A Weathered-Down Relationship

We skipped autumn that year.

I remember there was an unbearable heat blasting through classroom windows and sweaty bras. I even remember half-off iced lattes on Thursdays, and the little rings of condensation the cups left as murky water oozed into hot surfaces. It was October, but the month held not a trace of fall.

Then the winter crept up on us like a blackhead—there is no zit cream for the cold.

We didn’t know it, but the weather would fashion something disgusting for the year. While all of us were busy being baffled by such drastic changes in our daily outfit decisions and coffee order temperatures, mindless battles were occupying a particular student’s brain. It climbed into his covers and rotted him with an ice that could freeze Jack Frost himself. He grew worn, tired, but we were all tired.

When those cherry blossoms bloomed, we were more than relieved the first wave of spring had washed over the university—but we didn’t know we’d have to watch her relinquish. White flags just weren’t her thing, and she didn’t think she’d ever be waving them in front of him.

She came downstairs with a flowery dress and her hair curled to a tee. It was natural: she had beauty spilling out of her pores, even with an unwashed face. And she danced into the doorway with silver tequila and a sudden sense of pride.

He didn’t like that. He hadn’t been liking that for the past three months, much less liking anything at all. So he blamed it on her crazy, neurotic sense of control, and antagonized her ill-temper to prove a point that hid behind contemptuous reasons: if he made her into the monster he claimed her to be, then he’d be a saint to get rid of such ugly. But he was deflecting something nasty within him, something he couldn’t shed along with the changing of the seasons.

They kissed once that morning. Affectionate, but devoid of something. Like a winter’s tree stripped of its coat of harlequin leaves. She chased his sourness down with liquor and a coffee brewed for the morning. Left it all behind with a wink and a sudden attention to his aberrant stillness. I saw the black that crept into the corners of her eyes. It was like she could feel the cold, no matter how warm it was starting to get.

And so, when he dropped her, when he pretended her existence no longer mattered and her love was no longer requited—and no one was to feel any different—she cracked, like dry skin under winter’s sun. Daylight was just finding its new air, burning with brilliance, but he had shoved her back into the stale shadows of a groundhog’s better days. And I watched her suffocate under hot tears and the emotional barbell that was our blatant disregard for her humanity. I watched and said nothing, felt nothing—and, eventually, became nothing.

She didn’t forgive us for abandoning her like he did: forgiveness was foreign to her blood. She materialized her anger, threw fists, and got ugly. She didn’t get to sweat out the betrayal under the incoming summer’s heat. She just existed, from one season to another, hoping to catch a glimpse of the day where winter would brew the same bitterness inside of her, perhaps numbing it all.