WHAT COMES AFTER BY LINDSEY SILKEN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 12
I never told Tanner how much of me went with him when things ended. We didn’t talk for weeks after, and when we did it was too late to say anything.
I got used to sleeping in my own bed every night. Or in the studio on a futon when I didn’t have the energy to go home. I got used to the sad quiet that slept in my studio during the day after I awoke and the way ideas came from new directions in a different code.
I dated other people, and figured that he did, too. I thought about him when a date got to the point of taking off our clothes. The men I went out with were incompetent, insecure despite the way they acted with their clothes on. I felt like everything I said was a script. I talked about galleries where I wanted my work sold, even though I was twenty-five and had no idea where I wanted to go. I went out with real estate agents, law students, computer programmers who were a few or sometimes, several years older. They were the strangers who buy you drinks at bars. The ones you don’t actually date. I ate at nice restaurants and was not allowed to pay the bill. I introduced one of them to my parents. His name was Steve.
With Steve, I thought I was getting closer to my adult life. And then I realized that most of the time, he made me feel like a shirt that didn’t fit its owner. We fought, and one time, after we got the words out, he said, “I don’t hurt you, right?”
I was confused, wiping tears.
“Have I ever hit you, Sammy? Even yelled at you?”
“Of course not.”
“So what’s your problem?” he said.