You stare into your bedroom. In your apartment. In the apartment you're about to leave for the last time. The sheets are off the bed and the walls are bare. You only notice now how the paint has been stained at the corners of the ceiling. A soft white covered in tobacco brown. You start to remember all the cigarettes you and your ex shared in bed*.
You run your fingers along the walls and you swear you can feel where the picture frames used to hang, you swear you can see where the dresser used to be, and you convince yourself that this room is still worth something to you.
In the corner of the room, behind the bed frame and box spring, you see black garbage bags pushed into the corner. You walk towards them slowly as if they were filled with human parts [you know it isn't]. One of the bags isn't tied and since you're invasive and nosy and you don't understand the meaning of personal space, you peek inside.
You find some clothes (your ex's), a stereo with a CD player (your ex's), and an old CD (yours). You pull the stereo out of the bag with the CD and plug the dusty machine into the wall. You sit next to it as you put the CD in the tray and hit play.
You remember the way you would make your ex mix CDs and only put the saddest songs you know on them. You decided it was an inside joke between the two of you. Pretending that you were really sad and that everything hung on the precipice of ending.
Little did you know, that was true. You weren't oblivious to the break up, no. You were definitely a part of it. No one walked out on you, actually, if you've been paying attention to your surroundings, you'll realize that you're the one walking out on them.
It's their bags that you're going through. It's their CD player. Their CD. Their songs. But here you are, still feeling like a sad bastard. You think there might be something wrong with you. You can't understand why you still feel like garbage after being the one that ended things. You listen to the song:
I found enough of your hairpins to build you a monument, A statue to loneliness. Breathe it in. Let it go. I caved a piece of the drywall in, replaying the argument, I'm icing my swollen fist. It's a lie and this isn't a home, no, no. I'm just skin and bones. I broke my cell phone. Cause it won't fucking tell me when you're coming home.
You stare out the window and picture your ex walking down the street, listening to this exact song, feeling those exact feelings. And it kills you inside. It feels like a claw is being dragged up your spine, over your shoulder, and down to your chest. Only to stop and twist over your heart.
You picture him sitting outside the coffee shop, smoking his unfiltered cigarettes, and hiding his tears in his palm. You see his green beanie pressed against his face, you hear his whimper, you see his best friend and her arm around his shoulder. You see him tossing and turning every night, getting up for a glass of water but staring at that bottle of whiskey on the counter and being afraid of himself. You can see him hold the wedding bands in his hand and stare at them like they're an unsolvable math problem [he was never good at math], you imagine the way he'd turn it into a necklace and text you that he'll wait forever.
And you know he will.
And you, you feel disgusting because you know you wouldn't wait for him.
*The two of you would cautiously and constantly smoke cigarettes in bed. After sex, before sex, after dinner, before dinner, with coffee, with beer, with water, it didn't matter. You both were so afraid of burning the house down, you'd stare at the ashtray after you rested the cigarette within it. You'd both quote The Outsiders and laugh. You'd put the cigarettes out and start making out. The ashtray would fall over and make a salt-and-peppery mess all over the hardwood. You wouldn't care. You didn't at the time. You had your hands full with something else. And right now, you think a tired and terrible thought to yourself: that was the only good thing about our relationship.