Sunday, 16 December 2018

Tin man

I'm not sure as a little boy you ever dreamed of becoming a man made of metal and tin, but somewhere along the line it might have seemed better than any superhero you could imagine.

The greatest thing you can break is a heart so it's easy to assume that a man without one is invincible. Maybe you cursed it or tried to cut it out, but a cold man is not quite as unbreakable as you think. You might rely on yourself to light up your life, but didn't you lead my way back to something bright and didn't I leave you electrified?

Sadly for you I've always been able to see that you have one of the kindest, breakable hearts, even if it is only half of one sometimes. Unfortunately for me, your armour is sometimes so heavy I can barely feel anything beating beneath it.

I try knocking on you as hard as I can but I never know if you can feel it or hear me underneath all that metal. If I leave you behind and let it rust with time, will you start to dismantle?
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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Fountains and fir trees

Staring at white Christmas lights is no way to spend a Saturday night, but everything's gone quiet and I've got nothing to do.

I've picked up my phone several times, stared at it and felt like an idiot so I've thrown it aside. I've re-curled my hair only to pull it back, twisting it away from my face so that I don't hide behind it. I've wrapped myself up in things that make me feel as warm as you do, an old grey hoodie (also known as my heartache hoodie), pyjamas with dogs on them and a single silver ring with a green stone.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Poison apples


Tapping on tables and sipping on Coke, your easiness makes me shake sometimes.

You're not a knight in shining armour and I really do not need saving, but those few seconds of my hand in yours made me think you brought part of me back to life. You seemed wary of me but so sure at the same time, but I know you'll never tell me what goes on inside that stubborn, uncertain head of yours.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Where we begin


Every time something happens that makes me feel a goodbye is coming, it's like we begin all over again. My therapist, who is the smartest man I've ever met, made me see that goodbyes are something I fear and instantly trigger me, so I often prepare for the worst. He said I was a pessimist disguised as a realist, but every time someone has planted a little bit of doubt in my brain lately, I've talked my way out of it. Sometimes my nerves can kick in but I've got to give it to myself, I can talk myself out of anything and sometimes it pays off. With this, it usually does.

It's not the same for you, because I think you're pretty sure how constant I am, there's little need for doubt.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

How to win a girl like me


They say I'm too picky, too stubborn and that I refuse to take advice. They say I deserve to be happy, as if they're sure I don't believe it. It's as if they don't know I can do that myself. They say I could be with someone who would shower me with attention and satisfy my appetite for affection, if only I let them. That isn't enough for someone like me, and it took me a long time to finally realise what would be.

My hunger isn't fed by any old love or by a garden variety romance. I don't crave a future of magnolia hallways filled with pictures forced in frames, and I certainly don't want something simple these days. I know simple could be as comforting as the clatter of keys thrown to the side, as warm as the shower steam of morning routines. It could be Two for Tuesdays and blanket forts on chestnut floors, but I don't want it unless it's someone worth a war.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Spare keys


On October 25th last year at Cardiff Castle, I started making pointless conversation with you and I never really stopped, which I often think is unfortunate for you. On October 25th this year, I rested my chin on your shoulder and bit my lip.

The significance of that date really didn't occur to me until a few days later. I have a knack for dates, and there are a few that standout to me when it comes to you. October 25th, November 3rd, February 1st and September 2nd are all stamped into my brain, which is fairly annoying. These days belong to you until I can force myself to forget.

Unaware of how much I needed to see you care, you caught me by surprise.

I'm one of those people who cries even more when someone tries to hug them and hold them through any kind of pain. With you, I didn't keep crying. I don't know if I was more surprised at how easy it was for you to make me feel okay, or at how you didn't seem to question that I needed you. Either way, I didn't care. I just cared about that one moment, the split second when I knew exactly why I do this.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Table 23


There's nothing remarkable about sitting at coffee shop tables, but I often lose an hour or two looking at what's on the other side.

Blacking out everything else around me, you don't know how good it is to see you.

