Dear ______,

I know that little about me makes sense to you. I know, too, that in this script I am supposed to shrug despondently and tell you that little about me makes sense to me, and I understand your confusion. I am supposed to say that. That is my next line. I am supposed to deliver it with a weary care, a note of  sadness.

It isn’t true and I’m so very tired of lying.

There is a pathology to my emotions, a precise science to my highs and lows, my wild swings from a place you know how to find and that wild country beyond. I have studied me my entire life, I have gone beyond my doctorate, I am an expert in my field. I know how to repair myself, and I can map out the more important place, the area that shows you how not to break me.

When we met I thought about writing you a technical guide to the thing that I am, but I know that things like that are in the category of reasons that I never win. It would make perfect sense and someone else could know me, too, I could have a colleague in this, my life’s unwilling work, but to give you the book implies a belief that you want to know. I am far too frightened a field to ever suggest such a thing, even when I believe it may be true.

This is one of the most important things that you do not know, this fear that leaves me wild-eyed and breathless behind whatever I am pretending to be. I am afraid of all the things you think I might be afraid of, but I am afraid of so much more.

 I am afraid that you will not like what you learn, that will find behind the skin of me a blood unbearable, a thing that is so many things you never needed to know. This I suspect you know, and know you suspect.

 I am afraid that this machine that I am was manufactured to live landlocked with love. I am afraid. I am afraid.

But I am also afraid that I will not want you studying me. I will not want you wanting to know all that I know, all the ways the tiny wires connecting the meat of me make me the things that I am and will be. This is where my science becomes as cruel as science tends to be, and makes the scientist mute. I can’t tell you that I fear I am only saying your name in reverent tones and while sweating because I need to say something, I need to know someone else’s name and believe that they know mine, and you are here. You are here.

I am afraid that I am always right when I am afraid, and I am afraid that this tested result is consistent.

 I am afraid that you will never ask what I haven’t told you yet, and it isn’t simply fear that makes me know that if you don’t I never will. I could tell you all the ways I work, all the things that leave me on the ground two steps too close to the edge and unable to work my way back. I am afraid that you are just another you, and not something different entirely. I am afraid that I know all of you now, and there is nothing new to learn, I am afraid that you are only what you are and not any of the things I think you could be.

I am afraid. I am afraid. I am afraid. I am accustomed.

I start counting, because counting is enough sometimes to make the time pass and to get past this. I count my feet because there are two and two is an even number, but once I count my feet I have to count my body all the way through. I count my fingers and there are ten and that is even and I count my toes and there are ten and that is even, and things are looking good so far. I have two legs and two arms and two hands and two feet and two breasts and two eyes and two lips, scratch that and make it four which is still fine and even and right, but now things are complicated. I have one nose and one mouth and one cunt, I have one face and one torso and one ass and one clit and you used to put your one tongue on it and then press your one tongue against my one tongue, filling my one mouth with the taste of my one cunt and then that was okay, no matter how many ones we put in we were always two and that was even and so it was fine. Now I’ve lost count and my two eyes are crying what I’m sure is an odd number of tears and I’m pressing them closed using four of my ten fingers and even that reminds me of your fingers pressing into me and I am lost here and stuck here because an elevator doesn’t just let you off whenever you want it to, you have to wait for the two doors to open and sometimes you have to wait for an odd number of people to get off in front of you so you can break free and run, run, run.

The two doors open and I am still one on this elevator when they do, and this is a time when one is better than two, as impossible as that sounds, and I don’t run, run, run even though I want to, even though I want to just bolt through this lobby and past the guards and down the escalator through groups of misters and misses and suits and ties and I want to burst through their days and break through the doors, I want to scream as I do it and I want them to hear me but I want you to hear me even more, and I don’t do it. I don’t run. I don’t make a noise. I walk calmly to the doors, I ignore the revolving ones because what a nightmare of possible numbers that is, and I get outside through the much more maneuverable traditional doors and I breathe deep in the rain soaked air and I light a cigarette and I take one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten steps to a spot that is not too close to anyone else and I stand.

