It begins innocently enough. Numbers are exchanged like trading cards. Eyelashes flutter and cheeks glow with the pink promise of something.
With shy smiles and a well-timed joke, you’re both lost in the madness. You toy with what it means and try out titles to see how they feel in your mouths, careful to stay casual, ever so casual but you’re underwater and crave the flood in your lungs.
And then, on a day like all the others, someone cuts ties. Frayed ends are left raw and undone. You either hold the scissors or watch the threads split. Your once-perfect something turns to nothing in an instant.
Later, in the quiet of your treacherous thoughts, the words of old ghosts linger.
You make me better.
Don’t ever leave me.
You are a goddess. Stunning. Adorable.
I can’t stop thinking about you.
Your hair is beautiful.
I would never lie to you.
Dance with me.
I’ll never forget you.
You’re driving me crazy.
I love your laugh.
I love you.
The magic has faded, and you collect these words like arrows. Pull them out of your heart and put them on paper, but they’ve pierced you all the same. Pierced you for good. Perhaps you’ll keep them. Mementos of impossible romances. Relics of sentiments you once treasured from men whose words turned to dust on their tongues.
Your fingers trace the sharp points, feeling the expertly crafted weaponry—as if polished and fashioned solely for your demise.
Long ago, you smiled as these arrows flew straight through your unguarded skin. Laughter spilled from your smart mouth and lovers stared as if you were made of starlight and it was all just pretend but you didn’t know that and scoffed at the thought of armor.
The pain came later.
The archers are gone. What you touch now are not fingertips or locks of hair or trembling lips, but so many useless, hollow, bloody