4 years ago10,000+ Views
It's late. You're in a neighborhood you've never been in. You scroll through your text messages. You assume they want you to stay the night but you're unsure. You receive another text, "where are you?"
You respond with a lie. You tell them you are about 30 minutes away even though you're parked around the block. You stare at your wrist and wish you had a watch. You light a cigarette and after taking one drag you use your free hand to wipe the gloss from your eyes. You sit there and think.
You think about that scene from 500 Days of Summer. The one where Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character thinks he has a chance to get back together with Zooey Deschanel's character but instead finds out that she is engaged and no longer his to court.
You feel this way. Like you have made a mistake. Like you shouldn't have left your house so late knowing you have to get up for work early. You light another cigarette. You continue to think about what might happen.
You think they will answer the door and you will hug. You imagine watching them lean up against the kitchen counter, pouring a glass of red wine, and offering you a beer. And when you accept they walks up to you and brushes the hair out of your face the same way you have done for her.
You smile at each other and they put their wine glass down on the counter and you do the same. You slink towards each other, furtive and nervous, smiles creeping up your faces like the corners of your respective mouths were being pulled up by small strings.
They wrap their arms around you and you put yours around them. You try to whisper something witty, clever, or smart but nothing comes out. They interrupt your stutter with a kiss. Their soft lips pressed against your soft lips and you finally feel whole again.
You picture yourself laying in bed next to them. Smiling, laughing, and making plans for the week. You talk about coffee shops, tattoos, and your favorite movies. As you start to drift to sleep, you put your arm around them and start to feel your breathing match tempos. You have made the connection you always wanted.

Except, none of that happens.

After imagining the best possible outcome, you leave your car and ring their bell. They answer and motion for you to come inside. You walk into the apartment and it's a mess, they are only wearing a tee-shirt and there's a bottle of Budweiser on the kitchen counter half-drank. They grab it and ask you to sit across from them at the table.
They start talking at you. Yes, at you. You find it hard to listen after they say what happened between you can never happen again. The walls fall apart behind them and you can only hear one thing. The last song you listened to before you left the car, Nothing's Guilty of Everything:

"My hands are up. I’m on my knees. I don’t have a gun. You can search me please. I’ve given up. But you shoot anyway. I’m guilty of everything."

You start to hear words like, "secret", "our", and "promise". Your brain can't piece together the words properly but you understand what they are saying. You nod along when they ask if you're paying attention. You start to feel ashamed. And broken. And torn.
Your rib cage cracks open and you never thought you'd feel like this again. You hate yourself for opening up something that should have stayed shut. Your hands start to shake, your eyes lose focus, your mouth goes dry, you start tapping your finger against your leg, you realize you left your cigarettes in the car, they ask if you're okay. You nod. You nod. You nod. You smile. You nod. You smile. You leave.
You sit in your car until four in the morning. You chain-smoke the rest of your pack.

You promise yourself that you'll never let anyone in again.

This was a really great read, especially for any of us who had a really messy break-up. I've definitely been there for some of this. At this point of my life, all my exes are either engaged or married off, and I guess sometimes there's a part of my character that really can't help but dwell on those 'what ifs'. I also love the name of this collection - Behind The Bars. It's fitting. There's definitely some Elliot Smith level self-contemplation going on in this one.
I love this, though I also hate it. I hate it for the reality of it, the rawness. You don't pull any punches here, and I dig that.
@allischaaff unfortunately, like 90% of this is true. it's a sucky, terrible, awful feeling. but all we can do is try to move forward.
@paulisaverage, this is heartbreaking and so sweet and so true to life. I've had these experiences too. It sucks and I don't know if this is something that actually happened to you, but I feel your pain. <3
@JordanNash Thanks so much. It means a lot! I'm glad the piece resonated with you. @danidee, I'm happy you caught that subtle (or not so subtle) Elliott Smith reference! It's also very literal, drinking then writing is one of my favorite past-times, hahaha!
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