I can smell his cologne. Ghostly and faint after a long day of wear, but still there. The slightest whiff of Jack Daniels as he leans down to kiss me.
And I can’t. I lean forward, away from him and that smell, the smell that still has the power to make butterflies clang in my stomach. No matter how much it excites me, it also makes me sick and afraid. Like an alarm clock, I hit the snooze button on those feeling, five minutes, ten, fifteen, always knowing that it’s going to be right there for me to face when I stop prolonging the inevitable.
No matter where I am, he always finds me. In every moment of de ja vu, every time I feel someone’s eyes watching, each and every time, I’m sure it’s him. That kind of devotion could be called obsession. Or maybe loyalty, I’m not sure which.
I know what it’s like to be spooked. I know what it’s like to run so far away the roads all melt together; the faces all have the same questions, namely the kind that just can’t be answered. But no matter how far I run, how far away I go to lose myself, he always finds me. All it takes is that smell of cologne, just enough to taint the day. Just the faint traces of something that should be dead, and stay dead, but isn’t.
No matter how bad it gets, there’s always that part of me that wants to go back. Back to the beginning. Sometimes I spend whole days staring outside, just wishing I could go back, wishing I could change the course of things. Marty McFly my situation. But it stays the same. I get a little older, not much wiser, and it takes more whisky to hold me together. Just enough to let me sleep, but never enough to really forget.
It’s another Friday, and there’s a long weekend of nothing special. I make my usual trip to the liquor store, thinking inside that it can’t be good that the cashier knows me on a first name basis. Or my usual brand of poison.
At home, before the sun even goes down, I’ve had drinks one through four. No foreplay, because there’s no time to waste, and no work to go to tomorrow.
I want to be good and drunk before I start wading in a sea of might-have-been. I drink myself under the table in record time, and there’s nothing but whatever dreams I don’t remember.
I wake up feeling sea sick and disconnected. I can taste the remains of the bourbon I drank, dead and shriveled in my mouth. I want to just lay here, discarded snakeskin of a life surrounding me. Maybe if I don’t move, my body will just give up.
That last thought makes a laugh snort out of me. Self-pity isn’t like me.
When I go to the bathroom, it’s when I’m brushing that death taste out of my mouth that I notice it.
One of his t-shirts. I’m wearing it.
Maybe it’s just memory, or maybe it’s the actual smell, but whatever it is, I can smell him. In the room with me, how thick the smell of him is. Cloying. Clawing at my nose, my stomach, my heart.
After I throw up, eyes still crying a little, I run straight for the bourbon. Only amateurs have time for a glass. Today, there is no need.
After I’ve drank enough that my hands aren’t shaking and I don’t give a fuck about the shirt I’m wearing, I open up that floodgate.
The one that sometimes only spills over a little, just letting out enough to keep me sane. Tonight, the dam inside me breaks. I’m ruining this t-shirt, the last t-shirt of his, with my tears. Making it a little less his, and a lot more mine.
Striving to smell that last little bit of him trapped in the cloth. Trying to embed the smell and taste of him in my heart, where I’ll never lose it.
I sit and curse him, scream at him, hate him.
For the last little bit of him that I can't run away from. The part of me that misses him so much I just can't heal.
What's dead should stay dead. I know that.
I know it, but it continues to break me.