Your hand was never mine. It was always, always someone else’s. All I had was the hand of a best friend guiding me through a busy party, making sure I didn’t get lost. Making sure I made it through alive.
I never had your hand. Just your love.
Drunken professions of your love as your real girlfriend sat at home waiting for your good night text message.
And I took it.
Because that’s not something you can return for a full refund within thirty days.
And I let you say it, even though I was at home too. Safe and warm, as you battled through the winter months of outdoor partying with half my class. But you were still out there, surviving fine. Did your love for me keep you alive?
And I let you want me, even though you had her.
But how do you stop that? To say nothing was to take it. To say something was to accept it. How do you stop it?
And you can say you never stopped, and I can say we never began, and she can stand on the sidelines hating me and loving you as I continue to make my way through, just trying to survive.
I could avoid you. So easy to avoid you, because you weren’t holding on and we weren’t connected and in our homeroom period you could make comments on how unlike me it was to be doing my homework five minutes before class, and I could say how like you it was to pretend to think you know me.
And I can avoid her. And I can not shop at the store where she works and I can politely smile when we make eye contact in the cafeteria. And I’ll pretend to disappear into the lockers so that she can pretend I don’t exist at all.
But I do exist. And you won’t let her forget this.
Because you won’t stop.
And I hate you for making her hate me.
And I hate you for saying you love me.
You don’t even know me!
But you do. Or you did.
You tell me you’re surprised to see me out. And I say I’m surprised you’re not with her.
You say you broke up and finally I can stop being surprised. You’re telling me about your tattoo and I’m listening. I promise I’m listening, but you’re standing too close and how long ago did you break up and are any of her friends here and don’t you think we could have this conversation on another day? Another time? Maybe on a night when you’re not six beers in?
Months can go by and we can switch places and it’ll be me sitting with my head in my hands as you tell me about how glad you are to be done with high school. And I’m listening. I promise, I’m listening. But is it just me or is the world suddenly spinning?
Why are you saying this now?
College is 500 miles away and it’s happening in a week.
But you don’t care. You never care.
You want to go to the park. And out to eat. But you never want to talk. Maybe I don’t know what to say. Maybe you don’t know how to listen. But I’m still leaving. I can’t stop from leaving.
You’re driving me home on that final day and the top is off your car and the wind is too loud and it’s keeping us from talking. Nature silenced us. Nature never wanted us.
I’ll get out. You’ll let me get out. You’ll let me walk away. I’m listening! I want to shout. I promise I’m listening. Say something! But you say nothing. And you can’t hold me back because you never even had my hand.
You can wash the scent of my perfume out of your sweater as you go from Aimee to Amy and now onto an Ashley. Stuck on the As. No time for B. No time for me.
And I can forget you. Because I’m 500 miles away and I’ll never have to see you.
Except on a short winter break we’ll both be buying milk at the same time in the same store. And I’ll see you out for Chinese on my summer vacation. And as I’m stopping for gas at five in the morning on my way out of town, you’ll be there.
What are you doing here at five in the morning? I’ll want to ask.
But my hands are collapsed together propping my head up as a pillow, and I have nothing to give you and I want nothing from you.
Because I maybe loved you.
But now I don’t know you.
Because you tried to love a girl without asking for her hand first.