We are not in love.
We are standing, two feet apart, and I keep saying the same thing over and over.
I am in love with you.
She keeps shaking her head, her hot pink hair swaying with each turn. No, you aren't, she is whispering. We are both crying and neither of us love the other and I wonder what exactly it is that we are mourning.
We have been in fake love for 2 years. Our fake love was at least not real hatred. Our fake love was comfortable. Our fake love was more than I expected from a relationship.
We are standing in the hall of our apartment building. Her torn backpack is on her shoulders, her black hoodie is hanging out from the unzipped opening. She has not zipped it, she never zips it, and this bothers me again as we stand here, and I deeply wish to fix it, but I wonder Who am I to fix someone I am not in love with?
I don't say this. Instead, I say Maybe we can fix this and she is shaking her head again.
I imagine the two of us together. I imagine us kissing, laughing, holding hands. We have said I love you one thousand times and not meant it once. We have picked furniture and watched one another sit on it like props. We have existed in one another's space and imagined what love might feel like.
This is not what I expected, I say.
She looks down at the ground. She has a gold nose piercing in the shape of a ribbon and she is wearing too much eyeliner. Her nails are expertly painted silver, but her jeans are ragged and ripped. I suddenly remember that when she is happy, she has a sleepy half-smile. I remember liking this about her when I first met her. I had witnessed that smile and I immediately imagined what it would be like to wake up beside her, to see that smile against the blue of my pillowcase. I imagined us listening to Sufjan Stevens and smoking weed. This was how I had fallen in love with her, this fake memory I had constructed.
I later realized she loathed Sufjan Stevens and got paranoid when she smoked weed. She didn't like drugs. I did not fall in love with this version of her. I didn't fall out of love with my fantasy, either, and perhaps this was what went wrong. Perhaps my heart was already taken when I met her by somebody she never was.
In the apartment hallway, people are passing, neighbors we never spoke to. I clear my throat.
I want to love you, I say to her. I really do.
She exhales loudly, runs a hand over her forehead. Her hair sticks up and I remember placing it back when we were first dating, before she told me that she hated when I did that. She looks at me, but it is hard to take her seriously with her hair propped up from her head.
The problem is you want everything, she says. And none of it works.
I am unsure what she means by this. Before I can ask, she says she has to go and walks past me, her shoulder brushing against mine. I stare after her and watch her steal the life I had created, the life we were meant to live. I watch her steal our cute date at Ikea, our MDMA roll at Electric Zoo festival. I watch her steal our Pitbull mix, our shared closet. I watch her rob me of the girl I had fallen in love with and never had.
We are not in love.