rough hands caught in the lapels of your jacket. i love you he whispers against your jaw, presses a quick kiss, then gone.
you didn’t paint it very well—
like the lifted edges of your cheap carpet, stained brown in places with old blood.
like the cracks in sidewalks where weeds sprout up, attracting bugs, like the ones that crawl in your ears at night;
whisper, you deserve this, you deserve this, and cackle as you try to fall asleep.
like the broken china in your cabinets,
purposeless, but kept for old time’s sake,— just like you.
like the near empty bottle of pills in your bathroom cabinet, like the razor blade you know your sister keeps under the bed.
like the monsters whispering under your little brother’s, like the way your mother says, just for now, when she puts the alcohol in the lowest shelves on the refrigerator.
like the way she didn’t say goodbye—
you didn’t teach yourself how to feel this way,
it’s something programmed in, though you try to unteach yourself every day.
the lines on the pages of the book in your father’s hands all look like tiny daggers, and you can’t follow the subtitles on your favorite movie anymore.
it’s something akin to sickness, but of the brain, of your heart, of the feeling in your chest when you check your inbox for the millionth time, hear the front doorbell ringing in the middle of the afternoon though no one’s ever there.
you wouldn’t answer it even if there were.
you didn’t get yourself here on your own.
it started with the way your best friend walked crooked to avoid the lines in the pavement at age five, the way your ex told you never to get so drunk you’d accidentally text her ever again at age fifteen,
the way your mother told you that all men are evil, so you started kissing girls instead.
the way she slapped you when she found one curled up in your bed.
the red went away in minutes but the sting still never quite ever fades; you make yourself stop crying in less than an hour, but you avoid the mirror on your bedroom wall for days.
you didn’t lock the door behind you:
that was the men in the green coats laughing at you in the street, poor little poor girl, a man took mercy on your when he decided you looked good enough to eat,
it was the girl who said she loved you, gave you kisses and chocolate and roses, called you hers, forever, and then found a boy she liked so much better you couldn’t do anything but watch in defeat.
it was the one you fell for slowly, the one who gave you nothing, but gave you happiness, peace, and heartache to kill a strong young woman, let alone—
you didn’t pull the trigger.
that was the chipped coffee mug, the spit on your cheek after he was done, the dark lines under your own eyes, black against brown against white.
that was the flower growing between the cracks in the sidewalk, tripping you up,
the blood running down your fingertip as you steal your sister’s blade.
that was your own bleeding heart, your own lack of apathy, your own personal bullet shooting below the wings of your collarbones, beneath the dips of the space between your ribs.
you didn’t paint it very well, but your undoing was a masterpiece anyway.
and it is just
you left me feeling like i flew on butterfly’s wings,
early morning goodbyes said with ghosts of kisses on cheeks.
and it is not the loneliness that does it,
that breaks my bones and tears the skin of my shoulders,
leaves abrasions on the backs of my knees so i cannot take a step without the worry of falling.
for there is absence of love, and there is loss;
and i would not have ever wished the second on my greatest enemy,
until i realized that was you.
you are every nice word i can think of;
you are every kindness on my tongue;
you are the chilling breeze that tickles the skin below my ankles;
you are the softest sheets, tangled and wrapped tight above my knees;
you are the broken sunlight falling on the pages of my favorite book;
you are the love interest in every romance novel i can find;
you are in the corner of my eye, no matter where i turn;
you are of every flower, every sweet song, every bird;
you are the barest memory, floating across my mind;
you are the closest thing to all the parts of me;
you are the farthest place from every place i’ve been;
you are the endpoint of every route on every map;
you are the cool air on my cheek before the day begins;
you are the hot breath on my neck while my fingers play over skin;
you are every road, every papercut, every pin;
you are the worst pieces of myself,
you are all the finest, loveliest bits;
you are what i want, what i crave, what i miss;
you are right beside me, in my ears, in my vision, within my t—
are nowhere near me
It starts off innocent enough.
Gavin has always been an annoying idiot, so Michael figures this is just a new torture tactic.
Gavin’s sitting in his own chair, with his head resting on his arms folded across the desk, and he’s staring hard somewhere near Michael’s keyboard.
Gavin has his eyes clamped shut like he’s trying to will the needle off his skin and Michael sighs heavily.
Gavin’s eyes snap open when he feels cool fingertips over his skin; Michael has his hand rested carefully over the back of his own, and when he turns his palm up, Michael doesn’t hesitate to tangle their fingers together.
He figures the asshole is having enough of a hard time, and doesn’t think about it beyond that.
Michael is trying to edit; really, he is.
It’s just that Gavin has been wearing suspiciously sparse clothing considering the weather hasn’t been that warm lately, and he keeps calling people into the office to show off his new tattoo; and okay, maybe it’s a little upsetting that people keep touching him, it, keep running their fingertips over the outline of it, like he’s—it’s— theirs, to touch, and that’s—
Okay, that’s admittedly a little bit of a weird thought.
They break apart after a minute. Gavin is smiling into his mouth, and their teeth bump together slightly painfully, and it’s at this moment that Michael realizes he’s smiling right back, just as dumbly, and he thinks—
Gavin has his headphones on, pretending to edit an old video, but his thoughts have a tendency to wander, and his eyes to follow.
