Used to be every time an old love ended and a new one began, friends would say, “You seem so much happier now.” And I’d smile and I’d agree and then I’d go back to my hab… and say your name. Just to feel it on my lips again. Like summoning a ghost.
[deep sigh] We met in unspoken agreement. You called me by the name of the one who had hurt you. My name for you was the name of the one who had wounded me. We played the part for each other. When I spoke, I spoke for them. Through you I told the one who had wounded me all the little things I never had a chance to. Cooked them all the meals I never got to share. Made all the jokes. Laughed all the laughs. With them, through you. And you, with yours, through me.
Then one day you called me by my own name and we never looked back.
There’s a dream I have every now and then. You are you, in your own first body. And I am there in mine. I stand on the shore. You stand in the sea. I watch as the waves roll in, but never break against your back. They whisper right through you, and you fade away from me. Again.
I still have your glove. Just the one. The only thing I have left of you. In quiet moments I lay it on my lap, lace my fingers through yours, and make promises.
I promised that what happened to you would never happen to another. Your first body quartered and sold. Your beautiful mind, taken from me, locked far away, and ransomed.
Promises I couldn’t keep.
I sold my arms to buy you an arm. I sold my legs to buy you a leg. I sold my lungs, my bones, my heart… to buy a safe place to cradle your beautiful head. I bought you back from them. I brought you back to me. You in the body I had bought for you, me in the body I had earned to replace the one I sold.
But you weren’t you. Not anymore.
Sat so long on the Taxman’s shelf, you barely knew who you were. And you certainly didn’t know me.
The goodbyes I said decades earlier… they stuck.
These days you work the canal with few memories of who you were. And I’m in the business of keeping promises.