We used to laugh so much.
Our smiling mouths would practically send stomach-bursting giggles to outer space and back, like sparks of rose-colored stardust that would land back on earth with a big, fantastic bang.
And then, our lips would swell, blooming like roses, becoming tender and ruby red from kissing for hours and hours on end.
Yes. I remember the crazy, electric effect you had on me.
Every single time you were near, my skin would light up. Goosebumps would consume my arms and legs, like precious fallen embers.
Everything else in the world would go blurry, and all I’d see was you—your infectious smile, your gentle heart, your dark chocolate eyes, your jet black hair.
You were everything I wanted and more.
I still so clearly remember that exquisite night, many moons ago, when I met you.
I remember how we talked and swapped stories until the sun seeped into the dripping raspberry pre-dawn sky. It was magic. It was beauty. It felt like fate, with a side of whiskey on the rocks. And that very night, even though I hardly knew you, even though we were both a little bit drunk, I had this deep, tugging certainty that you were the man for me.
I was so certain of us.
Since then, I must have imagined our wedding a thousand times. A small ceremony high up in the mountains in a field speckled with wildflowers, on a sweet summer day when the breeze was cool, but not too cool. You’d play piano, and I’d dance as your fingers struck the keys.
Now, tears stream down my face, engulfing me completely.
My beautiful fantasy lies broken, like shattered beer bottles on the sidewalk of a sad Saturday morning; it’s dead, smashed to smithereens.
Because yes—you were everything I wanted. But maybe you weren’t what I needed. Maybe I wasn’t what you needed.
I don’t know.
Right now, all I hear echoing through my mind are those piercing words you said to me, so much anger and pain in your voice, as you uttered loudly, “F*ck this. I’m done.”
“Yeah. Me too,” I said, my voice icy as hell, my words dipped in fiery poison.
As those words repeat over and over again in my mind, I wonder, How did we get here?
How did we get here, to this loveless grey-skied, resentment-laced, horror-filled winterscape?
What are the steps and paths and mistakes that led here, to this empty place where our hearts ache and bleed and separate?
Here, to where we yell and scream at each other, without an ounce of softness left in our exhausted eyes?
How did we get here?
I don’t know.
Did we miss the waving red flags and blinking yellow signs?
Did we miss the expiration date, the sell-by date secretly stamped on our love?
These questions can’t be answered clearly, and the sad truth is, I don’t know when our love turned sour.
Because I can re-wind to barely a month ago, where we seemed so blissful. The memory is bright in my mind, fresh as the scent of evergreens and just-mown grass.
It was Thanksgiving. Your hands were wrapped tightly around my waist as I stirred Brussels sprouts with sprigs of rosemary. I remember the decadent sizzling sound of turkey cooking in the oven, the deep savory smell of stuffing and sweet potatoes and gravy. I remember feeling your breath, hot and wild, in my ear.
Our eyes and souls were locked in an embrace that felt unbreakable.
Nothing could touch our love.
We were rock solid.
And yet—we weren’t rock solid. We couldn’t have been.
Because right now, not even 30 days later, our love is broken. Cracked. Done.
How did we get here?
Maybe when we weren’t looking a secret darkness dripped inside our veins, letting resentment spill inside our love, like ink. Maybe it was so subtle we didn’t even know it was happening.
But that’s bullsh*t.
Because we knew something was wrong for a very, very long time. We felt it. We felt it in our bones, like a storm we hoped would never come.
We just chose to ignore it. We chose not to face it. We tried to run from the truth.
But one day, it started thundering, and that storm swept through our hearts with reckless, violent winds, resurfacing all the arguments and issues we had tried for years to push away, to avoid.
Tears spilled. Hidden truths were revealed. Secrets escaped their tighly-shut boxes.
Our love was hit by a freak strike of lightning, and it crumbled, like dirt, in our hands.
Right now, my heart shrivels at the thought of never kissing you again, never lying on your chest again. I’m scared to face life without you, afraid I can’t breathe without feeling your warm, sturdy hand in mine.
And yet, as I exhale to the clear midnight sky—I feel this shocking sense of relief that makes me feel terribly guilty.
I feel like can finally breathe, for the first time in a long time.
A weight I didn’t even know I was carrying is lifted—
And I can breathe again.
As I inhale and exhale, feeling freedom and fresh air rush into my hungry lungs, the beautiful veil of fairytale fantasy cracks and slowly falls down.
I see the truth. I see it.
Our love was killing us slowly, suffocating our spirits in ways we didn’t want to admit, in ways we couldn’t see.
And yet, this is not a tragedy. At least, it doesn’t have to be.
Maybe at the end of the day, the only truth that matters is that we couldn’t give each other what we needed. No matter how hard we tried.
As I look to the star-speckled sky and catch salty teardrops on my trembling chin, I hope beyond all hope that a weight is lifted from your lungs.
I hope beyond all hope that right now, in this very moment, you can breathe again, too.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Shan Sheehan/Flickr