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Deja Vu: A Lesser of Two Shames

by GoGo DeLeon


This morning, a lingering achy chill from the night before, felt like a new start to the same tale.

He had just turned the corner, her by his side, and began to quicken his stride. I had no idea that he’d even thought of me, let alone what he’d do next. I saw his auburn hair and those engulfing light ocean depth eyes as he headed straight toward me like he was fighting the force of those waves too. He swallowed me into his chest and in that moment, as we stood still, as the wind waited and the leaves fell fixed in this momentary opaqueness of the atmosphere. He was all
things, taken separately.

You took those pieces all at once. So often the phrase “I am not him” escaped out of your fat lips.

Thick with deception and false promises as plentiful as the tiny freckles on them. I had known you for only a fraction of what I knew him. Yet, relinquished to you both, just about the same. I might’ve given you more—privacy taken from both of us. He hadn’t known all those nights I cried for the slightest bit of reciprocation, to not be hidden like the shame he carried in his wallet.

A tiny polaroid of me from years ago kept in the dark crevices, never to see the light of a glorious day. You did the same thing, only with your words. In our shitty little dorm you’d whisper delicacies that would never be let out elsewhere. I thought this normal, to bury your love for someone, and only dig it back up when the well ran dry. As if deciding to finally water a plant once you’ve noticed it’s begun to wither.

You witnessed every stage of grief that your friendship brought onto me. It was like mourning a ghost that still haunted you. When your bleached buzz cut began to transform into a curly headed mess of auburn strands that covered the coldness in your eyes I was afraid. You became a variant of the boy I once loved, and deep down still did. A ghost resurrected into a new body, a new form I would resent and mourn.

I had seen it from the start, but you insisted I was wrong. So, I began to tell myself the same thing. Even when you confessed to cruelties that left me no choice but to abandon him. Acts one in the same, but yet still you insisted that it was my imagination, my delusions, my fears. Or was it your shame and your guilt that you forced upon me to see the version of yourself you tried so hard to be. Hell, even I believed it for some time. A secret once more. I began to bury myself, so the light would never shine upon what you’d done and what I’d never dare repeat.

This spring, remnants of the dry season before still come about, awakens a new story that must unfold. I haven’t seen you in months, but everyday I remember the real you more and more. I no longer care if you think of me, the guilt of loving you fading away. The birds outside my window—not ours—sing so loudly and now are they ever so heard. When it rains the windowsill is covered in droplets because I’ll never shut out what you had. Every now and again, I think back to those moments we’d hug one another for what seemed like forever. I thought that meant what we had was real, but maybe I just held on when I felt you letting you. Today, I feel myself able to breathe for the first time. I am compromised of all things, and I’ll be damned if just one of them is taken from me.

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