When I replay every memory, he’s the bad guy. It’s like in each photo, thought, and memory from the past four years, this person who I knew and loved is somehow replaced with a hooded bandit. In these new memories he wears a black mask over his eyes. He is sneaky. He wears black gloves and carries a burlap sac where, with a light touch, he puts away trinkets he’s swiped from me over the years.
Yesterday we said goodbye. When he kissed my forehead, he put his hand to my chest, as if to try to reach my heart one last time. And before he left, he gave it all back. He handed me the bag filled with the bounty he collected over the past four years. I surveyed the bag’s contents: broken glass and mirror, rusted jewelry, faded photos. Each item he’d taken was returned shattered, wore, or ruined. My blue striped teakettle, my small beaded jewelry box, a silver necklace my mother had given me on my 18th birthday. All these treasures, like me, diminished.
I pulled out some of the shattered bits and held them in my fist. I didn’t care that they cut into my skin. I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t cry. I didn’t know he’d taken these things from me. I didn’t know he was a bandit. That is the hardest part, I don’t even know that he is. But whatever he is, he’s gone and I’m alone with just my shattered bits and bloodied hand. I’m alone again, broken again, and sitting on my floor wondering, ‘what now?’