archives, you & me

You Didn’t Love Me the Right Way.


“I don’t get you on my terms? Then you don’t get me at all. Watch me disappear, a ghost, without a trace. You didn’t love me the right way. Now you are nothing to me, less than the air. These memories are gone. They might as well never have happened. You aren’t in these pictures anymore, like on that swing next to me, or there, trailing in my shadow. You’re gone.”

I feel the memories streaming out of me like ribbons. Every one lost, and I feel so empty. I feel this hook pulled out of me, the wind flying away. I feel the familiar confusion, knowing the things I’m asking are okay. He has never truly seen me, so why am I the one feeling guilty?

This is an old hurt, a hurt that spins, that rises and falls like water. A hurt so subtle that I can’t remember where it started. For most of my life, I didn’t know it was there. It was everywhere, and yet it never had a name or a touch or made a sound. It became structurally a part of me, like a vine winding around its pole. A hurt that is your friend, that lives in peace until you start to understand why it’s there.

A hurt that leaves no trace, except asking you to fade a little more each day. That’s not too much to ask, a simple price… until you’re gone.

“You sure know how to make someone who loves you have dark feelings for you. You push people away, don’t you realize that?”

There is no going back from this. You have felt it. You have tasted it. It is becoming more tangible, this pain. This pain is not you. It is them. You don’t need them; they need you. This type of person will always manipulate, project, and blame. Remind yourself what you’ve given. Remind yourself how hard you love. Taste your reality, a conviction you can stand on, a simple understanding that rises above everything else.

“It’s your loss,” he says. “You’ll always miss me. You’ll never have anything like me again.”

The wind picks up and it starts screaming. The calendar pages start to turn, and I am ushered back years and years. Now it is me devaluing my past, discarding this fucked-up belief system that has gotten me where I am. I strip the vines from the pole and they churn the soil, speeding along the ground, sprouting fruit. I face the horizon, and I know, I am nothing that has happened to me, and neither are you.

It is a beacon, and we know it — real love — when we see it. You can never be so lost that you won’t know what is good by the fruit it bears. All you have to do is silence the noise, the invisible enemy, the lies that masquerade as what they are not. Real love is simple and golden and sometimes broken, but you know it is real because it never disappears. Even now, love is everywhere.


Melissa Slayton is from Summerville, South Carolina, and has a degree in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. Her poems and stories can be found in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, San Pedro River Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Apalachee Review, Pinesong, South Carolina Yearbook, Rebelle Society, and the Artist Unleashed, among others. She is an assistant editor with Vine Leaves Press, and has attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and the Hub City Writing-In-Place Conference as the recipient of the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Summer Scholarship. She recently completed her memoir, A Long Time Lighting. You could contact her via her website.


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