the way we were (Part III)

Without you, I attended all my classes. I enjoyed them, I did the work, I was passing. Some were better than others, but I was always there.

With you, however, I went to class when I could escape, when you were distracted with other people, when I thought you might not notice that I’d gone until I was already back. I stole hours here and there, trying to attend often enough to pass them all.

But I never withdrew from them, because I was convinced I would go next time. That maybe tomorrow you’d be in a good mood, maybe tomorrow you’d say you didn’t care what I did.

I was much more naive back then. I don’t think you know what a good mood feels like.

You’d always let me almost leave. I would announce that I was going to class, start packing up my things, wait for you to object. When you didn’t, I’d pack up my books, put on my jacket, wait for you to stop me. You’d stay quiet, like you didn’t notice, so I’d walk to the door and almost, almost make it outside before you’d speak.

Only then would you remind me that if you were left alone, you’d drink an entire bottle of whiskey and hope to die — “Choking on my own vomit, that’s poetic, right?”

You’d say you’d climb into the bathtub and slit open your arms — “Don’t cut the wrists. You have to catch an artery. If you’re going to die, you have to die correctly. Don’t die an idiot.”

You’d tell me that once I’d gotten to class and couldn’t stop you, you’d go for a walk in traffic and leap in front of a car — “Best-looking roadkill you’ve ever seen.”

You’d say you had a bottle of pills that you’d been saving for this moment when you had time to yourself. “I’ll make it easy for everyone to forget me — quiet, in my sleep.”

You said you’d hang yourself from the catwalks of the theatre, my favorite place in the world — “You’d see me every time you came here, even after they took my body down.”

I couldn’t tell if you meant it, so I’d sit back down.

I failed every class that semester.

I failed because if I left that room, if I got off that couch where we sat every day, you might go somewhere I couldn’t follow.

You’re still there in my head. When I walk into my old theatre and look up at those catwalks I loved so much, I see you hanging there — your combat boots dangling and your This Is England double-cuffed jeans and your mohawk collapsing over that face I so hated and so loved.

Even though I left you, I still see you up there, every time.

Maybe that was all you wanted.

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