His hair was rough, wiry even. Like a Scottish terrier’s the strands scratched my chin as I nestled against his head, his breaths coming even and controlled against my chest. His hands, smaller than yours and more delicate, the fingers long and beautiful, an artist’s hands but still a man’s rested softly against my back, one cupping my shoulder blade and the other pressed against the hollow. I closed my eyes and thought of you. The darkness in the room reminded me of the darkness in which you kissed my neck. The way he does now and as someone else will do from now on. It will never be you again.
I can’t say I miss you, truly I don’t. My love for you died about the time you ghosted me, that final unspoken message sinking into the depth of a heart long broken by your inability to love fully. By the way you crushed me beneath your cold pride and your ego threw that last shovel of dirt over the grave of our relationship. How that cut hurt when I poured salt into it, the pain of its sting lasting for a day, then two. Then gone, just like that. It’s amazing how fast anger heals more than melancholic remembrances.
He cups my cheek in his hand and I sigh into the warmth that is both alien and home. For a moment I can barely tell the difference between the two, the reality of his hand on my skin and the mirage memories of yours touching me the same way. For a moment, I forget to breathe. He is clumsy still, a pup compared to your precision and your knowledge in bed. But he will learn. He is gentle and unsure, a combination I loved once, the good boy learning how to be bad.
Taming a monster is never a challenge I back down from and God knows I’ve paid the price many times over now. Six to be exact. But this one has a beautiful soul that’s maybe just as broken as mine. The longing that rolls off his skin is a mesmerizing thing. It’s so heavy in the air till it seeps into my lungs; his yearning for human touch is addictive. I remember the way my skin remembers things. First kisses and awkward hugs that turned into breathless passionate stolen moments. He will remember this the way my skin does. Skin memory never forgets.
My mouth on his and I don’t taste you anymore. The taste of his lips, the shape of his tongue; there’s so much to explore again, so much I’ve forgotten in the time I was with you and things were routine, habitual. He learns to kiss me the way you used to do, and the way the rest did before you. He will learn yet. Lips closed, slowly, gently touch and let go. Come back up for air and repeat.
Maybe this is lucky number seven, who knows? I will live through this and right now, the moment s we shared turn to ashes, smouldering in the heat of my pain and anger. But first remember his lips on mine, stubble brushing the soft skin of my nape and then my collarbones. Tingling and raw I feel every inch of my skin, hypersensitive and itching for more. Greedy. My body has always been a hungry thing and I’ve been starving it so long now.
I learned to let you go, the moment he touched me and felt the bones of my neglect showing through my skin. The way he skimmed his fingers over every bump and controlled his tone, light as possible, don’t pain her more than she has already suffered, that was when I knew it was time to let go. I was never that fragile really. I simply chose to mourn in the only way I knew how. In that grieving I found myself and remembered who I was before you. Maybe I can’t become her again but that doesn’t mean he will suffer for what you did. All the love I had to give you that you never deserved, maybe it will be his.
Maybe it will be someone who I have yet to know. Someone whose face I have yet to see light up with a smile that will become my rainy day joy and a laugh that will make my belly ache. Someone who will feed me when I get too engrossed watching a show instead of tell me off for being slow. Someone who will nag me for my OCD habits yet still gently give me ground to control myself instead of forcing me the way you did. Someone who will love me and fight for me no matter what. I swear the tears that came as I wrote this are not for you. They are for me.
I’m mourning the girl who gave all and lost. I’m mourning the love I gave without thinking and the draining emotions I forced upon myself. In those dark hours when I wept and howled to the empty four corners of my room, in the hours you weren’t there for me when you said you’d be, I learned to trust my heart. It has learned to beat again. Guess what, boy? It’s stronger than when it was before. But for now, I will enjoy his touch and I will melt, as I did for you not so long ago. As dawn breaks and streams in through his window I hope the ghost of you leaves me. I’m done praying for the heart and soul of us.
~Rachel Alexandrina N.C.L.