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I Said Yes
I hate the way I have become, the fragility of me, as if I wasn't a healthy twenty-year-old, as if I was a porcelain doll. I shuffle through the house by day, feet making a gentle rasping noise on the floors, small and hunched over against the bitter winds flung towards me. And then other times, I'm almost like myself. I smile and laugh and sometimes he's not even in my mind, not even hiding around the deepest corner, and then someone will say something. Something that seems innocent, but the pain will burn fresh and tears bubble over. The slightest touch will topple me over until I'm lying, shattered in the familiar jagged pieces I was not so long ago.
I hate the way they look at me, their eyes so pitying, but how can they understand? How can their happy minds comprehend my feelings, when I can barely comprehend them myself? Oh yes, some of them have lost their loved ones, but they have never lost what I have. They have never lost their heart, their soul, their very reason for existing. Their gentle words and comfort - it means nothing. Bright wrapping around an empty box, presented with a hug; they mean well but they don't know. How could they?
I hate the night more than I do the day, the way the sheets stick to my sweating skin, how they rustle as I roll over. The unbearable noises from outside, the jingling of the crickets, buzzing of the insects, and squawking of the birds, rushes into my ears, and I'm sure it's amplified. He had called it a symphony, finer than Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart combined, because he said it truly described what they could only attempt to do. It's not a symphony. It's a cacophony, an abomination, whose only purpose is to torture me further.
I hate the slippery tears that slide down my cheeks, the quiet ones especially. I sit in the rocking chair and let them fall, let them drip onto my sweater and fade into the carpet. Not so much as a sigh escapes from me as I sit, utterly still, staring straight ahead. And then other times I can only cradle my head in my arms as I gasp and whimper, tears flowing freely, and then I can't control them. Whenever I had cried in the past, he was always there, gently wiping my tears away and pulling me closer to him. But now there was no one to hold me, no one who refrained from telling me it would be okay, no one who could understand what and how I was feeling more than I did myself.
I hate the cookies, the muffins, the cakes, and the presents they bring, the sweetened clumps of nothing they shove down my throat. They don't know what I like, and bring all the wrong things. I've never liked chocolate chip cookies or cheese cake or Godiva chocolate. I like sugar cookies sprinkled with just the right amount of cinnamon, and Hershey's milk chocolate without any nuts. He knew what I liked. He would bring me pieces of chocolate with the most extravagant wrappings, brilliant colors and minute bows, and it would turn out to be just good old Hershey's. We would both laugh, and then maybe watch a movie, with him feeding me popcorn, one by one.
I hate him. When we were little, he would tease me for my freckles, my buck teeth. He would pull my braids and put frogs and spiders in my schoolbag. Sometimes he stole my homework and wouldn't give it back, and he would break my toys and get my new dresses dirty. Every prank there was, he did it on me.
I hate him. When we got older, he shyly asked me to come to the dance with him. I said yes. We danced the whole time, and it was so much fun. He whirled me around until I got dizzy, and made sure I wasn't thirsty or hungry in the least. At the end we were dancing in the center, everyone circled around us and cheering us on. A few weeks afterward I went to the movies with him. It was a terrible movie and he was so sorry, but I didn't mind. Truth be told, I didn't even watch the movie. I watched him. And it was great.
I hate him. When we graduated from college, he proposed to me in the restaurant. He got down on his knee and held out a ring I knew he couldn't afford and asked me to please marry him. I said yes. The wedding was elegant, with me in the most beautiful white dress and him in a tux that fit him better than I imagined. Ever since then I've worn the ring every day, even now.
I hate him. I woke up in the night and saw him throwing clothes in a suitcase, and I asked him where he was going. He glanced at me, but his gaze wasn't the soft, loving one I was used to, but hard and irritable. He said he was going away, and that he would maybe come back. I felt like my stomach was punctured and asked him why, why was he leaving me, why? And he said he had to, that he couldn't stay, and wouldn't say anything more. I followed him outside, in the pouring rain, and grabbed his arm and beseeched him to at least tell me why. Was it another girl? Did he just...grow tired of me? My tears rained more heavily than the sky, but he only sharply told me to let go. I clung for another moment, eyes desperate, heart thudding, and then, I said yes. My fingers slipped off his coat sleeve, and he smoothed it out, before hurrying onto the bus. He didn't look back, but I stared until the bus went out of sight. Dressed in a bath robe, in the pouring rain, lost, alone, and confused.
I hate him. I didn't know him. I never did. I didn't know who he was, what he was like. I could tell you his favorite color, candy, clothes, drink, food, his favorite everything, but I can't tell you who he is. I don't know. He was my heart, but I wasn't his. And when he left me, he took my heart away and never gave it back.
I hate him. I got the phone call one day, and they said he was dead. Suicide, they said. He was found on the train tracks, body damaged beyond all recognition, except for the driver's license they found on his body. But I know they're lying. He wasn't found dead at all. He's out there somewhere, I know he is, because I found his note on my kitchen counter: Say yes. I knew it was him, I know his handwriting. He was there and alive but I still didn't know him.
I hate him. But I said yes. Because I love him.