for Cassie: because breakdowns are a girl's best friend. Maybe we're born to betray them, and they're born to break our hearts, but at least we know they won't forget us.

...and for Charlotte. Whoever she is.

parallax n. : difference between what the eye and camera see

(My alter ego is an angry girl with perfect fingernails. Her name is Charlotte, and she didn't love you.)

And while she is kissing you, a hundred miles away, I run my tongue across the stud in his lower lip. He shivers. He likes the taste of my ChapStick (peppermint) and my tragic way of talking. The incense makes my room smell like seduction. I almost wish I cared.

It isn't raining outside, isn't but it could be, and really, that's what matters. My life is measured in rainy days, not that anyone's counting.

I light my Marlboro with his battered Zippo, and you'd be pissed but he just twists his mouth into a smile. Pretends to approve, pretends it doesn't bother his asthma or his skewed ideals. We do a lot of pretending.

But in the end it doesn't matter, does it, we wind up in the same place, my fake tan dark against the sheets. And that's something I did for him, so maybe I do care, at least a little. The same way I moan his name because he likes it, his name and I know it should be yours. Our lies are far kinder than our truths.

I know I'm being cruel. Last week I cut my hair off, nothing left but a soft dark halo too short to run his fingers through. He never said a word about it. It shouldn't surprise me, but I keep waiting for him to be you.

Or maybe it's just me, always mirror, mirror and locks on all the doors. I lace my combat boots up to my knees, wear my evening gowns on weekdays. The eyeliner smudges make me look oh-so-romantic, and only we know it's a lie.

But he touches me like he means it, and he doesn't mind your name etched into my skin. The letters carved along my arm, calligraphical teenage angst, raw from the handcuffs and the bedposts. He says I have wineglass wrists. He's afraid to break me.

And it wouldn't be complete without that last little irony; I've been broken since that night in November and my first drag off your cigarette, the way you smiled crooked and kissed hard. You smelled like developer. The angel wing tattoo started at your shoulders and touched the arch of your hips. I'd never seen anything so sexy in my life.

Don't get me wrong, this was never a love story. I wanted your spontaneity and that lanky body on film. You just wanted my pain threshold.

So it couldn't have been a tragedy when you left, couldn't have been more than another set of soundtrack lyrics and a hard backbeat. You could never stay still. I could never hold you down.

Don't worry. I get it. And I don't miss you.

(Two months from now you'll give your father's Beretta a blowjob and inhaleexhale copper butterflies, the Montague ending you always wanted. In perfect juxtaposition, his pants will be around his ankles and I will be struggling to breathe when the phone rings. It will be her - and she will tell me - and I will cry. I will not be crying for you.)