The Woman Who Came After

She’s sweet, the kind of girl who would be named after a city, and is. I imagine her in an apron and heels, but that’s not fair, her long hair tied up in a perfect bun. I can’t hate her, the woman who came after. She housed your heart so easily. While I strayed she stays, and who could blame her for that?

The truth is as I write it, and I rarely think of you now, but once a year when I remember again that I’ve forgotten your birthday or how my feet felt in my shoes at your grandmother’s funeral, too big to fill. You cried and squeezed my hand so tight I had red marks for days.

The ring is modest, as it would be, but painstakingly picked out and deliberated over. You always did work out the details, thought ahead. No grand gestures or cheesy clichés but you listen and you remember. It was probably lovely how you asked, intimate, a little nostalgic. But, then, you do nostalgia so well.

It’s difficult to say what I really mean when what I mean is drifting and what I say is hard pin points of light bursting through the shades. I love you. I never loved you. Looking back, you could have been anyone but you were you, sitting behind me in history class, letting me borrow your chewed up pen.

I’d love to congratulate you and mean it. But, how can I? You’re still 18 and fearless, driving on the wrong side of the road, playing chicken with my heart. You can’t be getting married, you’re still across from me at that 24/7 Perks Coffee, telling me how happy you are. I never did do honesty right with you, so I nodded and listened, smiled, and walked away again. Always.

So, here we are backs turned, living the lives we were meant for. Loving stronger, better, faster, the way you only can if you’ve learned from mistakes, lived through the heartache.

Still.

You’re engaged, and somewhere out there the fat woman is gearing up to sing. The things I’d say to her, to you, if I had half a chance.

Like, congratulations, you make a beautiful couple.

I wish you well.

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6 thoughts on “The Woman Who Came After”

  1. I had a very similar experience recently.

    But instead of such an articulate, poetic reaction

    the only word I could think or say was

    “oh.”

    And I’m still saying it.

    You’re in love. Oh. You’re getting Married. Oh.

    Oh.

    Oh.

    Oh, ok.

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