Le Papillon

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“He licked the seconds as they dripped off my fingertips
The same way he sadistically drank my tears
No airplane is guided by sight, no human is led by light
Do you remember where we ran off to in the beginning?
I’d streamline our memories, if I had any worth keeping”.

I could no longer remember whether my line of vision was blurred by the rain from the outside or by my own tears. It all looks watery and unstable to me. Airplanes, or even airports, in general make me delightfully nostalgic.
At this very moment came a clever idea. What if I could package my memories in brightly-colored candy wrappers and sold them? People would pop them like pills.
How did it come to this? How did I come to an ivy league and sell drugs? What am I doing in a basement studying a subject irrelevant to life? How did I go from being the best to feel like I don’t do enough, when I clearly do?
Where did I go wrong? Where did I go right.

“This is a bad idea, absolutely disastrous!” I remember thinking to myself. It was one of those bad ideas you get when you’re drunk, except at that very moment I was neither. But I suppose the general air of infatuation is comparable to both aforementioned altered states. Your head spins, you can’t stand straight, you can’t think straight. Not that I ever knew what I wanted before, but I knew what I wanted less now. I wanted this. Him and me. Me and him. No one said it would be easy. I didn’t know how hard it would be.
“I’m not looking for a relationship.” That’s the phrase that starts everything. When you think you don’t want to be with someone, because at some point being with someone means that they will leave you. Before you know it, you’re precisely with the person that you said you didn’t want to be with. Before you know it, you’re lying in bed with this person’s arms wrapped like cellophane around you, their breath brushing upon your neck, and you’re thinking, “I want a relationship.”
It was 4:31 in the morning. Four freaking am, and he was still sending me text messages asking if I was awake. I had a midterm that day—I really should not have answered. I had a midterm and I wasn’t sleeping. Instead I was sending text messages to a boy who had started dating my friend only 6 or 7 hours before. I thought I left high school drama before. I really should not have responded, because then he called me. He said we were still friends, he said he read my story, he said he wanted to see me. I said no. I said no, you’re taken—that’s like being married. I said no, I don’t want be the dirty mistress.
And before I knew it, I was in my stolen green sweatshirt, sitting on the sofa across him from him. And then? Then I was curled up in his lap, and he was telling me how bad my timing was and I was telling him that he never did anything I told him to.
It was ironic. The whole lot of it.
He said a lot of stuff that night to keep me from walking out. If I had walked out that night, I would have never walked back in. He knew that. I knew that. He said “I love your eight year old laugh. ” I turned my back towards him. He drew circles on my shoulder. He said “You’re so beautifully unique and you don’t even know it.”
You know what he told me? He told me to be selfish for a moment and ask him to pick me. But he was so silly! I couldn’t tell him to do anything. I couldn’t make him choose. Either he wanted it or he didn’t-- easy as that. I would be happy with him, I would be happy without him.
Shakespeare once said “All the world’s a stage, all the women and men merely players.” Players are actors and players play games. People are actors; they play. They play with hearts, and juggle them like bean bags. They play with lives, bartering them like cheap silver. They play with the future, betting them away in a game of dice. And in all games are clear winners and losers. As I was walked out of that room, in ridiculous clothing, offering a casual salutation, I was a winner. Without any emotional investment or physical effort, I had managed to very much ruin an individual’s well-being for a sufficient amount of time. The greatest wounds are those of heart, incurable, that fester indefinitely. As soon we find a shallow refuge for our pains, we only realize it is an only an uneasy truce of denial for our fragile souls. The hurt never stops, until the heart does. We are magnificent creatures, capable of withstanding so much anguish, amplified and magnified by every faltering step we take. And yet, we never quite hit the floor but are perpetuated in a constant state of falling.
I feed off it, every last excruciating moment of anger, of pain. To watch someone writhe because of you; that is true power. To be able to create an impediment to happiness without ever touching them, or saying anything: that is true power. True power is control—the access to and attainment of an intended objective. The nature of the objective, whether it be benign or malign, is completely irrelevant. It is irrelevant because the personal promise of power, and in some twisted instances happiness, overwhelms any possible regard for that of another human being.
Human being—what does that mean anyway? Whatever pathetic creatures we are, poor and petulant, forever wanting, forever missing. How awful it must be to be human! I am not. I am a bowl of dead bees covered by a single layer of rose petals.
The only hope we ever have ceasing the ache is the far-fetched hopes of divinity, of perfection and sterility.
And all of sudden, it was okay to hurt, to break apart, and to want more of it. I’m a masochist. And I let him—I let me—shred me apart, like those times before.
They were all butterflies, and he? He was the butterfly who landed. Butterflies land when you put yourself in the light, somewhere high. And I was no where close to high and bright, I was dark and twisty and knew nothing, but this butterfly, it landed anyway.
And when he landed, I was so scared, I was so scared to move, to make a sound, for fear that he might spring away, and all the beauty might be lost to me forever.
He was mine, my winter love, and I love him 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 58 seconds a day. I love him constantly except for the moments where I squeeze myself into the couch and peek out from over the armrests and watch the smoke rings merge themselves in the murky air. Then I know that he is only my winter and I am not his forever. I don’t love him then. But then two heartbeats pass, two cries, two releases. He turns, smiles, and I love him again. And for another day I can forget that he is just my present.

