Remember being seventeen in that coffee place across the street from the bookstore when he told you it couldn’t happen again, and you said if he changed his mind to let you know. How he went down on you in that cheap motel in Ensenada with your friend in the other bed and it felt so amazing you were vibrating all the way home the next day in his old mustang, stretched across the backseat, in some kind of daze. You were listening to Parallel Lines and you sang every word to “Die Young, Stay Pretty,” feeling it because you were seventeen.
He was married, and your daddy had died days before that Mexico trip. You all called in sick to the bookstore when you realized you wouldn’t make it back in time for your shifts.
He loved you desperately and you thought loving him was crying on the kitchen floor, drunk, and calling him in his new place in the middle of the night full of self-hatred and self-destruction. And he said of course I love you no matter what you do, no matter who you are.
When you thought he was flirting with Layla you made him leave the party and on the way out you stepped on her foot on the stairs, hard, grinding down with the pointy heel of your shoe.
He was the first man you slept with. It was in his bed in his apartment because you still lived at home. He said he had to scrub the blood off the sheets the next day before his wife got back. The next two men you slept with were guys you both worked with. You felt the need to tell him, and he grimaced with the pain, gripped the steering wheel harder until his knuckles turned white.
That first night, in Ensenada, when he took your face in his hands and looked down at you: you are so fucking beautiful. Awe in his voice and you felt it because you believed it.
I think that was the last time you believed it.