I pick up the phone that lives in my head and I call you. I have so many things I want to say to you, but today I start with:

“Do you remember getting kicked out of that cheesy bar in Pioneer Square? The one with the faux western theme and all the frat types mixing with the forty somethings, all hoping for a chance to fuck the girls dancing on the bar or at least one of the drunk misguided stereotypes writhing in a solid mass to top forty pop hits? That was one of the best nights of my life with you.”

I take your silence as encouragement. I continue my story, our story, because maybe you don’t remember, and sure, that’s almost too awful to consider, but it’s something to say other than “I miss you so much I feel like I’m fucking falling all the time now” or “I love you and you loved me and how can one little letter make such a huge difference in my life”.

“We went there hoping for trouble but not looking for it. We went there like we went so many places, wanting not necessarily violence but it’s potential. We got our hands stamped and forced our way up to the bar, not caring how many future bankers or car salesmen we trampled and shoved past. Once there, we eyed the dancer on the bar and ordered two shots and two beers. It was like we were in a movie, we just ordered beers and waited to see what they brought. We already knew it didn’t matter. The dancer came over to you and started her obligatory mating ritual, practically rubbing her scantily clad vagina across the top of your head as she gyrated. This was our chance and I took it. I got angry. I got wild eyed. I pounded the bar and I started to shout. I demanded equality. “Get over here and rub your vagina on my head this instant, young lady! What’s wrong, don’t you believe in equality? Is this bar anti-gay, or is it just you? Do you people discriminate against women? What the fuck is wrong with you, you bigot!” I built to a frenzy and began rhythmically pounding, chanting. You joined in. “Equality. Equality. Equality. Equality.” Predictably, a bouncer laid his hand on your arm, because obviously you had to be the source of the trouble. Just another drunken pile of raging hormones gone mad in the face of tits and ass all packaged and displayed neatly. He grabbed your arm and I caught your eye. As soon as I made contact, you nodded and we were off. I grabbed my beer, never knowing what they’d served me, and threw the drink in his beefy face. In the moment of shock that followed, I made a run for it, screaming “REMEMBER THE ALAMO” as I ran. I never looked back for you, I knew this time you were our lamb to the slaughter of a bad idea and a good time. I ran in circles around the dance floor crowded with people we knew we didn’t want to be or know. I ran and I ran, only deviating from my circle when I absolutely had to. I made the situation into a scene out of Looney Tunes, the bouncers playing Wile E. Coyote to my Road Runner. I wasn’t trying to escape, I didn’t want to get lost in the crowd. I just wanted to keep going as long as possible. They were closing in on me and I knew it, but I just kept running, limbs flailing wildly, jumping over people where necessary. When they finally grabbed me near the women’s bathroom, I knew I had a choice. Would I go quietly into this good night? Fuck I would. I’m only five foot two, but I thrashed and kicked wildly as they carried me out. I’d never been physically removed from anywhere before, and it fulfilled all of my expectations. They carried me out and tossed me on the sidewalk. I was sober but I still felt no pain as I picked myself up and went looking for you. They were as dumb as they looked, shouting “Where’s the other one?” as they rushed back inside to find you, forgetting that they’d already deposited you safely outside the other entrance, quietly and with no fuss. No nonsense for you, not that night.”

You still haven’t said anything, and I’m hoping that’s because you’re remembering us that night, our manic glee as we created a cartoon scene all over their meat market, the way we were always a team this way. I’m hoping that you are remembering us and that this might be the thing that reminds you to be in love with me. I press on just in case things are this way.

