I’ve been trying to come up with something. Ideas have flitted by but passion has been attached to not a single one of them. My mind, my heart, everything in and about me is caught on a hook. That hook is a girl that I lost a long time ago. That hook has me held so tight that I don’t even want to try to get free anymore. I just want to sit here and miss her. There’s nothing I want more, except maybe to have those dreamy days back. They’re gone, and I understand that. I miss them, and I imagine them over and over again, relishing the painful pleasure it brings me. It’s a strange kink in my hardware, but it is what it is. That’s the golden saying to wash the wound with water but no soap, no antibiotics. Just wash it out every couple of days with ‘it is what it is’ and all is well. The hook’s still got you and your day to day is met with many gasping breaths for air, and every happy moment is whitewashed by the reminder that better days came before. But, hey, it is what it is. Right?

            I find myself imagining her finding me at work, just stumbling across me, like the final scene from La La Land. I imagine freezing, time stopping. My coworkers look at me and ask if I’m alright, to which I say nothing. I just drop whatever I’m doing and go backstage to cry, or just recuperate. That’s as far as my imagination will take me. I can’t possibly assume how I would really react to seeing her again. I already became lame whenever I see that she’s viewed my social media posts. Every time I hear her name or see her name anywhere, it’s like being hit by a hammer in the belly. Nothing else could damage or heal me like this instance could. I just don’t know what would happen but I know it would either be the worst or best moment of my life. Surely we all know this feeling. The feeling that we’ve all got our own atom bomb just waiting to blow up our life.

            A couple of girls have come along since her too, but they’ve just been like substitute teachers in my favorite class. They were fine, until they weren’t. They were even great, until she came into my mind again. She came often. I felt guilty to be constantly comparing these poor girls to the past. You can’t beat the past, and there is no point in trying. If something or someone is coming along to be better, it or they will come, and you’ve got to let them. It’s just best to be. I tried to force myself back to where I was with someone new, and it just became artificial. Even they saw it. It wasn’t fair to them. It wasn’t fair to me, and it wasn’t even fair to the past, or the one that I so dearly miss. I can’t recreate those beautiful days and lovely nights, no matter how hard I try. I can’t turn back the clock. I can’t shape other people’s lives to relive my own. We aren’t just actors in a play.

            For a good little while, I didn’t think of her much at all. In the weeks following the break-up, I had compartmentalized my mind and I went on with my days. I was filled with vigor and I lived each and every day using that vigor to its last drop. Eventually, much to my surprise—though I shouldn’t have been—that vigor ran out. A lot of things happened that slowly cut me down to size. I was taken advantage of—yes, in that way—and I was lied to, cheated on, all while being put on the pedestal of ‘the ideal man.’ It was all very taxing, and eventually, I just collapsed. I’ve been trying to put the pieces together ever since. But, most of all, in this new state of brokenness, I’ve found that the void is still there. The void being a need for a nurturing, comforting figure in my corner. She was that for me. My mother was once that too, but she’s lost that ability. My mother hasn’t been comforting since I was a boy. When I find myself in my bed at night, I pull my pillow close, shut my eyes, and I imagine. I’m sure you can guess what I imagine. Just warmth. A sweet voice saying: “Everything’s alright. I’m here.” Just her.

            It’s been so long, and yet it keeps getting harder every day. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t met anyone who excites me in quite the way she did. It’s true that I haven’t met anyone, but I think that even if I do, this affliction would only serve to become even more troublesome. Now I go through life with a new fear. The fear that good days will come again, but because of what has happened, I won’t trust them. I know everyone and their mother would tell me not to be afraid, but I hadn’t been afraid before. I wasn’t afraid during those wonderful days. Those days sported a fearless version of me that could conquer the world. I was fearless, and yet it caught up to me, the reality that things just don’t last.

            So I find it is best to just go with not low or high expectations, but simply with no expectations at all. Don’t live to be disappointed or pleased. Just live. Just let things be. Don’t try to turn back the clock. Don’t stand still. Don’t force anything. Just go. Just keep swimming, or running, or whatever it is that is keeping you moving forward. Whatever keeps you going, let it keep you on your course. Stay that course, that forward course, and live along the way. It’s really the best to let it be. Remember, if you can’t help it—and I’m sure that no one can—and let it bring you what it will. Let it be. Look forward, and look backward. Look wherever you’d like, just so long as you’re still in motion. Think, cry, laugh, scream, and live, live, live. That’s all it is. It’s joy and it’s pain. It’s everything you feel, so keep on feeling. Let it be. Let it make you cry. Let it make you laugh. Let it make you happy. Let it make you sad. It is going to do all of these things, so let it. Love your brothers and your sisters, your mothers and your fathers. Do this for us that find it difficult to do so because loving has also hurt us so deeply. Remind us of why we continue to love despite what has happened, despite what our love has brought us. Live, even while we can’t. Live by example, so that those that have forgotten can remember. Because there is more to remember than just what was. We can remember how to keep living.

Joshua Best likes to write, specifically diary-styled fiction and non-fiction. He likes to think that there’s a certain amount of intimacy that he can create with words that always coming straight from a person, and not feel sometimes robotic from a narrator.