Artwork by Pamela Dodds

On Outgrowing

You are almost asleep when he calls to tell you he’s outside your balcony, eleven floors down, a grey smudge amongst the purple glaze of urban night, and you are sorry and he is sorry and neither of you know why you’d been fighting but bitterness still coats your tongues, still slips into your apologies, half-truths blackened with exhaustion. Of late you seem to be caught in the same routine, and the questions you ask one another never change, why us, why now, why is it so much and still never fucking enough and sometimes he takes your palm and presses his lips against it, and sometimes he can’t even fucking look you in the eye, but you never falter, you never skip a beat, you feel his absence shoot along the veins in your hands till they bleed an ugly brown over your skin, but still you clench your teeth and smile, and each night, ask yourself again why you return to this sort of wreckage, this war-torn need that you both destroy before it can even exist. So he tells you that he feels it slipping away, this craving you hold in your throats, and you want to tell him that you feel it more now than ever, it creeps upon your chest and leaves you paralysed, that this fear grips you till you are left standing in your kitchen with a cup of tea that stopped being warm minutes ago and you never even realised the white on your knuckles wrapped around it, the way the breath left your body, drowning in the air around you, you never even realised how the pain climbs up your spine, lodges itself there till you are a statue of the girl you once were, and sometimes, when you are weak, you think to yourself, that if this pain is not love, you don’t know what is, if this pain is not love, then something here will never survive.