by Alex Coburn
The chairs are arranged in an awkward semi-circle around the perimeter of the room. They’re mostly populated by younger people, late teens and 20-somethings, but every now and then you notice an older face, tired and strained. This is obviously not their first meeting
Will I be there when I am that old?
“We will now introduce ourselves by our first names only. Please remember to keep confidentiality. This is a closed meeting. You are welcome to stay if you have a desire to stop being in love with unrequited love. If you have fallen in unrequited love in the last 24 hours, we ask that you only listen during the meeting.”
I get up and leave.
I love him. I love him not. I love him. I love him not.
I miss the certainty. I miss the pain of unrequited love. As soon as someone expresses mutual interest in me, I run. I don’t understand it. Maybe I’m afraid to commit to the requited. Maybe I need to long for something in order for my love to feel real.
If I could stop being cliche for two seconds, I would realize how lucky I am. On the outside, at least. I am a candy-coated time bomb. The pastel outside hides the treachery within. I am a strawberry-flavored poison. My heart is full of soot.
Am I a good person or just a bad person playing at being good? I’m selfish. I’m moody. I’m inconsistent. I don’t know how to love unless love is entwined with caution tape and barbed wire and padlocks. My love knows red lights. As soon as the light turns green, I balk. I falter. I hesi-
What in my DNA makes me predispositioned to be this way? What’s the gene for inability to love mutually? If only the doctor had caught it sooner and told my parents I was a lost cause.
“Sir, ma’am, I’m sorry, but your daughter is an asshole.”
See how easy that would have been?
Instead, I have to get up every morning, look myself in the eye and say, “You are an asshole.”
Books love to talk about the scorned lover, but what about the one who scorned them? You never hear about them because no one wants to. The ones who scorn. The ones who walk away. The ones who look someone they used to love in the eye and say, “No. Not you.”
I have never said, “No. Not you.” But I have crossed the street to avoid him.