by Samantha Brodsky
I Am Your Yesterdays, Not Your Todays Or Tomorrows
Dear Ex-Lover who is miles away by now,
I never wanted you to leave me. Here I am, drowning in my own misery like I swore I’d never do. I’m turning into one of them. One of those women who start counting the clock’s ticking to remind herself that time moves forward. Always. Because I feel like I’ve fallen so far behind that I can’t seem to pinpoint who I was before you.
Before you, I was a woman who liked the movies and lists and scarves even in the summer’s miserable heat. I liked collecting buttons left astray like loose change. I liked cheap wine and those cookie cakes meant for ten-year-olds’ birthday parties. I liked many things. But it wasn’t until I met you that I learned to love.
I loved the way the peach-saturated clouds hovered like whispers above the city at dusk before falling between the buildings, setting every office window ablaze. I loved mornings. I loved listening to music with you even though your taste was less than subpar. Christ — you wanted to walk down the aisle to Kiss’s “I Was Made For Loving You.” I loved the satisfaction of brushing out knots in my hair. Loved a lot of things because being in love with you turned my preferences into desires. Turned the things I liked into the things I loved.
But being in love with you also turned my dislikes into things I hated. I hated the rain. I hated how not one of the city’s thousands of Chinese food places had fortune cookies with good fortunes. Not one. I hated the way you constantly checked your watch, like your time spent with me was hindering you from spending time with someone else. From doing something else. From doing someone else. I hated winter because your body heat would smother me and make my thoughts spill out of my ears and crawl under the sheets with us and onto my skin like fleas I couldn’t shake. I hated your mouth. The way it contorted itself with words my mind heard but heart tried so intently to disregard.
I miss fighting with you. My favorite part was the steady calm that would pound the tension flat until it dissolved away like an exhaled breath fading into the cold. I miss when your lips would apologize.
I wish our love hadn’t been ours. I wish it had been that of strangers’ so that we could just shake our heads at them in quiet sadness. As we’d pass them on the street, we’d search desperately for each other’s hands, clinging to one another like frightened children. And we would observe the very thing we wished not to be. Couldn’t be. Wouldn’t be. Because that love would seem strange to us. In a perfect world, that love — that wicked, twisted love — wouldn’t be ours at all. In a perfect world, by now, I’d have stopped counting time.