Do you remember six years ago? I was looking at old photos and marveling at how young and lovely you were. That isn’t to say that you’re no longer both of those things, it’s just it seemed so faraway, as if in meeting you now, I’d find you creased and grayed due to the ravages of time, or love.
February is hard and smells of violence, if recall correctly.
I think of the last message you left, how you told me my writing was “very mediocre,” and how I never believed you meant it. Instead, I mostly thought of how the modifier “very” contradicted the word “mediocre.” It was as if the worst thing you could tell me was I was “exceptionally average” or “extra medium.” Of course, I knew that meant you actually liked my writing, and you wanted to hurt me, but you couldn’t, not really. You’ve always sucked at hurting anyone except yourself. So, you never said how you hated it, or that I “couldn’t write for shit,” which would have been a much more you thing to say.
In any case, my real reaction to being told my work was mediocre was, “Only compared to yours, baby,” because that was true.
I’m writing better now, mostly in my head, where I’m storing the words. I read a lot now, and I know I’m getting better at writing, because all the books I read keep getting worse. You know me, and my sideways logic – I assume that’s because the subconscious part of me that writes believes I could do the work as well as they. And if I could do it, well, you know.
I miss your poetry, and especially the way I was never in it. No one was, except those who didn’t deserve to be. You didn’t write autobiographical work; it was more self-abusive, with a pen and a prick, as I recall. Still, your talent bled all over the page. There was that one time I was in a poem of yours – after she left me, and I was shattered, and I asked you to write me one. Remember that? You told me to wait, texted me 15 minutes later, and sent me the poem. It was perfect, and beautiful, and I lost it.
Much in the way I lost you.
I never told you how much you tore me apart, but I never do, do I? Explanations were never my style. I’m lost somewhere between “Do not go gentle” and Clint Eastwood, with a pointed bent toward the loud, silent type.
But you tore me, and I’m still bleeding. So there’s that.
She’s still in my life, in a way, in case you’re wondering. Not in the old, romantic way – it’s more like watching someone attempt to swim across the ocean, and you know they don’t expect to make it. In fact, my job is to watch her want to drown, and allow her to pull against my oars, periodically, catch her breath, and refuse to climb into the fucking boat.
I’m Sisyphus, and she’s my torment.
But you, my love, were my heart.
Remember the night of the 5-minute nightmare? And after, when you were small, just a little girl, and I insisted that you get in bed with me, to end the night terror? Do you remember, that you trusted me, despite your years of horror, each of which taught you to never, ever trust a man?
You climbed into bed that night, soft, and warm, and sleepy, with your red curls begging to be stroked. And you slept – fitfully – until the safety of dawn. I didn’t sleep, not at all, awakened by your gasps, stirred by intermittent remembered torments, racked by your pain. I wanted to wake you, love you to a peaceful slumber. But I knew there would be no peace for you.
And, with the dawn, my hand explored the softness of your skin and yet we managed to remain platonic. Do you remember how, before climbing into my bed, I said, “I promise you’ll be safe. I won’t touch you.”
And you, despite being mostly somewhere else, replied, “You won’t touch me?” which was halfway twixt a question and a declaration. And I nodded, and you followed, softly, to my bed.
Do you recall, dear friend, how much you trusted me then?
That was how much I trusted you, in turn, just before you revealed your conspiracy to stomp on my heart. It was never your betrayal, in truth, that wounded me. It was that your actions meant you intended to hurt me.
Did you know I wandered through city streets, my cameras strapped to my wrists like weaponry, weeping, when she left? I didn’t miss her, although most thought I did. No, I had lost something more – I went to bed one night a father, and awoke to learn my daughter was no longer mine. And while I reeled, raging against God’s betrayal, my heart full of “And the Power and the Glory, forever, (but eff you very much)” you were with your co-conspirator, urging her betrayal. You and I had fallen out, as siblings sometimes do, and you needed to get even. So you did.
In any case, the years have passed, and I miss you often. I harbor no bitterness, you see. And, if you are interested, my writing is still not as gifted as yours – at least not the stuff I publish, nor the words I let others read.
But you should see the shit I keep in my head. That work, my love, would make you cry. And we know how you always loved to cry.
Well, these are only words, and words are mostly bullshit. But I wanted to say one thing to you, so forgive the ambling way I’ve reached my point. At the end, when I sent you both my letter, detailing your betrayal, do you remember what I said?
It was something on the order of, “You both hate yourselves so much, you even hate me for loving you.”
Well, I wanted you to know, I meant that part.
And your feet still stink.