Jennifer Horkovich '18
“Do you know why you stayed?”

In the moments after I did it, I could feel the pulsing of my heart everywhere. My body was shaking. I could barely catch my breath. I sat there, staring at the wall. Unfeeling in my mind but feeling too much in my body. When I finally calmed myself down, I realized that I had to run away from him. I wanted to stay, but I couldn’t because if I did he would be able to find me again and suck me back into his being. I know I could not afford going through that pain anymore. As much as I said otherwise, I know I would go through it again and again and again. He was all I ever wanted. It wasn’t likely that I would stay away.
There was too much of me invested in him. My friend knew this side of me, but for some reason, she did not understand my relationship with him. I guess I never understood it myself and still don’t.

“Words have control over people. The right words can rally them. They can make you cry at a book’s ending. They can make you fall in love even when you never planned on it. His words made me feel as if I was walking on water. I felt important. I felt pretty. For the first time in my life, I felt distinctively happy. Like I could be loved and love was all I needed. I never realized that those same words could lead to so much pain and suffering. So many nights of crying and not being able to breathe. My body was numb, but my mind would not stop yelling.

I know he tried to be supportive and there for me. I never thought anyone would be able to put up with me for that long, even if it was on and off. He saw me for who I was without the mask of the day to day.
He was my everything. I spent hours talking to him, trying to make him pleased with me. Sometimes, I think he liked watching me perform in front of him, like an owner being proud of his dog jumping on its
hind legs for a treat.

One time, we were walking around in some huge garden. He paused by the roses and said to me, “you know you’re kind of like those roses.”

“How so?” I replied.

“You’re resilient. They die every year when the winter storms come in and yet they grow back even more beautiful.”

“And you know what else they do?” I said.

“What?” he smiled.

I continued to walk. “Prick you when you get to close.”

He caught up to me and spun me around, pulling me close to him, “Yeah? But guess what?” I dared not to answer with him so close. “Sometimes it’s worth it if you get the flower at the end.” I think it was in
this moment, through the cocky smirk in his eyes and firm grip on my waist, that he knew that he had me. I still spent time trying to run away and escape my inevitable obsession and falling, but he definitely knew. Why did I stay? He had me on a leash. He held the collar right out in front of me and I jumped into it willingly.

I definitely consider myself more of a wild animal. Before him, I roamed, never crossed the same path multiple times. When I eventually decided to linger, I got caught.  I desperately wish for freedom now, but I can’t escape. I want to get out and run with my pride. Carefree. Instinctive. But, poachers exist. Humans exist. They ruin everything they touch. They kill and destroy or they capture and cage. It’s difficult to find beauty in a world that has been consumed by those who don’t belong there.

I knew I never belonged anywhere, but I’m not going to lie. When I was curled up next to him on the couch, his hand stroking my hair and his other arm around my shoulders, I felt like I was a part of something good for once. All I wanted my entire life was to be loved and feel loved. These moments were the only times I achieved that. I thought that having this fix would end the pain or at least lessen it, but I was so very wrong. It ripped a hole in my heart that I had tried so desperately to at least momentarily fill. I felt nothing. The corrosive nature of any temporary salvation destroyed and widened the hole until I barely had any of myself left. I eventually collapsed, unable to do more than feed myself to the vultures above.  I understood that the hole was meant for me to love myself but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force myself to do it. This realization made it worse, my lack of worth festering in my mind. I couldn’t do it and I hated myself even more for that.

I wanted to not exist anymore but just as much if not more I still want him to hold me saying that everything will be alright and he will never leave me again. Even more than that I want him to mean it. I fed off of the attention that he gave me. I loved his praise, his smile, his laugh. But now, I never want to be seen again and curl up in the corner because I cannot look at myself. I blame myself because I love him and he left me.”

Well, that was what I want to say whenever anyone asks me that question. The words formulate well in my mind. My mouth opens and closes, the words trying to work their way out. I can’t speak because I am too scared to cry. Too scared to look pathetic for loving him when I knew it would end and that he, no matter how much I prayed other wise, will never love me back. I try to force the words out, but ultimately I always opt for the easier answer. “I don’t even know, love,” I shrug. “I don’t even know.”
-2017 Magazine

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