Long Lost Letter

I wrote this letter 7 months ago and had forgotten it existed until now. I’m sharing it because there’s a lot in here that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared. Those that know me will likely know who this was written to but the name has been redacted anyway.

I don’t know if this is something I’ll ever shake completely.


Tucker Bryant’s “Reflections on Dating a Kleptomaniac”

This poem brought back memories and was perfectly timed. It was like listening to what I went through two years ago.

I ask her, “How do you even choose what to steal?”
She tells me, “When you’re not sure what you really want… just take everything.”

Found courtesy of the Button Poetry YouTube Channel.

Forbearance in Lieu of Acceptance


In some situations there are no good options. There are no solutions readily available to move you forward in any sort of meaningful way and so you must sit with the ramifications of the decisions that have been made. In this situation I had no other choice but to go through everything with the help of some friends and having to grit my teeth through the pain as I tried with all my might to move on with my life all because of the decision of someone else.

Having absolutely no control over what happens to you in a situation like this is by its very nature one of the most painful things I have ever had to sit and accept in my life. You aren’t the only one who has left me in the dust to accept my fate with no real explanation. Experience, in this case, doesn’t make things any easier to understand or to try and get past. In fact, knowing what it feels like only made things hurt even more.

I’ve come to understand that people are going to do what they feel like, regardless of how it affects anyone else because it’s much easier to look out for number one than any other number you might think of. It’s a lot easier to feed someone nothing but lies than to tell the truth because the truth hurts both parties involved.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a process. This pain, this heartache only disappears with time and there is no set paradigm or set of steps that will tell me when I have finally passed through the blaze and the downpour to the other side of all of this. I will continue to see you in my dreams where my subconscious tells me you still have control over a good portion of my thought process and all of it is an aching melancholy that I can’t quite escape yet.

Understanding now is the fact that I have not cleansed myself of you completely and that affects me in too many ways. I don’t like it because you don’t deserve the space in my heart and in my head that you still occupy because you obviously didn’t care enough about that in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here outlining my experiences in hopes of some sort of catharsis.

I’m not looking for a reaction.
I’m just looking for a peace of mind
Something that will make it all stop.

Knowing what I know, I will likely weave my way in and out of everything I’ve already described more than once, over and again. Eventually, it will go away like you did and I’ll be free and unafraid to feel again. But for now, I’ll continue to live my life without a destination in hopes that I’ll truly accept what happened and it will disappear from my thoughts like a dream upon waking.

My hope is to be healed.
And you can’t help me.

The Goodbye

“My memory is defying me despite the increasing distance between then and now. I see pictures of her and this new guy and weigh the differences and similarities between us and I feel like I’m boiling from the inside. It’s not jealousy anymore. At least, not that I can put my finger on. It’s like a gap that, maybe a wound that closes near shut only to have the slightest perturbation of my body or state of mind. And only with the sands of time is it supposed to be healed but it’s been so long already and I’m tired of remembering. Does that answer your question?”

“… What question was that?”

“You asked me how I was doing.”

“Oh,” she leaned her head back as a sign of ascent, “yeah, now I remember. So, you’re still struggling with this, are you? We haven’t talked in a while. You haven’t come see me lately. Or I haven’t seen you come this way lately. I figured you had moved on to other things.”

“I guess you could say that. And it’s not all as dramatic as I describe it. At least, not all the time. But there are still moments, little camera flash moments in time when I see that face and balance on the ambivalence of missing it and wanting to destroy it. I got no closure, I got no real explanation. I was just the throw away and every now and again I will revisit that grave, I will mourn that corpse and I will lose my perspective for a moment while my heart drops into my boots. That’s when I have to cut loose and come here. And here is where I always find you. You’re like a ghost. You haunt this place.”

She froze. Not that she was moving much from where she stood but his statement seemed to freeze-frame her body where it was at. She didn’t respond as if in fear of shattering her dipped-in-liquid-nitrogen pose.

A slight breeze rustled the leaves in the tree above, just as it did a few wisps of hair as she stood in front of him, still faceless, still masked by the darkness of the moonless night. Not that they could see the moon anyway. They both looked in opposite directions as if to ignore the space between them, as if any proximity would give up the unexplained tension of the moment and it would snap, lacerating them both like a cable pulled too tight.

They both knew if they stayed in this dual of opposing forces much longer they’d see imminent collapse and so, like a movie taken off pause after a long moment they were able to go back into normal motion again. And they both breathed a breath to give away the fact that both of them were unsure as to how they should proceed. The silence was heavy, despite being carried on both their shoulders, they both looked down to better bear and bolster the weight of it as they listened to the leaves hiss and shudder against that summer breeze. And the quiet between them was a glass pane erected as a wall betwixt their bodies.

