If you tell the same story over and over again, maybe someday it will become the truth.
Maybe you won’t even remember the bitter when you sit on your porch and reminisce with your grandchildren about the sweet.
Maybe the joint in his hand will become the ice cream sundae that you asked for at midnight after prom.
Maybe you can wish him into being on time, create the corsage you are pretty sure he never bought.
Maybe if you tell yourself that he said beautiful and not “hot” a hundred more times, his text will say that too.
Maybe you can convince yourself that you like his friends, if only you could forget your anxiety. Forget being stood up. Forget that you don’t mean more than whatever thrill he can find. Forget that his dream is your hell. Forget that you are too goddam practical to fuck up your life with drugs. Too practical to have fun. Forget it all.
And then forget that he was the one who dumped you.
Over the phone, on a Saturday night when your best friend had fled the accusations of her parents and her house and was bawling facedown on an old futon. You couldn’t even cry. They had warned you, all of them. And yet somehow, you thought his practiced attempts at flirting were cute. He was cute. Really, really cute.
You forgave him when he forgot that he was your first kiss.
You forgave him when he showed up late. And high.
You didn’t know any better when his dry slug tongue tried to kiss you, hard, and you spaced out. Didn’t say no, but he should have noticed. He should have cared about you, and you knew that.
But it is easier to tell a story.
Omit the parts that don’t sound just right. You did have that caramel sundae, just on a different day that summer. He probably doesn’t remember, but you went home and wrote a poem about it. It might have been the best day of your life.
You did have fun kissing him, that time he actually managed something like sobriety. Weren’t embarrassed when someone in the hallway told you to get a room.
And maybe he did think you were pretty. He liked you, sure. Didn't mind postponing his partying to sit on your neighborhood swing set and talk about whether there was a God. He was surprised to hear that you, who could count the number of times you had been inside a church building on one hand, believed in something greater. Not God, but something.
Mr. Altar Boy was a skeptic.
Now you can’t even talk to him. He scares you. He is so far gone. Barely months after that stupid, tear filled Saturday and he switched weed for liquor.
Passed out on the stairs at school.
He doesn’t want your help anymore than he wants to deal with the probation officers at his door. You just want him. But you also don’t. You don’t think you love him. You still worry daily.