By Michelle Tin

Part I. Wonderland

I don’t trust you at all.

This isn’t about why we broke up. This is about walks in the park. It’s mix CDs and Texas. It’s about cigarette breaks and Nashville and drinking. It’s about hot chocolate and earrings and that long black dress. It’s your music, your guitar picks. This is about Taylor Swift and Guns N’ Roses. Whiskey. It’s about your grandfather’s watch. It’s about sex, and sleeping in the same bed, and bad decisions. This is about the cat. This is about forgiveness. Pills. Weed. Choices. Boxes. Counseling. Lying. Driving. Cheating. Button down shirts in the drawer.
Love, or something.

Still don’t know what love is.


Everything would be on fire. You said I had to write you letters. And I wanted to be that girl. That girl who wrote him letters. What are you doing here? That night, I could barely sleep. Your lips and nose were pressed against my forehead, and I was terrified. My heart was beating so fast I could hear it in my head and I wondered if you could hear it too. I tried to concentrate on breathing. You had your arm draped over me, fast asleep. Or passed out drunk. But I forgot about everything else except for how close we were lying beside one another and how scared I was. I kept thinking, I love you, I love you, I’m in love with you. You’re the one that I want.

I could be in love with someone like you. We talked for hours that first day. Even back then I was scared. I should have been happy or relieved, but instead I felt fear as I drove away. I thought that we had a connection, something real. And I was scared because I thought that I was done. I thought I had found the rest of my life. It’s finally arrived. I was terrified by how open my heart was at that moment – or rather, I dreaded what would happen to it. And I was right.


I had unrealistic expectations. I was so high that I could feel the blood running through my veins from the inside. And something about feeling what everything in the world felt like reminded me –  I am so fucking angry at you. I wonder if I’ll ever really forgive you. I used to envy her so much that I hated her. I envied the love and commitment and I envied that you had it with her and not me. Then I found out what you did. And for some reason, I don’t care.

I wish I’d done everything on earth with you.

I was so high that I could feel my heart breaking from the inside. I was livid. I am livid. And I am so fucking angry at you. It’s been such a weird year. Maybe I do forgive you, but I’ll never trust you. Sometimes I’m scared that I’ll never get over you. But sometimes it’s comforting – the idea of some kind of forever. I want to spend more time with you than I have.

I wonder if you’re just using me for sex. All you’ve ever done is fuck me. I can’t imagine why it would be different now. You can’t change him. But honestly, I’d rather you use me than not be in my life at all.

You have an inexplicable way of making me feel small. And because of that, I’ll follow you anywhere. It used to break my heart when you wouldn’t touch me like I was yours in public, but now it’s kind of like a game. The waiting. You act like you don’t really know me in front of your friends, but I know how you treat me when we’re alone. It’s our little secret.


I feel nothing. I, myself, have become a hole. I’ve done terrible things and I feel no guilt. I pursue men who hurt me over and over because I can’t feel happiness. Part of me hates this numbness, this cynicism. I hate the hatred inside of me. The jealousy, the insecurity, the paranoia. All of my scars are on the inside.

I wonder how things will end in flames this time. And the time after that. I have to protect my empty heart. I’m trying. But I’m just waiting for the sky to fall.

So I’ve become emotionally unavailable. I wonder how I got like this.

And one fine day…


Out of the Ash, I Rise With My Red Hair
And I Eat Men Like Air

Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus


Part II. The Red Queen

You motherfucking piece of shit.

So let’s talk about why we broke up. It seems absurd now to remember when I thought you could be the one. To imagine myself having a future with you. Changing my life for you. She was like fire.

As always, I ignored the warning signs. I had my girl blinders on. I let myself believe in the fairy tale that I never thought I could have with someone. And so did the other girls you baited and strung along. The other girls whose minds you planted thoughts of forever into.

You told me our kids would be beautiful. You asked her what kind of engagement ring she wanted. You said we could live off base if we were married. You told her that breaking up with her was the worst mistake of your life. But all you really wanted was someone. Since I have to be in love with someone. Anyone. And now I’m not going to stop.

Because you see, I am like fire. I’m volatile and spiteful and I’ll burn anything that dares come too close to me. And I’m not finished with you.

Goodbye until tomorrow. What if things had been different? Who do you belong to? You…you’re not him. You are a caricature of him. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I have no choice. You always have a choice. This is what you’re choosing.


I wish I could tear out the part of me that loves you. Just rip it out, bloody and aching and tired. So tired. And put it somewhere safe. Somewhere where it can’t hurt us and we can’t hurt it anymore.
You’re just an awful person sometimes. You’re selfish and arrogant. And I hate that you love her. I hate the way you look at her.

But I’m selfish too. We are awful people. That’s why we make each other miserable. What have we done to each other? It’s the worst kind of destruction. It’s systematic, it’s repetitive, and it’s predictable. And it’s just dull enough that it’s forgivable. Forgettable. And so it happens again and again. I push, you pull. You push, I pull. I cling to you. I hate you. You hate me. I love you. I miss you. I want you. I need you. Like crazy.

What will we do?

You’re the man that I’ll love forever. My Big Love Person. The love of my life. The love that will never love me back in the way that I need to be loved. Because you can’t. You just can’t. But I will never not love you. It’s never going to stop, it’s never going to go away. I just have to live with it. We have to live with it, apart from one another. I have so much love for this person that I can’t talk to because we make each other’s lives miserable.

Once we’re done growing. Once we’ve sufficiently hurt each other. And one fine day…


I don’t want to be your secret.

His dirty little secret. Your dirty little secret. You were the first guy I ever slept with and you were just using me for sex. You strung me along because you loved to be loved and you didn’t have the balls to tell me that you didn’t want me. You told me that you couldn’t offer anyone a commitment because you wanted to keep sleeping with other people, especially her. Her. The girl you decided you couldn’t live without. The girl who left her fiancée for you. The girl who is now your fiancée. That was the very beginning for me. The very first guy. I wonder what the very end will look like.

What else would I be, if not trouble? I never wanted to be the neurotic girl who demanded anything of you. Or anyone, really. I wish, more than anything in the world, that I could be enough for you. That I could be the only one you need. And no one else. Choosing one meant losing all the rest. I’m always waiting for someone to choose me. Waiting. I need something to keep me grounded. Something to tie me to the earth. Even trapped under the bell jar, I’m still afraid of floating away. I should have been strong enough to give you up. To stop chipping away at myself. For a bit of blood…

We are making a mockery of human relationships. We all are. You, me, him, her. Us. Them. Everyone. Everyone is broken. Everyone is lying. Everyone is bullshit. I am someone who is looking for love/Still don’t know what love is. At this point, it’s very difficult for me to determine whether a guy is just using me for sex or not. Even the nicest ones know exactly what to do and say to get what they want before they throw me away. Four years. Four years of being disposable, replaceable, and temporary. She will never learn.

Sex is usually the only thing these guys want, anyway. So I might as well give it to them and have some fun for a night instead of sending everyone home empty handed. There is nothing left of myself to chip away from. So why does it matter?

I wonder how things will end in flames this time.

Michelle Tin is currently a graduate student at the University of Alabama. She was previously the assistant editor at Her Campus Notre Dame and continues to write in her free time. Michelle can be reached by email at