This is the thing about forgetting:
For weeks you bury your face in the clothes you wore when he was near and the smell is a comfort and a torture. You decide that the torture is not worth the comfort so you leave them draped across the back of a chair and place things on top of them to stop yourself until one day you shove your hands through the pile until your fingers wrap around the fabric and you yank it free only to realize it was pointless. Even his ghost is gone.
The next thing that leaves is the way his voice looked in the dark. Those few sentences become blurred and rough around the edges. What you remember drops in your stomach in a different way.
You run your fingers over your bottom rib and remember his lips there. You remember that instant, that moment, because it was different. It had never happened before. It seemed special, it seemed like it was yours. Then, you realize you can’t remember what side it was. And it mattered. That was what you were supposed to remember.
You forget his hands behind his head, his shut eyes. You don’t forget the feeling of failure. That you remember. You know that will never go away.
Somewhere in the middle of all the forgetting you remember how you held your arms together. How he seemed surprised at how pale you were in the industrial glow. You want to think this made you special. You know it didn’t.
This becomes your ritual: you curl up on the bathroom floor clutching your head and tell yourself repeatedly that it is over. It is finished. It will not happen. Stop it. Just stop it. You have trained yourself for years to slip into that place, a place where he is with you. It has always been your comfort, but it is gone. You tell yourself that it is gone. Stop it. Just stop. But you can’t—you refuse.