To James (Draft 4)

Might this be the final draft? I don’t know–you tell me!


Emma, what are you doing? You know you’ve had too much to drink. You need to sit, alright?

No, no… let me do this. Let me finish. I need to say something.

I… need to get… something off my chest. Seems like the right time, you know?

Jeez, that booze really hit me hard… made me all… melancholic.

Look at me—I’m completely wasted and I’m still trying to use the word “melancholic”.

I wish James was here. He needs to hear this.

But all of you will do.

We need to talk.

I have scars, you know? You can’t see them–they’re all up here… they’re in my head. I try to hide them, but they are too big to conceal; too big to suppress. They are a part of me now. Had I known how hard they would be to hide, might I have tried harder to stop him?

He was too strong.

Or was I too weak?

I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things. But that’s only fitting, given how our relationship went.

His subverting comfort, his treacherous love–it fooled me. It made me feel as if I mattered, only for him to tell me that I didn’t. What was I supposed to do? I certainly didn’t know. I thought I knew him so well. We were close. I thought I loved him. No—no, I didn’t. I don’t mean that. I don’t think I do.

I don’t know what to think.

What was he thinking? I wish I knew.

But I don’t.

He seemed to loathe my existence. And in a way, I kind of did, too. How do you even start to harbor such feelings of loathing and resentment?

Why did he hate me?

I could keep asking him these questions, but I’m not naive–I know he won’t answer them. I know that much.

My brain feels like the aftermath of a Gallagher show. Why the hell did I just bring up Gallagher? Isn’t that the watermelon guy?

Right… back on topic.

Our relationship probably was not the best. At least to me it wasn’t. It wasn’t for either of us, really. He hurt me. I try to forget what he’s done to me, how he’s hurt me. And I try hard.

Look at my scars. You can’t miss them. You try to look away, but you can’t. You all know I’m different since James. Nothing’s the same. There’s something wrong with me, I think. Something off-kilter.

I am broken. James broke me.

I want him to fix me, but I know that he can’t–he wouldn’t. The damage is done. My troubles are here for everyone to see–for all of you to see. I wish I could tell him what he’s done.

But I can’t.

I remember the first date we went on: I wore my favorite blouse and skirt; he wore a button-down and a pair of khakis. I remember the car he drove. We both agreed he was lacking in that department. But hey, if the date went well, who cared if his car kind of sucked?

James took us to this mom-and-pop pizza place, I think. I don’t remember what kind of pizza we ate, honestly… all I remember was how great he was. James knew how to talk to me. I could tell that he dug me. I was digging him, too. We talked about his aspirations and mine. He wanted to become a carpenter, he said. I was taken aback. I mean, he was a smart guy–at least from what I could tell. Not that carpenters are dumb. But it was what he enjoyed, and it paid decent. I wasn’t going to complain–at least not on the first date. I told him I wanted to be a journalist, or at the very least a writer. He seemed interested in that. I was glad he was–I was interested in him. I wanted us to work. We were a hot couple. At least I thought so.

We were puzzle pieces. We fit perfectly.

What happened? What went wrong? What did I do to make him despise me?

Why didn’t he love me?

The constant state of paranoia I live in encapsulates me, engulfs me. I am paranoia. That is my existence; my beginning and my end. I feel like a freak. He needs to know that. I want him to know. I want him to know so damn bad.

He opens fresh wounds, and my memories are salt. I wake up in pain from them. They haunt me. He haunts me.

Is it his fault?

Or is it mine?

Did I cause this?

I wish I had answers. I can’t ask him. He wouldn’t answer them anyway.

I wish I was stronger.

I’m not the same. My friends don’t treat me the same… family neither. There’s an elephant in the room, isn’t there?

Is it him?

Is it me?

Do you all think I made it all up? Is–is that why?

I try to rack what is left of my brain to find an answer, but I can’t find one. Is it not there–or am I just avoiding it? What could I have done differently for James to love me?

I mean, yeah, we’d fight. I didn’t think anything of it, though. It seemed harmless. Most couples do that, right?


That’s what I keep telling myself. He’d call me all sorts of things. Terrible things. Things that really screwed with me, scarred me.

We always made up after, though… when the tension was gone.

I provoked him, the first time he hit me. In retrospect, I might’ve had it coming. I was vicious. My anger and frustration had built up to an unimaginable level. I let him have it.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, right?

I saw James raise his hand. I didn’t know what he was going to do with it. Then he unleashed his fury and his scorn.

I’m not weak.

I’m not fragile.

I’m not. I swear.

Maybe I should not have provoked him the first time.

Or the second.

Maybe it was my fault.

What am I saying? Of course it wasn’t my fault. You can’t control another person. Everyone makes their own choices… no one else does.

Who am I kidding?

James controlled me for the longest time.

Did you all know that? Well… now you do.

Nobody gave me any warning–my friends, my family, all of you–you loved him. No one knew that side of him. Oh, but now I know.

He’s charming, I’ll give him that–even if I hate every other part of him.

I don’t mean that. I don’t hate him. I–I can’t let him go. We were something, whatever that something happened to be. I liked what we had… even with all the fights, the manipulation. It got really hard to like what we had, though… really hard.  He’d come over to my apartment wasted and try to start arguments. Those almost always led to fights, and bit by bit I started to lose my fucking mind.

I had to force myself to call 9-1-1 after one of our worst fights. I was so scared of him. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go to any of you. I was afraid you wouldn’t believe me.

I still feel guilty. Maybe I should not have done that. Maybe we could have worked everything out. I’d like to think so, anyway.

But now James is gone.

Jail cells aren’t ideal for relationships, are they?

A part of me doesn’t miss him at all. That’s the part of me I don’t know what to do with. Do I believe that? Do I care about James anymore?

What do I do once he gets out?

I am a slave to him. My feelings for him are shackles and chains and whips. My feelings for him have scarred me, and the memories he’s created rips them open again and again and again. I can’t hide it anymore!

I want James to know that. He needs to know that.

They will exist as long as I exist.

Maybe I shouldn’t exist. That’s the only way for me to forget him, it seems.

But maybe I don’t need to forget him.

I don’t need answers.

I need closure.

I need solace.

I need peace.

I want to look him in the eyes one last time and tell him the pain he’s caused; I want him to know the terror and resentment I felt–feel; I want him to know how I’m suffering.

He will know.

As ironic as it sounds… I’m stronger than I look.

Oh, God… so that’s why they call this stuff “liquid courage”.

I’m sure I’ll regret this in the morning.

But it was sure as hell worth it.

Sorry to ruin the party.



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