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AngieCake

United States

Pretend

October 15, 2014

PROMPT: In the House

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So I hold your tee shirt up to my nose and pretend I can still smell you between the tightly woven fibers. The smell is gone now, replaced by the vague odor that pervades the entire house. You are gone now from this too, I think. Everything of you is just fading away. Like you did. I toss your tee shirt back onto the bed and try not to stare at it. It’s just a tee shirt, I tell myself. But it doesn’t work. I know that’s not really true. That tee shirt is you. It’s feeling your arms around me and movement and rhythm. It’s you when I cannot stand to be me, holding me close as my body rocks and heaves and rejects its poor reality. It’s the laughter that only you can bring out of me, bubbling up when we both know we really shouldn’t be laughing. It’s dark nights under the sheets that never seem so dark, and comfort, and security, and unwavering devotion. But the smell of you is gone. It has fled from the room, as if it cannot stand to remain while you do not, and now it feels like everything I do to remember you is pretend. It’s not a good feeling. It’s pretend because I have nothing to hold to me to keep you close, no way to reach through time and reality and bring you back to me. It’s pretend because without you everything here is just a thing, because the you-ness factor of it can’t exist without you, but none of it will ever be just a thing anymore, because all of it was once yours and it will never forget. Like me. Except I don’t like that, because everything in your room feels hollow and emptied of its life, its character, its it-ness without you. I can’t stand the idea, but maybe that applies to me too. It’s pretend because I could never forget you, or us, or any of it whether I have a keepsake or not. I have lost people before. I have lost parents, and uncles, and aunts. I have lost family. But I never thought I would lose you. You came into my life and unlike everything else you were constant. You looked into my eyes and promised you would never leave me again, and you didn’t. Even when you should have, even when it was hard, even when it hurt you, when I hurt you, you stayed. For me. Safe. You always made me feel safe. You looked into my eyes and promised you would always make it back to me. I was ready to fight the universe for you. To fight anything for us. And now I don’t feel safe. I feel unsteady. I feel like the world around me will never stop moving and I will get swept along and I will never find my feet, because I had you and now I don’t and I saw a future with you that I never saw before and now I never will again and I believed in you and I was wrong. Fire and fate makes fools of us all. I look around the room and sigh. I don’t know why I keep coming back here. I don’t live here anymore. Your, our, bed is covered in the tee shirts I can’t smell you on anymore. I open your drawer again and pull out another one. It’s black with a v-neck, and it conjures images of you standing in the doorway, the first time we met, smirking as you told me all relationships are doomed . The smell of you still flirts around its fabric, held in by the stitch of how often you wore it, and I stuff it into my bag before hurrying out of the room. Sometimes it feels better to pretend.

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