You told me your life story in snippets while sitting on the countertops in the art room and on the benches in the outdoor cafeteria area. You laid everything out so plainly to me: your abusive home life, the horrific bullying you faced in your previous school, the fact that the noose you tied one New Year’s Eve broke around your neck. You told me I was your lucky break and that I was the person that dulled the disappointment of that night. I quickly concluded that I was going to be your saviour, just like you were mine. You took me, naïve and desperate as I was, and gave me a place. No longer was I some forsaken creature, pining over what could’ve been with a girl that I was better off being friends within the end; nor was I a bitter beast, angry at the outcome of a two-month fling that made me lock me away so much of myself for no reason. Once again, I was the girl that took flak from nobody…and for that, I thanked you.
I have many more things to thank you for too.
When you mentioned that you were “polygamous by nature,” I asked you to try being my one and only. Asking turned into begging and then into silence, and when that happened, you took it as a yes. You started attempting to court a girl whose birthday party you attended, leaving me alone to wonder if I was good enough for you. When you came back to me sulking, I expressed that I was uncomfortable with the whole thing, and you gave me some sort of non-response and put your arm around me. It felt safe and familiar. Over and over again, you went behind my back to find a third for the polygamous relationship that existed in your head, and over and over again, I expressed my discomfort. The polite expression turned into breakdowns, and then breakdowns faded into silence. Again, you took that as a yes. You talked to me about the girls you were flirting with online, all while telling me I was your one and only in a single breath. I allowed this because you were my saviour. As long as you didn’t take it anywhere past that, I reckoned it was going to be okay.
I have to thank you for that. You taught me my first important lesson in dating you: that my word wasn’t actually my word. No meant yes…and yes means come over to my house to tutor me in Math.
Oh, of course, I didn’t forget those tutoring sessions either. You taught me how to solve for x and that I didn’t have any “gaming instincts” as I struggled with the FPS and heavily combat-oriented games you were such a big fan of. When you got bored of stripping down my poor tactics and split-second too-late reactions, you took to stripping me out of my clothes. My lesson learned I let you. Only when I pushed your head away from my chest did you finally relent, and the moment you left my house, I threw up and wondered if this was what being saved meant.
The second thing you taught me: I was a body. I was a limp thing that you reanimated merely out of the kindness of your heart, and it was only fair that you indulge in its pleasures. It was an honour to have your lecherous lips on mine, to have your fangs poised to strike against my neck, to have you leave your slime on my body. Thank you, it is truly an honour I will never forget. I remembered it every time I stepped into the bathroom for a shower, every time you looked at me at school, every waking moment of my life up until this very moment. It is something that I have struggled to forget—such is your influence on me. I suppose you’d be pleased to know that you were always so adamant about getting your credit where it was due.
You brought them up. Told me, “Honey, you have to give them a second chance,” and I listened because you had taught me so well. I went and did as you requested. Slowly, I rebuilt my relationship with them, forgiving but not quite forgetting just yet, and you watched me with a smile on your face. You told me you were so proud of me and that I was doing such a good thing. I was happy, so happy: finally, I was doing something right by you.
And then they pulled me aside one December day, much like this one, and then told me the truth. What you did to me, you did to them, and they couldn’t handle it. So they told me everything, and then just like that, I remembered who I was before I met you.
So, thank you for teaching me this most important lesson: that I am not someone that needs saving. I am someone who does the saving. You helped me save the person in my mirror, and with your help, I turned her into someone I could finally look in the eye.
For that, I cannot thank you enough.
A recent high school grad, Laya plans to fill her gap year with clay sculptures, homebaked goods…and writing, of course! If you can’t find her hunched over her laptop retyping those three sentences for the tenth time, you’ll probably find her in the lush hunting grounds of Robinsons Supermarket or Daiso.