Temporary memory loss and a complete obliteration of my common sense are just reoccurring symptoms of you, just side effects I've learned to nurse in my bedroom on Sundays. I take you like a remedy, knocking you back quickly like any other painkiller. I'm already hooked, and I know I could easily overdose on your chemicals.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Soundtracks


Here's the annoying thing about being a romantic and being someone who writes through life: everything means something, even when it doesn't. Everything has meaning, whether I'm looking for it or not.

Texts and photos are the usual, but romantics are overly sentimental which means that music, first date outfits and receipts from coffee shops are all fair game.

We're just collecting memories to save for a rainy day, and we're just trying to keep our muses alive. If you want immortality, we'll give it to you. You don't even have to ask.

We'll paint pictures of adoration through hidden messages and movie moments, hoping for something cinematic. It'll annoy us when you don't follow the script, so try to learn your lines.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Gone with the wind


"Either your head or your heart, you set the other on fire." - The Other

Three Sundays ago, you risked losing me. I'm not sure if you were aware of that at the time, but it was a very real possibility, especially in the immediate aftermath. I know that if you had, you probably would have felt like you were right all along but I've never been one to surrender.

I ran back and forth, wondering how I was crying in the exact same bed on the exact same day as before. Punishing myself for letting myself get too close to a flame, I tested its ability to leave me with a third degree burn. Somehow, I knew I'd eventually strike a match to reignite us back to life.

Untangling myself from the tug of twisted heartstrings and crossed wires, I had a choice to make. I knew you never wanted to hurt me, and that you still didn't want to. I don't know if you thought you were setting me free that day, but I wasn't having any of it.

I wore a lot of raspberry red lipstick that week, it was the same one I wore that night last November. Any master of disguise can tell you that a red deep enough can conceal the cuts of nervous lip bites and all shades of sin, and hiding the hurt is something I do well. My other emotions, not so much.

I could run like everyone expected me to, just like my head told me to. You see, it was quite a predicament. If I satisfied my pride and walked away, it was like this had never happened. It would waste ten (maybe eleven) months of soul searching and learning, it would bury the magic that kept me bright and held me still even when I fell off balance. It would be like you never changed me, it would be like I didn't want you around. What a ridiculous lie.

It would be an ending neither of us deserved, an unjust goodbye to something so enchanting and a little tragicWe both know that we matter, I'm just more upfront about it and I can't tolerate the idea of goodbye.

Invisible ink left me covered in traces of you, from the way I've picked up your habit of adding ellipses to the ends of sentences, to the careful way I throw my hand back through my hair when I need to feel safe again. I don't intend on forgetting how you've made me more patient and articulate, or how I can read between your lines. I'm alert when you fall too silent, tuned in to your static sound and always quietly certain of how well I notice the unnoticeable.

This thing that was something without ever becoming anything, actually meant so much. It still does, and I'm sorry to say it's not going anywhere. I'll pester you, poking and prodding so that you listen when I tell you I'm in this. You'll push back and we'll annoy each other each time you're effortlessly calm while I'm frustrated, pouting like a child who's had her favourite toy put back on the shelf. We've had fun doing this, haven't we?

I shouldn't have been so surprised about this curveball, my life always twists with the weather. When the Autumn arrives, I either lose someone or someone loses me and last year was the only exception. The last time the leaves fell was when I did, when I stopped hopelessly chasing the things that were gone with the wind.

My ritual of beating up hearts with the cold has always been peculiar, but I seem to damage my own the most. I take refuge by the time the winter snaps, leaving an empty love outside and watching it turn blue.

A year ago, I couldn't trust the noise of my own brain and I sure as hell didn't trust anything I felt inside, but you took me by surprise. It was so annoying, but you handed me something half full of hope. Thank you for doing that.

They tell me to put myself first, unaware that is exactly what I'm doing. I choose you because I choose me, because you're something I want to keep close. I'd be fine without you, but I'd rather not try.

