The Ring by Inès Giudici

I used to tell myself that everything would be okay. I’m still waiting to be right. I poured myself a glass of wine every night. I indulged in the routine. I loved you through it. Do you realize the weight we push on our own shoulders?

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

The apartment was always empty. The furniture had no past. I would write sitting on a chair that had never seen you. You used to offer me cigarettes. It made me love you more. Now, I smoke alone.

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

You would rest your head on my shoulder. If I didn’t smile, that’s how you made me. How did I make you smile? I can’t remember. I’d bring my glass of wine to the window. My eyes always settled on the places you used to take me to. The strip club wasn’t too far. I wouldn’t have known where to go on my own.

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

Your saliva bled deep into yourself. You rattled your throat. I thought it was the smoke. You blamed the city. It wasn’t the city. I would cross my arms and stare.

The neighbour above us watered his potted plants. I knew from the drizzle over the windows. I pretended it was rain. You had gone off to work early. I had switched the wine for coffee. The water lingered and slid off the glass.

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

I’d repeat for myself how the name you’d given me rolled off your tongue. Whenever you said it, I was convinced more and more that it was my name. When I referred to my dead name, you called me a bad girl. At first, I thought that “bad girl” was yet a new name for myself, even. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The old memories lingered like the rain on the window panes. I poured myself into you too much.

“She doesn’t mind,” you told your friend. You both snickered, as if you were in on a secret I was not privy to. You made me feel stupid, but that’s how you liked me in bed.

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

I blew my nose often. The tears dried fast. (You never saw them, thankfully). I burned alive. I became the girl in pieces. You loved setting me up.

You turned your fist, palm upwards.

Inside your hand was nested a wedding ring. I wasn’t born anew that day. I melted into your hands. I was nothing without your hands around my throat, I’m still nothing. Now, at least, I’m nothing without you.

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