imagine | a boy you don’t love and who doesn’t love you

builds a fortress in his living room from blankets, pillows, hand-me-down futon and today after shift you’ll go there instead / of going home to your own twin-sized bed, sleeping as the walls you’ve already outgrown try / to shrink you back down to size— he isn’t the right fit either, you knew that / back when he first kissed you, but you keep drifting back together, an orbit you’ve started to think of less / as any kind of affair and more like the last man on earth. he knows better than to move his lips / against yours anymore, you aren’t that to each other, aren’t any kind of enough, / but he’s ordered pizza, has a space on his right side for you when you arrive mid-blizzard and already setting an alarm for the far side / of how many hours you can go missing before anyone comes looking. despite all this he still asks if you love him and here’s the truth, i was  you all along, / and i respond that i’m only doing what he was / all along. we’ve been using each other, leaning into one another’s warmth because there’s nowhere else to go right now.  i’ve just been too yellow // to admit it. that it was me with him all along, and to him that i just didn’t want to go home. that’s all this is, shame and shame and if i’m here, in this room staring at the tv screen while a boy bites his way down my neck trying not to think all the things my mother might call me if she saw me, whore / like the chapel kids said i was when i left my boyfriend behind, who wanted to get me barefoot and pregnant so i could never leave him, who said when he was done with me no one would ever want me again. / he hasn’t been wrong. and maybe it’s because i believe him and them and the face i give you // dear reader, i do what i think you would want me to do right now; what i think would entertain you, or / prove the other boy wrong, i drag my fingers down this boy’s side, kissing his neck where it meets his shoulder, skipping that spot on his second rib which can only begin in laughter, end in an asthma attack and kill any mood he tried to set with all these candles / will you be satisfied? or am i wrong again? for doing this / even if i would have been wrong for   not // —i want god to close his eyes in my direction, you my voyeur, have enough eyes for all of us / and i wonder, does he get off on it, do you think? god? the watching? seeing himself reflected in the computer screen at 3am when you-i play the sims, removing the ladders from every pool and locking every bathroom door, leaving every kitchen fire unattended as i send my current favorite away so i can sweep up the ashes, remodel all the bedrooms, and look for someone beautiful / and passive enough for them to fall in love with. when they get home they won’t know where their family has gone, but if i’ve done my job right they won’t think to question, just move into the master bedroom, fall in love, and start a new family all according to my plan, but the ghosts will still sneak in on occasion, / red and angry or confused and smoking, dripping / with all the misfortunes that cut them out of the pictures on the walls. i’m really no different, though less final. / moving in all the ways he and you and anyone else watching would want me to; making all the right sounds,  / slow sigh. yeah, that’s fine. glancing at the clock whenever he isn’t looking. this is still better than going home. // an old movie on tv flickers to the credits, this is the second time we haven’t watched it, and we pause / just long enough to start everything over again.

Image: Photo by Lennon Cheng, via Unsplash.