Those Words That Taste Like Poison

Creative Non-fiction

You’re sitting there, staring at me like you actually believe the words that are tumbling from your lips, the words that I’m barely listening to. The words continue to fall, falling like I did when I was eight and took that nasty spill on my bike, falling like water from a faucet or rain from the first rain cloud of the season. I don’t believe the words that spill from your chapped lips – ones of amorous devotion and muddled feelings – but you seem to.

I’m confused, because you just broke up with that girl five days ago and confessed having feelings for my best friend less than an hour ago, so why are you sitting here, telling me you love me and looking at me like you expect me to say it back?

The words you expect me to say, those three damned words I never thought I would even think, let alone feel against the back of my throat, burn my tongue and taste like poison as they slosh against the back of my teeth. Sure, I love you, but not like you want me to – I love you like a best friend, like one loves the boy you’ve known since Kindergarten.

As I’m sitting there, trying to tune out the words you keep throwing at me, my mind begins to wander, begins to backtrack and try to figure out just how I got here, sitting on the couch in the English room listening to you say words I never wanted you to say. It’s in that moment, as my mind zooms past almost nine years of laughter and friendship and chasing each other on the playground at recess, that I realize I can’t remember the day we met.

It’s an odd thing to think as you’re sitting there, telling me about your feelings, but it’s also weird to be sitting there, listening to you say everything you’re saying. It comes out of nowhere, the realization that meeting you is nothing more than a murky gray cloud in the sky of my memories. I don’t know why it bothers me that I can’t remember what you said or whether I was wearing a floral dress or a striped one, but it does. All I can think about is how my earliest memory of you is when you chased me at recess and then pretended to tie me to the soccer goal post when you caught me, and how I can remember my third birthday but I can’t remember meeting you.

Eventually, it’s the fact that I don’t love you that drives me to turn you down. It makes me feel awful though, especially as you make that disappointed face as if I have just taken away your last wisp of hope. However, I can’t help but think, as I tell you that I don’t feel the same, that maybe things would be different if I could remember the day we met.