Why I Don't Believe in Love

You could be the one.

We were staring at each other in the bathroom when I first thought these words. A moment together, the muffled bass-line and yells still making it through the door. Drunk, as was usual on a Saturday night, and I wanted to get away from people. We'd only been together for about a week, but I truly felt that this was it. We were going to be together for eternity. We were perfect for each other.

Ah, adolescence, where it's so easy to fall completely in love with just a single flush of testosterone.

We would spend every second of the day together. Everywhere I went you would come with me, and I loved the attention. I couldn't get enough of it. Honestly, to begin with anyway, I didn't care about the clinginess. I never wanted you to go away. I loved everything about you. I was infatuated. I would sniff your hair, inhaling deep, enjoying the tantalising aromas. You had ways of making me feel so sensual.

I really don't want to seem crass, but, God! Thinking back to those times with you sitting on my face, it felt like heaven! With you on my lips, wrapped around my head, every other problem in the world went away. I wanted to give you pleasure because you gave me pleasure. We were practically as one.

You weren't my first, but you never once mentioned it. I suppose you were self-assured, both in yourself and by the constant adoration I gave to you. Maybe I grew complacent thinking you'd always be there, because then the problems started. The problems with you became the problems with us.

One example: people commented that you were too thin. No matter how much reassuring I tried it was always an issue. I know it affected our relationship. My work suffered too. Having you around made it easier to think, but upper management did not agree that you should have a right to accompany me on shifts, or tag along on house calls.

"What reflects on you reflects on the company," they said.

By this stage I was starting to agree that maybe spending less time together might be beneficial for our relationship, maybe it could even bring us closer. I should have realised that this could never happen.

You didn't take kindly to the suggestion that we should spend some time apart. That conversation helped me discover the issues in our relationship. When you were conflicted you really let yourself go. You were almost always dirty, limp and unenergetic. The sharpness, the character, all the qualities that attracted me to you in the first place were gone. I knew it was bad for us to stay together. Our tightening embrace pushed each other closer as we spiralled into dross. I had to get rid of you, but I couldn't.

I mean it, I really couldn't. Every time I even thought about it I resisted. I came to realise that I didn't even want to contemplate life without you. I didn't want to confront the world alone. I was using you as a crutch. You were a mask, a facade that I continued to maintain so that the world didn't see my real face.

I couldn't handle the concept of being without you, no matter how much I knew I needed you out of me life. Deep in depression on a Saturday night, drunk, I gained the courage to follow through with a decision. It's difficult to explain now (not semantically, but emotionally), but at the time it seemed right. I sat on the edge of the bath, my arms over the sink, ready to end it. I pulled out the razor. I cried a little, for me, for you, who knows? I stroked the blade against my skin over and over again. The sight of blood was only a little shocking to me, but I never strayed from the course.

I woke up in white sheets. My first thoughts, I distinctly remember, was not "where am I?" but instead "where are you?" It felt so strikingly different to wake up alone. There was a coldness I had not felt since before we were together. I felt naked, exposed, but I was also glad to be alive. I came to find joy in life again. I vowed to never to let it get so bad. The days passed and I got used to being without you. People commented that I looked so much healthier now. Though I still felt self-conscious, and a little pitiful, I continued to grow strong.

It had been a week since that night with the razor and I finally accepted I would never see you again. I woke up on a new Sunday morning and the sun piercing my curtains brought me a sense of optimism that I'd given up on ever experiencing again. I sprung out of bed like a child. After my shower I stood, dripping in front of the bathroom mirror. My eyes sparkled. I stared at my face. I stroked my chin gently, touching the returning stubble that felt thicker, darker and harder than before. From one ear to the other it stretched. And though it was sparse, short and vulnerable, the wetness of my face made it glisten under the bathroom lights. I stared at that stubble, and foolishly thought once more, "Yes, this time. This beard, you could be the one."