He becomes habit, an addiction I have to kick. When I spend my days catching his form in the corner of my eye and my nights rolling away from nothing into dead space. The demons that chase us, invisible, so you never know when they are gaining and when you are in the clear. The fear that keeps your head down and heels to the pavement. Moving.
I break my headphones in two and fly into a rage, tearing through drawers in my search for replacements. These delicately crafted compromises that we bend and stretch until they snap.
I would drink caffeine all night just to stay up with the city, picking brains, collecting stories like broken seashells or tarnished pennies. Lost playing cards.
I take two steps back, slowly, as though I’m fitting my boots into footprints in the snow. I tell him we should end it. He shows up at my work the next day, as planned. He follows me up the stairs to my room, sprawls on his stomach across my bed like he belongs there, surveys me out of tired eyes.
“Did you really think I would disappear so easily?”
I shake my head and shrug, unsure—crawling onto his back to avoid his gaze. I match him limb for limb, spreading my body across his in a smaller layer, slowing my breath. I feel the words drain out of me, the questions, my fear. All of the voices inside me, all the warnings ignored. He laughs like he has me figured out and I tell him that he does while my body hardens into a cement form of me; while my heart pauses and then changes rhythm, beating backwards.
Days later, I will spend time with someone new—using laughter as a placebo, I will fall asleep in the curve of an unfamiliar chest, shake my head awake, and force my footsteps home. Kisses that haunt my mouth like smoke and afterglow, turning my whole body neon.
Palming the sides of this dark box you’ve put me in. Hoping there are air holes.
Homer Hiccolm & The Rocket Boys – Heartbeat