The best way to die

December is a cold month, an old month. It is tired and weary and its bare branches wave goodbye as they suffocate under the beautiful, white snow that gleams with hope, that promises a beginning after the end. But it is still an end. Everyone always writes about falling in love, but nobody ever writes about falling out of love.

I have never fallen out of love before. I have had it taken away, suddenly, had my entire heart wrenched out of my chest and immediately replaced with a stone which hurts when it beats and pumps cold blood. I have had love taken away, but it was a gunshot straight down my throat – quick and easy – a painless death, they call it. I have never fallen out of love before, but I imagine it would be more like drowning.

I saw a couple at the Greyhound station today. Being my usual nosy self, I watched them out of the corner of my eye, fabricating stories, composing tales of tragic romance. They were in their fifties, I think, probably been married for twenty years or so, sitting at a table in front of the sad little concession stand that sold pretzels and hot dogs and soda that slowly rots your teeth. Their shoulders were touching, their thighs side by side, their chairs an inch apart, and he was singing. His skin was dark, his face worn and slightly obscured by graying facial hair, and he was wearing frameless glasses, an old baseball cap, sweatpants, and a windbreaker. A pretty average guy, at first glance, but by god, his voice caught my attention even from several tables away. I listened secretly, peeked over occasionally, smiled to myself as I saw him play his imaginary piano and lean into his wife, serenading her.

But then I saw her eyes. There was not even the hint of a sparkle, the tiniest glimmer of love! This man, whose voice I imagine won her over many years ago, was giving her a romantic private concert, every girl’s not-so-secret dream, and yet this woman was completely indifferent. She just sat there, in her own damn world, propping up a bored face with her fist, as his voice echoed in the space around her. Is that love? I wondered to myself. Is that what love looks like in the month of December?

I have always had an irrational fear of water. I am the lame person at the beach who won’t go more than ten feet into the ocean because I think it will betray me when I start to enjoy myself, flip me on my back and fill my lungs with cold, salty terror. I don’t want to drown. I never want to drown.

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