And I thought, if only it weren't over.
It's funny how things change.
Three years ago, I didn't even know you. I was blundering along happy in my solitude, dreaming of a prince who would sweep me off my feet. He'd be tall, with dark eyes and dark hair and pale Irish skin, though the Irish part was questionable. Together we'd practice our French and Spanish and Italian and set the world on fire with our brilliance. At the very least, I'd burn for him.
And instead, I met you. You were tall, and dark, and handsome, and I knew I'd never keep you. We burned like tissue paper, bright and hot and far too rapidly, cinders sliding satin-smooth across my skin. It was over before I knew it, a polite kiss dropped across my forehead and an absent-minded pat as you sent me on my way.
I never quite understood it, and told you so. Your only answer was that you could never be chained. I saw your motives as selfish and hurtful and resented us both. Me, for caring far too much, and you for not caring quite enough.
Two years ago, I would have brushed you aside, chin in the air and vengeance on my mind. I'd push you away the way you'd tossed me aside, with no thought to my feelings and a reasoning I still couldn't see the logic in. You said you didn't want to hurt me and that it was for my own good, but you were always best at delivering a line.
I pretended to ignore you, and might even have managed it for a while. It hurt, you know. But anyone who's had a broken heart knows that fades. Oh, you'll never forget it, but eventually, after a time, you can find it in yourself to forgive.
A year ago I tried to prove I didn't want you. It was only to myself, you know, like tonguing a cut in your mouth to see if you can stand the pain. I always was one to test my limits. And so I immersed myself in you, tried to show you didn't matter. Late night conversations soaked in sin and messages by the dozen. You called me smart, and perfect, and told me you could see us lasting.
I didn't want to let myself believe you.
But you poked and prodded, and the wound healed anyway. I held myself back, told myself you didn't mean it. I knew I couldn't trust you. And for once, oh, for once – I was honest with you. I fell hard and fast again even though I knew better, but I couldn't stop it. And you never had a clue.
You were so determined to win me over. I don't know if it was because I was finally a challenge or because you truly wanted me, but it made me feel special. I ate, breathed, dreamed, wrote you. I wanted you with a ferocity that I knew would never be repeated, and hoped would never go away.
Eleven months ago I told myself I didn't need you, and didn't quite believe it.
You made me feel wanted and, yes, loved. I labeled you mirage and sat back to watch the heat explode. It never did.
Ten months ago you told me you didn't think I cared. The shock was nearly overwhelming. Part of me wondered how you could be so blind, while the cynic in me griped that you just wanted to hear me say it. Another conquest added to the list. You made me sound so permanent, I almost wanted to believe.
I was almost sorry I knew better.
You were making plans and pushing me to go along, zealous in your enthusiasm. I chalked it up to loneliness and teased you something fierce. But maybe, just maybe, I was starting to believe. I still didn't trust you, but you were making it harder and harder to say no. I didn't realize then that it was part of the game to wear me down. And you never liked to play if you couldn't win.
Eight months ago I finally gave in, as much as I was able. Like a snake uncoiling on a sultry rock, you wound around my psyche. I told you things I'd never told anyone, finally bared my soul. It wasn't enough for you to have everything. You wanted more.
I was afraid to give. I told you before I didn't trust you, and I was never the most open person. So I held back, and you held on, and I thought maybe this was perfect. And slowly I let you peel away each layer until only a slender shell remained. I still didn't want you to see everything.
But that should have been enough. I don't have to tell you that it wasn't.
Five months ago I would have thought I couldn't live without you. I lived you, breathed you, wanted you. You held me close and I thought, this is it. And I really thought it could have been. Maybe I didn't realize it, but even then I was pulling away. You saw it happening and yanked me closer, and I pretended I didn't notice.
We made commitments that weren't broken, tested tentative limits that never quite held. And when conversation slowed and talk became mundane, it didn't matter because you still called me yours. It was then that I began to take you seriously, and believed it might all be worth it.
I still didn't trust you, and I had good reason. You'd promised me a relationship of the heart, not the flesh. And I was still wary that you'd even be able to give me that. It didn't take a genius to realize that you were all talk, and everything you promised was just that. Follow-through was not your forte.
Three months ago I told you relationships aren't one-sided, and you looked at me like I was crazy. Of course, they're not, you agreed, and fell back into old habits. I told you I couldn't, wouldn't do this alone, and that I believed strongly in reciprocation. You told me to take what I could get.
You didn't deal well with expectations, and I'd done my best not to place them on you.
That was when I realized you might not be what I wanted. I'd tried so hard to convince myself that I'd managed to succeed, and now I didn't know how to stop it. I heard the conversation stilted, listened to my disillusion scrape across both our nerves. And still we persevered.
I wanted to believe it wasn't over. You wanted to pretend that nothing'd changed. Both of us lodged firmly in our illusions and I was amazed you hadn't noticed. Maybe I just missed it.
Two months ago you went away, and I didn't hear from you for weeks. I told myself I'd known it. That when you came back, I'd be firm, and it was over. You never gave me the chance to follow through. When you breezed back through my life, you might as well have been a stranger. You laughed and said I must be joking.
Two days ago, I realized you weren't worth it. The thought was liberating even while it hurt. I have so many things I still want to say to you, but I know it wouldn't matter. I don't quite care enough to waste my breath.
Some small part of me wants to hold out hope, but intellectually, I know it would be pointless.
Today I said good-bye.
As always, much love,