There's something unfairly beautiful about a quiet mind that isn't so sure of itself, something unnerving about the way you cut through me with a look, or how you bite your nails when we trade shy glances across tables.

You don't know that I'm chewing on questions I'll never ask, and you don't know that sometimes I replay the day you told me you had let your guard down by ninety nine percent. I wonder how I lost that final point, so I pull at my hair and scratch at my neck as I distract from the sting of an almost victory.

You don't know that I spent a week torturing myself with the choices in front of me, reverting to sad, predictable habits of listening to music that made the whole thing worse. Seriously, if I listen to Bon Iver's Skinny Love one more time then I might lose my damn mind. You don't know how much I craved your attention, a drug that is always in such short supply.

I poured my feelings out in drinks and sweet, determined reasoning to people who would never get you like I do. Almost tearful from unwavering faith and what was left of a complaining ego, I argued that none of it mattered and that I still believed in you. I didn't know why, I just knew that I felt it and it made me calm.

The best way I can describe it is a downpour of rain. To everyone else, a rainstorm ruins a perfectly good day, flooding through pretty things and leaving hands on ice. To another, you could feel cold like rain with your dedication to detachment. For me, rain keeps me steady and still, protected from the outside world. You don’t make me shiver, so I’ll keep you warm if you need it, even when you don’t ask for it- and let’s be honest, you never would.

I was reminded of this again on a Monday morning, when five seconds through a car window stuck in my head. Your hair still fell perfectly but something about you was different. A subtle change in the light in your eyes and the absence of your usual smirk made me uneasy. It could have easily been mistaken for early morning bleakness, but reading you through a pane of glass was the easiest part of my day. It was also the hardest, because all I wanted to do was make life better for you. 

Maybe for you, I'm someone who can believe that everything you are, good and bad, is always enough for someone else. Maybe one day, you'll believe too. Maybe you're still that person to explore the dark with, and maybe you're the greatest muse I've ever had. Stimulating lovesick prose and shaping sentences too hopeful to ever be silent, you proved I could write more than pain.

Thousands of words have been spilled for you across fingerprinted pages, but there's no one else I'd trust to invent a story with me. I'll carve out the words and maybe you could bring it to life, even if it's just pretend in the end. A fictitious happy ending is better than none at all, right?

There are people who have loved and left me, and others that never got the chance for one reason or another. I tend to focus on the ones who didn't want me, too often forgetting that I've been the one that got away for more than one man. It's not arrogance, it's just the way things turned out when life unlocked floodgates. They know we were never made for each other, but they like to remember me from time to time.

They're left with the faintest touch of my favourite perfume, recalling nostalgic anecdotes of a twenty two year old girl who had dreams bigger than them. I was someone who put them on the spot, talking my way in and out of anything, letting them play boyhood games alone. I put miles and years between us, leaving a sleepy little life behind and keepsakes for them to remember me by. Stalked by the ghost of an almost beloved, they told me when they realised it was too late.

It never worked because it wasn't supposed to. The pretend soul mates and temporary heroes all served a purpose, even the ones who took things from me that I can never get back, even the ones who broke my heart and stole my ability to believe in a happy ending.

With you, I've been myself in a way that feels brand new, wearing bravery and a spray that smells like gingerbread and sugar. I've been vulnerable and excitable, telling you things I wouldn't tell the rest. I've been less memorable, forgetting how to perform my usual tricks each time I prickle with nerves. The rattle in my brain would battle with heavy beats and adrenaline every time I realised you saw better in me.

I packed the others away in a shoebox with a decade's worth of ruined film, but our carefully captured moments are still in frames for now. I won't put you with the rest, because you're like that one perfect shot and I'm proud of the picture we made. I'm proud of the fact we're a little messy and more stubborn than we ought to be, and I'm more than okay with all the bad parts when only the good is in focus.

As for the others, let them be a lesson in letting me be the one who's gone with the wind. The boys who let me go might just feel me in the air, but they'll always find me cold. Catch me while you can, I’ve stopped in my tracks just for you.