Until she broke it.

“I think… I think I need to tell you something.” She said, as she looked at the tips of her toes.

His brow angled towards his nose, he tilted his head. “What?”

“You… You described me as a ghost, that I was haunting this place. That’s not entirely true but there is some truth to it.” She breathed a heavy sigh.

“I don’t believe in ghosts. It was a metaphor.” He looked at her quizzically as best he could at her shadow mask.

“Like I said, there is some truth to what you said. I’m not really ghost. Think of me as a… projection. I am an apparition of your mind’s creation. I’m not really here. And to save you from people thinking you’re crazy for talking to the air, I only appear when we’re together here.”

“So, you’re saying you’re some sort of delusion or imaginary friend. Crazy people have those. I’m not crazy.” The pitch of his voice increased slightly from the thought. Am I crazy? Was what happened all those months ago the trigger that set me off the edge?

“No, it’s not. See, I am part of you. I know your thoughts but in order for this to work your mind had to create something to substitute for reality. You went through a a lot of emotional states because of her and you needed someone who would listen and could understand your point of view without judgement or derision. I was your brain’s way of taking care of you. I became your confidante and I also had all the characteristics of a woman you’d trust, maybe even be interested in in certain circumstances.” She sat down on the park bench and patted the seat next to him.

“So, why tell me all of this now? I mean, now that I know doesn’t the power inherent in the illusion disappear?” He stared at his hands as he rubbed the spot closest to the knuckle on his right ring finger.

She laughed, “Obviously not, since you’re still talking to me like I’m real.”

He managed a chuckle, “I suppose you’re right. So, now what?”

“Now is the farthest I can take you, unfortunately. You’ve managed to get through the tough stuff without serious problems. Sure, you have your rough days but that’s going to happen to anyone. And you know that because I know that.”

He nodded his head, “Will I ever see you again?”

She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Oh, I’m sure there will be times when the turmoil becomes difficult. But you have to remember that I’m always here, really.” She tapped him on the head, near his temple.

He stifled a laugh and a bit of sadness and stared at the pavement. He could only nod as he could not think of anything else to say.

“Don’t worry, kid. You’ll do alright.” She leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek which was the most human touch he’d experienced in months because it terrified him so much. He felt the ice inside him melt a little bit. He turned to say something to her.

But she was gone…

The Fire

He threw his phone to his right and onto his bed with his thumb and forefinger, putting it into a flat spin. His eyes were closed as he bowed his head and ran his left hand through his hair and let his right follow suit. He let them both stop at the base of his skull and clinch his hair tight as he pulled it. He couldn’t believe her. He couldn’t believe she would do this to him after everything he did for her, all the good times and wonderful memories they had together. He could feel the heat of sickening saline streak down his cheek as his arms began to shake from the tension, his grip sending earthquakes up his arms and into his shoulders. His nostrils flared as he tried to control the intake of oxygen into his lungs, but knowing that his respiration rate was increasing with every second along with his heart beat.

She had conjured the ghost of his greater fears and let him go.

The best she could do was a text message. But it didn’t matter. The reaction was the same as he saw her face painted as a portrait in his head on a wall where she had sat for over a year. He tried to keep his grip on her but the picture was slowly taken off its hook and washed down river with the tears he was trying (and failing) to hold back. He remembered every other time this had happened. He remembered what it was like to be replaced, to be put on the podium as second place while someone else held the trophy, his arm around the girl and then both of them disappearing in a cloud of smoke. He felt like he would forever receive the consolation prize.

He started to fume. Smoke started unfurling from his eyes and nostrils. He kept his eyes shut.

She said she knew abandonment. What did she really know? He was never the guy to one-up another person but he always remembered a story his father told him and it sounded like silence, an empty palm and pockets full of nothing. The man who was part in his creation packed his bags and never came back which left only the question, “why?” and therapy bills. She couldn’t match that and could never understand why, when he smelled the signs he panicked and actually blamed him for it despite his best efforts to explain. But all she did was blame him. It was his fault. All his fault and this new guy was going to be the answer to all her problems and they could still be friends…

There were women who wrote a similar story with him with subtle variations and it only served to hone his senses to a finer point. So, his gut saw this coming before he did but the message didn’t make it to his brain before she cut the ties and he was left trying not to rip his hair out from the roots while violent sobs rattled him rating unknown levels on the Richter scale. There was a time when he just let it go and hit his knees, wailing and feeling so pathetic in the process because he thought he was stronger than this, so much stronger than this. But, obviously, there were still things that had the ability to revert him back 12 years old when this wound was first fresh. He pounded his fists into the ground to put the pain somewhere else besides inside where it smoldered.