“Every time one of us ended up bruised we fucked like we believed in forever, usually wherever we stood. That night we ran laughing, holding hands a half block before we saw the fence surrounding a parking garage and knew without exchanging a word that we had to climb it and it had to be a contest. Most of our contests were like this. There was no prize and there were no rules, there was just this thing we had to do and losing was almost as good as winning if you did it with enough enthusiasm and style. This was that. We said nothing, we just ran and started the climb. You were fast, you were always so fast. Contests involving speed usually belonged to you, unless you tripped, unless you fell, unless you decided to let me win. Tonight was usually, and you hit the top a full minute or more before I did. You got to the top, and you stood laughing and stripping your shirt off as I continued to climb. Losing is never an excuse for giving up, we told each other every time. You, half naked and full of joy, standing there watching me made me climb faster than I thought I could. If you’d been at the top all along like this, I’d have won, hands down. I could beat anyone to get to you this way. You grabbed for my hand to pull me up but I shook you off, wanting to do this myself. I crawled over the final rung with the lack of grace that was my trademark, and as soon as I was up you were on me. I stood up and you shoved me back down on the cold concrete, a rough shove that had my scabbed elbows taking more damage. You straddled me in my shock, and it took a moment for me to respond. It took all my strength but I shoved you off of me and stood again, watching you on the ground. I gave you my hand and pulled you back to your feet. As soon as you stood in front of me I knocked you back down. There was a crack and I knew it was your head against the cement and we were even then, while we were being odd, and we were just starting. It wasn’t always like this with us, but oh, when it was. I was on top now, and you slapped wildly at my hands when I reached for your zipper. You fought like you meant it, and I loved you then like a fucking housefire, I wanted to consume you that way, to leave you burnt and ruined, to turn you into something no one else could ever experience. A hard left to my jaw broke me out of needing to be the last person you ever knew, and I was on the ground again. Do you remember us that way? Do you remember that I couldn’t stop smiling at you that way, with my teeth loose which was okay because if they were loose they were still there, they were still in my mouth like I wanted you to be in my mouth, you and my loose teeth jammed in together behind my red red smile. I was on the ground with that smile, and you were on me again, kissing that red smile, and it hurt, but I wanted you more than I wanted the pain of it to stop, and this time you didn’t fight me when I reached for you.”

 

What if every time you felt something about someone or something that you felt like you couldn’t say to that person, about that something, even though you knew it would make you feel about a million times better for at least one second, and that that one second of a million would make all the seconds of feeling like dirt and shit and saliva mixed together on a shoe shoved into a face worth it, totally worth it, you said that something to someone you didn’t care about at all? Do you think that would help? I mean, you wouldn’t tell them you didn’t feel it about them, you would just say whatever it is you think it would help to say, like “The sound of you laughing, throaty and low, is maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard and I would do anything, no matter how fucking ridiculous, just to hear it again” or “Immediately after I started loving you, I started hating you and just kept going and I don’t see any other way for it to have gone and now that’s all that’s left and I don’t even remember what loving you was like” or “yes, that’s right, it was me that killed your dog that time and I am not even kind of sorry and I would do it again” or “I hope you fucking die, but more than that I hope that everyone you love dies in front of you, you terrible fuck” or “I have never had sex that terrible in my entire life, what is wrong with you” or “when you smile, things go crooked and I can’t walk straight’ or “I don’t even ever want to have sex with you, I just want you to kiss me and then I want to keep knowing you forever” and then you would wait awhile and see if it helped. 
I do not understand why we are not all doing this already. Unless I don’t know, we are? 

I’m only not knowing that all my strings have been cut when we’re locked in this filthfuck, this grappling in the dirt and the muck that we carry wherever we go. I know I’m a puppet, I know I’m playing games, I know I’m being played, but with your limbs leaving marks I’m forever forgetful for the forever that lasts right up until I get up, take a shower, and go back to the way my life is supposed to be lived. 

 

I keep meaning to lose your number. I keep meaning to lose the need to have you around to make me numb-er. I keep meaning to do a million things I never do, and that this has been an intention for as many as nine years or as few as seven (because time is never linear for me, I have no lucid chronology and this is only one of the ways you know me, the ways you knew me) isn’t terribly surprising. I am almost always fat full of intent and I am also almost always failing. 

