Your room felt different even though it had only been two days since I left. The middle shelf in your closet was still empty; it was the shelf where my clothes used to be. You pulled out piles of your shirts to make room for me, and I remember how you made room for me everywhere. My books were bedfellows to your guitar gear. You pinned my baby picture to your wall. My shoes fell in line with your shoes, and we had simple rules. Towels to be draped across the banister by the stairs. Blanket to be strictly shared.
It was only after I took everything down, packed away in paper bags, shoeboxes and a suitcase, that I saw how much I took from you.
I brought with me a change of clothes for a night. I draped the towel by the stairs like before. But I could not put my toothbrush back beside yours, not when the absence of my belongings is still carefully guarded by anger, places disturbed still disturbed. We folded and unfolded forgiveness, like our hands locking briefly until one of us looked away.
Nothing in here is mine anymore, not you, especially not you, for there is something impenetrable about emptiness. See the way this open shelf reflects the shadow of loss.
Last night, we slept facing away from each other, our bodies bent like question marks. “Do I still stay?” Already in the throes of sleep, your voice wavered “you may,” or was it “you may not— not now?”