Back to the Days When You Still Loved Me
Somewhere out there is the you I remember loving.
You cast long shadows when you walk, each footstep taking you farther away even as I try to catch your hand in mine. The cobblestones beneath my feet make me stumble, and the way you smile makes me feel breathless. Like I'm flying, like a balloon has caught in my throat, like you're keeping me on the end of a line and leading me along to anywhere you please. Temptress, another age might have called you. Jezebel. You little minx.
You kissed me long and slow the first night we sat along the water. The lights from far-off boats cast the ink-black ocean with a sheen like diamonds rippling below the waves. As you bit my bottom lip—softly, a tease—I heard the tell-tale rumble of a laugh in your throat. It made me bold as I pushed you back, my body covering yours, and you didn't say a word, just took my face in your hands. Your mouth said so much more than we had even in our whispered attempts at conversation.
You grew cold as summer bled into winter. You hated the way the water looked in December, the sky gray and chalky over ice-cold tides that would have left our feet frozen from just a touch. Even then, I could tell you where growing distant, like those boats that had first overseen the stirrings of our love affair, but I told myself it was just a phase. It was winter, everyone was depressed, no one wanted to stay inside and wait for snow and ice to reign over the waking world. What I didn't realize was that this was not just a passing shadow; this was a fragment of you that I didn't know well at all. And I would ignore it, again and again and again, because the truth was just too sore a thing to face in the light of day.
You let me know in gasps and silences alike that you were floating away. Your laughter grew hollow, like a tinkling bell, and you started hanging out with your friends more and more on the weekends that were supposed to be ours. I didn't know what had gone wrong, how the picture-perfect romance we had been living seemed to have slogged to its third act already. Soon the curtain would fall, and then we would part, and wouldn't it be a tragedy—but not to you.
You were ready to move on, a snake keen to shed its skin in one swift motion. I was the baggage, the burden, the past that snagged against your skin and made you wince. Your lips parted for one last kiss, though I didn't know it then, and afterward I saw you wipe your mouth as your eyes grew cold.
You fled the little town that had been the backdrop for our love story. Gone without a trace, with no telephone number to call, with no internet trail to follow. It was as if you had disappeared, a magic trick, there one moment and gone the next. Of course you would do that. Of course you would make it so the "break" was simple and clean, enough for you to be left blameless.
You were the love of my summers and winters and springs and autumns, but to you? I was just the passing ghost who had grown warm in your bed beside you. You left me behind before I could haunt you enough where you'd want me just as much as I wanted you. Your kiss felt like the first and the last, the beginning and the end, our story abrupt and without all the middle parts.
You loved me once, I think, but now I'm just a memory you keep locked away. Maybe someday that will change. Maybe someday I'll be the love you regretted letting go.