I wonder if you know yourself as well as I know me, dancing around late at night under the transient lighting of a whirlwind of cars and stars. Do you notice how fast everything moves? What about how far away I’m getting?

It seems like a bad idea to chase after you, so I don’t. I’ll wait for you to come to me with your mascara-stained cheeks and try to fold yourself into my arms. 

Help me. I’m breaking. 

I’ll coddle you for now but my eyes aren’t empathetic. They don’t swell with the surge of your tears, they don’t blink. They don’t care. 

Your voice can surge all it wants. All of you, in fact, can come dancing back from your trek onto the street. Chickens, by the name of the game. Every single one. 

By rights I probably would be too, if I had dared go out on the road. 

When cars whizz past and flash their high beams, you get frightened and stumble backwards. It makes sense for me to catch you, it seems natural. Until it doesn’t. Not anymore. 

You need my arms more than my arms need to be here. I wonder if you think this is all I have, if I can’t get to the other side of the street, if I don’t know which direction to turn. I wonder if you wonder if I know myself at all. 

But I’ll tell you one thing, sweet little chick-pea. I’ll give you one little piece of advice for you to mull over. 

You aren’t everything to me. 

I am. 

I’ll stand here and pretend I am fine with wiping your tears. I’ll stand here and pretend that this is the best I have, that dealing with your games are my job. I’ll stand here and pretend.

But my mind is farther away than you’ve ever gotten. Chick-pea, I’m past this road-block and hopping fences you can’t even see. Sweet little chick-pea. Soon you won’t be able to run back into my arms, and who will be there for you then? Chick-pea. I twist my mouth into a frown, plant lips on the red that oozes from your elbow where it hit the harsh gravel. Your blood is coppery for such a sweet face; you could probably fool someone else if you wanted to. Don’t let them taste your insides thoughㅡ it’s a bit too obvious.

Chick-pea. Be careful out there. My sweet chick-pea. Don’t forget you need to come back to me. 

Except when you run into the street, like every other time, and a car twirls you in your waltz, my feet surge. Unlike you, I know where they’re going. 

Chick-pea, I smile and your blood coats a shiny lipstick border, I hope you suffer. Suffer like the coward you areㅡ 

And I can dodge the cars because I know when they each come. Because I’ve observed the game. 

But the mascara gets into your eyes, and coats your vision with coal. Unfortunately cars don’t care for roadkill, chick-pea.

To me? That’s all you are.

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