I think you owe me something.
There was nothing holding Taeyeon back anymore, because there was nothing holding her at all. At nights she lay alone beneath a blanket, head cupped by a pillow, and nothing could touch her. It was just her, alone, by herself. Untouchable, untouched.
And she placed blame.
It really was Tiffany’s fault. Everything was Tiffany’s fault. Meeting her, falling in love with her, breaking her again and again – everything was Tiffany’s fault.
She wanted it back. Her heart, her time, her strength; she wanted it all back, and Tiffany was the one who had taken it all, everything Taeyeon had and everything Taeyeon was. She took it. She smashed it. She left it at her feet. And Taeyeon wanted it back.
A part of me refuses to believe you.
If only she had this sense earlier. Something in her could have stepped between them. Something could have told her to watch out and retreat.
Something could have wrapped around her so that she wasn’t able to break when Tiffany dropped her.
You bring me back
Taeyeon felt breathless, on the verge of tipping over, lying down in the centre of the bed with Tiffany right beside her. They laughed, their faces seemed close to splitting from their smiles, and that was what Taeyeon thought happiness was – because of what they had, she thought happiness was a love that bound so tightly it strangled.
It was something in the way Tiffany held her while they slept; the comfort, the safety, the softness and smoothness of skin against skin. Loose, but not so loose, because Taeyeon felt undeniably that it was a grip that did more than hold her. It took her.
She loved that feeling. It was as if Tiffany wanted her so much that she didn’t just want to have her close, she wanted to have her completely. And that was the sort of feeling that folded fingers over her beating heart and squeezed. Maybe it squeezed a little too hard, but it only made her think it was out of love.
So she watched Tiffany sleep because she could. And there wasn’t any better reason, wasn’t any better vision, nothing better than having Tiffany, who wanted her so badly that the poison of love flowed slicker than blood.
It was a poison that grew from the moment they met, it became worse in the intensity of its effect and it was sticking to her veins. Somehow she could feel that she would never be able to shake it off, to rid herself from it, and that seemed just fine. It seemed perfect. Who would ever want to lose love, to break it? That was idiocy. From birth into this species a child is taught to treasure love, whether directly or by observation, it is learned that there is a value to love and that it must be found and kept and given and taken and in too many ways it must be the controller of all life. Love was the determiner, if you had it you were safe and if you didn’t you were empty and hopeless and afraid. Something to be mourned, pitied, feared, lost.
So of course Taeyeon would be happy to have the love. It was a poison more precious than blood, and if its sticky countenance colonized her veins and seeped into her heart, and took over her mind and everything she knew, then why would she possibly not want that?
It was love.
Love was so good.
What difference did it make if Tiffany cheated on her or not? Why did it matter if it was always a lie or if something changed? The real fault was love. If Taeyeon were not in love with Tiffany, it wouldn’t hurt like it did. Nothing would hurt. Tiffany would tell Taeyeon she did not love her anymore and Taeyeon would be just fine. She would shrug it off and go on, and find something better than love. It didn’t hurt if she didn’t let it hurt.
Taeyeon scoffed to herself at her own thought. Better than love. Everything was better than love. A rotting squid on a trashed beach was better than love. Love was what was killing her, and since the moment it got a hold on her heart and central nervous system, it was breaking her body down. Everything was better than love, and everything could be beaten more easily than love. Love could be beaten too, she knew it, she had to do it.
She sipped her coffee and looked around the café. It was a plain day. The weather was nothing special and neither were the people or their decisions to come here. It was all so very boring, so empty. She saw the couples laughing together and the families smiling as they talked and she knew why it all seemed so different from her. They were all still loving and being loved. She knew exactly why they seemed boring and plain and empty, because they hadn’t felt the hurt of love yet. It made her smile, to think that she was already on the other side and could watch the fools fall.
“It makes me stronger,” she murmured. “I’m stronger than it now.”
Taeyeon looked up to see Sunny, slowing to a stop with a hand almost raised, about to greet her. She smiled, and reached over to pull out the chair across from her.
“Nothing, nothing. Hello, welcome, take a seat. Would you like a coffee?”
Sunny peered at her before sitting down. “Not yet. Tell me first, how have you been?”
Taeyeon’s smile grew to a grin. “Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I’m feeling great, Sunny. Much, much better. Strong.”
Stronger than love, didn’t need love, wouldn’t let love kill her again and again. But love was a poison, it was slow to work, it was excruciating to bear long after its cause was gone, and that was what was really happening. She was not without love, not yet, because once it was there it didn’t go away, and no matter how much she felt like she had escaped its murderous intent, it was still there. It was breaking her down, piece by piece, but it wasn’t controlling her any more. It didn’t tell her what to do, she was free. But its rancid acid continued to make her disintegrate from the inside.
“-you even listening to me? Hello in there?”
Taeyeon looked up – at some point she had hung her head – and blinked at Sunny. “Oh, right, sorry. What were you saying?”
Sunny stared. “No, never mind. It wasn’t important. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Even though the warmth in her chest was the heat of unspilled sobs welling up, she pretended it was happiness. She told herself she was fine, and it was that assurance which schooled the muscles in her face to form a smile. The most genuine thing she could muster, she pulled it together, and she showed it to Sunny.
“Absolutely. I’m fine. I’m great.”
It would haunt her.
“I’m ready to go on with life.”
It would claw at her.
“I’ve accepted what happened. She’s not coming back to me.”
It would drag her down by her muscles.
“She doesn’t love me, and that’s fine.”
And it would smother her from inside her veins.
“It’s not love, anyway, right? I won’t love her if she doesn’t love me. No problem, no problem. That’s not love, clearly. Love must be something better. Anyway, anyway, enough of that. Want some cheesecake with your coffee? I’ll pay. My treat.”
Because love was really, really bad.