the last time, (i promise)

Adam J Marsh
7 min readApr 10, 2020

It was the same old song. This was the fourth time we broke up, but this was the first time we’d be seeing each other as friends or colleagues (it was hard to distinguish between the two).

The break ups were always contentious, and being an angry, intense man, I started training Krav Maga with these Israeli’s in my neighbourhood (I wasn’t very good at it).

It’s aggressive. It has to be. They constantly scream at you to take the person down, before they take you down. They stick rubber knives in your partners hand and tell you to defend yourself, before you get stabbed to death.

It never ceased to get my testosterone and blood running hotter than normal, because whilst I wasn’t very good at it, I always tried to stab my partner. It seemed only fair. A lot of the people here were rich, white, upper class assholes, and if someone ever pulled a knife on them, I’d want them to have a fighting chance. It seemed like the respectful thing to do it.

I toweled myself down after, but didn’t shower. I had a bad feeling about it all. I didn’t want to meet her, but pussying out wasn’t a prideful thing to do either. Did I want to be an adult about this, and give my acting work the best shot? Yes I did, thus, this approach needed to be done with… what do I call her?

Fuck it. I’ll use her real name.

Amy.

Anyway, it was only six blocks over by car, and rather than cancel on Amy, I decided to cram it in. She’d just finished yoga or some shit, and drove over to mine.

“Look, there’s no reason we can’t be friends. I don’t have bad feelings towards her, and frankly, it’s only fair to handle this way, otherwise it’ll just poison the rest of our time together in acting class. I mean, it’s a full eighteen months. So what’s the worst that can happen?”

Then, Jesus Christ, I saw her. She was the kind of hot, that makes you forget what she looked like, but made you remember how you felt.

She got the car and spoke.

“Hi”.

“Hey, good seeing you.”

“So we going up?”

“Yeah we’re going up”

I stuck the key in the lock, opened up the outer door to the stair well. I’m pretty sure I cracked a few low key dad jokes, then opened up the door to the apartment.

“My flatmate’s out at his girlfriends tonight. You remember, Christina?”

“Yeah I remember meeting her. You know, she’s cute. Real cute”

(Note — both my flatmates friendship with me, and both our relationships were over within the year.)

“Oh yeah? You’re not going bi on me are you?”

“No”, she crossed her arms into an X, “Not this gal”. Then she laughed.

Male gaze or not, when you’re in love with a woman, their laugh has a certain kind of pull on you. Makes you feel like… you’re in a dream, rather than being alive. It’s total horseshit, and probably the pheromones, or something. Either way, I didn’t articulate it at the time. I was too busy in the moment.

“Well, we going to do this or not?”

“Yeah, we will. Listen though Adam… I had my doubts coming over here.”

“Yeah me too. That’s natural.” (Actually yesterday, I was on the verge of deleting her number and all of our texts, whilst mentally calling her a bitch.)

“But I didn’t want to throw you away. I really do value our friendship.”

“Same here”.

I felt very grounded as the rest of the conversation went how it needed to. I was calm. I felt powerfully masculine, and it, seemed to radiate within me, unlike every other day of my life. This moment was serene to me. I held all the cards.

We did our acting homework together, and I stared deeply in her eyes. It was playing with fucking fire, and we both knew it. We stood at the top of a gasoline soaked, house of cards, with lit matches in our fingers — both of us knowing it would burn down, but not knowing who would throw their match first.

Amy’s eyes contained a world of wonder. Sometimes we stood so close, I could see my own face reflecting back at me… in fact, it made me remember the first time I said I love you to her. We were doing the same acting exercises, in the middle of a city cemetery (the metaphoric significance was lost on me at the time). It was fearful. It was hot. It was brave. I leaped over the chasm, and thought I was safe, but it was just an 18 month long drop to the bottom.

The most beautiful part of her face, wasn’t her eyes. It was her nose. It was broken, or she had a nose job or something. It started normal at the top, then half way, squished together, straightened out further, coming to a sharp point — very much like Tinkerbelle from Peter Pan.