And then his eyes caught fire and flames shot from his brain and through his muscles. Where there was smoke there was now fire licking the air around him like hands slapping faces and everything around him, for a moment, burned.

He picked up a baseball bat he kept for protection and swung it through the screen of his TV. He ravaged the walls and windows, giving no regard to his own possessions or his security deposit. He just wanted it all to burn. He spat lighter fluid and gasoline on the walls, coating everything that reminded him of her. Then he swept everything that she ever gave him and poured lighter fluid from his tear ducts into a box. With the tip of his finger, he ignited the contents of the box and watched pictures and jewelry and shirts turn brown and then blacken. He hurled her, burning in effigy in the form of now worthless shit in a box, towards the wall and watched it ignite with the sound of a roaring devil’s howl and the flames rolled like great, glowing tidal waves spreading to every surface. Smoke roiled and rolled across the ceiling as the heat intensified.

He felt nothing but this rage rattling his rib cage and spine. A crook of a sick smile eased its way up his face as he created his new world, one of fire and flame. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

“Just like us,” he said to himself.

Suddenly, the fire blew out like it would with a breath at the wick of a candle and the smoke disappeared. Reality set back in and he was alone with his sadness and rage once again. He had nowhere to put it and no one to confide in now since she had become his whole world. The one mistake he knew he had made in that moment because he was now all by himself. He let his hands finally drop from his hair and land at his sides as his head remained pointed down. He breathed in deep once and then wondered what he was going to do with himself now that she was gone.

Was he going to be alright?

The Letter Pt. II

“Is she serious?” The paper snapped to attention in her hand with the flick of her wrist as her eyes read each line of the letter intently.

That was still the only portion of her face he had seen and, even then, under the shadows created by her hair. The familiar street lights of the park, meant for the safety of those trekking through it, showed the danger in her furrowed brow as she concentrated on reading. He had given her the letter to read after pondering it some time throughout the day. Not knowing how to contact her or where to find her, he went to the only place he knew he’d be able to find her. She stood as straight and as still as the lamp posts around them, not speaking, except for that initial outburst.

He blew the letter off for a little while because he saw no point in correspondence. What was done was done. He would muddle through it as he had in the past and live with the heartache until its most certain demise in the absence of the one who caused it. The words kept coming back to him and his memory kept coming back to him, showing him the good times and the heartwarming moments that he thought had been erased or at least coated in his anger and hatred so he couldn’t bring them back without feeling something negative. He was wrong and that made the pain that much worse; it was a constant throbbing ache in the seat of his heart that he just couldn’t shake. It would eat up his cognitive abilities so much to the point where he didn’t realize he wasn’t–

“Hey, pay attention!” He felt a few sheets of paper gently slap his face which shook him from his intent gaze.

Looking up, he saw her holding the letter folded in threes and she was slapping the pages against the palm of her left hand as if she was expecting something.

“Is she serious?” The question twisted in tone to make it sound almost rhetorical.

He looked up at her with uncertainty, sitting on the bench that he always sat on when in this part of the park. He wrung his hands a little bit and wiped them down his lap. His eyes dropped while he tried his best to think his way through this again.

“I don’t know. I guess she is. I mean, would she have written me if she wasn’t just a little bit serious about the things she said?” He felt naive, like a child asking his parents a question of which he was unsure of the answer. Part of him hated the fact that she had simply written the letter as it sent his entire world into a spiral for a moment and, in the aftermath, made things complicated again.

“Do you want my honest opinion?” Her eyes dropped to the letter.

“I don’t know. I just took it at face value and put it out of my head. If there’s more to it, I guess I’m open to a pair of fresh eyes.” He shrugged to this last sentence, indicating that he, perhaps, wasn’t sure he believed what he was saying. But he was willing to hear what this stranger-still what she thought.

“Okay. First off, it seems as if she is much more concerned with herself than she is about you. You’ll notice there’s an abundant use of first person pronouns, lots of talking about what she wanted.” She let this sink in, waiting for a rebuttal.

“Right, that’s true but if you’re writing a letter to someone about yourself and expressing your feelings isn’t it going to be common to write it that way? It wouldn’t make sense for her to make herself the object of every verb, would it.” He sneered slightly. If that was the best she could do he didn’t know why he was even bothering.

“Very good. But she also makes you the object when she talks about you. ‘I was worried about you’ and the even more telling ‘I want you to be part of my life’. What is that?” She was pacing at this point. Was she getting agitated?

