I’m moving next month so we won’t run into each other. I blocked your number today too. It’s a relief not to have to press the ignore button anymore.
I (don’t) say that to hurt you.
I want you to understand why I’m writing you. I want you to understand because when I’m done writing, I’m shredding you in my memory.
I kept all the silly love notes, the mall pictures, the ticket stubs. I couldn’t shred you before when you broke up with me. I tried. I scraped and pulled, nails clawing at the memories. Chunks out of my skin are missing trying to find and dig you out.
You linger, slippery, coating my layered emotions like a skin.
College was a million years ago. College was ruined when you broke up with me. You said I was the only woman you’ve ever loved. Then you went off and dated that hipster guy. He was ugly and smelled like old weed.
Dating him must have been easier than accepting what you are. I’ve always been up front about what I am, but I’m starting to understand what you meant that day. I’ve told other women I’ve loved them. It might have been true in the moment.
You’re the (only) woman I’ve loved.
We’ve been friends, lovers, ghosts. Maybe if you had stayed a ghost
stay a ghost
we wouldn’t be here.
I’m not looking to dig up old hurts. Your words puncture me. All the air rushes out of my body. Those wounds never heal. They linger like pockmarks. You linger.
I couldn’t escape you. I tried.
I wonder if you felt (feel) the same way.
<Press> Don’t Accept
You didn’t have to go over to my sister in the supermarket and catch up. We were ghosts and that was at least acceptable. You didn’t have to give her your number to give to me. So why did you?
Do I linger too?
Why did I call?
I told myself enough years had passed. As soon as you came within my line of sight, I wanted those lips. I needed to touch that hair. I wanted to mark that olive skin, to hear your voice raw.
Your husband’s voice was panicked, angry. I could hear him through the phone. I couldn’t blame him. Who wouldn’t be possessive of you, Joy?
Did you tell him about how we used to howl at the moon in the field behind the synagogue? Did you tell him how I tackled you that one night, reached around your waist, hoped you wouldn’t push me away? Did you tell him about the mask you wore for me or did you buy a new one to wear for him?
I can’t do this in person. I’ll succumb. You linger.
If you haven’t already burned my photo, use this letter as kindling. You can’t linger anymore, Joy. I’m shredding my memories.
I can’t wish you the best.
With love, Emily
Kitty Shields lives in Philadelphia, where she writes to try and overcome the fact that she was born a middle child with large feet and freckles. She graduated from Arcadia University with an MFA in Creative Writing in 2015. She has been published in After Happy Hour Review and Minotaur’s Spotlight. You can find her at kittyshields.com, @kittyshields on Instagram, or via her boozy book review blog, litproof.wordpress.com.