Still haunted

It is such a simple thing, an embrace. The first memory you gave me, and the last one I’ll forget.

I’ve been discarding all the things I miss about you, one by one, like plastic pearls from a broken necklace. No matter how beautiful they seem, I now know exactly what they’re worth, and I have to let them go. There was one that looked so perfect I thought it was real — the image of you looking up at me from the water as I hesitated, just about to jump. Trust me, you said. I will never let you get hurt. So I jumped, and you were there, and I started to think that maybe you always will be. Now that memory lies in the dust with the rest, all the other promises and gestures and smiles that turned out to be less than real in the end.

But the memory of your embrace remains. The first one, when I started to realize that you might become more important than all the others, was that afternoon on the couch, when you held me in your arms and sang me to sleep, running your fingers softly through my hair over and over again. I could feel your strength and all of your breathtaking gentleness, and the tenderness of the moment surrounded me like a forest, like a place I might get lost in forever and never want to leave. I felt safe, cherished, and utterly at peace. I felt loved.

But now I no longer feel anything but disillusioned, and I would do anything to forget. So how do I erase the memory of a touch, when it turns out that it doesn’t mean what I thought it meant? How can I stop remembering the way that you held me, now that you have irrevocably let me go?

It is such a simple thing, an embrace. But it is far less simple to forget.

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