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by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I wish I didn't think about you as often as I do. I'm too embarrassed to say how often that is, but it's way more often than the constant reminders that blare at me from all corners of the universe, my conscious and subconscious, would warrant. I think of so many yous, but mostly you the way you looked at me up close. Not the last time, or even the time before that. The first time, when the only tears to be shed were happy ones.

I can't help but contrast that moment when you hugged me in that hotel lobby, my turquoise dress with the zipper in front draped around me. I remember everything about that night so clearly, into the next magical afternoon followed by that bittersweet lonely morning. I remember standing in front of the mirror looking at myself, wondering if I had changed.

The last time I saw you was an accident. I didn't meant to speak to you, thought I'd fall apart if I made the attempt. But there you were, right in front of me, almost like fate. It was everything and nothing like what I'd pictured. I stammered and walked away a little more hollow inside.

I wish so many things about you, every day, it makes my head spin. I worry, deep down, and sometimes, on the surface, so close I'm sure everyone whose path I cross can see it, that no one will ever love me like you did, and then I wonder what the saddest part about that statement is.

I know it was real, and I also know it wasn't. It was right, and yet it also wasn't. For too long I thrived on those contradictions, thought they were a sign of something meaningful.

I don't know if it's always like this for you; if it is, you are very blessed. I think about the other girls, the ones whose names I don't want to know, the ones who are luckier than I am. I think I see them everywhere, but I don't ask. Already, I know too much.

On my good days, I think about that lobby, that moment just before, that moment of anticipation. That moment when everyone else disappeared. I think about stealing an hour, a day, from reality and going back there, giving myself to you, all of me, this time. I wonder what you would do with me, what you would say, what you would think of who I am now. I wonder if I could let myself go that far, that deep. I scrutinize every inch of myself the way I imagine you would, and each time I come up wanting. Too many flaws, fears, too much fragility. I know there are girls who are better at this than me, who get how it works, who don't lose their heads, never mind their hearts.

I'd like to tell myself, you, the world, whoever, that I'm over you. Sometimes I think I am, and try to shock my system into proving that by ever more daring feats. You told me once that I wasn't obsessed with you, that pretty much anyone would do, anyone who'd do the things you did to me. I knew in an instant that wasn't true.

I'm sitting in Barnes & Noble on 17th Street, my shiny new laptop on my lap. It's 3:44 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. I keep pausing to wipe away the tears, the ones I was so proud of myself for holding back the last time. That is what happens when I think about you, about whatever this spell is you have over me, whatever I think I haven't yet learned from you.

I know that words are not all they're cracked up to be. The smallest ones, just four letters, can slice through even the strongest veneer of pride. Love is not supposed to be such a weapon, but I took it that way, even as I knew I didn't deserve it, not from you.

I ask myself a lot, maybe just as often as I think of you, if I could go back, back to that first moment, standing on a Greenpoint sidewalk with a compliment in the palm of my hand, if I'd do any of it over again. I know the smart answer, the good answer, the one I'm supposed to pick, even just to myself. I have to laugh because I'm not the kind of girl who'd ever take the easy way out.

Talk is cheap, which is why I don't know what I would do with your voice, or with mine. Words are problems in whatever this thing between us is, so loaded, haunting. There are too many of them and not enough, never enough. The last thing I want is more words, the "L" word or the "W" word or any of them. Of all people I should be able to use them but with you they fail me.

In my fantasy, we are not talking. You are holding me and squeezing me and hurting me and loving me all at the same time. You are telling me things that my secret hopeful heart pretends you've never told anyone else. In that fantasy world, there is no after. There is no sense that we are strangers, distant, foreign. We are living up to that promise that filled that tiny room, the one where showing was more important than telling, the one where your skin was so soft and your voice so boyish and you felt, for a few hours, like you were mine.



Rachel Kramer Bussel is a New York-based author, editor, blogger and event organizer. She is Senior Editor at Penthouse Variations, writes the "Secrets of a Sex Writer" column for SexIs Magazine, and hosted In The Flesh Reading Series from 2005-2010. She has edited 38 anthologies, including Surrender, Gotta Have It, Best Bondage Erotica 2011, Fast Girls, Passion, Orgasmic, Spanked, Bottoms Up, Please, Sir, Please, Ma'am, Crossdressing, and Best Sex Writing 2008, 2009 and 2010, and won 5 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Awards for them. She writes frequently about sex, dating, books and pop culture. Visit her at and her blogs Lusty Lady and Cupcakes Take the Cake.

Articles in this Issue

Twice The River Flows, by Clara Paulino
Fog, by Kyle Boelte
The Porn that Got Away, by Christopher J. Miles
WidowNet, by Heili Simons
The Trick Is to Start Slowly, by Nick Kolakowski
Unattainable Love, by Katy Hershberger
The Campaign for Virginia, by Clyde L. Borg
Losing Her, by Sharon M. Knapp
You, by Rachel Kramer Bussel
From the Editors