Say it. That when I was raking the dead leaves into a pile of letting go in the front yard, your left hand was still shaking from gripping the steering wheel like a lifeline that time we rode home in your car and I was crying. Say it. Say you weren’t the one who smashed all the eggs in the kitchen at 4am one by one on the counter instead of trying to balance them; say you weren’t the one who left the shells belly-up on the marble title but the wet yolks dripping from the cabinets like melting hearts. That you left me for the first time so you could test what walking away without turning back felt like.
Say that we weren’t really pushing daisies, just playing tug of war with them. Growing out our old haircuts together before loneliness forced us to handle scissors like cheap ghosts of all the sharp words we could never say to each other’s faces. Say this whole thing was just passing time. That our wrists were clocks we tried to re-set by calibrating them against knives, until all the glass and numbers spilled out.
Say that you left me for the second time because we were too good together and you wanted to be that good, but alone. Say it. Say it. Say that before either of us were born, our tiny limbs were planted feet-first in the muddy waters of our mothers’ wombs. That our newly-developing fists, with their fingers like compass needles, tried to point the way out. That the spaces between our mothers’ legs were True North. Polaris.
Say that when you left me for the third time, you were just trying to find the way out again. Say that my love for you was like another womb, that the ravens wheeled about in the sky and the sparrows dropped like bombs until they hit the forest floor and bled just like the eggs. That we were like the innards: steaming, mixed together, ready to explode, but beautiful just the same. Say it. Say it, even if it hurts. Even though it does. Say we fractured each other in the most beautiful way possible, until every touch felt like a broken bone.
Floorboards swollen to the point of splitting, mold growing on every knot of word. Lifting up the floorboards in the hopes there were apology letters underneath. Not finding a single one. Blowing smoke through cupped hands. Say you remember all that. Say you didn’t forget a second. Say my tongue against your spine felt like home. Say our bodies were two paper boats trying to find their way in a tumultuous current whenever we tried to have sex but failed. Hearts like buzzsaws that never stopped whirring even when the sheets were sweaty and tangled but no one came first because no one came at all. Say it. Say that. Say it to my face. To my mouth and hips.
We were flaming cities that lit each other on fire. Unrequited love by proxy. Burned down to the ground, down to the nub, like the fourth time you left me. Say that the fourth time you left me, it was out of habit. Say that leaving felt good. Felt familiar. Say you would do it again.
Now tell me about the fifth time.
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises