We are not in love anymore.
We used to laugh when your socks would mix in, and I would put on mine, and find one that was just too big. I would whip it off and throw it at you, while you chuckled. I would be annoyed, but I would laugh too.
We are not in love anymore, and because of that, I will clean out the drawer that is mine in your home, and you will come over on a Saturday morning, and remove your jackets from the part of the closet I gave you, you will remove yourself from your designated space inside mine.
You will take back that one shirt I wore on Valentine’s Day, the plaid flannel, the one you couldn’t resist me in, the one that made me feel sexy, then slinky, the one you lifted in the back, before you bent me over that big, antique bed, before we lost ourselves and went to town. You will ball it up casually and throw it in your bag, but you will remember me inside your shirt.
You will try to give me back the poem I wrote for you, the one that blew you away, the one that made you fall deeper for me, the one that said everything in short and then longer, lilting sentences, the one you kept in your briefcase, the one you unfolded, every so often, at lunchtime, while you quietly sat in the sun. You will offer it back to me, but I will refuse it because it belongs to you. It belonged to you the moment it rushed from my head to my pen, the moment it spilled out onto the paper.
I will take your boots out of my car. I will clap them together three times, releasing the dried, caked-in mud from our most recent walk on that trail we both love, the one laden with puddles and mushy grass, the one with the gnarly roots I tripped on even though I knew to look. I will stare at the frayed laces of your boots and remember the times we sat by the river and talked about our future, all the things we would do and see, together, and I will sigh because the last time we did that wasn’t such a long time ago.
I will place your boots by your door, outside. I will drop them, turn on my heel, and leave.
I will say goodbye to the dog that is yours, but who also became mine, over time. I love him too, you know, and he will remember our cuddles, my singing words, my scratches, but I will walk away from him because he is a dog and not a child, and it was foolish of me to think of him that way.
And the pretty key necklace you gave me? The one I marveled at when we were perusing the artisan market, the one you bought for me secretly when I stepped ahead to the next booth without you, the one you pulled from your pocket with your eyes that twinkled, after dinner, but before dessert, because you couldn’t wait? I will put it into the back drawer of my jewelry box, the one that holds all the things I no longer wear. I will not wear it the way I no longer wear you.
We are not in love anymore so I will sort your stuff into piles, your jeans, and your flip-flops too, your clipboard, your books, your jump rope, all the things you have mixed in with mine, I will put them in a basket neatly for you, but first I will pull your soft, weathered T-shirt to my nose and smell it one last time, a scent I cannot erase, for it will always remind me of your neck.
We are not in love anymore, so you do not press my backside when we walk. You no longer stroke my hair, you do not push your forehead to mine, you do not order me a drink while I head to the ladies room. You do not make the coffee while I sleep a little bit longer, you do not touch my cheek, or look into my eyes, you do not ask me questions, and I know, in my heart, that you will no longer look for me in a crowded room.
I will give you back the tickets for the show we had plans to see, several months from now, saying quietly, “you bought them, they are yours, maybe a friend would like to go, instead of me?”
Because, we are not in love anymore.
I have put your letters in a box, a box I will open some other time, when I’m not hurting, when I’m not mellow and sluggish, when the bile in my stomach dissolves, when I’m not hardened by a lost love that tumbled off my timeline into a mucky mire, where I left it to dry and die, while I moved on, ever forward, along another unknown path.
And exactly five weeks from now, I will find a sock, just one, a sock that is yours, and I will laugh softly to myself because its pair will be sitting at your house, by itself, just waiting, and you will open your mailbox and find it there, the sock I put on my foot, the one that was mixed in with mine, and that—that will make you laugh too.
We are not in love anymore so we do not laugh together, but we can still laugh, in our own separate worlds at the very same thing.