You were everything I hated about myself. Powerful, entitled, egotistical, domineering. It felt good letting you take the reigns so I didn’t have to be what I was.
It felt good letting you rip out my throat with your teeth.
There are always consequences to the magnetism, however.
I have never not fallen into this pattern of rushing into the jaws of some beast who thinks himself a sentient, feeling, thinking, genuine person.
Even as he guts me.
How delirious that stupidity must be; to be horrible to others and act hurt when they tell you that you hurt them.
It’s the arrogance in that stupidity that gets me; it’s the worst drug imaginable, and I have never not been addicted.
I would do absolutely anything for you. And I hate myself for it.
Why is a man surprised, upon repeatedly rushing into the arms of some slickened, devouring blackness, when it does what’s most natural, and leaves him in pieces on the floor?
I don’t fucking know. Maybe I’m the stupid one.
Maybe as I stupidly sip my stupid coffee, and the stupidly loud police sirens blaze by, and I sit here stupidly and wear the stupid beanie you bought me, and shiver in my stupid coat, and think, stupidly, about how fucking stupid you are, I really am just stupidly blaming you, for my own stupidity.
Olive is looking at me as I drink my stupid coffee and say nothing to her. She also says nothing, but her nothing isn’t some blistering drug or all-consuming blackness. Nor is it stupid.
She holds up a little drawing she made on the napkin.
It’s…pretty cute, honestly.
Bright colors, a portrait. A portrait of me, and I’m smiling, drinking coffee, looking gentle, with a bunch of glittery flowers everywhere. Girly shit. I look so much more gentle than I feel.
I wonder if this is how she sees me.
I’m looking out the window again, and I see you pass by. I could be stupid and walk out, grab your stupid scarf and yank your stupid head down, to scream at you, stupidly.
“It’s…” I start to say. She instantly flushes and snatches the drawing away from me with her tiny, grabby little hands. I sip my coffee.
“It’s bad. I messed up yer nose, an’…I got crumbs all over…sorry.” Her face is as pink as her hair.
I sip my coffee.
She’s surprised. I flash a winning smile. It’s not gentle. It’s serrated; but not because I’m making fun of her. It’s because I’m acidic, always. I’m never not pissed off at something, but I try to hide the venom. She doesn’t deserve it, ever.
“Ya’ mean it?” she asks.
You’re gone. You’ve passed on by without a second thought. This is our spot, you know I’m here, and you don’t care.
You only remember I exist when you’re hungry.
“I mean it.”
“Really really,” I sip my coffee, “Hey…Liv. Wanna’ get out of here?”
She nods. I take her hand. We leave. The sky is dull and cold, but spots of blue fade between the off-white clouds; the sun wants to come out, but it can’t. It doesn’t know how.
“Hey, Al?” She’s staring at me as we walk. Her hand is small. Everything about her is small, and she makes herself smaller with all the colorful shit. But her eyes betray her.
She’s too old for my angsty shit, and tired. As tired as I am. Maybe moreso, honestly.
“Want me ta’ punch him in his big, stupid head?”
I snort a response. She’s completely serious. Her face is as pink as her hair.
“…why? Why…do you care?”
“Cause I’d do anythin’ fer ya’, ya’ big, stupid idiot.” She punches my shoulder.
I take her hand again. We walk towards the park. We stop by a trash can. I toss my used coffee cup.
I toss my yellow beanie, too.
“Aw — why ya’ throwin’ it out?” Her woodland critter face is oddly calm.
“I’m tired of being stupid.”
She takes my hand this time. We walk through the park.
I would, even now, do absolutely anything for you. And I hate myself for it — she tugs my hand to guide me to the little river we both like to sit by, and illegally feed the ducks.
You were everything I hated about myself — she drags me to sit next to her, so she can be warm, as she watches the ducks.
I have never not fallen into this pattern — she points at ducklings.
I’m brave, right?
Running into the jaws of beasts and all that — her eyes are sparkling in newness at natural beauty she has seen, time and time again. Everything beautiful seems new to her, or maybe, she can appreciate it even when she’s seen it a thousand times.
I’m brave, I think.
Repeatedly being eviscerated — she laughs.
I find her shoulder and wrap my arm around it. I draw her close, and she lets me. Her hair smells like lavender. She’s cold. I warm her up.
She smiles; sunny.
The ducks swim by in a line, one after another.
“Aww, look! They’re all so cute an’ fuzzy!”
“Yeah. Pretty cute.”
The sun comes out from behind the clouds to greet us and warm our cheeks; gentle. The sound of the water lapping on the small stones takes up the space between us; gentle.
A space that is, above all things, gentle.
Olive pulls from me a smile. Not serrated. Not acidic. Not perpetually pissed off. Not full of viper’s venom.