not yet

“Happy birthday”
We screwed because I was sad and you were bored with being lonely. 
We screwed because I was a challenge, and you were too easy to pass by.Maybe you were used to calling the shots, but that night, I made you keep the lights off, refused to even tell you what my real haircolor was and wouldn’t let you take off my clothes.
You wanted to go slow, to make it last, draw out each kiss, each loud gasp, but I didn’t want feeling, I wanted fast. 
I had my clothes back, 
empty eyes and smile reattached before you could switch the lights back on. 
It was a defense mechanism that you promised I couldn’t make last
I remember how hard your confidence made me laugh.

“Happy birthday”
We didn’t sleep.
We stayed up for 24 hours driving from place to place 
I didn’t argue when you called it a date.
Reading me tales of werewolves for a bedtime story when we never actually got to sleeping 
Too busy laughing and kissing
Burying hands in my hair
Digging nails in your chest
Biting. Writhing 
Mouthing words into your shoulders
And terrified that you would be able to feel them and work out what I was saying.

“Happy birthday”
My mouth tastes like wine
Tastes like pride
Echos of sharp slaps
Under red lights
Feels like a warmth on the back of my neck 
Feels like trusting a trust fall
Feels like laying in a warm bath
Feels like I always imagined what falling for someone felt like without thinking about what comes next. 
The fear didn’t even have a place in my heart.
Not yet.

“Happy birthday”
14 hour lipstick smeared to my chin, dress hiked up
The couch should be too small for us
It’s the last thought I have before I focus on the line of a jaw through the mascara I’m sweating off
I don’t remember what we had disagreed about before
Just remember opening the door and pulling you in 
And begging to be made sore before morning
I’m not confessing my fear of birthdays–or that the only benefit of the day is that you’re here
So I begged to be fucked 
hard enough
Long enough
With enough fury to forget that the clock was ticking down to midnight at all.

“Happy birthday”
I woke up still drunk with an arm around an empty whiskey bottle, and your love letters ripped to shreds in my hands 
I swore never to look at them again.
To pretend like you hadn’t packed your things. Pretend like you hadn’t left your key on the table next to a forwarding address. 
Pretend you hadn’t left me a mess, and disappeared into the night.
Swallowing the argument i held in my mouth when you said that we no longer felt right because I couldn’t speak through lungs that felt too tight. 
Left with the scarf you forgot and your letters–
I’ve never felt so lost in my life
The room was too large
Filled with every word I could think of that was too late to say,
I wanted to burn your letters, but
I grabbed tape to repair the damage anyway.
And at midnight, I drunkenly told myself “Happy birthday”

Months later, I sent the card with the only words I could think to say:

Thank you.

Thank you
For the gifts of hard kisses
Warm embraces
Laughter in the grocery store at midnight
The burn of whiskey running down vocal chords 
Therapy in tear tracks and healing words
Thank you for the whispers against my neck in the middle of the night 
The sting of leather around wrists, against thighs
The mornings we woke up slow 
The sound of soft sighs
Thank you for the experience of requited love
And the lesson in the unrequited goodbye.

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