Louise Cornelissen

These Maybes Might Just Kill Me

Maybe we would have been epic and beautiful and the kind of love story that people dream of. Or maybe we would have been a catastrophe and imploded within days, weeks—not that it would matter. But we couldn’t have been a beautiful catastrophe because those are reserved for books and poems and, honestly, our story was hardly anything poetic.

And yet there you were, composed and soothing to my soul like the calm mornings after the kind of storm that has trees scared of being hit by lightning and everyone shuddering at the sound of thunder. When we were near, though, I could still feel the lightning inside the calm. And when we kissed, you tasted like adventure.

Maybe we would have been epic, maybe we would have been a disaster. I change my mind depending on the day, depending on whether a beautiful or hard to deal with memory haunts me and grips my heart so I can’t breathe, even just for a second. It happened again yesterday. I was at a store and they offered my friend and I some whiskey. I’ve had a hundred glasses of whiskey since, I’ll have a hundred more till we say hello again. But somehow that first sip at that random store did it. I remembered the time we went shopping for your coat at some store you took me to, in a faraway city I told myself I was the reason you visited. They offered you whiskey and me champagne and that sneaky smile of yours I still hate to admit I love, well, it was there that day. It was there most days of that trip. When your card declined and I paid, I remembered thinking—it may have been the bubbly, to be fair—but I remember thinking that maybe this is a sign. Of what, I didn’t know. We bought a coat for you that day, a blue leather jacket the next. You left the latter in a city far away I never got around to visiting. I don’t know what happened to the coat. Maybe she got rid of it. 

Sometimes I think about how this all began, what that first chapter of our story was. Maybe your opening would be different from mine. You might write about how I was a side effect, a chapter you didn’t see coming. I wasn’t the reason you came to that town, not the first time. Maybe it was never about me at all. Maybe the places that take me back have already faded from your mind or maybe you’ve visited them again to make new memories and erase any trace of me.

Maybe you sometimes lie awake at night and daydream about the kind of epic we might have been. About how I’d feel in your arms, about all the things we planned, the names we picked, the lists we made. Maybe you remember that night we both pretended to be asleep when your hand wrapped around me and it was the only time we ever even got close to doing the things we talked about. Maybe you sleep through the night with her in your arms, never wondering about me. Maybe that’s why you never ask how my night was, never wish me sweet dreams anymore. 

Maybe rum and coke no longer makes you think of me, and maybe I forgot that some book I recently read is only on my shelf because you recommended it. Maybe our inside jokes have long slipped from your mind, and maybe how I felt was just a love of what could have been.

Maybe we would have been epic and beautiful and the kind of love story that people dream of. Or maybe we would have been a catastrophe and imploded within days, weeks. Maybe we are both because nightmares are dreams too and implosions leave a space for something new. Maybe one day we’ll realize what we want is really each other, or maybe we’ll laugh about it 10 years from now. And maybe, just maybe, these maybes might nearly kill you too.