you think it's neutrality. it's not — this refusal to be, swinging your nonexistence like a hammer through the house. it doesn't matter how blunted the comedown; you want to be heard. of course you do, who doesn't? but a monotone threat is still a threat.

and your voice isn't flat, anyway. it's a hole, not a plane. you've made yourself into a sharp drop off in where the world should be. what's at the bottom? you keep shifting, wanting me to look — though never directly.

that's the difference. we all keep shifting. we all want to be seen. maybe we're all some degree of quicksand. but i have no doubt you'd hold me under. no doubt you'd say you're so sorry, and no doubt you'd do it again.

it's a demand. a pushing behind your apologies, an ugly story you won't volunteer. you want to be asked and not answer. you want to be called for and not come back.

a silence is still a story. a silent threat is still a threat. and an apology doesn't, necessarily, mean shit.

stop telling that story. the one with the villain changing faces and houses, the same slander streaming out from every mouth while you throw yourself on the arrows, somehow for me, for her, for everyone, desperately selfless in every sense of the word.

or fine — tell the story. keep talking. give it chapters, backdrop, character development, some shift in time as well as place. give yourself a face. stop pushing until i no longer reach for you and then saying, see?

don't make yourself a martyr. don't make yourself a moral. get pissed, not righteous. talk back to the whispers you've affixed to all surrounding oxygen, like it's the night and not us thrumming out an argument. say something. even if it's wrong. even if i'm wrong. even if it's a fight. just don't weaponize your absence. don't brick yourself in to make me watch. please.

i know you want out. i never meant to trap you. or me, or anyone. but you make me feel guilty for existing. you've left every home you've ever lived in, stomped out every word that tried to follow you, rejected every ending you were given. i know. i know. i don't know you.

your silence is translation, not erasure. all these years of distance, but the same story stuck under your tongue. every held breath declaring: if you could be nothing, you could be good.