After all, didn't we change each other, even just by one percent?

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Pancakes and plaid


The September before last, a man who pretended to love me came home twenty minutes late. He put four pints of milk in the fridge and told me in no uncertain terms he was leaving me. He kept coming back, but only after he'd been with someone else.

One day, he told me she was better, that she was younger than me and nicer. She had milky skin and a smile that reminded me of the one I used to wear. I wasn't chosen, so I stopped believing I was worth anything at all. I became a girl who cried on bathroom floors, staring at front doors and waiting until it became apparent that the only reason I did was because I was tricked into it. I had pinned my happiness on one person, unaware that I was forcing happy for a man who never understood me and didn't deserve me. I learned to be by myself and I swore off relationships, determined to stay unbroken. That girl doesn't live here anymore.

Two years to the day that he left me, I was fated to be shaken by someone else. It was a twist that could only be designed by the hand of life itself. Oracles couldn't have predicted the tip in our scales, and the lessons in my history books couldn't have prepared me for a collapse.

September the 2nd is destined to start my storms, but you weren't to know that I was triggered and I never would have told you. I know how to take refuge from my own hurricanes, but despite my best efforts, it was a sleepless Sunday tending to the two wounds that occurred on the same day, two years apart.

When you reminded me of where we stood, all I could think about was time. Cursed by clocks and locked out by men who never wanted me to find a way in on time, I've given away time like its in unlimited supply.

I've become a careful timekeeper, but each time I made marks in diaries, I made excuses for us. I don't regret my patience with you, and I would rewind and repeat history just to learn you all over again.

I said it was fine, because I always knew what you were telling me. I'm not sure if you believed anything I told you, because I definitely wasn't fine. I always knew that you weren't ready but I also knew I could believe until you were, and although I knew this wasn't about me, I don't think I ever considered that you might not believe in me too.

I've always felt like there's nothing as tragic as the past getting in the way, a tug of war with life that leaves your hands black and blue when you fight for something made for you.

There's nothing sadder than a story that waits to be told, of two people who could recognise mutual pain and make each other believe in impossible things, if only they could get the timing right.

I switched the lights out the moment I felt like I was about to stop believing. I turned to my side and stared into the black until I blinked through a montage of memories, watching hair flips and nail biting set against plaid shirts and stacks of pancakes on days that gave me something to hold on to.

Reluctant to admit that I was hurt, I briefly gave in to crying but salt water leaked through those perfect movie moments, ruining our film and corrupting my favourite shots. As my memory started to glitch, I scrolled through my phone and searched for candid photographs and messages to remind me it was real.

This kind of hurt was undeniably different to what came before, it was a consequence of courage that made me feel like my lungs collapsed as I clutched at cotton and cushions for comfort. I knew it was coming, so I picked up the pieces as they fell, scrambling for my feelings in case you needed them again. This hurt was subtle and silent, but exquisite nonetheless.

This innocuous thing between us had become a tragedy of timing, star-crossed in the ways that all great romances are.

The old me could spin out of control and I remember that I could medicate with tried and tested remedies, using boys and tequila to forget that for some I was never enough to stay, and for others, I was never enough to try. I know how to mix the tonics that settle the sickness, how to numb the internal snap of fractured feelings and how to find relief in strangers.

I could take a cheap fix right now, except I can't and we both know it. Temporary amnesia can't erase something that means so much, and bad habits can't leave me as high as you do.

As a natural communicator, I instinctively talk everything to death. I knew I was hurt when I didn't talk to anyone about it, because I couldn't quite explain it other than life and timing being to blame. I always knew you weren't ready, but I'd gotten used to being in the middle of everything and nothing.

I didn't want to talk about it, so I didn't. Taking my heart off my sleeve and putting it back where it belonged was like ripping a stitch, insecurities and wasted affection gushing from the seams.

I was upset because I knew I had to decide where to put my feelings and I'm not one for making hasty decisions. I didn't know whether to shelve them and let them gather dust, or keep them alive. I was upset because I didn't know how to decide when I knew I wanted you in my life, in whatever capacity.

