You're taking up space. Pressing against my eyes, imprinted on my brain, and after some years my thoughts have come racing back, a way to pass the time more comfortably now, allowing myself to occupy that space too. I suppose the most recent conversations and messages have had the effect I've hoped for, against hope, trying in vain to forget the spectre of a memory burned into the pathways of my mind. Whether I like it or not, you are a part of me now. Years I've spent long nights in a place of uncertainty, seeing your name and cursing my traitor thoughts that won't stop when I beg for release from the tortuous echoes of desire, countless drops of water against my forehead, unending, and even the idea of a brief respite enough to make me weak with relief.

It's not love. I don't know if it ever was. Love would be disturbed by the violence of my emotion. It was a flesh wound that bled unceasingly, nearly a hemorrhage at times, sometimes slowing to a trickle of heart's blood, sickly sweet and bright with oxygen borrowed against the limited number of heartbeats allotted to my physical form, and the uncomfortable tightness of my back and shoulders reflecting how close I held this to myself. It feels now as though it may finally close, or at least scab over, eventually only a thick knot of scar tissue that in time will be worn away, only causing discomfort when I stretch myself to accommodate new movement.

I wonder when it will end. I feel selfish, ashamed at indulging myself in this mire of thoughts that I refuse to fully visualize. I only allow myself brief scenes of vignettes from the past, of holding your face in my hands as we devoured each other, your arms around me as I pressed myself into you, closer to my primal self than perhaps I'd ever been.

I feel as though I've failed myself for my inability to turn these feelings off after all this time, as though it ought to be as easy as flipping a switch. I know the price I've paid for this rewiring, how high the cost has been, and how I've been helpless to contain it. Although it's perhaps true that we can't help our feelings, I never to allowed myself to grieve the loss that I knew was necessary but couldn't accept. That would have required more courage and optimism for the future than I permitted myself to envision for even a moment.

Perhaps a more accurate description would be that of a mental block, or a hurdle awaiting the end of the unrelenting march of time in which it would inevitably arrive, looming even at the peak of my emotional fulfillment. I forbade myself the luxury of imagining anything to the effect of a relationship, and I still pride myself on having done so. Beyond seeing you one more time, I have no plans, no expectations, no fantasies. I've never permitted myself thoughts of something that can never be. In the words of another, it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Would that I have been able to turn off this affliction of wanting as one turns a spigot, to be done with it forever. How I've longed for some help dispensing of this monster of my own devise, how I've wished I could let go, to replace these sensations with something constructive, anything to staunch the bleeding that has soaked and destroyed any bandage, defied the healing of any salve or balm long-term. Lying in bed, alone, at the mercy of the refrain of my desperate thoughts, You have no idea how much I need you. Or how much I thought I did. What I need can only be found inside myself, curated and cultivated intentionally, taking into account the worries and joys the future will one day hold. Although impossible to predict, planning the future with the expectation of joy and fulfillment rather than dread has been something beyond my grasp until now. Perhaps, now, I will become complete.

(c) Elena Caple, 2019