by Natalie Brennan //

This piece was originally published in Issue 1: Secret Edition (Spring 2022). To see past print publications, click here.

Months I won’t get back
When I slept with your silence
And danced with your ego
I let your words hang like hooks in my chest

I was a net
And your insecurities buzzed like flies
Catching my breath in your mirror
Burned like shards of glass in my lungs
In your library of lies, I collected dust
volumes of being cherished, valued, loved

Your secret lies there too

I won’t tell them
the way your words, your sex
would drip like hot wax
Burning guilt onto my skin
Convincing me
To exist was to owe you pleasure

I won’t tell them
All the money I spent
To scrub away your stains
To bleach and dry my sheets
Your idolization dissolving off
But the residual grime, the sting of being bled dry
Lingering, like dust in the air

Rug burn tattooing my knees
Commiserating with the shower head
as it saw me
while you just watched, tangled under covers
your fingerprints soaked into the light switch

I was your sounding board
And you bounced the names of my friends
Off my bare chest
Dreaming of your future endeavors
While shattering what could have been mine
in some sort of twisted performance art
The audience remaining silent
As their mouths were full

Your secret tried to scream its own name

I won’t tell them
how easy it was for you
To transmit your disease from person to person
Like some sort of cold, calculating tick
Latching onto her care
As soon as you had sucked me dry

I won’t tell them
About your validation cravings
How you foraged greedily for new sources
while you already had it all
You took a knife to someone who loves like no other
And reopened her wounds
She inconsolably bleeds
Yet still shows you more kindness than you deserve
Showed you more kindness than you’ll ever see again

I won’t tell them
how you couldn’t protect either of us
From your lack of satisfaction
So you burned both of us
And left us to deal with the flames
Leaving a trail of damage
As you smolder, monstrously

I would wish you nothing but peace
If I believed it was something you’d find
Pity is not even something I could force myself to feel
Yet I am grateful that we are clean from you
But don’t worry.

I won’t tell them.