I bought a copy of Empire Records for your birthday because even though you say it is your favorite movie you do not own the DVD. The smile on your face revealing dimples at full exposure (two curves amplifying impact) when you unwrap it at the details I had retained. But when you tried to watch it later that week, peeled open the stiff shrink wrap, sliced through the barcode label keeping edges stuck tight, and finally popped open the case you found it empty. A fluke, some oversight in packaging. You brought it back to me at my insistence. I was hoping to find the receipt and argue for its exchange, but for one reason or another kept putting it off and off until we were no longer speaking. The hollow shell sitting on my shelf long after its return value expired.
I sent you an email after one of those arguments that leave you equal parts regretful and enraged, the kind that cloud your vision with the built-up saline sorrow you refuse to release. I misspelled your name, my right index finger slipping northwest of its mark, but because your family uses their own server instead of getting a mailer-daemon message your brother forwarded it to you after reading for himself my words fraught with insecure identity as object of your desire. He had no context for the anger and your family began to hate me just as much as mine hated you. I deleted that message like I deleted everything else, but you always claimed to have saved every text and note, every electronic rendering of my voice, and I wonder if that’s still true. I wonder how accurate the statement that nothing offered up online is ever really gone, and where my words to you might be floating now. Tracing uncharted lands inhabited by lost longing.
You used to work at Hastings, but it was probably the presence of your former coworker, your ex-fling that drew you back. I followed you as we walked through the rows of records and media iconography. I ended up buying a shirt stamped with the likeness of Marilyn Monroe, not because I was a real fan—not yet—not having seen any of her movies but because of her beauty. I thought her face across my size-shifting belly and underwhelming breasts might make me beautiful too. I bought an 80s CD, my favorite decade, and all nostalgia when you’re a 90s kid who is only allowed to tune into music of the past. I sang to “Video Killed the Radio Star” for far too long without appreciating anything but the sound. Before you dropped me off, we parked in a vacant lot so we could kiss with no one watching, though now I know you probably wanted to let her see and maybe even wanted her to be me, but I wasn’t ready or wise enough to realize. If you welcomed my lips as current conquest or stand-in.
I lay to rest the parts of me still leaking—seeking you. I place a head on satin cushion and tell her there’s no purpose found in loving the unlived. I cross arms across a chest in honor of your body along her breadth, lips sealed against memory of your mouth and its specific heat—at brink of burning. All longing of heart and hands sealed beneath the coffin lid.
Melissa Nunez lives and creates in the caffeinated spaces between awake and dreaming. She makes her home in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas, where she enjoys observing, exploring, and photographing the local wild with her family. She writes an anime column at The Daily Drunk Mag. She is also a staff writer for Alebrijes Review and Yellow Arrow Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter: @MelissaKNunez.