The blankets become the ceiling.I don’t know where to lookand it doesn’t matter. Burntorange and white are equally stalewhen you realize you will only ever really love one person andeveryone after that will be destroyed by the product of theirbetrayal. The sheets might as well besterile blue, knowing that.The glass looks cartoonishly large. The wine is tooperfect of a maroon. Its artificial color makes itlook cheap. It is cheap, and it mocks me for beingthe type of person to drink cheap wine. I blame it for how dumb I sound talking to you. I half expect my tears to be tinted red, they’re so full of it. I gulp down more so that thesweetness will overpower the salt in the back ofmy throat and so that I can become lightheadedenough to disconnect from everything;the stretch of street past the crosstown, the red and blue duplex behind me, the bushes,the driveway stripped of cigarette butts,the neighbor’s walking their dogs in the dark,the cement steps, and the hold you have on me. The liquid swishes unsteadily in the too big glass. Then it’s gone andI’ve hung up on you.I hear the chirping chatter of a room full of people engaged in small talk,but all I see is the arm of the red leatherarm chair and your message advising me togo to sleep. I’m alcohol-tired but don’t want tomake it easier for you. The caffeine kicks in and I’m out of that room, stumbling down the winding white stairs outside.The car rushing towards me slows down in timebut doesn’t honk. It still jolts me and I try tomake you feel guilty. Your indifference causes me tocollapse on the sidewalk. I’m screaming and itlooks like a crash.I can’t describe anything else in detail. There are only snapshots and sound bites. The floral print on the chaise lounge seemed too loud after the second time you made me cry. The television might as well have been on mute as I turned mute, sitting in the den with my parents. The bathroom’s pink tiles were more lackluster than flesh and I couldn’t stand the plinks my own movement made. So I made changes when I returnedto sit in lukewarm water for two hours. The pale pink disappeared in the dark and the splashing stopped with my stillness. After that whenever you’d change the way the world looked, it justresembled that tub.

Strings of Words and Phrases: Aftermath


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