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Spit Me Out

By Sydney Hsu

I tear conversations apart like they’re made of flesh. Grinding down the bones between my teeth till I can discern the difference between oregano and rosemary.

Is that a touch of dill I taste, or just resentment?

No matter, we’ll find a new topic to talk about, but it’ll all taste the same. Years will go by and I’ll still find your words stuck between my teeth, wanting to escape. I’ll stare at my reflection and conjure up my best impression of you, for I know you wouldn’t remember your own words. You’ve never been one to take pleasure in your food. I remember you now with your head bent over a bowl of soup, a spoon in one hand and a tissue full of snot in the other. When I’d ask you how your meal was, you’d respond: 

“I wish you would have chosen somewhere else.”

Words never got caught in your throat. You’ve always said what you meant, always finding the vocabulary. Sometimes I wish you’d choke on your own voice, so that I might have to find it for you. Carve you open and roast you over a fire. Watching the embers crackle and your skin peel in on itself. Only then would you be willing to say:

“I don’t love you anymore.”

Instead I’m met with a level of coolness only reminiscent of spearmint gum. And I’ve learned the Heimlich for no reason.

Maybe that’s why you were always chewing gum. That bit of white crushed between the yellow of your teeth, watching the wad lose its taste until it no longer served a purpose. You’d spit it out, then ask for a kiss. And the only taste from your lips was the dialect of distance, which seemed to constantly be caught between us.

I wonder if you’d still love me if I didn’t breathe the way you liked. Or if I cut my hair. Or if I stopped chewing up my food and tasting it for you. I wonder if you’d still love me even after realizing that I was nothing. Not a person. Not whole. Just a thing that needed to be carried from place to place. I wonder then, will you still spit out your spearmint gum and ask for a kiss?

“I don’t love you anymore.”

I realize, now as I stare at myself replaying your words over and over and over again, trying to find a different taste, that I served my purpose and you spit me out.

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