It’s a childish love, and I know this. A love made of fierce blushes and cuddle sessions and kisses in the rain can’t possibly last past April, and I know this too. I whisper words into his ear as we curl up under covers– words like tomorrow or marriage or hold me closer.

He tells me that I’m the evil—dark and beautiful and … he falters here. Temporary? I think it but don’t say it. I am only his and he is my winter, but I remember this only for two seconds a day.
It rains in the winter, so there were walks in the rain, so I could find leaves to kick. He hated the rain, how it was wet and cold, and got in hard to reach places in your soul. Butterflies can’t fly in the rain. I loved the rain because I thought it cleaned those places out. We never agreed. There were black and white pictures—god! I love black and white pictures, the way they’re so unjudgemental, so peaceful. And through those lenses, I saw my butterfly, my black and white butterfly who was filled was colors, but the lenses was lying to me—it said he was black and white. It said this was black and white and it lied to me.
“Spring’s coming,” I say one day midway through December, and he dangles his legs because he’s uneasy and his knee hurts. He doesn’t reply, just closes his eyes and I cling to him as the seasons spin around us.
The butterfly didn’t leave. I shook him off. He in all his Technicolor, mauve and yellow, started to bite his little legs in my hand. It tickled, it trembled on my skin. I could see it. I could see the anguish in his eyes, the way the golden red specks in his eyes would brighten and fade. As he gripped me, I suffered the tears spilling from his pores. I felt his emotion wrap its wintry threads around me, hoping that was enough to make me stay. I knew. I knew, but I kept shaking. I couldn’t stop—I was too scared. What if it chose to stay? It had—but it couldn’t.
The first night he could drink, he did. When I saw him, he was asleep, and I kissed him. I kissed him and I thought I could wake him from this terrible spell and it could fix everything and it would be okay. But when I bent over, I smelled the alcohol, and it smelled like pain. There it was—what I had made. And I realized, there wasn’t ever a kiss that could suck all the foul airs from him again. I couldn’t touch him and crawl into his arms and distill his sorrows from his words. And it wasn’t something I could fix anymore, it wasn’t something I could love away, that I could just pass my fingers over his face and watch him smile again. How could I hurt someone I loved so much so badly? HOW COULD I HURT SOMEONE I LOVED SO BADLY?
That night, I sat in the rain, begging for it to wash out all the filthy corners of my soul. I let it rape my conscience, claim my tears as one of them, but nothing happened. I thought back to the words of Kerouac, rebuking me that, “ I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. Maybe that's what life is...a wink of the eye and winking stars.”
They say if you want to understand, really understand the way things are in this world, you've got to die at least once. And as that's the law, it's better to die while you're young, when you've still got time to pull yourself up and start again. I died already. I died ALREADY. I died already and I wasn’t supposed to die again because I had just resurrected myself. But there it was—my noose, my knife, my shotgun. And it was all happening again, my schadenfreude ambitions that screwed me over and over again. I had seen this all before—the “give me a week”, the week that turned into forever. The “I still love you”, that turned into “I still want to love you.” He didn’t want to need me anymore. He didn’t want to depend on me, or give me pieces of him for safekeeping. Every time he thought of me, we died a little. He wanted to be independent now. But love was an addiction, and abortion of autonomy. He was telling me, one syllable at the time, in excruciating, sustained letters that Icouldn’t be trusted.
I deserved this. I didn’t deserve him. I was saying this from someone lost to someone found. And this? I have not forgotten this because I cannot forget.
Drunk, sitting here, I think. I am only a series of small victories and huge defeats. I am as astonished ad you that I have gotten from here to there without murdering or being murdering, without having been institutionalized. I don’t want to be what’s wrong with the world, but I am.





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