it was december
and had been half a year
since i had seen him

i circled
my home
he would
be late
i didn’t want him
to know
i was eager
and early

it’s how
we did it always
half truths
and games
were the foundation
of chemistry
so consuming
when near him
i could barely
feel my legs
i was so high
on his disinterest
mixed with just enough
penetrating sweetness
i was certain
it was
worth even
my last scraps
of dignity

“coming up”
i said
from the top
of the stairwell

life feels like
a scene from a movie
where the only thing missing
is the soundtrack
just as my heart
bleeds out

he didn’t respond
never much inclined
to do anything he didn’t
want to do
he just
started walking
up to me

i felt fear
and wanted to say
but instead
heard myself
offer tea

you know
when you hear
yourself speak
and you think
even as the words
are coming out
no please
stop emily
please stop speaking
tea, really?
you know him
he only drinks
and dreams

sitting across
from him
kitchen table
between us
i thought
how odd
this thing
we humans do
when those once
inside us
become strangers
we find it hard
to speak to

“what’s new?”
i said
almost whispering
oh how i hate myself
i thought
as he looked at me
a smile cracking
as he leaned in

you look new
you look good
it’s good to see you”
his voice
always velvety
and clear
sent chills
up my spine

and a familiar
feeling of ill
that i once thought
was excitement
and i now recognize
as anxiety
came over me

“let’s just do
what we need to do”
i said quickly
pulling out the paperwork

he smiled
laughing a little at me
“all business now
aren’t we”

and i remembered

all the little ways
he used to undermine me

all the little ways
he would insult me
even while complimenting me

all the little ways
he made sure i knew
i was lucky he even considered me

i remembered all the ways
i was expected
to be exactly how
he pleased
without questioning

but this time
his words
didn’t take home in me
they boomeranged right off
my frozen heart

and i heard myself say
almost loudly
“sign here, please”

i could tell
he heard
something different in me
because this time
he didn’t wink
or smirk
he didn’t joke
or flirt

he took the pen
and while looking at me
locking eyes
without blinking
he signed
on the not so dotted line
just as the kettle
of hot water
hit boiling
and began
to scream

how perfect
i thought
getting up to turn
the heat off

“i think it’s best you leave”
i said
my back to him

“no tea?”
he said
him and me both knowing
he didn’t want tea

“no, no tea”
i said
turning to face
the man
i once loved
more than anything

this time
i am choosing

❤️ emily joy rosen

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