In the Mostly Dark

It’s 2:19 in the morning, and I’m watching the light sneak through the slats. City lights. They’re insistent — even now, in the dead of the night. A gentle breeze (read: freezing cold draft) is sending the light skating across the floorboards. Pretty.

I’ll bet that you’re sound asleep somewhere, with no idea that there’s a girl propped up on her elbows, thinking about you.

This is when I think about you. It’s not okay for me to think about you all day long — not anymore. But I do continue to allow myself this little window, in the mostly dark.

If I were smart — if I were talking to a friend — I would say: Sweetie, slam that window shut. We’ll seal it up tight, you and I. We aren’t going to drink crappy coffee, and we aren’t going to cry over boys who don’t care. Here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to watch something that doesn’t test our intelligence whatsoever, and we’re going to share some chocolates that cost $2.50 each. Because we’re young and foolish and our metabolisms are still good. And because we’re making a valiant effort to figure out this living and learning thing. Now, where shall we start?

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I start by leaving my bed. I always do this, before letting my mind go where it wants to go. It’s part of the deal: you don’t come to bed with me anymore.

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It’s awfully hard to course-correct, at this hour, but deep down, I know I really need to work on remembering to forget. I have to forget.

I have to forget that you’ve seen me vulnerable and soft, with my hair spilling down over my shoulders, with pillow creases pressed into my cheek. I have to forget that you’ve seen me fall fast asleep, under an open book. (Possibly with my mouth open.) I have to forget that you’ve seen me yawn — a real jaw-cracker — without a glimmer of self-consciousness. I have to forget that you’ve seen me stark naked. Stripped bare, in all the seasons: pale, sunburned, and tanned.

I have to forget that you’ve seen me doubled over in pain. Curled up against the wall, away from you. I have to forget how you unflappable you were, and how you let my ups and downs just roll right off your back. Like they were nothing, even though I’m sure sometimes they weren’t. I have to forget how much better you always managed to make me feel, and how clear you made it that we could talk about anything. Anything. I have to forget how you always knew just when to show up, with a pint of ice cream and two spoons.

I have to forget that you’ve seen me stretched out lazily, too, like a cat that got the cream.

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I have to forget. I didn’t do such a great job, tonight. Obviously. But it’s okay — there will be a nice long loop in the morning, and there will be brioche afterwards. The sweetest brioche.

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And in the afternoon, there will be another date with a new friend. With not-crappy coffee. We’ve gotten that part right.

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