When I Should Have Left You
Written By: Laura Brzyski
Before I even met you. It was the sixth of June and I had just drank the entire May away. I thought the thirty some days of liquor in my veins had changed me. I feigned buoyancy. I messaged you like the confident seven-year-old me would have done with a “Do you like me?” and only two check boxes:
[ ] Yes [ ] Duh!
The first time when we lost track of it, when you slowly put your fist in your mouth in fear that you’d fall in love on a first date. Jazz music permeated the bar. Saxophones. You were sweating bullets through your checkered shirt and fumbled over your words like an underage kid trying to play it cool. You admired with shining eyes my sipping Chardonnay slowly out of a glass I later realized was drowning a gnat. You told me my skin beamed with every good memory you have ever hoped to make and my smile reminded you of stained glass greeting angels.
We were the only two in that crowded room.
The night I finally got tired of being trapped in the chrysalis of grey. I stomped over, as you stupidly checked your mail at midnight. I planted a garden of tulips in your mouth. Your eyelash fell on my cheek.
When you took my hand at 3AM and drew on my palm with your index finger:
I. <3. U.
When you breathed my name as you made me see how love can cut through air. Slowly. As if you were inhaling as much as you could before entering a tunnel, hoping that whatever wish you stored in the dusty, tired attic of your heart would finally be discovered. I never knew souls could attach the way ours did. You felt like a place I had never been, but had always known. Your body hovered over mine – lingered. Slowly. Droplets of sweat rolled off your forehead onto my lips.
It was the only kind of rain I ever liked.
When I made my home in the harbor of your heart. When I felt an anchor on my chest in the middle of every night in your bed after the first time we slept together. I could only breathe shallow. It’s why I can’t swim. When I jumped out of your car in the middle of a Brooklyn street and I faintly heard you whimper, “Why are you doing this?” When you tried to calm me by slowly singing me to sleep with every James Taylor song I’ve ever loved. When I got sick of your asking me if I was okay or if you could hold me while all I wanted was to blind you from how bad I was for you. I spit out “Leave me alone” too many times.
Then you actually did.
My skin soaked up all your rain in the buckets of my cheeks. Your mouth was actually barren land. All my tulips withered. The imprint of I. <3. U still traces these empty palms.
Why did I expect you stay? You were a runner by nature. And I, well, I have fault lines for veins.
It’s why I can only love in earth quakes.
Laura Brzyski is a native Philadelphian who currently serves as a high school instructor of English Literature. In 2014, Laura received her Master of Arts degree in English from Lehigh University, specializing in medieval literature and gender/sexuality studies. She is an active alum of DeSales University’s Discourse, the society to which she owes her creative endeavors. Her poetry has been published in Weal and forthcoming elsewhere, and her flash poetry project can be found at instagram.com/daily.musings