You’re trying to convince me that life has changed, sufficient time has passed, we have moved on. You’re back at your folks’ place in the cramped trailer in the yard that shakes when the rain is heavy. It’s filled with your little sister’s old toys and you’re watching her grow out of her childhood. You pray that no one will take her innocence away; you know someone will.
You meet a pretty girl with brown locks and long dark lashes, your least favourite thing about her is that she drinks the same coffee as me. Her lips always curl into a smile when you kiss her, and you see in her a better lover, a gentler love. But when she falls asleep your mind always drifts to memories of me, and your thoughts are never kind. A part of you dreams of hurting me. You know you’ll never deserve her; you don’t tell her this.
Your mother asked about me once and the look on your face was enough to answer all her questions. Your family remembers me as the sweet girl who loved you. They never saw my anger, they never knew your pain. They didn’t witness your crimes, and I never let you share the blame. I stood by your side and watched you charm your life away, the golden boy with the perfect smile, and I couldn’t bear to shatter your pride, so I shattered mine. You let go of my hand when I was grasping for straws; you laughed when I was swallowed by the sea.
Your sister is in love with the boy next door and you are afraid he will hurt her the same way you hurt me. Karma did not disappoint. You caught her in the bathroom lending substance to her heartache and when you watched him slice her heart right open, you caught your own reflection. When she dug her nails into your hand and mumbled apologies you learn how little the word “sorry” is really worth. You remember your own apologies; you feel guilt for the first time.
I’m chain smoking on a hotel balcony in the heart of New York city, with a stranger’s arms wrapped around my shoulders. He smells just like you. I close my eyes, inhale the cancerous fumes and pretend he looks like you too. I learn to settle for amateur imitations. He likes to joke that I’m broken just the right amount to make me a wild child, and toxic just enough to be addictive. I don’t tell him I am poison; I try to forget you’re my antidote.