To Say Thanks
2011. That first year it was all desperation, us getting caught up in our foolish ways. It was a thanksgiving with not much to be thankful for and the first time you’d ever seen me angry. Silence, I’ve come to find, is tangible—it bends and it moves, it was stretching across mile markers on unlit roads until last night. And it’s awkward. Oh, it is awkward. Don’t worry. Things get louder tomorrow. There’s a boy in my car and we’re dodging the cops and Ringo Starr is singing about his Yellow Submarine. The sunrise is bleeding into the morning dew, and his fingers are bleeding, too. Maybe that’s just me spitting words that bite again. I’m yelling, fog pressing its way up the car’s windows the way he was pressed against her. And her. Oh yeah. And her. Our sweaty little hands are grasped tight: Grace. Don’t ask me to absolve your sins.
2012. I’ve been saving room in my belly for this holiday all week, but still, I don’t think I can eat the turkey this year. It’s just that I’m too full– full of sad, full of awkward, or just too full of him, really. Resentment plagues me, jealousy has me gagged, and everyone’s pity glues my feet to the floor. When he sits down I can’t get up. When he smiles I look down—that used to be mine. I am red, having found out about her on Facebook. It was humiliating and everyone’s eyes are settled on me, trying to spot the difference. Is her hair different? New earrings? No, guys. My heart just isn’t whole anymore. Silence is drowned with the fog in my ears and the way I ration my breath when he’s around. Here I am hands shaking, not talking so he can’t hear my voice crumbling; steady now. And bitter. Always so bitter, he says. When I drive him home he’ll roll down the window, let it all burn. He is the mundane and the small talk, the elegant formalities that seem so foreign when I’m with him; deep-boned laughter those days we first met. It was the first thing I noticed about you, your laugh; how like this sadness it made me feel full. He asks me about classes next semester and coughs (laughs). “Whole lotta art and history there?”
“Yeah, it’s casual, just my major.” Listen to me when I speak.
“Oh, that’s cute.”
2013. It’s over a month until Thanksgiving, but all the same feelings are here. The feelings where we fall the Hell apart. This year I’m not silent (awkward and nervous). My breath is heaving, hot red rage, syncopated and staying in time with yours. Don’t touch me. I just don’t think I’ve ever been this angry with you. And I never thought I’d be so stupid. Did you tell her? Did you tell her about that night before you left me? Our hearts were beating so hard and you tried to kiss me and I put my hand against your chest to push you away. Does she know about that? And does she know how tight you held me? How your arms melted into mine and you counted all of my ribs just to know that I was real, to know that I was real and sparking to life in your arms? My mouth was so dry when I looped back round your house. Get out of my car. No. Here’s the part where you wanted to talk, regrets and your biggest what if, they shine like the stars through the windows. “You’re in a car with a beautiful boy… And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.” Richard Siken said that, and amen. Wasn’t this the greatest love story we were writing? But no. Its horror and I should’ve known to never open that door to us again.
I’m thankful for liars and for leavers because now we’re self-sufficient. I’m thankful for boys in my car, because they teach us how to drive away as fast as we can. I’m thankful for the miles, because now I don’t have to see his face for another month. And I’m thankful for that infinitesimal moment of complete clarity, because now I know that I’m way too awesome to be lied to again.
Published 2014 Thoreau’s Rooster