Fiction, Writing

Salt Meat: Part Five

Honey I’m home and I had a hard day
Pour me a cold one and oh by the way…

Becky wipes suds from a plate before placing it in the drying rack. From the window overlooking the small sink she can see her daughters playing in the backyard. They’re laughing, smiles so big she can almost see their tonsils. She smiles to herself and for a moment she believes she really did make the right choice coming out here. They seem happier now, the circles that used to darken their eyes nowhere to be seen. Becky reaches out and turns the radio up a little, singing along as she moves around the house picking up scattered toys and crayons, pausing to read the beginnings of a short story Jessie is working on.

In this house at the top of the hill, they’ve found some kind of peace and routine. Even as the months pass, Becky still expects to see Charlie stumbling up the driveway leaning heavily on whichever drinking buddy dragged him home.

Kayla put powder on my face today. She put enough to make me pale, pale, pale, like a vampire. She dug around in Mom’s makeup case until she found a shade of lipstick convincing enough to be blood. She put some on my neck in the shape of bite marks and French braided my hair. We pretended to be children of the night and stalked around the house in our tablecloth capes and fake plastic fangs until the sun went down and we could safely go out into the front yard without catching fire.

She’s fun.

She used her Barbies to show me what sex is. Sex is when boys and girls take off all their clothes and lay down and rub together. I’m not really sure why they’d want to do that, it seems ICK GROSS YUCKY, but maybe it has something to do with the way HE looks at me when Mommy brings me to his house. Maybe that’s why HE always makes me sit on his lap while HE puts his hands in weird places. I hope HE doesn’t want to do sex with me. HE’S family and Kayla tells me that’s wrong.

I wish HE would just stop. I don’t like it when HE does it.

I like it better when my Barbies are doctors and teachers and rock stars. It seems like much more fun than sex.

The house isn’t much to look at. The beauty is in the land. Winters with the windows wide open have done all they can to destroy the inside of the house the girls used to call home every other weekend. It would have been the perfect place to rebuild, start over, maybe build a dock and land a boat. But not now. The girls are long gone, never to set foot in the home that shaped who they ultimately became.

Sometimes there’s just no use looking back.


Right, So About That…

Surrounded by half-filled cardboard boxes, a layer of dust settling on everything, I’ve decided I need a break.

Today has been more productive than the entire months of August and September combined, and I feel cautiously optimistic about it. I washed a month’s worth of smelly dishes, did a month’s worth of smelly laundry, and began packing twelve days before my moving date.

That’s right, in less than two weeks I won’t be calling this place home anymore.

If you’ve been following along, I haven’t been posting much lately. It’s not that nothing was happening so I had nothing to say, it’s more like EVERYTHING was happening and I was so caught up in my own head that whenever I tried to find the words, there was nothing but a blank space in my brain. That’s usually how it happens with me.

I don’t know what I’m doing with this blog anymore.

When I started writing here, I was about to move back to the city after a year-long breather up north. I had reconnected with my boyfriend (yes, even after he beat the holy fuck out of me it took me another couple years to realize I needed to get out). I had gotten my transfer. I had found my very own apartment. And it was in the same place I’m sitting now that I began a very long process of healing.

You can’t fully heal if one of the elements holding you back is still part of your life.

It’s been almost three months since I cut ties with him. Our relationship was dead long before I said the words out loud, but it still feels strange that he’s not a part of my life anymore. It’s strange to think about all the time I spent with him, all the wonderful and terrible things he said to me. They still rattle inside my head. As I began packing this morning, it occurred to me why I put it off so long.

I kept finding his stuff.

Five years is a long time to spend with someone. Over time they find ways to permeate your life, and when you remove them, sometimes you miss some of the things they left behind. Books. Childhood toys. Sketches. Pieces of them to remind you of how messy everything was when it ended. Looking at the things I found today, I can’t help but wonder what the hell I was thinking, staying with someone so obviously wrong for me. I’m still the person I was before I met him, but there are a few dents and battle scars. A few chinks in my emotional armor. A few different perspectives. 

I’m looking forward to getting out of here and starting over. This entire area of Toronto is full of memories for me, both good and bad. I don’t feel like I can fully heal and clear my head until I’m able to walk down the street without seeing something that reminds me of the past. I’m not interested in reliving it. I’m interested in being somewhere else, where I can make new memories with people who actually care about me. People who know me, and know everything I’ve been through over the past few years, and have still chosen to be there for me.

I only hope I can repay them.

