The Nights We Don’t Remember

It’s his birthday so I don’t leave right away. I let him hold my shell for a while and whisper things in my ear. I let my eyes close, nestle my head into the nook between shoulder and neck, and give my best performance of a different girl. It’s the close of another long night. His lip puffs up, the only lasting souvenir from another drunken celebration. Sucker-punched on the street. I find a bag of frozen corn in his freezer and scatter small yellow kernels from kitchen to bed. Holding the bag against his face, letting him pull me closer. I miss taking care of someone.

On the street the vodka talked for me; warned him against getting too close; told him I’d break his heart. It’s a well-worn path through the woods, the feet that have pounded this pattern into place.

“I don’t want to be just another guy. I don’t want you to get bored and move on in a week or two.”

It’s not boredom that moves me forward, I want to tell him. It’s something I can’t quite see yet calling through the mist. A foghorn and a lighthouse’s rotating beam in the night. Would you ask a pen not to write? Would you cage a bird to hear it sing? I flit in and out of beds. I’ll let you kiss me here but not there. I tempt you close, closer, but not too close. I learn to say goodbye without words, with a look or the absence of affection. I carve my nature out of stone and wood.

He’s asleep when I leave; when I untangle myself from his limbs. I straighten my shirt and comb my bangs back into place on my forehead. I call a cab and he stirs.

“Don’t go.”

“I have to.”


“I can’t.”

I run a hand through his hair and lift the bag of corn from where it has landed forgotten on the floor. Thawed. I jostle it back and forth between my hands. Search myself for something else to say.

“Happy Birthday.”

I leave the bag by his bed and go, shutting the door quietly behind me, not looking back. The apartments all bleed into each other. The men all start to sound the same. The pea under the mattress gets harder every time I lay down somewhere new. I toss and I turn and I get up to leave. I learn to say goodbye before I ever say hello and these cab rides home are some of the loneliest I know.

Freelance Whales – Location


18 Comments Add yours

  1. curly su says:

    just try to stay once in a while, try to let him in… because one day – when you of course want it least – you’ll be the one asking someone to stay, and will he know how? will he trust that you’ll stay too? you have to be able to do it if you expect someone else to do the same. you can’t always be the one in control. and even if you can… it’s really lonely that way.

  2. Eric says:

    What great images at the end; holding the bag of corn, leaving the apartment.

    Fly on, little wing.

  3. Stephen K says:

    Far be from us to make your decisions for you, but if you’re dismissing them out of hand, that’s an issue that should probably be addressed. Hang in there, L, you’re a wonderful girl and with luck you’ll find the guy to whose request to stay you will heed.

  4. mysterg says:

    You would be the best birthday present a man could ever ask for, so this isn’t about them, it’s about you. Someday, when you are ready, you will defrost and learn how to love again. Until then, simply endure…

  5. Mr. Apron says:

    Happy Birthday, indeed.

    Each post is a gift.

  6. Hannah Miet says:

    ” I learn to say goodbye before I ever say hello and these cab rides home are some of the loneliest I know.”

    There goes that mirror again.

    But I don’t think that you need to change, love. I hope you don’t think you do. I believe that when it’s right, you’ll be lifted off the ground. And you still won’t say hello because there will be no words, or too many words, or ones that haven’t been invented.

    But I’m thawing. What the fuck do I know.

  7. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-preservation.

  8. Noel says:

    There’s a Gary Young poem that reminds me of you. It’s a prose poem:

    Two girls were struck by lightning at the harbor mouth. An orange flame lifted them up and laid them down again. Their thin suits had been melted away. It’s a miracle they survived. It’s a miracle they were ever born at all.

    You’re a miracle. Keep on surviving.

  9. seanmcdonnellbrown says:

    Penguin! This one’s fantastic.

  10. Alexia says:

    I could tell someone that I wrote this and they wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I’m not saying I will because that would be mean, it’s just… I get it.

  11. Andrea says:

    Pretty and sad at the same time, like all the best things in life.

  12. P T says:

    Your words conjure images in my head…amazing…I’m blown away…

  13. J.L. Hutson says:

    Truthful and powerful and sad. Yet, somehow, uplifting … it’s those wings of yours, made out of words. What a lovely sound their flapping makes.
    Seems like you are much smarter than poor Icarus, too. Stay low, away from the sun. Travel by cab if you must (lonely as it may be) lest your wings, your words, burn up in the immolation of someone else’s devotion.

    Then, when the time comes (and I pray that some omen–the path of a swooping magpie, perhaps, or the chirping of a crow at some strange crossroad?–alerts you to the hour), when you are ready, soar on up and tell your gorgeous stories to the sun.

    Let the fire silence you.

    Plummet down to earth with a smile on your face.

    It seems like you are much loved. Someone will be there to catch you.

    (Hell, there’ll probably be a line of men, jostling each other for the chance.)

    Thank you, again, as always, for the glimpse into your self.

    (It’s endearing … I just realized that many of your posts are like the scene you just described, with the reader in the role of the swollen-lipped birthday-boy: we’re given a brief moment of incredible, moving proximity … followed by your quiet, quite abrupt departure. And we’re left craving more. … I’ll just say this. The silence of the blank page can sometimes be as baleful as the solitary trip inside the taxi. Maybe.)

  14. hovito89 says:

    Wow.. your an extrodinary writer.. Poetic. I got to admit, Hannah Miet has good taste.. She pointed me in your direction after I complained of having a lack of inspiration.. I was looking for someone with genuine talent to re-inspire that fire I once held.. Reading your posts have helped tremendously. I hope you never stop. Take Care-
    Brandon M.

  15. Kate says:

    Wow, that is a beautiful and evocative post.

    Kate x

  16. thinkingtoohard13 says:

    I’m sure you’ve seen those worn-out blogs where writers post three lines, then quote the lyrics of whatever song struck them that day. They make me think that the authors just don’t have anything to say, or don’t know how to say it.
    Despite my extreme dislike of these blogs, they come to me now because, well . . . I just heard John Mayer, and he was singing to you. “Heartbreak Warfare.”
    Cheesy, pathetic, but from my gut.
    Besides, after reading this post, what could I possibly add that would be of interest? You’re a firestorm of words, tamed by no one. Keep at it, please.

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