You said you’ve never said them to anyone and truly meant them. They’ve just been one of the many things you’ve said or done to make your role more convincing. That they had been more of a peace offering, a sacrifice made to keep the other party happy than an expression of emotions that run so deep you fear that even speaking of them may tear you apart.
Here we are, nary a month after we officially started, and you called me at one in the morning because you couldn’t sleep and just had to tell me something. Doped up on benzos, several days sleep-deprived, I answer my ringing phone, expecting to hear your voice bubbling over with excitement like a boy talking about the new toy he got for Christmas. Instead I’m overwhelmed by your breathing, your solemnity, the weight that is etched into every last syllable of those three little words as they leave your lips and ram themselves into my mind, as I frantically sputter and try to make sure that not a whisper of my panic leaves my lips. What is this? What does this mean?
I desperately race to find the ends of this tangled mess, trying to make sense, to get a goddamn grip on something solid before I’m hit by a barrage of them, each one’s tone and wording slightly different as they flow out of your mouth like wine from an overturned wine bottle. You can’t seem to stop saying it; it transforms and suddenly I am nothing more than a free ear as you recite your new mantra to someone who looks likes me, but is not there.
Your words become contrived, manipulative, vengeful, and yet you take no notice of me, of my silence, too busy reveling in the freedom that comes with unshackling a phrase from the history that you shackled it with in the first place.
You declared your love for me, and yet it was not about me, not even at all.