I drank the bleach to rid myself of it.

I drank the bleach because it was all I could smell and taste and feel, because every part of my body felt infected by it. I wanted to stop smelling it, feeling it, thinking about it. I wanted to rid my pores of that sensation.

I drank the bleach because I am a coward. Because I'd rehearsed over and over what I would do in that situation, but when he said what I knew he'd say, I could only respond with "I love you too." I could feel my stomach turn and my hands shake as I let go this terrifying lie. I had not meant to say it, but before I could shut my mouth, it had escaped into darkness and he'd smiled. And until that moment, I'd never realized the colossal difference between courage and the fear of cowardice.

And in the darkness my boyfriend said my eyes were beautiful. He wanted swallow them down, my boyfriend said, he wanted to drink them in, devour them in the same way that I later sat on the bathroom floor and forced the bleach down my throat. My eyes would become a part of him, just like the bleach became one with my blood and my bones and every part of my being.

I drank the bleach because I thought maybe I was doing it for some noble cause. I thought that maybe he wanted to swallow my eyes for the same reason I needed to drink the bleach: because they were haunting him. I drank the bleach because it was consuming me and I thought that by consuming it, I could free him. My boyfriend told me he loves me and I don't love him back but I lied because I thought I was supposed to.

He loves me and I think he is a very attractive temporary amusement, and that is a far cry from anything that could be called love.

I drank the bleach because I am sorry for that.

I drank the bleach because I am the one who will have to dump him, and that is a horrible burden. He loves me, and I don't love him, but I feel so alone that I don't want to let him go.

The only thing I could smell in the Laundromat was the bleach. The bleach and the soapy water and that endless, incurable smell of waiting. And the whole car ride home, I could smell it sinking into every crevice of the car and my body and my very existence. I turned up the music until I could no longer hear its unbearable silence.

I drank the bleach because deep down I know I can't love anyone, because this is not just a fluke, because I cannot come to terms with my own inability to love and to feel. When I drew that picture of a sad robot, it was not just some cartoon; it was a self-portrait. It was a picture of a little girl who would ask the wizard for a heart, if only she knew where to find him.

I drank the bleach because my upper left-hand drawer is filled with old photographs. I drank it because I cannot reconcile the past with the future. One year ago an ex-lover took a small piece of me, and months later he gave me back fifty newer, better pieces. He gave me back fifty wonderful new pieces but he kept the one that was most important: the one I'd given to him. He planted a seed that grew inside of me for a year and finally blossomed into my present self, a new and happier self. I drank the bleach because I know I would give up my present and my future to have him here planting seeds in me again.

I drank the bleach because I visited the place I'd given myself to him a year earlier. There was a boy who looked like him, who moved like him, acted like him. I drank the bleach because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will never be free of him. I drank the bleach because the bathroom had a sign reading "Area of Refuge" and if there's no meaning in that, then there's no meaning anywhere.

I drank the bleach because I loved him in a way that I have loved no one else, simply because he was a question, a puzzle, an equation. I loved him because he did not love me; he just toyed with me for a while. I loved him because once he told me my eyes were beautiful and I would gladly have let him drink them down; I would have gladly lived in his being. I loved him and then he left.

I loved him and then he left and I drank the bleach because I know I've done the same to my current boyfriend. He wants to live in my bloodstream and I drank the bleach because I didn't want him to be a part of me. I drank the bleach because I had wanted him to take pieces of me like a long-gone lover did. I'd never wanted to take pieces of him, but I did and I punished myself for it.

I drank the bleach and I waited for the darkness and the cold and the endless infinite nothing. I sat on the floor and I thought about how my blood was filling with toxins and how any moment I would not be a person anymore, just a collection of dead cells. I drank the bleach and I wondered if I would actually feel myself become nothing, if I would just know in that moment that it was my last. I wondered if I would feel myself die, and suddenly death seemed like a terribly simple concept. I drank the bleach and I waited.

I drank and waited and my life flashed before my eyes the way they tell you it will. I thought about my ex-lover and how I would take it all back if he would just come home for a weekend and say hello and not just look straight through me. I thought about all of my photographs and the photograph the police would take when they arrived, about the photograph that would appear in the newspaper.

I drank the bleach and I waited and I saw all of my loves and my un-loves.

I could almost feel my veins coursing with the foreign liquid, my heart unknowingly pumping poison through me. I thought about the English paper I hadn't written, and about how I can't write creatively because everything I write comes out as complete and utter truth.

I drank the bleach. I loved and I did not love, I spoke and I was silent, I was cowardly and I was courageous. I lived and I died quietly in a bathroom, the lights on, the door unlocked. I did a million things but in the end the only thing that seemed to have any meaning or importance was the absolute truth that I drank the bleach. I chose and I paid the consequences. I lived and I drank the bleach and I died.

I drank the bleach because with so much loving and losing, I could not handle all this living.