This was written at the end of an intense affair with an otherwise-engaged man in 2007.
He’s got mono, and now we can’t kiss anymore, and he’s leaving in a week so it might as well be tomorrow that I write, He’s leaving tomorrow, he’s leaving tomorrow. Before his diagnosis I had already resolved not to kiss him anymore and my sister told me, Consider it over. And although I had planned to quit kissing him, I was still devastated at the prospect of it really being over between us. I say that as if it ever began. It didn’t.
This one only ends.
But what does it matter that it’s over? My friend tells me the mono is a cosmic signal, and I am never more tempted to entertain such bullshit as now, when once again the circumstances of my life explicitly reveal to me that plans mean nothing and there is no meaning. I’d like to think, yeah, she’s right, this final biological attack on our pseudo-relationship is a clear portent of the universe telling me to stop. Stop with him. Every time we touch, it hurts.
My abdomen hurts. Occasionally I’ve been vomiting. My throat is sore. Did I give him mono? I must have mono. Just the other night, I had my tongue in his mouth so long that I forgot about the pies I was baking and burned them. And now his throat is covered in white lesions. I’m filled both with a stupid sadness—I guess we’ll never make out again—as well trepidation: fuck dude, I’m moving in a few weeks and I can’t deal with lesions.
So this is what we’re leaving each other with: a sickness.
We used to have a joke about me being poisonous.
He gave me a hand job once and then lost feeling in his finger for a few days. Another time he pulled a muscle in his tongue. Back then it was fun to tell him, I’m poisonous. It was Good God we’re so fucking hot for each other that we’re hurting each other. One of my favorite memories is when he shoved his heavy coffee table out of our way as we slid from the futon to the floor, his mouth locked on my throat. Violent. He’s the only man who ever bruised my lips. But now when I tell him I’m poisonous and he agrees, it is not hot and it is not funny. Who are we to blame me?
I tell him that I’ve got symptoms, and though it does seem logical that I would have mono, I admit that while I say this half of me means, You can still kiss me; I’m immune.
I’m already sick.
My last boyfriend told me goodbye for six straight months. I’ve had great practice at bracing myself.
The day after he leaves for his real girlfriend, I drive across the country. I get a new car. I move to Atlanta. Find a new apartment for a single woman and two dogs. Get a cell phone—so unlike me.
So unlike me.
What will I do with my hair to erase this affair?
Tonight he’s feeling sick again. I leave him a comment on MySpace.
One of his female creative writing students’ final short story was a blunt testament to his sensitive masculinity. She named his character Godric Matthews, and he was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. The MySpace comment I leave him refers to the hotness of Godric Matthews, as well as his current unappealing lesions. I was trying to be funny.
It is almost midnight when he calls. He is pissed. He tells me, I want you to know I erased your comment. He says, I don’t want my student to see your comment and know that I make fun of her to my jackass friends.
I say, I’m not your jackass friend.
I wish I didn’t feel so dizzy.
I want to thank him for being pissy with me. I want to thank him for leaving me. The first time I told him I loved him, he told me, There is no future in this. I don’t feel well. This isn’t fun anymore. Every time we touch, it hurts. I miss him. I think I miss him more now, with him just down the road, then I will when he’s hundreds of miles away. I want to thank him for hurting my feelings tonight. Erase my comment, jerk. Wasn’t that always the plan? Erase all of my comments and we’ll both become poisonous. I’m staring at a tidal wave. I am tired of holding my breath. Just fucking hit—I hate the wait—and I’ll try to swim.