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  • Writer's picturemolly ofgeography

The Act of Not Writing

Use the last sentence of the closest book to you as the first sentence of a story.


We finger empty notebooks and then feel dirty about it, their empty pages like vacuums for all the promises I breathed into your mouth. I'm going to write you down.

"You didn't," says you-in-my-head, so sharp and hi-def in the clasp of your shoulder and your bicep but blurred and weary around the eyes I am already forgetting. "You didn't write anything."

My fingers shiver into their goosebump jackets when I drag them across the straight blue lines of the bound speckled notebook you brought me from CVS. For the memories, you had said, and now you-in-my-head say, "Not anything. Not a single word."

No. Not a word of it. Not your thin, insistent mouth or the bend of your elbow, not your fingers splayed like hungry starfish over my stomach, not the way your nose hung crooked between your eyes and flattened almost all the way when I pressed it with my palms. You had no freckles. I am forgetting the way you smelled. I am forgetting why your toothbrush bothered me, sitting there in the aquamarine cup that we had no space for on the bathroom counter. I am forgetting the night that you held my face between the battered lifelines across your hands, braced on your elbows and shaking.

You-in-the-past asked, "What do you want?" and me-in-the-past shook my head, whispered, "nothing, nothing," as I kissed you like the promise I would never make out loud.

"You don't understand," I tell you-in-my-head, and the touch of the empty paper on my hands is like touching a body that's asleep. A body who hasn't given me permission.

The truth is that I could not write you. I would rather watch you fade into nothing more than the perfect curve of your bruised shoulder than have you built up like a skeleton of words, unerasable. If you are gone then I would like you to be gone, not a single verb of you left behind in a tattered speckled notebook that I hide from myself in the most innocuous place, the quietest cardboard box where I keep spare routers and the socks my grandmother knits me. Hidden like a dirty, cheap, pornographic thing that I am too embarrassed to let anyone see.

You-in-my-head asks, "But didn't you love me?" and I don't know how to say it, have never known: yes. Yes. Can't you see that that's the whole point.


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