 

Every time I crawl out of your car, covered in you, thighs slick with sweat and everything I used to forget that I feel, I am slammed back down to an earth where I am moving precisely how I am told, how I am required. I am set back down, cold, wet, tired and just a little bit less human than I was when I began. 

 

It is these times that I wonder if I am using you for more than the things I know I am using you for. If I have become a mystery even to myself, if I have become such a gifted liar that I am not even capable of telling myself the truth, about this or any of the other stupid and ugly crimes I am always committing, always committed to. It is these times that I think I might be crawling all over you in a desperate attempt to crawl out of me.

Compulsive overeater. That’s what the doctor called me. She called me that right to my face, and I couldn’t respond, I couldn’t say one tiny thing in response, because I was too busy being stunned by how wrong she was. And wondering what she had on under that white coat. I mean, I could see her pants and her sensible shoes, her beige blouse, but what I was wondering about was what was underneath that. Not so far under that we’re talking about her bones and organs, the way her blood flows, not even so far that we’re talking about skin. Just one layer under the beige and the brown. I was wondering if under that was black and lace, and I have to admit that I was hoping desperately for the answer to be revealed and be no. I wanted the answer to be more beige and more brown, huge beige panties and a tiny brown bra that I could make her leave on while I was fucking her. I could just bunch the beige in my hand and shove it aside as I shoved into her. 

This is what I was thinking when I was busy being shocked that she, a doctor, could be so wrong about me, a patient. My mother says they call us patients because we have to have patience if we want treatment. That seems like assigning them a characteristic that they do not have, a sense of humor. I think a lot of what we call paranoia is just believing that human characteristics can be applied to something that is not human, which maybe they can, but then you add believing that you know what character traits they have and why and nothing makes sense anymore. That’s what I think. My mother says a lot of things that I think this about, but instead of telling her I just hug her yellowed paper skin to mine and say something soothing, and I don’t let on that I am also thinking about what is going on under the nightgown she is always wearing. I don’t let on that during the touching of my skin to her skin I am wondering if she still gets wet, if that is perhaps the one part of her body that I could touch and not think about dead leaves. 
You asked me what the doctor said. That is what she said. She said that I am a compulsive overeater, and I was too busy thinking about her bent over the table where I am sitting in a too small paper gown, bent over and waiting for me, bent over and spreading herself open so that I could see that she is ugly, too, to realize that this would be my only chance to tell her that she was wrong. I am not a compulsive overeater. I am constantly eating food because if I don’t, I will eat me. The only way to make sure that I don’t is to make myself too large to be consumed so easily. 

I just want to be more than a haunting to you. Remember that? Remember those days? The days and nights where we were something solid to one another?

 

Maybe you don’t. That would be worse than this, I think.

 

I’m supposed to tell you that I want you to be happy, that I want you to have forgotten me, or to only think of us once in awhile , to pause with a sweetly wistful look on your face before continuing on with your grocery shopping, your phone call, your fucking in the back of a tiny car, your drinks with friends. I think that that’s what I’m supposed to tell you. It might even be what I’m supposed to want.

 

I can tell you that, and sometimes I do. I tell you a lot of things, so it’s really not that surprising that this one makes it into the rotation. I tell you that I hope you are happy, really happy, I tell you that I am lying in a pool of my own sticky blood and I hope you know that this is all your fault, all your fault, all your goddamned fault, I tell you that all I want is just one more filthy fuck in a place where fucking isn’t supposed to be going on, I tell you that I think of you often, I tell you that I never think of you. I tell you a lot of things with my hand on the little button on the phone that makes certain that no matter how many times I dial your number, you never answer.

 

I want you to still love me, I want you to still be here with me, burning down churches and staging hand holding sneak attacks. I want you to be hurting, I want you to fucking suffer with wanting me, I want you to feel my name in each of your veins, and I want you to call. I want you to call. I want you to call me and call me and call me, I want you to panic about how many times you have called me and swear to yourself and whoever you call your best friend now that you will never call me again because only creepy stalkers call people that many times in the middle of the night and fail to ever say anything.

