The Edge of the End

I think I’m on the brink of an ending.

I’ve loved him since I was nineteen and thought I was broken beyond repair. I was starved for affection, gutted by abuse, so the touch of his hand was like a blessing. Even when those hands refused to touch me in public, I had long since memorized the whorls of his fingerprints behind closed doors. I became an expert in translation, reading his adoration in the flutter of lashes, his commitment in the parting of his mouth. It was a skill born of necessity; he would never speak the words himself.

When I came to the crossroads, I saw the possible paths before me, stretching out into a darkness that no longer held the power to terrify. Even then, I went to him, asking him to continue walking beside me. He wouldn’t even have to hold my hand.

He said “I do love you, but I don’t see the rest of my life with you.”

There was no translation needed.

For two years, I walked alone. I learned what it meant to be responsible to no one. I stayed up till three in the morning watching Teen Wolf and eating ice cream without worrying that I was keeping someone up. Music blasted from my room, Billie Holliday and The Pretty Reckless and Florence + The Machine, and never once did I consider whether it suited anyone else’s taste. I went on donut runs at two in the morning and ordered takeout everyday; I didn’t shave for weeks at a time and smiled whenever my bear legs rubbed against each other. I went to bars with my friends and never once did a guy approach me, as if I were covered in tattoos screaming in self-validation, war sigils painted on my skin that marked me as my own.

It was last summer when my heart beat stuttered.

We reached out to each other and our hands remembered. His mouth was like coming home. But, it was home without walls or windows because as autumn began to chill the air I found myself rolling on the wind to a new city, the precipice of my career. He stayed behind, caught in family obligation and promises to follow me as soon as he could.

It’s been six months and soon has become a year – two years – four.

I’ve had to pick up translation again, but I’m not as adept as I used to be. Once I would have been satisfied with a text every few days; now, I’m scratching at the walls in impatience, my nails scouring the drywall because he won’t tell me he loves me. He’s not here and I can’t read his parted mouth or his eyelashes and I’m tired of having to read between the lines. I can already hear the echo of the questions he won’t ask (why don’t you come back?) and the assumptions he has silently made (she’ll make the sacrifice).

I’ve slaughtered my lambs long ago; I have no more sacrifices to make.

If he’s waiting for me to say the words first, he won’t like the words I’m not afraid to speak. Because, I can already feel the wind pulling me forward and the ledge beneath my feet. All I have to do is jump.

And, I’ve never been afraid of falling.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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