I always got the feeling, she was like a sparrow. That was her beak, her eyes always darted all over the place, and she would never sit still in one location… she was always moving about, living a busy life. And the thing about birds is… if you really want them, you just need to drop a little feed in your hand, lower it to the ground, and stay completely still. Eventually, they’ll jump into your palm. But the thing you don’t fucking do, is chase after them. They get scared and fly away. Then you look like a god damn fool for doing it in the first place.

“You look really gorgeous tonight”.

“Thank you Adam. Listen, I have to get going. It was nice tonight. Let’s do it again, ok?

I kept staring at her.

“Ok Amy. Just lock the door behind you. Good night.”

I didn’t want her to leave, but I did. I wasn’t going to throw that match down. I was too calm for that. So I let go. This was going to be a turning point for me. No longer was I going to let relationships that have run their course, reopen and burn me. This would prove, once and for all, that I was capable of maintaining a healthy adult relationship with one of my ex’s. She’d go off and meet someone, I’d do the same, and we’d support each other respectfully from afar.

But the door didn’t shut. She walked back in.

“Listen, Adam. I want to jump your bones right now.”

I stood up.

“So do I.”

“Is this going to make things awkward again?”

“I won’t make it awkward if you don’t make it awkward.”

“Okay… we’ll just be friends right?”

Before you judge me for lying next, just remember two things.

A) I was up for it, with an attractive woman who felt the same.
B) Deep down, I really, truly loved her and wanted her to stay.

“Of course, come and sit on my lap baby”.

God I feel like an asshole remember this.

I had this green, old couch, made of corduroy or something similar. It was good, sturdy and cosy. Probably scored from an op shop. I felt like a king in it.

She slinked over, with this shy, embarrassed face on her. Like someone who was sexually inexperienced (she wasn’t) and wanted the man to lead (I did).

Her face was slightly frizzy. It smelled like sea salt. I learned later, this was something she sprayed in her hair regularly for volume.

The mascara on her eyes, and the eyeshadow. That’s right, this was why she looked like a sparrow. It was a light, deep purple, with an outline of black. I loved those eyes.

She was on my lap, and thumbed her hand over my face. We kissed a few times. Then I stuck my tongue in her mouth, because that’s what lovers do. They’re passionate. They don’t fuck about, like prudes. They show each other excess.

I lifted up her up with both hands and carried her to my bedroom. It was like a matchbox. I threw her on the bed, and unbuckled my pants.

“Take your clothes off you bitch”. We both liked it rough.

Because this isn’t a cheap love romance paperback, I’ll leave you with this.

She on top of me, and I was deep inside of her, with my hands on her hips, slamming her body down on me. The back of her hair was balled up in my hands. Her eyes were shut.

I looked over at the big screen Sony (the one I still have in my room), turned her neck over and whispered in her.

“Look at us. Right now. Look at us in the television. How fucking hot is that.”

“Oh my god…”

She kissed me harder.

That was the night.

I saw her down, wearing these ragged Bonds sweatpants (I still have those too), and walked her back to her car. It seemed like the right thing to do.

“Well. I’ll see you in class right?”

“Yep, I’ll see you in class.”

“Alright then, see you Amy”.

“Bye-bye!”, she said like she always did. It was sing-songy. I kept forgetting the age difference. She was from another era. An era that was connected with class, that had musicality to it. Me? I was from the internet era. Everything was ironic, desensitised, numb, fodder for laughs. We simply didn’t give a fuck — at least we thought we didn’t.

Then she drove off.

As she made the hour long drive home, I must have stared at her car, still it disappeared down the horizon.

Then the wind chill came. I stuck my hands under my armpits and walked back, smelling the sea salt spray all over my body.

And as my feet hit the cold concrete pavement, I felt like I was in love all over again.

But what happened was, my heart turned colder after that night.

And I don’t think I’ve ever felt the same way since.

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