 

I want you to never call me again. I want to hear your voice in a bar and spin around with such speed that I nearly have whiplash, only to see someone that doesn’t even vaguely resemble you and feel something that isn’t disappointment but is the closest thing to it I’ve felt in months. I want to see you on a street corner and race after you, heart pounding, trying to look casual while wiping the sweat from my brow before realizing that it wasn’t you, again. It wasn’t you this time anymore than it was the last five times I bolted down the street trying to look like I wasn’t chasing anyone.

 

I want to find a way to move backwards in time, and spend at least a day or two locked in the night that we sped down the hill in your car, taking turns screaming with our bodies bent through your sunroof, screaming blindly and wildly, screaming nothing, screaming song lyrics, screaming screaming screaming, all because it was possible and if something is possible then to not do it is a crime we are not capable of committing.

 

I want to commit. I want us to commit to one another, to commit to not doing this anymore, whatever this is that we are doing, that we are almost always doing. This is what we are doing every time we are not being something, but somehow we never get around to being nothing, and I want us to commit to not spending one.

More.

Fucking.

Instant.

being something so vague. I need us to decide and then stick to that decision, are we something or are we nothing, are we here or did we vanish somewhere along the way? Anything is better than living in a shadow play where all the puppets are us and all the puppeteers are us also but we can somehow never figure out how to untangle the strings and figure out the trick.

 

Do you understand the things that I am saying to you? Do you? Can you even fucking hear me? I’m yelling in your ear, I feel like I have made a very successful megaphone and am holding it less than one inch away from your face, but something tells me that you are still not listening, that you are still not listening, at least, for comprehension, and that you are just waiting for the right moment to slip back into being the thing that isn’t something but isn’t nothing and I tell you now, I will not stand for it, I will not allow it. I will simply not let this continue to be the case between you and I, and I do not need your permission to make this decision. My decisions from this day forward are going to be, above all, like a decapitation, one swift strong blow or the head will never roll.

 

I want you to say that you understand. I want you to say something that leads me to believe that you understand at least the underlying ideas of what I am saying to you now. Of what I have been saying to you since the beginning of time, it feels like. You are older than me but somehow I feel as though I have been saying the exact same tired words to you your entire life, and I do not think you have heard a one, not even the times you’ve responded and we’ve had entire conversations like this. I do not think you heard even those words.

 

Can you begin to understand how I feel at times like these? Half drunk on whiskey and painkillers, well on my way to being an irrational being, if such a thing can exist where rational beings don’t (I do not know – is it possible to be the opposite of a thing that is not?) I feel as though I am the only one feeling anything here.

 

This is what kills me, the idea that this is not killing you. Why isn’t this killing you? Why aren’t you dead yet from the pain of knowing that I do not want you anymore, that I do not want you to stand near me, that I do not want to harass schoolchildren by your side, that I do not want to drink too much and run into the street half naked and screaming with you just to see what might happen? There are so many things that I do not want to do with you anymore.

 

Don’t you hurt over any of them? Don’t any of them make you want to lie in a pool of your own sticky blood and call me and tell me that you hope I know this is all my fault?

 

Oh god. Is this all my fault?

I feel us like a bomb under heavy water, lonely riders all only occasionally knowing that we are not lonely, not alone, not even riding but standing. In opposition, in your midst, in solidarity and enraged. We are, we do, we must endure and we endure and we do endure, all for the hope of a change, a movement barely perceptible if you are not awake at night, all night, waiting for news of a shift, this shift, any shift away from the universal no, the almighty ostritching that is everyone saying no to knowing, saying no to doing anything about what we would have no choice but to know if only we would open our eyes. I feel us like an engine with only the faintest memories of combustion– I feel us waiting to explode and desperately trying to remember how. I feel us and I wonder if I have gone insane, if it is going insane that would make a person know that they are not alone out here, that they are not the only one waiting for a yes, waiting for a sign, waiting for a voice, waiting to be a voice, waiting to stop waiting. If it is going insane that would make wanting something so badly while wanting it’s exact opposite at the same time seem like not going insane.