Once upon a time, you were still here. You lived here, you loved here.

Once upon a time, you ate toast with blackberry jam in this tiny kitchenette.
I always hated blackberries. I hated tasting them when I kissed you. I would
tell you to go brush your teeth and to find me then. You always would laugh like
you used to; full and happy.

Once upon a time, you slept beside me in this bed. Your breath tickled my ear
every night, because you liked to have me in your arms when we fell asleep. I always
hated that tickle in my ear. It's impossible to sleep like that.

Once upon a time, you sat on this porch. We each had our separate rocking chairs,
mine white wicker and yours neon tie-dye plastic, where we'd watch the sunset with
interlaced fingers. I always hated that rocking chair of yours. I put it out with the garbage the
day you left. I always hated the way our hands looked together, with my
well-manicured nails in shades of pastel pink and your chipped, chewed, bright purple
ruins of fingernails at the end of your teeny hands.

Once upon a time, we were happy together. There was no yelling and throwing of
small objects, I never had to watch your eyes get all red and glisteny, you never
had to suffer my stony silences. I never picked up a newspaper and ignored you
while you stood there in your high-school drumline tee shirt (which never fit, which
I always hated) and cried and asked me if I still loved you. I always hated when you
asked that. I hated it even more when you cried. And there was absolutely none of me pushing you
away when you tried to sit by me and apologize. I hated how you were always were sorry.

The day you left, I told you I hated your stupid blackberries and the way you always had to be
near me when we slept, I hated your goddamn plastic rocker and your chipped purple nail polish, and I
hated that fucking tee shirt and the way you always cried. I told you I hated how you were always sorry
and a hundred other things about you, like how you ordered a different favor every time we went to the
ice cream stand with 126 flavors, and how half the time you didn't even like the
flavor you got anyway, and the way you wrote songs for me but never actually
wrote them down so you forgot them within a week and had to write me a new one.
I told you I hated how you had perfectly nice new shoes in your closet, but insisted
on wearing the tattered sneakers from seventh grade. I hated how you always
smelled like incense, the kind you find at hippie stores, and mint, and spicy perfume.

I told you I hated you.

What I didn't tell you, and what I'll never tell you, is that I buy blackberry
jam sometimes, even though I still hate it. And that I find it hard to sleep
without your arms around me and your breath tickling my ear. I didn't say that
I saved that stupid rocking chair right before the garbage took it away, and that
I paint my nails purple on the weekends. I didn't tell you that I loved the way that
ill-fitting tee shirt looked on you, and that the other day I went to the ice cream stand
and ordered chocolate instead of vanilla, like I did every time we went together.
I didn't tell you that I took up the guitar to see if I can remember your songs, or that
my shoes are all scuffy but I haven't thrown them away yet, and that I went in one
of those cheap hippie stores the other day just to smell the incense.

What I didn't tell you is that I love you, and I have always loved you. I'll never
tell you that I miss everything you are, and everything I could be when I was
with you. You'll never know that I cried, too, that day.

Once upon a time, you kissed me on the cheek one last time, while I looked
away. You said you wouldn't bother me anymore, in that choked-up voice I
always hated. Then you said goodbye, and I let you go.

That was the only thing I really ever hated.