My skin hurts. Literally, my skin. Not my muscles, or my bones, no. My skin. It's not burnt or calloused or cut. It's sore. My clothes hang around me, and that is all people see. Clothes hanging on bones like a metal hanger. When I pull my belt tighter, my skin pinches my spinal cord and tells my brain I'm in pain. I press my oversized hand to my chest and wait for a knock. I wait too hard, or too long, or something too much, because my skin pinches again. I am sore. My outsides are sore. My cheeks are soft and when I hold them between my fingers they hurt like the rest of me. I have no injuries, or marks anymore. Nothing that obviously, and brutally, and absolutely in your face says that I am injured, but my skin hurts. I can't say it any other way. I don't feel it any other place. My outer shell, my epidermis hurts.
My stomach used to. I woke up the day after we had out first kiss and I threw up. You made me sick a few times. More like too many to count. You are right though, the first thing I remember about our first kiss was that you smelled like smoke. Cigars were your specialty, and mine was making you quit things you'd run back to later. You were hard to lean into because my mental images loved being artists and painting me pictures of contaminated sweethearts like the ones who were covered in cigar ashes. Complicated, I know. But, I spent my whole life trying to make myself smell beautiful, and here, you'd burnt your way out of a sense of smell. Now who was going to notice if I was the best smelling girl in the room? Of course, the room was empty but the two of us, and it was some strangers house, and bed, and you had waited so long to do this. In the end, you wouldn't have been focusing on your olfactory nerve no matter what. But, I was. And smell is the strongest link to memory. So whenever I smell old cigarette smoke lingering to fabric, or skin, or just hanging around in the air, I think of you, and how I was so nervous I threw up, and how I never really wanted anything with all of me, and how one singular part of me is yours, for the rest of my life.
A part that in hindsight, means so much more to me than it ever did when I owned it. Like something stupid and sentimental that's only worth something when you sell it. I guess it's like you tried to tell me, it's only sex, until you've had it, and then it's your virginity. And, you were right. You were right. Of course you were. Because I didn't mean it. I didn't think when I was lying in a dark room, again, and you didn't smell like smoke anymore, and it wasn't a strangers house, or bed, and I wasn't going to throw up the next day, I didn't think, I'll be a little bit less of myself in the morning. I didn't think that because no one ever thinks that. They look at what they're achieving, not what they're giving up. You're not supposed to have to look at what you're giving up.
Some people, people like me, look at us like presents. Like, packages, like gifts. Boxes, with ribbons, and wrapping paper, and pricelessness. Something that always makes me think of him, because he always made me feel cheap. I suppose I was, cheap, when it came to you. Maybe I should be thankful that I'm too thin to catch the eyes of boys who would fuck me and never speak to me again. Maybe if I wasn't, I'd have a lot worse than one less than two on my hands. Maybe my present, my beautifully wrapped package, my gift set would be a paper bag with a pack of gum inside. Maybe I'm still worth something to someone that looks like a million bucks, to me.
My history indicates that I'll be alone for the rest f my life. That I'll give up on everything that is hard. That I'll only ever love a feline. That I feel attachment but never love or loyalty. That I'll never understand the way friendship and trust works. That I'm selfish. That I'd rather be alone. And, while being the sister that is most frequently single isn't the easiest job, it's been my safe haven. It's kept me safe and sound and in sweet solitude for a very long time. I've bullshit my way out of numerous relationships, and I've given enough excuses to even keep me believing them