So I haven’t been here much, but that doesn’t mean I’m gone. I’m closing the messiest chapter of my life in the hopes that I can open one that’s a little kinder to me. A little cleaner. Filled with a lot more laughter. I have a feeling I’m on the right track, ready for whatever comes next.

I’m not just a coffee wench. I can be so much more than that. I hope you’ll stick with me while I figure it all out.

Life, Open Letters

Don’t Answer.

My phone displays your number and I ignore the call, as I have several times for the past week. There’s no point in talking because I said all I had to say in the minute and a half it took me to break up with you. You leave me a voicemail and I hesitate for a second before deciding to listen.

Imagine my surprise as I hear you calmly thank me for setting you free. You tell me you’ve been working on yourself and trying to find a job and you’re grateful for what I did for you. This coming from the same person who once told me if anyone saw me naked, they wouldn’t be attracted to me and in the next breath told me I was beautiful. The same person who would cry and smash himself in the face on my kitchen floor while asking me why I never tried to help when I nearly lost myself trying to help you. The walking contradiction that crashed into my life and altered it forever.

I will never tell you you’re welcome. I won’t return your call, you’ll never hear my voice again and I hope to God we never find ourselves in the same room. Not because I’m afraid of you but because the two of us are fire and gasoline. When we come together, we burn everything around us because we’re terrible for each other. Sometimes people meet and change each other for the better, but when it came to you and I, we both turned into the worst versions of ourselves.

In the four years we were together, I was stripped down to nothing. A starving, self-injuring wraith who dragged down anyone who tried to help her. I lost friends I’d had for years and my family had to distance themselves from me because my negativity was toxic to them. I did drugs I would never have touched before. I remember laying on the bed as my body temperature went haywire and my clothing began to burn my skin from the fistfuls of pills I’d swallowed and I was so convinced I was going to die that I actually welcomed the respite from this downward spiral. You became controlling and abusive, constantly suspicious of my whereabouts. I suffocated under the weight of trying to reassure you and nothing would satisfy your suspicions.

I remember your anger and jealousy. You were certain every man I spoke to wanted to fuck me and you’d take out your frustrations on me. I remember the day you beat the shit out of me for talking to my sister’s ex-boyfriend on the internet rather than paying attention to you. I remember the taste of blood in my mouth and I remember holding you as you apologized for hurting me.

I remember thinking I deserved it.

As I sit in my cafe staring at the blank screen before me, struggling to put all this into words, I listen to your message and I hope for your sake it’s true. I hope you really do get the help you need. I hope you find a steady job and a girl you can love in a positive way. I hope you find some happiness in this crazy old world and in a way I feel grateful to you for showing me exactly the qualities I don’t want in a partner. Before you, I didn’t know what I wanted. I had just come from an emotionally damaging friends-with-benefits arrangement and had been baffled when you wanted to call me your girlfriend. Truthfully, I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I didn’t know who I was or how to begin finding myself.

I’m sorry we wasted so much time on each other, but at the end of the day I don’t regret taking a chance on you. You reminded me of my father, you became a huge part of my life, and you ultimately helped me find the strength within myself to become the person I am today. I want you to know that although it’s not and never will be okay that you once saw fit to raise your fist to me in anger and manipulate my emotions until I relied solely on you for self worth, I have found it within my heart to forgive you. You weren’t the first person to hurt me and you probably won’t be the last, but the ground I’m standing on today is much more solid than what I stood on before.

There were moments when I really loved you and moments when I couldn’t stand the thought of you and both of those experiences changed my perspective on relationships. I feel like because our relationship was so toxic, I’m strong enough now to know exactly what I’m looking for and never settle for less. I really tried to make it work but at the end of the day, we didn’t belong together.

The last thing I want to do is hang on to negativity, especially after living with it for so long. I wish I had been able to set you free sooner, but at the time I wasn’t ready to stand alone and I guess you weren’t either. We became codependent on each other. I needed your negativity to stay miserable and you needed me to ignore you in order to feed your negativity.

Go forward in love. Learn from your mistakes with me and make sure you don’t repeat the patterns. I bear you absolutely no ill will and I’m not even angry with you anymore. I’ve gained the ability to recognize when someone’s chapter in the book of my life is finished and I know now how to cut those ties. It’s not easy, but it has to be done. I broke up with you to set myself free but I’m happy to know it’s worked out well for you. That my entirely selfish and incredibly healthy decision has worked out positively for both of us is the icing on the cake for me.

Thank you for calling to let me know. I hope it’s the last call I ever receive from you.