I have worn new clothes to work this week. Shirts with lace panels, and dresses with ruffles, and cardigans as finespun and delicate as cobwebs. I have been spreading wings of blusher across my cheekbones. Fancily pinning my hair. For myself, I thought, but in truth it was for him. I wanted him to think of me as pretty. I wanted him to regret giving me up so easily.
One half of me thought If he wants me, I will tell him no. The other half thought If he asks me, I will go.
I was happy on Wednesday. I could feel a light in my face, a radiance. I felt soft and good and pretty. He stopped me by the copier, my arms full of papers, and told me what I wanted to hear: lovely, was the word he used. I blushed, and floated back to my desk.
Be careful, said R, He is trying to charm you. I laughed, waved an airy hand, said no, no, even as a bubble of hope rose in me like the fizz in a glass of champagne. He is not good for you, said N, You have to let him go. I nodded, said I know, said yes.
I drank wine in the evening. I wrote a poem about the moon. I painted my nails the colour of beaten tin. All I thought about, the whole time, was him.
It was late when he messaged, as I had known, deep down, that he would. He told me that he was thinking of me, that he missed me in his arms, his house, his bed. I should have stopped the conversation there, closed over it the way water closes over a stone. Instead, I put my spun-glass heart in his hands. Turned my thin, pale belly up to his teeth.
I know already that this is wrong. I am not the love of his life, but only the easy option. I am not the object of his passion but only a desire.
He bought me a rose when we went to
in November. I pressed it between the pages of a book to
keep the memory. I feel, now, a little like that flower. Like a rose in a book
taken down from a shelf. He only wants to look for a while, and remember. He
only wants a known fondness, the old familiar. Rome
And still, and still, and still I am tempted.
Already I am hanging, like a coat on a hook, waiting for him to fill my empty places and give me shape. I am losing myself little by little to the air. He is wind and I am sand, and he sifts me, endlessly, from myself.
I want him. I don't want him. I want him. I don't. I write to convince myself. I write to untangle the need.
I feel like a wishbone, snapped abruptly apart. My wishes spilled, unsortable, across the table.