This is the last time, you think. I’m ending it next time.
These words circle through your head as you lie sprawled out in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He left a few minutes ago, quietly shutting your front door with a click as loud as a gunshot.
The silence he leaves behind swells like a symphony, and tears unexpectedly well up in your eyes.
You take a deep, stuttery breath. The smell of sex lingers in the air, its headiness already starting to fade into something synthetic and rubbery. The insides of your thighs are slick with sweat and a mixture of other bodily fluids; you reach for a wad of tissues, shifting to avoid wet spots.
You feel dirty.
This isn’t the first time he’s left you this way — naked, alone, the imprints of his fingers still fading from your hips. It’s always the same, with him leaving the moment he’s caught his breath. Once you tried to kiss him on his way out, but he turned his cheek and squeezed your shoulder apologetically, his way of establishing the terms of this arrangement.
You think back to all the times you said yes when he texted you at midnight asking if he could stop by on his way home, and shame floods through you, hot and sticky. You brought it upon yourself, the emptiness you feel right now. You let him disrespect you, let him use you, let him peel your clothes off and touch you in ways you don’t want to be touched. It’s all you’ll ever get. It’s all you deserve.
Someone loved you once. You’re certain about that. At one point someone pulled you in close after sex, brushed your sweaty hair out of your eyes, and whispered, “Good night, I love you.” At one point you fell asleep nestled in someone’s arms, bare legs tangled with his, cheek resting against the gentle drum of his heartbeat. At one point someone made you feel warm and safe and needed.
But that love came and went, and when it went, it took a lot of you with it. You’ve forgotten how to want things. Sex used to set every nerve ending on fire, and now it just makes you want to curl up into yourself and wait until it’s over. You thought maybe sleeping with different people would help, but each new person is nothing more than different shapes and angles and rhythms that still leave you feeling dead inside.
He doesn’t care about you, of course, but sometimes you like to imagine what it’d be like if he did. If his eyes glazed over with the warm, faraway look that appears when he talks about the girl he loves but can’t have every time someone asked him about you. Maybe if he saw you the way he sees her, you might have something.
He doesn’t, though. He doesn’t care that your boss mentioned you might be up for a promotion, or that you tried the most amazing falafel the other day, or that you’re thinking of moving to New York soon. The things he says to you — god your body is so hot, you make me so hard, fuck yes I want your mouth — are the extent of his feelings for you.
You drag your fingers across the old, dried stains on your sheets, idly trying to scratch them off.
Next time, you think, next time it’s over.