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How to be a Heartbreaker

It always happens the same. From beginning to end it’s constant, with almost no irregularities.

She meets them, she likes them, they like her, but not for the same reason. She plays it cool and so do they, but not for the same reason. She invites them in and they take the invitation, never once considering to provide her with an offer of their own. By the time she figures this out, she’s alone. Broken, confused and ashamed. She asks me to sit next to her on the couch and we wait for the sun to come up, bringing new hope and new possibilities. When it does, she starts all over again.

This is my mom. Always has been, always will be.

For a long time, I hoped she would change. Or that a man she brought home would prove to be different. Better.  I hoped one would break the cycle before it broke her. But here she is, 24 years after I was born and 22 years after my father left, forever spinning in the same circles.

It would be impossible to tell you she’s not beautiful. Or kind. Or genuine. My mother is someone who deserves the kind of love she wants to find. Her weakness is how bad she wants it. How convinced she is that it makes her better. I’ve tried to tell her otherwise, but have always come up short in my delivery. Seeing the look in her eyes, it makes me feel like I’m part of the problem. Like I’m partially responsible for the cracks forming beneath the surface. So, I shake my head. Tell her I’m sorry. Promise her this is just another bump in the road and that she’ll find her happy ending. I try to tell myself I’m not lying, but then again, I’m sure every man I’ve seen come through those doors has told himself the same thing. We both know better. The difference is, I’m doing something about it.

Tonight will be like any other night. Perfect, concise. I line the outer curves of my lips in light pink, then fill them in with a shade only slightly darker. I practice my smile, the shy fall of my eyes. I practice the conversation in my head, how they’ll start it and I’ll end it. With a shake, I let my hair fall out of a loose bun and onto my shoulders. I run a quick hand through it, letting the curls settle in soft spirals.

I try to picture his face. How he’ll look at me in those first moments. I’m not as beautiful as I could be, but that won’t matter much when I lean in and laugh. Touch his arm and blush. Make him believe that I’ve unknowingly wandered into enemy fire. I’ll think of my mom. I’ll hear her early morning laugh and her late-night cry. Then I’ll squint my eyes and smile at him, offering just enough to make him think he’s earned the rest. I’ll watch his thumb tap on the bar in anticipation, and I’ll hear his heartbeat. The quick, low one that turns blood into affection and desire. He’ll think I’m his for the taking, but as I settle in at his side, I’ll know he’s mine for the breaking.

Listen to the song here

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