Veteran This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     She worried that she was lying when she told him she loved him. She was scared that maybe the idea of him loving her, and his smooth muscles cradling her as she fell asleep, or the thought of him telling her she was beautiful, all of this, made her say it.

Well, isn't that love then, she wondered. She stared up at the ceiling with her headphones, listening to the voice that made her fall in love, the voice that made her remember being young and free. She turned it off. It hurt to remember. It was lonely to remember. It wrenched and squeezed the juices out of her heart because she had to remember them but they didn't remember her.

She had seen him and expected him to miss her. That' s why I always have to look good, she thought, so people will always be in love with me, and I'll never be alone. Because it hurt to be alone.

She recalled what it was like to be that way - stifling. Suffocating. Hot. Sticky. It gave her headaches, the type you get at the beach when you stare and squint at the sun because everything is so beautiful only to end up miserable and resenting the beauty and carefree atmosphere when you leave with a warm bottle of water and bleeding Advils in your sweaty palm. She didn't want to be alone again. Being alone is the beach without water.

Sometimes she prompted him to say it, but this was false. It made the words fake, as if she were willing him to think about her when he was merely watching a movie. She had always done this. The best ones did it on their own, but they all did in the beginning. Because they all wanted her. More likely they wanted a part of her. They were selfish. They told her she was hot, because they were hot. They told her she was sexy because the things she was doing to them were sexy. So they took pieces from her, and she was starting to think there wasn't much left.

Then she was useless. So she filled the air with civilities and falseness, to try to make believe that the gaping hole in her soul didn't exist, that it didn't feel like air was blowing through each time everyone left and she began staring at things. Before she slept, and was sick.

And thought about love. How fickle it is. And how horrible she was. And how much she hated Hollywood and all the women in it who made love look easy. It didn't matter that behind the gorgeous facade they popped gluttonous amounts of prescription pills and swigged furiously at bottles of vodka. It didn't matter that their husbands didn't love them and resented their fame and were infatuated with their money. No, it mattered that they made it look easy and made her feel bad. Yes, she thought, I have always been selfish. And, in one way or another, I have always been in love.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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