So it’s without real forethought that Gavin finds his gaze roaming over Michael’s arms.
Now Gavin’s never really been one for tattoos, finds them garish and unappealing, tolerable at best.
But there’s something undoubtedly attractive about the way Michael wears his.
Michael is recording, some guide, or things to do, Gavin doesn’t really care to notice, but the way his arms move, the way they look as his muscles shift under the marked up skin, under the harsh fluorescents, makes something low in Gavin’s stomach clench, makes him wonder what it’d feel like, if the inking would feel as good on his skin as it looks on Michael’s.
It’s an odd feeling, and Gavin sits, strangely quiet, for a minute more, before Geoff says his name, and he sits back, puts his thoughts aside for later, and turns away.
It’s a few weeks later the next time: they’re recording a podcast, and Michael is pressed up all against his side, both of them ignoring the empty cushion between them and Barbara one the other side of the couch.
Gavin has one arm slung around the back, and Michael has both of his crossed, and it’s an inexplicable kind of * that draws Gavin’s eyes to Michael’s tattoos again.
They look different up close, the details stand out instead of blur together, and Gavin starts to unconsciously trace the lines with his gaze. They’re nothing special to look at really, old video game references, callbacks to things a younger Michael clearly cared about. Gavin used to scoff at them, call him a human coloring book. But looking at them now, he can feel at least a small amount of appreciation for someone able to love something enough to devote even a small part of their skin to simply showing that.
And almost more than anything else, Gavin wants to care about something enough to want it permanently on his skin, to wear his love for it with pride—
The thought is abruptly cut off by the sound of Michael’s laughter, loud and genuine, and Gavin finds himself smiling despite not even having heard the joke.
And he realizes, oh.
you hum to yourself on street corners and shove cold hands in deep pockets and watch dead stars at night, figments of the world’s collective imagination
on hot nights in warm apartment buildings, a million fireflies caught in glass in your blackened gaze.
you’re twenty two years old, live in the poorest rich city in the world and sometimes you think maybe you’re actually buried down the street, the old cemetery with gates like eyes, a hungry mouth to eat the living and consume the dead.
you’re twenty two years old and your name doesn’t matter. you’re twenty two years old and you were five years too late.
the answer is blue.
you bite your lip at dreary pop songs, bite your tongue at confrontation, and the sky isn’t the right color even when the clouds are gone.
you lie on your back and feel wounds that don’t exist, never did really, and hold yourself like you have too much pride when the truth is—
the answer is in piano keys.
discordant notes and you think maybe at some point you knew how to play, but it’s lost to you now, only another worthless talent wasted on youth.
you trip on nothing, hands braced on the bloody sidewalk, and bleed black blood the same shade as a bruise.
the answer is in glass windows.
the light reflected, refracted in black lenses and you cry out at night, in your sleep, and wake up not knowing what day it is, what month, year, but it’s too late you know, you know—
blue lips and cold white hands.
the answer is in clocks.
harsh beats against airy breezes from a half-open window, shit, you’ve forgotten again, and you swear one day you’ll accidentally lean out too far, catch just the right breeze and—
and your hands shake as you pull on the shade, tug the splintered wood down without fear of actual splinters, hands already slick with imaginary blood that isn’t your own.
the harsh tick of a stopwatch without hands and you scream sometimes, but you never remember why when you wake up.
you wish your window didn’t have a safety latch, wish there wasn’t a fire escape to break your fall, wish there was an actual fire to escape from because there are and have always been invisible flames licking up your sides, untouchable and burning, burning, burning—
the answer is in—
you watch birds fly and fall, watch an empty nest turn back into twigs, watch life begin and decompose behind tinted eyes and you wish you could kill them all just to watch them die.
fingers twisted in dirty sheets, you’ve forgotten the laundry again.
the answer is.
you cry at night and your sister puts soothing hands over yours, fingernails painted a dainty pink but you can still see the old skin torn beneath them
you watch dead lights over a dirty old city turn from white to yellow to gold and wish they would burn out already, wish their light was dead to you too because
you don’t want this darkness illuminated, this nightmare in cold starlight, moonlit histories and his hands were cold against yours but.
too many pills and cigarette smoke stains against your pillows, blankets that used to smell like him and you laugh at the stars because they are here even when they are already gone, and you think maybe you two have something in common.
your sister comes more often, with her chipped pink nails and she pleads, begs you through reinforced steel walls but you know her better than she thinks and you ignore her frantic messages, codes in black text.
she was always weaker anyway
you run from dead crows and feel imaginary wounds in your chest, a blade pierced through with bright bright blood that never quite reaches the right hue.
five years too late and you watched his casket descend the way you feel yourself descend into m a d n - -
you hear things that aren’t there, hands taut in unclean fabric and you think he used to smile more before he went,
left you alone with blank walls and dead stars and the smell of blood filling your lungs.
you laugh at empty rooms because your soul was light and now it is not, hands over your mouth as you cough up cherry red saliva, grey tabacco ash over your heart, spilled onto his grave.
his was always brighter anyway.
five years too -