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

“‘I want you to be part of my life.’ First of all, didn’t she have you in her life and then cut you out of it completely for the sake of some other guy? And why does it have to be part of her life? Why can’t she ask to be part of yours? It’s like some sort of concession for having your heart broken, like being told you can’t have what you wanted but here’s the prize for being second best, you get to be part of her life. What is that?” She’d never been this animated before. She almost seemed like she was actually mad, an odd feat from someone he’d only seen be passive and almost sage-like in her speech and advice.

“I guess it never really struck me as that way before. I didn’t even really know what it meant. I mean, in what capacity does the guy she basically traded up from work in the life of someone like that? Do I get a newsletter or something? Regular text message updates about how life is going? I just don’t know what to think about it, I just don’t.” His head sank into his hands and his eyes met the ground. A million things were swimming randomly in his mind and he couldn’t order them enough to make sense of this letter, this person, this “relationship” He was never fast at coming up with answers, so he sat there and pondered. The ghost of a girl sat down next to him, sitting straight up, her head looking down. They both let out a big sigh and there was silence except for the hum of the lights and the occasional bug being fried by them. They sat there for a few minutes without moving. The passerby might confuse them for sculpture if it weren’t for the slight breeze blowing his hair and her skirt gently.

“So, what’s your opinion? Do I respond? Do I ignore it?” He didn’t move.

“For the moment, I think I’ve lost my objectivity. For a moment, I felt your pain and confusion in this situation and now… Now, I just don’t know.” She sighed a sigh abnormally large and heavy for someone her size. He mirrored her. She patted him on the knee and leaned back on the bench.

“Maybe… Maybe we should just both sit on it for a while.” He said.

She nodded her head in agreement, looking down at her lap.

The wind picked up slightly, blowing stray leaves and paper wrappers down the sidewalk. The trees whispered to each other the secret to everything but they didn’t speak the language of the trees and so they missed it completely.

The Stoplight

He found both solace and torture in music.

There, were, of course, certain songs that he had shared with her that specifically breathed life into the memories he had been trying so violently to kill. So, he did the exact opposite of what would seem logical in this situation. Most people would avoid those songs that they had shared in such a situation but he dove head first into the deep end, trying to desensitize himself to times that the songs would bring up. This was the soundtrack to his heartbreak but he didn’t care. He wanted her purged from the folds of his brain so he could move on with his life. He had no other choice at this point since she acted like he no longer existed. Trading lacuna for lacuna, he trudged forward.

What he realized was, of course, he could listen to almost anything after a while without feeling as if she were sitting right there with him, especially when he was alone at night in his car. But one time out of a thousand her hands would grip his neck and a song would take him back to the place where here eyes would light up the darkest night. Then the dam of his eyelids would have to fight to hold back the overflow of water. Most would change the song but he couldn’t. He needed this, to get over this. This was his music first. It had been there before her and it would be there long after she was gone.

His car rolled to a stop. It had just rained, so the reflection of the red light made the soaked streets look like they were oozing incandescent red blood cells. His eyes were too focused on waiting for the light to change and his mind too wrapped up in the music to notice his newest passenger.

“Why do you do this to yourself?” The ghost from the park was in his passenger seat, facing forward and lightly bobbing her head to the song on the stereo.

He jumped and slammed himself up against the door, bumping his head against the window as if he could somehow permeate the steel and glass. Actually opening the door hadn’t really occurred to him.

“How’d you get in my car?” He stared intently, waiting for her to turn and show him glowing eyes and then evanesce into the ether somewhere.

She didn’t say anything. She simply reached for the door handle and opened it. “You left the door unlocked.” She pulled it shut again. “You didn’t answer my question,” she said as the track changed to another tune to which she felt she could move herself to in the tiny space of the passenger seat.

He was slightly put off by this but he pulled himself back into the regular seated position he had been in previous and then just stared at the center of the steering wheel. Or maybe he stared through it. He looked up to see the light was still red.

“I can’t let her take this part of me with her. This music is what keeps me together on days when nothing else can. She already took my heart and broke it. I can’t have her take this and misuse it too. This music is mine.”

She nodded her head. She seemed to understand better than most. This seemed to be the running theme in their conversations and his curiosity was piqued but she seemed relatively unattached, as if she were just there incidentally. He wondered who she was and why she kept showing up in the strangest of places.

The light was still red.

“Music is like that for a lot of people. She’ll take it regardless and she’ll think of you whenever she hears it. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is a question you may never get the answer to. But keep fighting, crusader. You seem to be doing much better than when we first met, much calmer and with thoughts more directed and even a little happier. Keep going. You’ll get your question answered.” She picked at her nails then patted him on the thigh.

“What question are you talking about?” He turned to look at her as she reached for the door handle and pushed the door open.

“Aliquid stat pro aliquo…” She shut the door before he could ask her what she meant.

Then he heard a horn beeping behind him. The light had turned green.