This Is Me Not Thinking About You

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By Abby Kloppenburg


I carry your details in my purse.

You know — the way you over-explain when you’re excited about something, and get upset when I won’t tell you what I’m laughing at.

Or the way you lick your bottom lip when you’re lying, and try to pass off spaghetti as cooking.

Those are the things that slap against my hip as I’m trying to make it to work on time, or wandering through the grocery store, or meeting my parents for dinner.

Those are the things that tumble around as I’m digging for my Chapstick, or trying to find my wallet, or stuffing away a receipt.

But what do you carry of me?

Have you noticed that I think looking stupid is on par with death

or public speaking,

or that I’m honest to a fault?

Do you remember where my birthmark is?

What about the birthday cards I’ve collected since I was 10?

Do you know which year was the hardest one yet?

My friends say guys don’t notice stuff like that and don’t expect too much.

And I want to believe them.

I want to shrug it off when I offer you a fistful of secrets

and you stuff them into your pocket,

or let one fall under the seat next to your CDs

and that bottle of yellow Gatorade.

I want to change the subject when you forget my sister’s name,

or my favorite drink, or the song or the movie or the book that makes my organs twist.

I don’t want to expect too much, but it doesn’t seem fair that I’m carrying around your insides like a gift, or a child,

While mine are collecting dust under your bed,

or scribbled across the back of your hand

An addendum.

--

I carry the space between us in my mouth

until it gets too big, and my teeth hurt.

Then, I’ll spit it into the vase

that we keep on the kitchen counter

for the sun to watch over. Change the water every few weeks — a pretty reminder that

nothing lasts forever.

Soon, though, it curls up over the glass

and onto the table.

My roommate won’t stop staring,

complains that she can’t eat with that thing around.

So I stuff it under my pillow, where we don’t have to look at it.

Eventually — and you expected this — it will wake me up in the middle of the night with its screaming,

A cold sweat that doesn’t feel like a dream.

And so I’ll stand over the garbage disposal,

ready to wash it down with a bottle of red wine,

but I can’t flip the switch.

It just sits, pulsing on top of the drain,

bracing itself against the darkness.

--

I’m trying to write you away, staying up late, squinting at the keyboard over a mug of cold coffee. But I always end up looking for you in the comment section. Can you tell you’re the protagonist? What did you think of this one?

I’m trying to run you away, waking up early to jog miles past sleeping houses, collapsing onto the grass on aching ankles. But I keep wondering if you’re behind me. Can you feel my feet hit the earth?

I’m trying to cook you away, scooping another wet pile of noodles onto my plate and passing the bowl around the table. But I keep leaving just enough for you. Tucking a chicken breast away in the refrigerator. What are you having for dinner?

I’m trying to sleep you away, pulling the covers over my face late into the day, pinching my eyes closed against the sunlight. But I keep feeling you next to me. What are you dreaming about? Are you up yet?

I’m trying to work you away, putting in time well after the cleaners have left for the night, but your name keeps coming up on Gchat. Would you respond if I typed something? Can you feel that little green dot pulse like the light at the end of the dock?

I’m trying to will you away, eyes averted, keep walking, don’t stop — but I’ll be honest, this is hard. Where are you? What are you doing right now?

writer photo

Abby Kloppenburg

Abby does work things by day, and writes to survive by night. She is based in DC and likes funny boys and egg sandwiches. See more of her work at aklop.tumblr.com.

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