you. You’d already spoken to me three times. I was having a hard time remembering your name as you approached me for the fourth time. I plastered a smile of greeting on my face and searched my brain for a memory of something you’d said in the last couple of hours.

You were slower this time, less electric than the last three encounters. You were pacing yourself, I guess. I was sitting in a corner, listening intently to the music, avoiding eye contact with several different people I had no interest in speaking to. But I was having trouble avoiding eye contact with you. You stood in front of me, your eyes pleading for attention like a puppy. Then you put your hand in mine.

Days Pass Unnoticed
”Tell me it’s not like this with anyone else.” You were out of breath. You were pleading with your eyes again. You were looking down at me. I couldn’t avoid your gaze. I couldn’t say anything for a full minute. I was out of breath, out of my mind. “I’ve never felt this way before,” I said. “It’s not like this with anyone else. It never has been.” That was the answer you wanted. Now you could relax.

You had so much to tell me. You had so much you wanted to say, so much you wanted to know. “You’re so guarded,” you said. “If anyone asked me what you were like, all I could tell them was that you’re a lot of fun when you want to be. I don’t really know you.” I asked you what you wanted to know. I asked you how I could fix that. I asked you how I could be better. “I don’t think anyone knows me. I’m sorry.” I proceeded to apologize for my life.

“I can take care of you. Why won’t you let me?” You were hurt. You never meant to make me feel like I was wrong to be the way I was. You were just the first person to see that I didn’t need to be that way. I didn’t need to have a wall protecting me from the world. You were my world. You always would be. Days that you weren’t a part of passed unnoticed. Those days were becoming fewer and far between anyway.

Needing That Fix
”I want to know what it’s like not to need you. Why can’t you understand that?” A dial tone. Please call me back. Please don’t leave me hanging like this. There is a very thin thread supporting me now. It’s about to break and it’s suspended from a ceiling that is about to cave in. Do you see that I am about to fall? You were my parachute. You begged me to let you be.

“I know you don’t see it this way. I know you see love as a gift. But you have no idea how hard it can be when it becomes a burden.” I listen in shock. Rapt attention gives way to tears gives way to screams. I cannot go back to the way I was before. You told me this was forever. “I don’t understand.” My words are stammered into a complete sentence that doesn’t really say anything. You’ve stopped listening anyway. “I made a mistake, baby,” the syrup in your voice pours out. “I never meant to hurt you.”

You Don’t Bring me Anything but Down
You no longer have the ability to make me happy. You only make me cry. My heart is hard of hearing. She doesn’t hear me in the middle of the night. She doesn’t know what that noise is that sounds a little bit like an animal dying. She’s used to drama. She thinks this is par for the course. I am not so sure. I keep thinking maybe I’ll go back to Plan A. I will sit in the corner and listen to the music. Alone.