Yours Truly: Based on a True Story

Raven Ancar

This short story is part of the Black Artist Spotlight in the Tulane Hullabaloo’s Black History Month edition. It is authored by Raven Ancar.

Hey. 

Sorry, I do not mean to be dry. I just don’t know how to address you anymore. I promise you, this is my last letter. And then you will finally get what you’ve always wanted. 

But I just have one question: 

Do you remember that typical American summer day we had? It was as if the sun only shined on us just so your freeform locs could dazzle and so I could look upon them. That summer I took a 45 minute plane ride to the middle of nowhere just so I could let my pecan ice cream melt and eat all of your lemonade sorbet. You were more likely to share feelings than food, like most men you didn’t really enjoy either, but you loved me then. You wore this black Hawaiian shirt with little pink boats on it with your sandals and the bracelet your aunt got you for Christmas. That bracelet was the nicest thing you owned but you still insisted on paying for my two scoops of ice cream that day. I never wanted your money or lack thereof. 

We strolled down the sidewalk and I stopped to take a picture of you. You posed awkwardly with a side smile. I never told you at the time, but I saw you lean over and peep at my phone to see if I would post it or not. “Hey, save that for memories … only because you didn’t get my good side.” I shrugged it off and thought you were just being insecure again. 

We walked across an old bridge that cracked with every step. Every time I hesitated, you held my hand even tighter. “I will always protect you.” I wish I would have known the man of my dreams was really the monster in my closet. The water was brown like the Mississippi. Every now and then a tiny fish would pop up and go back down. All I have ever known was concrete and apartment complexes so to see nature such as this blew my mind. I pointed it out like a kid selecting their prize after winning a game at a carnival. I thought the world was so beautiful then. 

You grabbed my hand and pulled it to your heart. I felt your heartbeat beating fast. I thought you were going to say it then. But it wasn’t until later that day in the crappy hotel you rented for us to stay and I was crying because the protagonist in our favorite anime series finally died. Tears ran down my face as if they were competing on who would hit my clavicle first. “I love you.” I turned around in awe. Is this the moment? Is this what my mother told me to aspire to be? She groomed me to be a wife before I was a person or a contributing member of society. She only believed women’s contributions were their feminie instincts and their ovaries. To her she would describe this as a my peeking moment. Oh, how disappointed she was in me when she found out you cheated. I am pretty sure my eyes dilated at that moment because you never repeat yourself. “Celeste, I love you so fucking much.” Little did you know I loved you the moment you forgot to bring your textbook, paper, and pencil in our calc class on the first day of school and you asked to share mine. 

I find myself forgetting about these moments. The pain is not as bad as the shame. The truth is you didn’t blind side me, my love. My Jimmy Cricket was screaming at me in our last few exchanges. She’s pretty silent these days. It was when you stopped asking me how my day was. We stopped watching anime together. You only got gummy worms and you knew I hated bugs in every shape and form. I think it’s because you stopped sharing. Then you deleted my pictures of me off your Instagram. Then you stopped saying I love you. So I followed my mother’s advice and I started washing your clothes and cleaning your house. Being a best friend to your best friends and satan to whoever you scorned. I did not want to give you a reason to leave me like I gave my father. And I didn’t. The saga has ended but the mystery continues. 

How could your feelings melt faster than my pecan ice cream on an American summer day?

I knew one day our love would end. Whether it was death or your pride I wasn’t sure. But never did I think it would be because you stopped loving me. I don’t know what I did to you to stop loving me and to start hating me. Because only hate could fuel the choices you made. I think it’s because you hate yourself and couldn’t understand why I chose to love you anyway.

The first time and last time I saw you cry was when I was leaving your hometown at the airport. “I don’t want you to go.” I think it was less about me and more about you being afraid to be alone. I was your rock in a weary land. I hugged you and you kissed my forehead the way you kiss your sick child on their birthday; it was loving but filled with pity. Then I saw you drive away in your truck and I walked toward security. I knew you loved me when you let me drive it around that day we swam at the community pool you learned to swim in as a kid even though the white locals looked at us as if we didn’t belong there.

It was two dollars for adults and a dollar for kids. I remembered the first time we went and they kicked us out before we even got to touch the water. The storm clouds started to roll in. You went up to that kid working his first summer job and demanded your four George Washington’s back. I was so embarrassed. You were so fucking cheap and prideful because we returned the next day with the same four dollars. But I am glad because it was beautiful.

You held me close as we floated in the baby blue waters. Kids were splashing, life guards were reprimanding, but nothing mattered when I was in your arms floating because the weight of your love grounded me. I drowned in your light that shined brighter than the cajun sun. I could have slipped away at any moment from the sharp stares of disapproving stay at home moms but you held me too tight. Our eyes were locked and our eyes lashed overlapped as my legs and arms wrapped around your hips and neck. Your wrinkled wet hands touched my soul.

I tried to describe this moment to my mother. My parents met at a community pool around our age and I didn’t want to trigger her. She’s worked so hard to forget my father ever took a breath.

I thought about all of this as I was removing my shoes and placing my laptop in a separate bin. “Celeste! Bae! Where are you?” I turned around to see you running up the stairs. My prince charming comes to temporarily rescue me from my reality waiting for me at my landing gate. This was the first time you kissed me like a woman. Like I was your woman. Like I was the only woman. Like how my mother told me an unmarried lady-like girl should not be kissed. It was so romantic and cliché and an inconvenience to the TSA waiting to process my luggage, but we were timeless.

I think about you when I swim. I think about you when I read Japanese subtitles. I think about you in my nightmares. I think about how you held my hand that summer. I think that I will always love you no matter how hard I try not to. I think everyday I will think about you less and less, but you will never completely escape me, my love. I think I forgive you, Kaisa Wiseman.

The last thing you said to me was “I think you just loved me more.” But it wasn’t love. I respected you more. I considered your feelings more not because you were my partner, and I vowed to protect them, but because you were a person.

You don’t know what love is. You were infatuated.

I want you to know that love is worth it at any cost. Even the heavy cost of a broken heart. I would have surrendered my soul just to feel that way again. But I don’t have to, because I feel it every time I look in the mirror. So thank you.

Thank you for your neglect because it showed me how to hold myself at night. Your disgust showed me how attractive I am. Your cowardliness showed me how strong I could be. Thank you for your deceit because it showed me how to be honest. The rejection taught me that my opinion is the only one that matters. Thank you for being heartless because it forced my heart to grow larger. Your abuse taught me my body is sacred. Thank you for your hatred because it made me see that my love is endless and doesn’t depend on reciprocity. Thank you for everything because it was your ignorance to my pain that showed me I was capable of love.

No need to reply. I know you hate sharing. This is my final goodbye. Yours Truly,

Your First Love