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Maybe getting your name tattooed on my wrist wasn't the most practical idea.
I liked the way the letters looped in and out, the cursive writing etched onto my skin with a needle that burned and stung more than any scrape or cut. I gnawed on my bottom lip and winced, but I didn't cry. I figured that it would be worth it all in the end.
I opted for white ink instead of black. I thought it would be prettier and far more feminine, and people only really saw it if I showed it to them. I would always know it was there, though, and that's what mattered.
I gripped my wrist tight as I looked at your suitcase. Clothes were strewn around the bed, our bed, and hung off the ends like they had been thrown there with a force that was unmatchable to anything I had seen from you before. The design on your shirt was staring me in the face, like I was unwelcome in this room. A stinging surge of pain shot through my body. It started at my wrist and made its way through my eyes, and it came out in the form of tears. It hurt.
I could hear the sound of zippers being forcefully pulled from the tiny kitchenette. The sound rang through the apartment like a gong through a town square. Buttons snapped shut and things flew off the table with the same force that had ripped clothing off of hanging in the tiny closet not made for two. A glass shattered on the linoleum. You cursed so loud that it was reminiscent of that gong noise again. While all of this is happening, I'm wondering how much tattoo removal costs.
Quiet filled the air again. You weren't moving or screaming. Just breathing. The silence that surrounded us made the breaths sound like gusts of wind, responsible for tornados all across the east coast. Breathing so loud, the neighbors could hear it. It was like a flood, a flood that could break a levy or two. This silence was so loud that it sounded like the static of he television in the living room. The white noise that scared me half to death, it was always there, a constant reminder of the money we didn't have to fix the things we didn't know needed fixing.
"Cable's out," you'd say, as if it wasn't something I didn't already know. It didn't seem to matter, really - it was just television. It was just something to distract ourselves from reality. Maybe it was what we needed, though. Maybe that television would have saved us.
The ever-growing distance shoved itself between us until it stretched throughout the length and width of our apartment. My shaky fingers clung to any semblance of you I could find, be it in the air or in our bed or in your black sweatshirt that had bleach stains and holes decorating it with a character I could only wish to have some day. It's sad that we love to find people in objects, and such objects in people. Any observation said aloud would warrant a glare in my direction that said I was stupid in fifteen different languages. It hurt, but then again, what didn't?
Your attitude was always so bad, always unsympathetic and never genuine. But I loved it when you smiled. It was like sunbeams came out of your face when you did. It didn't happen often, but when it did, it illuminated the darkest of rooms. I felt lucky that I got to see it at least a few times a week. That was then, though. The "now" in any situation is very obviously different than the "then".
I heard keys scrape against our old wooden table, a gift from your parents when we first moved in. The scratches and marks left weren't flaws but symbols of age and character, like it was wiser and better than other tables. It could withstand a beating, slammed forks and spills and dog scratches from when your childhood pet used to climb up on the table to get food scraps he wasn't supposed to have. It reminded you of the childhood you wanted to repeat over and over again until you got it right. But it was just a table, not a time machine, and you never liked the dinners I put on it anyway.
You shoved through the bedroom door to see me standing there, staring at the bed, a face saturated with dark makeup and tears. You gave me a cold look that held no sympathy for me at all, a deliberate stare that said that I deserved this. The clothes on the bed that were once folded or ironed or hung up neatly in that tiny closet. You balled them up and threw them in with anger. Anger, and resentment, and frustration. Maybe a little bit of hurt, too, because we had both said some pretty awful things. I gripped my wrist tighter and willed the white ink to sin into my skin and veins and disappear, like it was never there at all. All it was now was a scar and a constant reminder of what I would be losing.
The suitcase slammed shut and the sound of the zipper rang through the room. You shoved past me against and walked out, your suitcase slapping me in the knees with every stomp. It hurt me, and you hurt me, and this hurt me. I think that may be erring on the side of redundancy, but it saying it once, or twice, or ten times just doesn't do it justice.
Take the tattoo needle and multiply it by a thousand and then maybe you'll have what I feel right now.
There was something mean in me that said those horrible things to you, there was something horrible in me that made me want to shove you back. But there was also something sweet in me that made me immediately remorseful and apologetic, something sad in me that made me miss you before you were even gone. I could choke out an "I'm sorry" or a "please don't go" but what good would that do? It would make you angrier, and despite my mean side and how much I hated the way you acted, all I wanted was for you to be happy. You could never be happy and stay with me. It just wouldn't work. I'd like to pretend it could, though.
