When Love Starts to Feel Like War

He had a loaded gun aiming straight for my chest.

“If you ever loved me at all, you’ll pull the trigger. Stop making me hope for a life I can’t have with you.”

I have made war my home. It is hard to fall asleep in the silence so the music is loud, heavy and dark. That’s what it feels like, as though the sound waves might just consume me whole and I’d disappear from the inside out. I’m trying to make this body comfortable. Trying to remember what it felt like to live alone but everything here reminds me of you; my hands, my thighs and even my toes. You have been everywhere. I can only close my eyes and turn the volume knob to max, trying to drown the thought of you by listening to the sound of bullets piercing skin to hit bones. It is sad how beautiful this has become and that is the ugly truth.

Our love was a war we couldn’t escape. Couldn’t? Wouldn’t? Should have? I don’t know.

Fingers rushing to type words like they were triggers that needed to be pulled. All we had were words, I had to imagine you fingers intertwined with mine. Had to kiss you in my dreams first, pretend it was you I lay next to at night instead of a stuffed teddy bear when all I wanted was to be in your presence, watching you sleep. Keep fighting.

I prayed you would still love me tomorrow while lying sleepless in bed practicing what I would say to you when we first met as lovers. I asked God to make you patient and give you strength. It was my fault after all. After all these years the one thing I was doing right was out of reach. I had hoped we would be a fairytale come to life… That we would tell our kids we fell in love while I was in a distant land learning things and you couldn’t picture your life without me. I was going to tell everyone that distance was a unicorn just like time. I must have lived eight lifetimes with you. That is already forever.

Survive! Survive! Stay alive. Stay in love. Don’t stop fighting. We would talk every day. I’d tell you what I ate and you’d tell me what one of your students did. At night when I’d want to talk about my fears you’d be tired and the mornings when you’d want to tell me your future plans I’d still be dreaming. It was the little things. There wasn’t enough fairy dust left to sprinkle around but we kept on knowing it would soon be over. A few more weeks, my love.

When the war was over, when fingers didn’t need to type anymore, when keyboards were replaced by lips, skin and pulse. There were no words left. So we’d sit in silence looking into each other’s eyes. I am convinced my first real kiss was with you. When your lips locked on mine my soul would dance with yours, it was as though we had never been apart. I couldn’t have imagined it even if I tried. This was home; this was what we had been fighting for, to be in each other’s arms.

“I’m still learning how to love you. I know so much about you already but when I’m with you, watching you, touching you and feeling you. It’s like learning to love the person you love all over again. God must be happy wherever he is, this love overflows.”

Soon war came knocking again, I didn’t want to leave but we both knew it was a journey I had to complete. Just when my bruises started to heal, when my hands no longer had to pull the trigger, when all I had to do was reach out my hand and touch you. I had to look you in the eye after a few cups of courage and tell you that I would be leaving. That I might be gone twice as long. I tried to soften the blow by telling you when you have me next time I’ll never have to go back. But that didn’t matter. There were shadows dancing around the fire in your soul. I could see it in your eyes even when they watered.

You held me so tight. The kind of hugs frightened children give their mothers seeking comfort. The kind of hugs that are shared when it might be the last time in a long time. I hugged you hopping maybe we could collide and become one. That God would look down on us and have mercy. Instead of a miracle, we missed each other. I messed up, my phone died, I couldn’t call you. I didn’t see you that day. I could already hear the flight engines. I rushed that morning to kiss you goodbye and convince you that I loved you.

I had to rip out my heart and leave it with you. Told you I would come back for it. You gave me owl earrings and told me they would watch over me till I got back.  I spent the entire duration of my transit re-living my two months with you. When I wanted to cry on the flight I would order a drink and swallow the lump that formed at my throat. Soldiers don’t cry.

When you missed me you began to cut up little pieces from my heart just to taste my love. By nightfall it was all gone. I could feel it. We didn’t talk as much, the magic was gone. You called me her name in my sleep and I didn’t know how to tell you that I felt like I was losing you to someone I wasn’t sure it existed. Love wasn’t selfish afterall.

I didn’t want to question you. Didn’t want to not trust you especially because you have been so honest with me and I had not been forthcoming. Instead, on nights when I could not sleep, I’d bury myself in someone else’ sheets for a few hours at a time, I had convinced myself it would be a big issue. You had my heart after all.

After you found out you punished me the only way you knew how. Silence. Didn’t speak to me for about three days. I should have told you. We spoke about it and you knew I would but I should have told you I was about to go undercover. War isn’t easy. Split second decisions and consequences. I hurt you. It was sad how beautiful it was, in all that pain, when we came around, I loved you more. I loved you harder. With parts of me I didn’t know I had.

We were okay then we weren’t. Didn’t have much to talk about. Sometimes you’d forget to reply and I’d tell myself you passed out from being tired. I had every reason for you not to stop fighting. There was no way you wouldn’t want an us. I was convinced I had found Him. People who knew me knew your name. We were a deal package. We were okay then we weren’t.

Truth is everyone is always at war. You may not see bombs and bullets but battles always lead to war. We were there, hands rushing to type words like fingers pulling triggers, stay alive, stay in love, stay alive. Hands get tired. Hearts get heavy and eaten. All I had were memories; I could fall asleep to soft music playing in the background even though sometimes I’d wake up in a panic, there would be bombs exploding everywhere.

Every time she tells you she loves you.

Every time you look at her like she is the only one there has ever been, will be and could be.

Every time you think of me and brush that thought away.

You learnt how to hold someone else the same way you held me; with a gun aimed at their chest. It’s okay. I can sleep now. I don’t wake up with ripped stitches. I just hope you are learning how to love her without the gun. That you’ll never have to decide which trigger to pull.


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