It Should Hurt

Whatever he might have said, apology or argument or nothing at all, I’ve no way of knowing, because once I send the last message I just stop, press that button and sever any ties, think of all those months when I had wanted only for the action to have matched the words. Because you can say the right things and still do the wrong ones, and there are entireties of conversations with him that I can hold in my hands, such insubstantial things, all those words that never took on weight, were never body, never moved in the world with any kind of purpose. Never made, at last, any difference at all. Like me, I think, and the way I vanish from his life.

It’s done, I tell another man, and, I think this should hurt me more than it does, and I cannot say why it does not, for all the decades between us, except that maybe this time around I think I’m worth more. Think now I’m worth more than I ever had when I was the girl at 16, him in the passenger seat, the radio playing, more than I had at 17, us at the park or at the movies or playing cards on the floor, more than I had at 18 with him talking long into the dark, more even than two decades later at 38, laughing with his parents in a kitchen, or us drinking margaritas at a restaurant table or him standing in a hotel doorway, lingering, more than two decades later I am still worth more than what he will give and so I want nothing from him at all.

I think this should hurt more, I tell another man as he is holding my hand, marveling at all that empty space inside.

It should hurt.

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