How to Be (6)

Samantha Edmonds


With words

Be reckless. Give the stranger everything: words, promises, attention, adoration, secrets, sex. Recognize afterwards that he was always going to leave. Feel mature. Feel grown. Tell yourself it—he—the experience—something—was worth being broken. Don’t tell your mother.

Take up smoking. Start drinking. Hide both from your parents. Ask what you could have done differently to make him stay. Change your answer more than you change your clothes. Hate him. Hate yourself. Don’t answer your mother’s calls.

Write like there’s a gun to your head. Write like it will bring him back. Write like it will save your life.

The stranger will feel guilty now when he sees you but you must not mistake this guilt for affection, the way that you mistook his loneliness for love the first time. Do not relapse into hope, no matter how he sometimes smiles at you. He will start to say things like do you know I never meant to cause you pain? And you must always nod and say yes.

Realize that this does not make it okay, or better.

Your mother will wonder what has gotten into you.

To a(void) giving up and letting the whole world burn, jump to Section 10.

There are no other options at this time. All you can do is keep writing.