If I thought that I could,
I'd break through the surface and pull you out whole;
Grip your wrists,
And feel your pulse,
So I'd know that you're real.
(So I'd know that I'm sane.)
But reality has a fucked up sense of humor,
Cause the only thing I hold is your stare
As you fall farther away from my vacant one.
My half is not a whole.
And what scares me the most,
Is the surface doesn't even exist,
Except within the frail pattern of my own reflection.
It didn't fall apart at first. Instead, a spidery trail shot from the wounded center just above the stem. I watched the white fractures drag across the rounded surface; I watched the wine slowly, slowly begin to seep through the fresh cracks -- only just lining them with deep burgundy before beginning to slide down the smooth walls. I watched the liquid push tiny slivers from the newly broken skin; they swam in the pool accumulating across from me.
And then I watched the glass break from the inside out, pushing through the hardened exterior and scattering broken pieces onto my plate. The wine cascaded across the cool, wooden surface of the table, spilling over the edge, onto the seat of the chair and down its legs, and eventually sprawling across the bare linoleum floor. I saw my face in the puddle but I still didn't move; I couldn't save what had decided to self-destruct.
I remember the first time I saw you. It was when you were leaning against the back wall of Irving Plaza near the bar pretending to listen the Decemberists sing Shiny and nodding indifferently when your date said how much they, "Really sounded like Neutral Milk Hotel." I remember that your hair flopped over your eyes every time you looked down at your watch, counting the minutes until it was over. You were careful not to let him see you, but I saw you. And when I caught your gaze, I never let it go. The Decemberists could wait.
I learned quickly that you were a creative writing major with real passion and conviction...not a shitty poet or something like I was. Your prose was always gorgeous and I never understood why you couldn't see that. And although I could have been jealous I never was and you couldn't see that either. I always thought the rules of grammar didn't apply to me -- that a comma provided a pause only when it felt right, like if I needed to catch my breath. I sometimes used ellipses instead of periods and semicolons...I thought they bridged my thoughts together because I never wanted to separate my stream of consciousness...because everything should flow together and create one beautiful circle...one complete concept. I thought the rules were arbitrary, you thought I was careless, but you loved me anyway.
I didn't know my heart was capable of stopping for you because normally I'd walk right past someone like...you. You carried around a laptop. You had actual talent as opposed to the other ones -- the ones who wore designer ripped jeans and new "vintage" tee shirts -- the ones who could name every band in existence and still talked about the shitty groups they started in high school. And you wore loafers like my dad and polo shirts with stripes on them and if I didn't know any better I would have thought that you were ten years older because you always stood with your ankles crossed and your hands inside your khaki pockets.
But I couldn't ignore you and the way you talked about Nabokov's literary devices in Lolita, commenting on his mastery of puns and double entendres. And I couldn't ignore the way you grabbed my hand urgently when you realized that your story's conclusion would make a better intro, or when you finally remembered the last lines of your poem that blew away in Washington Square Park. And when I slipped my arms through yours and around your back in public, clasping my fingers together tightly and pressing up against you...you didn't pull away.
The first time we had sex I wanted it so badly that I shoved my tongue down your throat and I chewed on your lips and I told you to fuck me and shove it in. But even when I was pushing you up against the wall, grinding my crotch into yours and begging you to take me, you eased me off, breathing heavily, and said you wanted to take it slow. And I didn't know what you were doing when you lead me to your bedroom, and I was so nervous because I didn't know how to act now that it had to mean something. And you kissed me all over and whispered my name, and when you ground on top of me I moaned like a girl. "I want to be inside you," you whispered in my ear, and my skin was full of goosebumps when I said I wanted it too. Our breaths became one as our bodies became one, and I cried because you actually loved me enough to care. And suddenly I understood where all that passion you had came from... because you made everything seem beautiful and I wanted to feel that too. I think that's when I knew I was really in love with you, because you taught me how to really feel with someone else inside me.
And I thought you were perfect, too...but only sometimes. I thought you were perfect when you sneezed because you always tilted your head toward the sky instead of tucking it in like normal people. I thought you were perfect when you made me mix tapes with The Cure and Ella Fitzgerald right next to each other, because I knew you didn't know that the two only went together when linked by the right songs. I thought you were perfect because you talked about obscure things like going to Scotland and becoming a shepherd, and you were actually prepared to do it...to just drop everything and go. I thought you were perfect because we effortlessly fit together...each of my limbs becoming a continuation of yours...one person...one complete concept. And then it didn't matter if I was careless, or if you didn't know that you wrote more beautifully than anyone I had ever known...because you were me and I was you and I never knew I could be so happy.
But I was so terrified of losing you and your stupid old man shoes. And no matter how much you reassured me, I wondered why you loved me anyway. And maybe I was always scared of losing you, because when I finally did it wasn't a surprise. When I sucked on my teeth you cringed, but you never did at first. At first you thought it was cute and you used to kiss me when I wasn't looking at you. And you hated that my hair was always messy -- but not at first. At first it meant that I was carefree and didn't always have to follow every rule like you did. And you hated that I never took my headphones off from around my neck...but at first it meant I was interesting and needed a soundtrack for my life. And you hated that I sometimes wore black eyeliner, even though you used to say it made me "unique." But now you just rolled your eyes and said if you wanted to fuck a girl you would have done it in the first place. And you made me cry when you bought me the shirts with the little alligators in the corners...not because I was happy, but because I knew you wanted to change me.
And when we fought, we fought hard because I screamed too much and you screamed back. And you yelled because I couldn't see that you were really trying to make us work, and I yelled because I was never good enough for you in the first place. And you didn't see that I needed your approval because you were so much smarter than me...and you didn't realize it was what you didn't say that hurt so much more than what you did. And I wanted you to understand that I didn't want you to have to make us work -- that we just should work by ourselves because we fit and because we loved each other and that was supposed to be enough.
But I never meant to lose you...my eyes just got tired of trying to hold your stare. You typed numbly on your laptop, and when I glanced awkwardly over your shoulder, biting my nails and pacing behind you, you shut the cover and walked away. And you never listened anymore when I said I loved you, or cared that I didn't believe you when you sometimes said it back. You said it wasn't worth it, that you were tired of fighting with me. And when I said fuck you, you didn't even say anything. You just walked away because you stopped caring, because you were tired of watching me fight with myself, because you had always loved me and I never believed it even when it was true.
But you will always be perfect to me -- A frozen image in my mind of something that was maybe never there in the first place. But that is where I'll keep you, even if you don't want me anymore. I may be but a half...but I am learning to be whole.
I picked up the pieces of the glass and carried them over to the counter. It had caved from the center but its parts remained in tact. I won't throw them away because I know that whatever's broken can somehow be put back together again.
Author's Note: This is my second (very) short story (the first being "simple questions" in the high school section) and is completely, completely, COMPLETELY different from my first; they're night and day. This one is way more experimental...and I really apologize if it's not coherent...but I figured what the hell. Anyway, please don't hesitate to email me with any questions, comments, or criticism you may have at Doveglion@gmail.com. I will always be grateful for anything you say and, of course, thank you for reading. -LW