In case you weren’t listening, I’ll say it once more.

Every boy I’ve ever dated has broken the very same promise.

And no, it’s not about my heart sprinkled on the bathroom floor, cleaving off me before entering the shower for a symphony all my own.

It’s about the song I could never write. The chords I could never strum. The guitar that will never sling itself across my once-broken collarbone because you left. Before you could sit me down at the edge of your bed and play me a melody. Teach me how to position my fingers just so.

And ain’t it funny that we met in music class? That you tortured me with nine-minute instrumental heavy metal songs. That you made me listen to the rise and fall and the cadence I could never quite understand.

A story without words.

And now, I suppose, it’s pretty funny. This heartbreak that ricochets back to me, boomerang style, as it floods me from all sides.

It’s their voices that break my heart.

Not yours. No. The voices of hundreds of strangers.

Soft and sweet and sad and delicate but no, never out of tune. Never dripping with the tears she’s holding inside or the ache rumbling behind his acoustic guitar.

I will admit that reality TV is legitimately my biggest source of heartbreak these days. And you will have to be OK with your replacement. