I have always held a special contempt for silence. It is much too honest, perpetually grazing itself against my earlobes, rancid thoughts I thought I had trashed long ago always find a way to re-emerge in the silence. Whispers of torched dreams and unfulfilled desires and unwanted memories ignite a forest fire of a heartache touching every crevice of the hole I buried myself in. And there is no light at the end of this tunnel, only more hurt. It's 2:44 in the morning, and I am struggling to welcome these reappearances with open arms, because now all I can think about is how broken we are, like two puzzle pieces left out in the rain so long that they no longer fit together no matter how badly my shuddering fingers want them to. We are shattered salt and pepper shakers and we are Romeo and Juliet rotting in our graves and we are torn paper dolls trying to be humans. I want to light my veins on fire—light them like dynamite fuses coursing with resilience, unwavering courage that doesn't falter like my unsteady heartbeat. But the moon always circles around itself and the tides always recede and the earth always trembles.

I used to like being alone with you because amidst dampened hopes and fizzled out dreams, you seemed to know me so well, traced your fingers down the valley between my fractured spine and shoulder blade, and kissed every scar on my body. I had thought you might be the one to patch up these holes in my lungs, even if I only vaguely remember what had escaped me so long ago.

I used to enjoy talking with you, you had such a way with words. They danced off your fingertips and into my vertebrae, you knew how to navigate through the cracks and fissures in my decaying limbs, how to ignite the butterflies that were once slumbering in my navel. We reinvented the English language, weaving whispers with the shadows between our bodies, entangled our limbs into a lifetime's worth of romantic prose and breathy poetry.

But people change too quickly, with every sunrise and sunset, oscillating colors, shedding skin. The essence of innocence has gone stale in my mouth and left an absinthal aftertaste lingering on the cracked book bindings of my lips. I've lost too much to remember, unwanted aches and pains set ablaze, like old photographs smoldering auburn and coquelicot.

The change was gradual—I slowly rotted, and you cared less by the second. I reminisce about how easy it was to fade into the blackness, to become a disoriented jumble of salt water and regrets. But you—I barely recognize you anymore. You used to look at me like I was the last sliver of the sunset peeking in through your lowered car window, like I was the last ornament hanging off the evergreen tree and you couldn't bear to corrupt me. Still, I was optimistic. Still, I cradled hope in my shivering hands and attempted to survive in the frost that was new to both of us. When we sat alone, back to back, I mistook the silence for a comfortable one. I grasped all the words that I didn't have the courage to wrench from my throat and save them all in my back pocket, promising myself to rise with the sun to the occasion the next day.

You asked me to come over, I saw a hint of a spark in your hooded eyelids, but I've always told myself that burned-out flames should never reignite. I don't stand a chance in these four walls that whisper my insecurities. They are lined with ugly poetry strung like Christmas lights, extraordinarily conspicuous, painful to miss. Sitting in your bedroom, I feel like an unwanted visitor, the nothingness between your sheets calling out to be used. Or for me to be used, conversations and memories change too easily because of my hollowed out heart and its eternal longing to beat for something, anything. So I will comply to your every wish, bend myself to your will until I evaporate into a mess of embers and unvoiced yearnings, allow myself to shatter like broken glass and walk all over myself until the soles of my feet crack like an empty beer bottle on a particularly lonely night. My callused fingertips no longer know how to love, to caress goosebumps on trembling skin, even to cherish the crystallized daydreams embedded into my irises. They reach for any shade of blue or purple, discoloration on pale skin, hints of imperfection dotted along a tired skeleton and salt water dotted along pale eyelashes. My fraying mind craves to feel, the masochist writhing inside me wont accept anything but pain. It hurts to breathe, ragged breaths escaping my heaving chest like a dusty record skipping tracks. It hurts to laugh when it is forced, and it hurts to smile when one has forgotten how to lift the weary corners of dried out lips. It hurts to think about you. It hurts to know that you have fallen out of love so easily. But I embrace the pain. It means I haven't faded away into the nothingness I used to be. I am still alive. I am still fighting.