Days went by and for once, your brand of silence hurt me. I knew you weren't quiet because of me, but I was quiet because of you and for once, I didn't want to be the one to check that things were okay. I was tired and I wanted to see you care. I wanted to be reminded of the small, little things that made me believe in you in the first place.

Hurting me wasn't deliberate, I was just caught in the crossfire of whatever fight you're facing as you try to take care of yourself. It was all one big accident, a collision of feelings we never saw coming and intrusive, insecure thoughts of  'not now' and 'maybe never'. Even so, there's a rare look in your eye that keeps me close by. I've never believed in myself or someone else so much except when you're around. I'm thankful for that, because until this happened I believed in nothing at all.

I eventually talked about it very quickly to people who didn't understand, about how I never asked you for more because I had never smiled that much. I told them how I'm really not interested in the pursuit of other people and how I've never been so challenged, frustrated and wonder struck all at once. I wasn't interested in anyone else before, and I'm certainly not now. After all, I'll be okay by myself.

Maybe if I ever feel as brave, terrified and safe as I have with you, then maybe I could think about it. Maybe if I can stop dropping my feelings when I drop your name, and if I could stop looking at the floor whenever I remember the moment I knew. Maybe I could believe in someone else, maybe I couldn't.

The day after you gave me a reality check, I was shaken and I saw you for a brief moment as I drove to a home that wasn't my own. It was just another case of life throwing us together, binding us with circumstance and coincidence. This time, you didn't catch me singing and you probably wouldn't for a while. The song I had belted the week before felt too real, but I still played it quietly.

If I hold my tongue and let silence be our maker, I don't know when you'd notice. I don't know if you'd know to check on me, because the worst damage you can do to me is cut the ropes and let me go. If you leave me crash by myself, it might hurt again when I hit the ground and I'm forced to stare at shy reflections that look like you.

As a rule, I don't beg anyone to stay and I'm quite happy to let people walk away. I won't push you away because I think you're meant to be around, and I think you need me too. That's why I can't write us an ending, because I'm not sure if there is one. If there was, I couldn't do it justice.

I'm strong enough to know I can survive if I sacrifice this story, but I don't want to. You made me realise that I'm not what they said I was, because you saw everything that no one ever cared enough to see. You might think you're sullen and cold, but you were my light source for a while. You made me so bright, keeping me warm as you drew my attention to things I never noticed about myself.

If we ever chose to forget, I would miss how you deliberately say things that you know will annoy me the most, but how well articulated they always are. I would miss how you look when I catch you off guard with a compliment, or how your sarcasm is oddly comforting. I would miss the way you carry yourself, and how completely unaware you are of your effect on me, despite me telling you at every opportunity. I would miss how wild determination runs through me, and how you make me feel seen, even when I don't want to be.

I'd miss the pancakes and plaid, and how the green of your eyes puts me on edge. I would miss the way I don't let go whenever you hug me, leaving us locked in a goodbye that's both awkward and sweet. I'd miss how you look so calm when you're reading me, but I think I'd miss your quietness the most.

In case you never knew, I'm sure of you. I'm sure you matter, and I'm sure you changed me. You did it by just being yourself, which is how I know I'll never forget. I'm sure you'll miss me if I leave, so I probably won't. I'm also sure your fatalities won't be because of me, because I can't even imagine hurting you.

That said, you could lose me if you don't show that you care. You could lose the girl in the end, the one who's almost killed you with her nervous driving, the girl with the accidental love letters and chipped nails. The one who would have let herself fall, no matter the cost.

You could lose the girl who could have become your best friend and who could settle your storms, even when she couldn't stop her own.

If you ever forget your feelings, I hope you know I still believe in you, even when you turn our lights out. I hope you know that all I want is for you to remember, and that my belief didn't come for free. I paid the price in heartstrings and stories, so try to take care of the words I've given you. They were a gift.