Letters that Lips Write to Whiskey Bottles
We were both sitting on barstools made of phony mahogany. Neither of us were talking because so much can be said in silence. It was dark, but the kind of dark that didn’t scare you. It was the kind of dark that made your mother wonder where you were. The night was rich with nothingness and we didn’t want to waste a second of it. Both of our heads were propped up on our hands. We looked at the sky, this hopelessly vast thing, and tried to understand it.
“I love you.” He said.
When I looked at him, I could only hear the sound of the door slamming after my dad left; the silence that broke our house in the aftermath. Debris scattered across my mother’s lipstick-stained frown. She left her pain in emptied whiskey bottles and sealed them with a kiss like the back of an envelope. Her eyes died that year. I remembered how I stopped breathing because I was afraid it would blow everything out of place.
He waited for my reply, his arms limp on the table like fallen tree trunks. His eyes grew more somber as time crawled desperately between us, I could feel it scratching at my legs.
“I want to say it back.” I murmured, looking down. And I did, I wanted to.
But in that moment I could only hear the sound of Charlie’s Chevy door closing. How my bones shifted at the way rubber kisses the concrete and the mark it leaves. The fire that raged in my throat for days burned a hole in my veins. I swore sometimes I could feel the blood running out of me. I was seventeen and Charlie wrapped his long fingers around my chin and told me if I loved him I’d do this one thing. I thought that was love, but here I was stuck alone with this seed in me that I didn’t want and if I wasn’t too careful, it would grow into something I would break. I took the whiskey my mother sealed with empty, pink kisses and drank it until the walls collapsed around me and everything went black. I fell down the stairs that night. The doctors told me I’d killed the person inside me, but I already knew that. I kept the bottle that was emptied of whiskey but filled with the memories of a person who never got the chance to make them on my shelf like a trophy.
“Why can’t you?” He waited.
I wanted to tell him it was because when I look in the mirror I can see my eyes dying slowly with every passing day. I wanted to tell him that ignorance makes things feel like they’re good, and that I never wanted to feel that fire in my throat again. I wanted to tell him I lost all of my blood when I was seventeen and I didn’t have any more to spare. I didn’t say any of that, though.
I didn’t say anything, because so much can be said in silence.