how to pretend to be straight for her, vol. 1

  1. Ask to borrow her lipstick. Imagine her lips beneath yours, all pink and bright sparks against your skin, willing and soft. Thank her. Know you will only ever get her mouth by stealing it quietly.
  2. When she sleeps over and borrows your shirt to sleep in, don’t think too hard about it. Don’t think about how she looks better in it than you do. Don’t think about how that turns you on instead of makes you jealous. Don’t think. You’re just a teenager. This is normal. This should feel normal. It won’t feel normal.
  3. She’ll leave her shirt from the day before crumpled in a heap next to your bed accidentally. You notice it when she’s brushing her teeth in the morning. Don’t tell her it’s there. When you hug her goodbye, think about her shirt next to your bed, hidden away like a secret you didn’t mean to make. Let go of her sparrow-wing shoulders quicker than you think is necessary. Take her false smile as penance.
  4. Use it as a pillowcase. Hurt yourself by breathing. Let your lungs coat with her flower-scented dryer sheets and hope. Breathe out. Throw the pillow across the room. Scream the hope out.
  5. When you hug her, hold your breath. Don’t bury your head in her hair. It will smell like the pillow you slept on for two weeks until it smelled more like you than her. Let go first. Breathe out. Smile.
  6. Go to a bar and smirk at the first guy who looks at your legs. Make out with him in the bathroom because his hips are thin and fit in your palms like you think hers would. You’ll have to crane your neck too much for it to feel right, but it will be good enough for now.
  7. Write I’m going to ruin you on every scrap of paper you can find. Throw them all away.
  8. She’ll tell you a story about how she kissed a girl when she was drunk. She’ll laugh the whole time, eyes bright. She describes it like kissing her own palm. Laugh and wish you could kiss her palm, too.
  9. Go to a bar and smirk at the first girl who looks at your legs. Make out with her in the bathroom because you want to get even, you want to make sure that you’re going to destroy this in the worst way possible. Hate yourself for loving it. Pull away and pretend like you’re not crying as you run to your car. Drive home faster than you should and hope you crash along the way. You won’t. Instead, you’ll fall asleep listening to the voicemail she left you three weeks ago about how her dog learned a new trick. Tears will fall in time with her laugh. Find new ways to fall in love with the way her mouth holds joy.
  10. The next time you see her, don’t tell her about the girl in the bathroom. Realize that her eyes are your least favorite color. Let that be enough. Find new ways to fall out of love with the way her eyes hold joy.

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