Why I Am Thinking Today of a Suicide Twenty Years Ago

Today, twenty years later, I’m beginning to show signs of age; like his scars, my face is becoming a map. The fact is, I never cheated on him if what one means by cheat is have sex; I slept on my ex’s couch; we talked; we cried; I refused to come back. Knowing this still isn’t enough. The note left on the seat of my car indicted me. Today, I held a boy’s hand, his age half mine. His cheeks trembled above his new beard and his eyes filled with water he wouldn’t call tears for another boy with a tattoo of the word LIBERTINE across a throat he cut himself. Today is all we have, one bright lie in a wreath of lies I weave for grief. Like scars on a burn victim, like wrinkles around eyes, like strands of new hair on the fresh cheek of a boy who is learning about the dark currency of being alive in the world. I can see him reading my face, discerning his next turn, looking for side roads, some way through this. There is no way to cheat, no way to erase complicity. I squeeze his hand as he cries, grateful for his beauty. Behind my face, I can sense a road I didn’t know existed opening out to somewhere I didn’t know I wanted to go.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
Contents | Mother of Five