Last night I asked my mother what love is.
After all, I think I’d forgotten.
I told her, “I’m tired of writing sonnets and staring at the moon and starving myself dry.
I want to know what love is.
You had dad and he had you until the wind blew him out. What is love?”
She gave me a long, hard look and took me to the beach on a silver night, and I remembered why I had stopped believing.
He had started carving bottle tops into the table and
ignoring me while I sang and
rolling his eyes at all my punchlines and
saying he was texting his mother so often that
all I could do was drink and watch the flowers outside my window wilt as I wondered when I had given my life away to this boy
who didn’t even notice when I wore my orange dress and stomped all over the living room and just spat my name out onto the floor like acid over and over and over
until I found myself back at my parents’ house trying on my old prom dress and
reading love stories out of cookbooks and
leaving the lamp on in my room too late after midnight and
asking my mother what love is.
“Love is when he memorizes the lyrics of your favorite song that he can’t stand and he doesn’t know why”,
“Love is when you wash his name out of your tongue and wring it out of your brain but you can’t stop it still lurking under your throat”,
“Love is when he sees your sad smile and buys you flowers until their scent surrounds your every move”,
“Love is when you wear your white dress and you want him to talk to you but all he does is fiddle with his camera because he doesn’t want to ever forget how you look”,
“Love is when you can’t sleep so he wakes up and takes you on a stroll through the sleeping city and when you stop in front of a fallen building there is music in the air that nobody else can hear and he suddenly wants to cry and you look at each other and somehow, you understand”,
“But most of all, dear child”, she grasped me by my shoulders,
“Love is when, despite everything, you know you could finish the show without him, but not yourself”.

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