Our last moments together feel like a tragic misunderstanding now; I thought that you were high as you wiped sleep from your eyes, so I turned around and walked out. It wasn’t the last time I saw you, just the last time I saw you alive, and I wish that I had tried to see you, simply you, underneath it all. Instead, what I remember most is finally getting that call, dropping the phone and driving for miles, but not fast enough. It was never enough – not enough time, not enough strength, not enough love. I have enough regrets to last a lifetime, but none of them are a lifeline that will ever bring you back.
We control what we can right now: bandanas on our faces, even if we can’t breathe; winter gloves on our hands, even if it’s seventy degrees outside (because who can find latex ones anymore); mindful distancing between ourselves and people we don’t know, and sometimes even people we do know. But it still feels like too little, too late. It still feels so far out of our control: the people who won’t cover their faces even though it’s now a law; those with free fingers, touching every available surface in sight; limits on the amount of food we can bring home even though we’re supposed to stay home as much as possible. We try to remember to wash our hands all day long until they are raw. We try to remember not to touch our nose our mouth our eyes, even if it kills us – because it actually might kill us. We try to remember that this can’t last forever. Until it’s over, we just wash our hands again so they are clean while we wrestle for control, six feet apart.
-L.R.Y. (based on the writing prompt of “control”)
Selective quarantine and three crazy dogs; no one has been eaten yet, and we are keeping the peace. I mean, it’s only been two days and we have to last two weeks, at least, but I told you we couldn’t get married until we lived under one roof, so I guess this is a good first step, especially since you brought me breakfast in bed.
You are my earliest memory, the piece of the puzzle that changed me in an instant. I made up names for you before you were born, and told you stories from the vast imagination of a 2-year-old. Later, I created games where you were a martian in a skirt or a pretty pretty princess, and for a while I could bribe you by claiming you were my best friend. It wasn’t until years later that I realized it was the truest thing I’ve ever said.
Some things are tangible, quantifiable: the miles between us, the number of texts, the hours until I see you next. The important things, those are harder to describe in amounts we can touch, like the fact that sometimes I feel like I already love you too much. I tried to keep it contained by saying “two weeks”, but there was no point to it; we both already knew it. I had told myself that next time, I would stall the fall, but you’re not the next time I expected. You are softer, kinder, easier to trust, and I think maybe that must count for so much more than all the times before. I focus on the beginning now, and hope that somehow we’ll never make it to an end.
The first one is often strange – a linear black and white glimpse of a person I’ve known tangibly for the briefest span of time, but line after line, your shape fills the page like it is filling my days, and because of these words, this is now the way I will remember you always.
I used to let you do most of the talking, but now I have so much to say and I just don’t know how. Silence settled in between the screaming, and I know I’m only dreaming we can work this out now, but I’ll keep trying until you say “when”. I’ll do the talking if you won’t, I’ll love you even if you don’t. I know what I did wrong, and I wish I’d known it all along, but I’m trying now. Does that count at all? Maybe not, but I’m not ready to let go, I’m not ready to stop.
I ache for a peace I never find, with or without you, and I suppose it’s true – we can’t love someone else until we love ourselves. I broke off pieces of myself, trying to fit the mold within my mind of the person I thought you wanted me to be, and now I see that I broke us instead. I thought that we could mend, use glue and tape to make us whole again, but maybe I was dreaming, maybe I was wishing it was more than it is. I’m ready to love you better than I did before, but I’m not sure it matters now, and somehow, it’s almost the perfect ending because it makes no sense at all.
You got lost in her, in curves that seemed to cushion the hard edges of the words you never spoke out loud, and now, in the silence left behind, you are learning to resurface, to breathe, to once again be who you were before her.
There were months when I knew you could call at any time, and I would stay quiet on the line while you jumped from one topic to another. Sometimes I felt smothered, but I would take that over the silence here now, a silence so loud I can hear it pounding in my head. I’d even take the fighting instead, something we both chose for months with no hope of an end, with no way to pretend it was getting better. I wrote you letter after letter in the form of poems never read, though I thought about sending them just to see what you would say. Now everything is too little, too late and there are no words left to say out loud. I remember the day you told me you loved me, in the dark in your bed, and I think about everything I could have said each day since then. I know now that I let too many doubts crawl between us, and I never trusted you enough to simply love you in the way that you expected. I try connecting our timeline in my head, play it over and over as if it will at some point make sense but nothing makes sense in past tense.