for you, a love letter
i wish you knew what you wanted and i wish it was me. that you didn’t get the wandering blues and walk out the door, not hearing it click behind you leaving me with nothing but your empty aquarium. when the fish died, jumping out and onto the floor, you cried salt tears and they glistened there, perfectly round, on the desiccated bodies. but tears are not endless and you have none left for me. maybe you’ll come back someday, you tell me, and we can start anew. endings are beginnings are endings again. the tides swelling and crashing down before rising up, a cadence reminiscent of your breath on my hair as you slept beside me, your sadness leaching into my skin. you are afraid, i know, that you will never amount to anything, that you were made for the margins. i see you in every line, the white space between words before they blur together like your hands on my skin, moving faster and faster until heat dissolves the boundary between what is you and what is me. te quiero mucho you tell me, the liquid words flowing off your tongue and through my body, unable to hold them. it’s not until later i learn that te quiero can be used for anyone, that it’s te amo that means a special kind of love. as for me, i just tell you that i love you, words sucked into the filter of the empty fish tank, drowning in the soft whirring that continues long after you’ve already walked out the door.
I was born on the day your father died. As I woke up to hugs and kisses and wishes of ‘Happy Birthday,’ he was pressing the gas on his Porsche, forgetting that it was February in Nebraska, forgetting that ice can turn as black as the road. By the time I turned 5 at 3:29 PM he was in the hospital, a machine inflating his lungs and keeping him alive. You were the one who answered the phone: Muerto. A call not meant for you.
On my birthday, our first together, you text me you love me. You don’t call.
Caroline Fleischauer is a writer, scholar, and horse trainer from Ithaca, NY. She holds an MA in literature from the University of Wyoming where she is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction. A 2017 Fulbright Recipient, 2019 Honorable Mention in The Plaid Horse Equestrian Voices Contest, and a prose reader for The Adroit Journal, her work is forthcoming in The Lindenwood Review.
Photography by: Adi Goldstein