Arsenic, For Flavor

The universe. It knows shit.

You should be sad. I am sad. I don’t need you to remind me. Red Flags Funny [redacted]. It’s still your contact in my phone. I just overlooked it, every time we spoke. You were willing to overlook all the red flags. That’s what we do when we are in love. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t?

Lies and deflection. Lies and cheating and deflection. Cheating and deflection. That mint mojito – the one that reminded me of him because he was the master of the drink. It was in the fridge when I woke up. You handed it to me. You’d been out already. Said it was from a chain in San Francisco, popping up in Los Angeles these days. It’s comical. There was a mint leaf in your coffee this morning – the coffee she made you. You left to see her as I slept, sound, in your bed? That’s where she works, isn’t it. I run laps with conjecture, because the words you string together are more beautiful than that bloodred (Tiger’s blood?) sunset I saw outside the plane window – the plane that was bringing me back to you.

I wanted to believe you. But do babysitters wear nose rings? The pink, rubber duckling you said you’d won for me – while you were out with her. Let’s play pool! You said. I scoped it out for us. But no matter, a few hours later you were playing pool with her.

Absentee texts, absentee texts, absentee texts. Four of them, I think. Never before had so many floated past without reciprocation. You weren’t alone, then, were you? And the coffee cups, one hers, one his, the morning after. Not far from yours. What did you think I would think? The audacity, to show the world what you’d done. To smear the plain, horrid truth across my lips, my cheeks, my (now) glassy eyes.

Two nights in a row. As I wallowed in my own worries – locked out, late to class, starved, failing programs – reaching out for a shoulder to lean on. You were with her then. Tacos with old friends. Barbecue with co-workers. Only half of the truth. I didn’t think it was write-home to my significant other worthy! Why pick and choose the half you did, yet not the other? Guilt. Secrecy. Malintent. One of the three.

It’s despicable – to ghost someone. I know. I’ve done it. Suppose the universe’s stockpile of malicious karma had it in the roster for me. Now I know how he felt. A text, barely. After all these wasted – deplorably wasted, in your arms when I could have been in another’s – months, just that? The biggest shame. One to end all else.

But the tables have turned! Tragedy befell! You could have waited. But sow another excuse, plant it in a dirt-bed of them, and we’ve grown ourselves a garden of poison ivy. Arsenic? It’s good for flavor.

@her-name, @her-name, @her-name.

In sight of the masses, without remorse. Hidden, but not to me. I’m a computer science major. I was the one who taught you the tricks to hacking. Insult my intelligence. What of someone waitlisted? To think you’d think better of it, a simpleton at heart with far too much time, as blood beating in your hands.

Confessions, the day before last. To prove you were capable of some modicum of honesty, you said. You admitted to the [redacted]. I already knew as much – I’d confronted you days before. You lied then. What worth is the truth now? Or – or! Your way of saying goodbye. Offering up the one morsel of honesty I’d begged you, on my knees, for, back then when the sand cushioned our heads and the hippie cults banged their drums and hands were taken over the top of taro ice and my youth barred me from your holiday shenanigans and the pier burned bright from outside the curtain just there and my knees bled purple in the cold beneath the weight of a few thousand sequins and the dressing room could fit an army, let alone two with an agenda but no silver tie, and the hand-painted Thai elephant touched to my palm at the gate – I never had the chance to tell you that I held onto it for dear life, both ways. Purple petals. Red gems. Cream tusk. It leeched the fear from my bones. For ten hours, straight, I held it as if I’d die, if it fell from my fingers – and old lady plum candies and the first of many firsts and toppling the leaning tower of gigantic wooden blocks and Apex played as I coded away, silently, and the reconciliatory Haagen-Dazs – white chocolate and raspberry, was it? A concession to pistachio tastes – that may have, if other words had been uttered, saved us.

From dawn to dusk. I weep. What closure is there, over a bare, black screen? Seen! Scream it out a bit louder, jar me to the marrow where some small bit of me doesn’t ache with sorrow. The coward within, it seems.

My dream girl! I care for you! It’s my fault! It’s not healthy! I’m damaged! I let you down! Excuses run wild – stuff them down your throat. Whether rationale for seeing her, or a confession that you cared less than enough to fight for what was – they remain substitutes for the truth. Honesty. I asked you for it, months ago, over a bowl of quinoa salad after the froyo debacle. Forever and always, what meant a universe or two to me. Were you so incapable of it? Through willpower, sixty pounds melted away from our bones. Don’t tell me your willpower was too infirm to give me this.

Isn’t it better to know? Than to not know? You’re not okay. This isn’t okay. Please talk to me. But I can’t. How can I admit the anguish buried beneath my sternum, at the thought that if she hadn’t sent me those pictures, you and I would still be us?

I don’t remember pain like this. I’ve never been in so much of it. Time and again, I pride myself on strength. How was I to know I didn’t own enough to overcome this? That’s what we do when we are in love. I know I wouldn’t give you the patience or love you deserve.

The grandest difference, between the gaping hole where my heart should be, and you – wherever you are. That though we never said it,

I did, and you did not.   

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