I followed your body through the door of our room, treading through the southern California wave that was the distant feeling you held for me. I pushed through all the bitterness and resentment and hopelessness, searching through the salty ocean water to find the person I loved with every bit of my hardened heart.
You stood in the doorway with your suitcase and your angry face and you stared through me until it hurt too badly to look directly at you. It was almost like staring into the sun. You glared daggers through me and I felt every one of them. I covered my wrist and you just stared at my hand, and I saw what may have been a pang of guilt in your eyes. You looked back into my eyes and you loosened your grip on your suitcase. The anger began to leave your face, gradually, and not entirely, but it was a start. Your face softened noticeably. You slid your teeth over your bottom lip, like you were suppressing words, or something that showed your emotions. I couldn't even tell how hard I was crying until that moment.
"You know that this is what has to happen now, right? We can't go back after this."
I stared at your hard to read expression, solid and liquid coming together to become one in the same. Your blank expression was reminiscent of the terrifying static snow on our small television set. Cable's out again. The cable's been out. The cable is never going to come back on. I'm beginning to think that it was never on to begin with.
I sucked in. I fidgeted with me shirt and hair, removing my hand from my wrist. The redness from my grip left a mark, making the white ink more prevalent and noticeable than it would have been if I hadn't held onto it at all. You moved closer to me and gently forced my hand from my hair back to my side. I winced, because it had been so long since your skin had made contact with mine. It felt like aeons.
It almost hurt.
You looked me in the eyes and swallowed hard. The romantic in me was waiting for you to kiss me and tell me it was going to be okay and this was okay and that you loved me. I was waiting for my fairy-tale ending, my sappy, sad movie to have a fittingly feel-good conclusion. Unfortunately this wasn't a movie. I knew that. I swear.
The distance had shoved itself so far into you that it exuded from your body like an aura and you were now a different person. I felt sick, a lump in my throat the side of a fist, which seemed appropriate because it felt like someone had punched in my the jugular. And the chest. And the stomach. And the mouth. It just felt like someone was beating me until I couldn't stand.
I wanted you to kiss me so badly, but strangers don't kiss each other unless they're drunk or they're dared. Strangers don't kiss each other like I needed you to kiss me. I needed something that provided the security of your destroyed sweatshirt or the letters you'd write me before I saw you every day. Every word in every letter would make me choke on the fist in my throat if I was to read them now.
"Every little thing has led up to this."
Your quiet voice spoke the truth I couldn't bring myself to face. Every fight was blamed on our quick tempers, every insult on a bad day. Not every day had to be horrible. We had good days, or at least I thought we did.
"You're going to make yourself sick. Please stop. You know how much I worry about you."
I gagged and choked and dry-heaved, as if on cue. It killed me to have this happen. I gripped my wrist like the ink would fade, just like we had faded.
I couldn't even think straight. Everything stung.
"Where are you going to go?"
I spat the words out like a hurt child. I was a hurt child. All of this hurt, and I couldn't make it better, and it absolutely killed me that this had failed. It was too much to handle.
"I'll figure it out."
You stepped away from my body, a shell of what I was when you first decided to love me. I'm not the same, and you're not the same. We've aged and become brittle and bitter. The wires that once connected us have frayed. They're broken. We're broken.
You grabbed your suitcase. Your eyes said things neither of us could. You blinked, and a tear fell, and you left it there. It was to remind me that you were still human. You still had something left inside of you that made you feel something for me. Whatever that something was, it was there. You knew it and I knew it, but it wasn't enough to make you stay.
You opened the door and waked out, no goodbye, no "I love you", nothing. Just the cold air of your aura radiating through the hallway, leaving behind traces of you with every step you took. The door stayed open because I was too weak to close it. It stayed open for a while. I just wanted you to come back. The sign above the door read "home sweet home", but now it was bitter and tense and it was a tiny apartment, not a home. In retrospect, I don't think it ever was truly a home.
Two weeks later, I got a check in the mail for three hundred dollars - enough money to cover the cost of a tattoo removal. I swear, it hurt just as badly as getting the tattoo. Maybe worse. I guess it's all relative to the situation. When you put it that way, it hurt way more to get rid of it than it did to get it. It hurt so bad that I cried. I kept crying, right there in the tattoo chair. The lady doing it, she was covered in tattoos. "Oh, c'mon. It doesn't hurt that bad."
If only she knew.