He stumbles on the street, another deadbeat alcoholic completely wasted on an early Tuesday morning. His breath is sour, tasting of bile and alcohol; his clothes smell like piss. Hands shaking, he checks his phone—he wants to see if things have suddenly changed. Maybe she has finally tried to call or text back. Blood drips from his nose onto the screen, reminding him that he started a fight in the bar, where security promptly threw him out. There had been no reason for him to fight, only for the thrill, the blood singing in his veins, the reminder that he is still a human, that he is still alive even after she left.
Oh God, how he misses her, how he misses her smile—accentuated by two dimples and countless freckles dappled across her face—and her eyes, as deep as the Pacific Ocean, as clear as the sky after the rain. She always maintained a certain lucidity that he could never achieve, that he could never hope to achieve, even when sobriety comes knocking at his door. He pushes it away, choosing to nurse the bottle and the anger and the sorrow and the love. The love drives him crazy, this pining that goes zero to sixty in less than a heartbeat, roaring down the track, kicking up dust that never fails to make him choke. This pure emotion just simmers within him, only coming out in those moments of heated passion when his fist finds another’s face, when another’s fist finds his face. And when it is all over, he is alone again, left wandering the streets, left longing to be by her side. He loves her so much that he is sick with it, symptoms manifesting in his efforts to become a nonfunctional alcoholic, in the nights spent passed out on her front step before she tells him to go home.
He knows what he needs to do to fix this, to fix himself. There are moments where he truly understands that he has a problem, but those are few, and he spends them vomiting into a toilet. Hatred always slinks around, buried beneath these other clashing feelings—hatred towards himself, hatred towards her. After all, it is her fault that he is in such a state, constantly mourning this lost love.
The streetlights blind him, blotting out darkness, leaving splotches of brightness shimmering and burning in his retinas in their wake.
His eyes hurt, and they strain as he looks at the screen that mimics the lights above him. He wants her, and the clutches the phone, his lifeline, as he dials her number from memory. When she left him, he immediately deleted her from his contacts, but he still remembers. The numbers always linger in the forefront of his mind.
She never picks up, and at the “Please leave the message at the tone,” he leaves another voicemail.
“I miss you.
“What have you done to me?
“I hate you. I’m nothing—nada, zilch, zip—without you, just some rundown bastard drinking my nights away. Did you know I lost my job? All your fault. It’s all your fault. Jesus Christ, you’ve ruined my life. Fuck you, you goddamn bitch. Fuck you for leaving me. Fuck you for completely ruining me. You were everything. You were my love and my life. I just want you—I just want you to answer me. I’m so fucking sick of asking, ‘Why, why, why, why?’ over and over again and waiting for you to not answer. How could you do this to me?
“I hate you.”
He drops his phone, the screen fragmenting as it connects with the cement. Cursing, reaching down to pick it up, he glances up to see that he is back again at the steps to her apartment. He unzips his pants and pisses at the door—maybe this time, it will act as some repellant so he will no longer gravitate towards her home. As he turns to leave, he trips, falling onto the steps, and then the exhaustion just overwhelms him, pulling him down, down, down, into some kind of semiconscious respite, his eyes still open and glassy, staring up to the sky. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he knows that she will tell him to go home.
The streetlights blind him, blotting out darkness, leaving splotches of brightness in their wake.
your kisses remind me of my brittleness. your kisses remind me of my bitterness. speed could never get my chest pounding, my heart throbbing, as intensely as when I remember your open face—your eyes closed with your lips slightly puckered—as I lean in, my own eyes closing to match yours, and we are reflections of people caught up in the rush, mirrors of each other. I am afraid of what you’ve done to me, of this newfound addiction to a drug that’s only found on your lips and your touch. there are moments where I just feel so fucking high that you sigh from within my body, but we are never synchronized. you are a million heartbeats, a million breaths ahead of me. I’m falling behind, caught up within my dependency.
wait for me. breathe with me. don’t leave without me.
I know that you will not yet leave me.
I wait for when you will.
I know that I will not yet leave you.
I wait for when I will.
I sometimes feel like my heart is in
perpetuated free fall—not “perpetual”
because I think that this thumping, this
thundering in my chest was really
brought on by choice. and I think that
I’m a fool for letting this happen to
me, for constant ache within my chest
that reminds me you aren’t here; I
don’t want to be here if you aren’t here.
you’re supposed to drink to forget, so
I find myself drowning at the bottom
of my glass more and more as of late—
I’m just filling my pockets with stones and
plummeting down, down, down and away.
I am drinking and falling into the deep well of my glass, and the burn of this cheap tequila reminds me of the burn of your lips beneath my tongue. There were moments when I’d stare at you unhindered because your attention was captured elsewhere by someone far more captivating than I could ever dream of being, but these were moments when I’d be fine with taking the backseat, disregarded and secondary to whatever held your interest—I could watch you in your truest essence, no need for tenderness for fear of insult, no need for sweetness or niceties for fear of anger. I was never afraid that another would taste that burn, that they would experience that slow, slow burn that built up from the first taste and explode before settling down to a lingering sensation that remained in my mouth.
Now I stare at you like I stare at the smudged crystal at the bottom of this shot glass, with longing and sorrow, waiting for my heart to be filled up again, for my glass to be filled up again.
it drips from my mouth, flavored like mulled
wine, thick as honey as it slowly
pours down, down, down into my throat
and I am drowning, drowning, drowning
in it, and I am asphyxiating on you like a man
choking on water. I can taste you
on my tongue, sweet as blackberries
yet bitter as Adderall, but the flavor
electrifies, and then I can taste the alkali
energy you fill me with. I can smell the
storm you create within my chest, the
oncoming rain filling the air with the
humid scent of cleansing. I am falling,
falling, falling into this blissful purgatory,
and I wonder when it will bring me peace.
I am tired of being nothing more than these
bones digging into a mattress whose softness is
like the cold, hard stone beneath my knees when I try
to pray. There are nights when I wake up, and my body
screams at me like lambs during slaughter. There are nights
when I wake up, and the blood pooling beneath the
skin on my shoulders, on my ribs, on my abdomen,
on my hips, on my pelvis reminds me of lips
bruised black-blue with teeth.
But I am more than the number on the scale, more
than the days spent curled up in my bed when I
am too afraid to step out from beneath the covers
and see my reflection, more than the calories
I methodically count, more than the food I
ritualistically prepare, put in my
mouth, and chew, more than suffering that creeps through my
skin, through my digestive tract, through my chest, through my
esophagus—I am more than my bones digging
into my mattress.
There are nights, days when I cannot sleep and I will not sleep,
and I spend these hours sitting at a desk facing east through the
window, where I wait and watch the sky as it falls into indigo
darkness and slips deep into indistinguishable, liquid black, as it
rises into pink-orange dust and stretches its gold fingers across the
sky. And I step outside, and I walk and bike and see and hear and
breathe and see and look at that sliver of color peeking out, and I
realize that everyone walks and bikes and sees and hears and breathes
and sees and looks at least once at that sliver of color peeking out,
that only during dawn and dusk can we all look at, because the light
isn’t so piercing for the cones, for the receptors in our eyes, that all
of us cannot look at the sun as it bursts out in the early afternoon
with its cascades of yellow just like the color of the paint Van Gogh ate
because he believed that this yellow would make finally him happy.