Content warnings: eating disorder, abusive relationship, sexual assault, and homophobia.
Do you remember the night you came back to our dorm room crying and asking me to help you brush the cum out of your hair? You didn’t seem to.
Because the next day he wrote you a shitty song on his shitty guitar about the brutal nature of love. You cried and said you were sorry. He was sorry too. Though he didn’t have to say it. You just had to know. He was mysterious and complicated and it was your job to unlock the potential in him. The part of him that made him worth loving. I went to the library and waited for you to text me saying it was okay to come back. I hated the way the room smelled that night.
Over the next couple of weeks you seemed to become convinced that the only way your relationship was going to change was if you read more and ate less. When I said you were acting stupid you told me someday I would understand what it means to try to better myself for another person. I don’t know if you ever figured how much that hurt me. I suppose it doesn’t matter now.
You started going on long runs and listening to Crime and Punishment on Audible. He had told you that the Russians were the only ones who ever truly understood the human condition. Seems to me all the Russians understood was how to look forlornly out train windows. My opinion on the subject was not welcomed.
You became a vegan because it was, “the only ethical way to eat”. I knew it was really because you were still trying to become smaller. I had already begun counting your ribs. On the day of your declaration I saw him wolf down three slices of pepperoni pizza in the dining hall. When I tried to tell you you told me that I must have been mistaken. I wasn’t.
He told you he was taking you to a house party off campus. You wore the green sweater you only wear when you’re trying to hide something from me. I waited up for you. At 3:43AM you texted and told me to come get you. You had locked yourself in the bathroom while he stood outside listening to you puke. He told me you took “too much” and that you might tell me some “messed up lies”. I wondered if this would be the day I killed him. Instead I told him to fuck off and got you in an Uber. You didn’t look at him.
The next day we blocked his number on your phone. Later he came by the room with another shitty song and a bunch of roses he’d taken from the campus gardens. I think they had spiders in them. I told him to leave you alone or everyone would find out exactly what he put in your drink. He called me a stupid dyke and left. I could hear you breathing behind the door. I still wanted you to tell the Title IX officer, but that wasn’t my choice to make. You were free. That was all that mattered.
I once told you that I’m not good at holding onto things. I’m still not. But I’m hoping that I can hold onto you, onto the idea of us as a team, even if it’s not in the way I thought it would be after he left.
Gen Greer (she/her) is in her final semester of her undergraduate degree. After graduation she hopes to teach writing and continue to push her work into the world. She aspires to write stories which give voices to emotionally complicated women and gender minorities tackling issues of internalized homophobia, fatphobia, body image, depression, and addiction. Follow her on twitter @roaringgirl2