They never notice the shift when I, yes, consciously, having made my decision, say your name. They don’t notice the ripple that runs through my core or the quiet regret that creeps up the back of my neck and licks my brain, the silence evaporating like dust.
Just because I knew your star sign (Virgo) and the color of your eyes and the name of your dog and your smell and could trace the outline of your silhouette blindly doesn’t mean I knew you. I know this, I’ve always known this. Superficial facts, useless tidbits of information that didn’t bring me closer to any sort of discovery, only closer to that plastic infatuation I’ve grown so accustomed to.
The only affection I know leaves a saccharine taste in my mouth.
I don’t know your birthday anymore or your middle name or what kind of shoes you wear and I deleted everything I ever wrote about you so why can’t you just leave?
I still think of you and wonder how it is I’ve gotten away with not seeing you, trailing a chainlink fence downtown or shoving through a crowd, but I know someday I will see you and even that is like an arrow in my chest. The fact that you exist, you continue to breathe, is a threat.
I somehow manage to construct you from the faces of strangers – I halt, my heart stops momentarily as if I’m seeing a phantom. Maybe that means you’re painfully ordinary or maybe it means I am just desperately clawing away, still hunting, molding your features from muddy clay.
I say your name in passing conversation, in a cloud of thought that turns into a tornado in milliseconds, and the letters dance across my eyelids and choke my tongue, smirking endlessly, until I’m tossing and turning in bed and the vague image of your face is burning the front of my skull. You might as well carve it in there – I don’t think it will ever leave.