I loved him like a science on one day but a religion the next.

Monday it was all test tubes and beakers. Numbers, calculated. Formulas laid out across a bleach white table. Eraser crumbs. Pencil shavings. Reworking, rewriting to make me make it make sense.

Tuesday’s a faded prayer. Whispered hopes. Nothing tangible to grab just staring out at a bronze sun like it rises at sets at his will. Heating up, an open flame rising and rising.

But by Wednesday it’s a Bunsen burner blazing. An argument of reds and blues and not much white. Blazing and overheating. I adjust the temp. I dial it back. You jot it down, you write me down.

Thursday you read me. Verse by verse. Sing each word like a chant. Notes in the margins of me. Lines smeared with yellow ink. I said there’s nothing to see. You said I’m missing the point entirely.

Friday’s toxic. The wrong solute in the wrong solvent. Poison fumes, choking me. Killing me. You said breath easy. You’re not choking. You said breathe slow, now. It passes. It fades.

The weekend’s lost to us. The weekend holds no faith. It offers no proof. It’s a blurs from here to there, needing no explanation. An artistic atheist painting abstract lines pointing everywhere and leading nowhere. We each follow a line, only to find one leads to purgatory. The other a black hole.

So, yes I loved him like a science. But like a religion all the same.

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I can’t be here by myself. I can’t do this alone. Come away with me like we planned. Let’s do this the way we said we would. Because It’s too cold now and I need someone to warm the shadows and make flowers grow again. I need you to tell me it gets better. I need you to lean on when it’s only meant to get worse.

I need you here the way we planned, because nothing is going the way I thought. I can’t do it by myself. And it doesn’t matter that we’re not us anymore. I don’t care that we weren’t what we should have been. Come and show me that things fall away. Come and show me that there is still good.

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I can’t eat chocolate cake anymore. I can’t watch the first season of Friends or listen to anything by Coldplay. I can’t watch it rain or feel sand under my toes. I can’t breathe.

It’s the little things that you remember the most. All of the things that you never really notice haunt you and it’s inescapable. I told him I hate him for ruining orchids for me. I told him I hate that I can’t seem to see past him long enough to get my bearings.

“Come with me,” he said.

“I can’t do that.”

I can’t go with him, but he won’t stay for me. He could stay, but he won’t because we were never really much of a priority.

I told him to stay every day for a month. I told him we’d shrivel if he went. We wouldn’t last. He said he needed to figure out what life should be for him. I could never get him to sit still for a minute. I couldn’t hold him. He was a bird and I was a tree with roots planted deep. He’d stay for a moment. He’d build something in me and call it his home, but he always left again with wings stretched wide and the most beautiful, vibrant mind. How could I make him stay?

He wanted to see it all. I just wanted to see our future play out in front of me like a flipbook. We had everything we needed, but he was so sure that there could be something out there that we could want and never have unless we went. He was a man of elusive dreams and our reality wasn’t big enough. It wasn’t sturdy enough to support him. I was never quite deep enough to hold him without him overflowing.

He brought me orchids. We drove along the coast one last time, blasting Coldplay through the stereo. We walked along the bleach until the sand became rain-stained and we ran laughing through the storm. We split half a chocolate cake on the couch of his apartment surrounded by boxes and suitcases, watching old reruns of Friends while I fought sleep and time and grief.

“Stay with me,” I told him. “Where are you even going to go?”

“Come with me.”

“I can’t do that.”

Our whole lives were here. We had a plan that he couldn’t stick to. He was too malleable. He shifted too quickly, he moved too fast. If I went, I’d chase him forever. I’ve stopped running and now I’d just like to catch my breath.

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My head didn’t want any part in this, but my heart ran away to you. They’ve been quite dissonant ever since.

I don’t know how you found your way into my bloodstream. Don’t know when I started pumping you through my veins. I can’t think with you in my system. My heart ran away to you, and I couldn’t think to beg it to stay.

We’re not fine, we’re not fine. We’re coming unraveled inch by inch. I stayed, and things have been fucked up ever since. And you smiled, now I think I’ve been screwed up from the start. I don’t think I was fine.

I didn’t want you, but you fell in and seeped through like a gas. Oh, honey. I’ve been choking ever since.

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You’re so still, but I can feel you breathing. You haven’t said a word. You told me once that you never hurt. I should’ve known it’d be this way.

We warm ten degrees by the second and you can’t seem to feel the heat. We’ve broken into a fever and you’re sweating me out of your system by the ounce.

I can’t help but absorb you into my bloodstream. I don’t think it’s right to pump you through my veins. It shouldn’t be this way. You’re sweating me out dry.

You said you don’t feel pain. Can you not feel my head on your chest? My hand on your cheek? My breathing slowed to yours? I think it’s unbearable. You haven’t said a word.

You can’t feel the heat burning us clean into a vapor. I inhale you and I’m high. I don’t think you feel much of anything at all.

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