You would see me turn myself into a stone-hearted woman – like the statue on a trophy, a commemorative prize of what you made me into. It is easy to look at statues and not feel bad. Breaking a stone heart is an accomplishment. A sculpture is a work of art and only an object after all.
I will be soft. I will be kind.
Loving you was like the glut at the end of a carnival day. Sick with sweetness, the sugary high that turned to strung nerves and pounding skull – a pleasure gorged on in fear of making the most of it before it was gone, that in dizzy excess was no longer pleasure at all. Only the memory of it. The chasing of it. The flashing strobe lights of it at once beautiful and alarming. And yet beyond you, the world was colourless.
I once met a girl who said she wanted to die at sixteen so she would be beautiful at her funeral. Beautiful forever. Young forever. The two best things in life they say, young and beautiful. Youngandbeautiful. Synonymous. I laughed then, with everyone else – I had to – otherwise I’d choke on the fact that the world makes fifteen year old girls believe that it is better to be dead than to be ugly.
The garden curled around the fences of the manor like fingers wrapped around prison bars. Like every inch of ferocious wildness was straining against the edges of its cage in an effort to creep down to the sleepy civility of the village below and devour it.
I did not fall in love with you. I fell in love with the people we could be, the conversations we could have had, the nostalgic desire of everything that could happen between us. I fell in love with the idea that someone like me would fall in love with someone like you.
But I did not fall in love with you.
Old ghosts rise in my bones every time we kiss, there is a summoning on your lips of all the people you used to love and how you compare them to me.
You have made my body into a haunted house.
You built fences and fortresses around your feelings, and I had heard the stories of princesses locked in towers a hundred times. I forgot that sometimes defences aren’t built to keep the knights out – but to keep the monsters in.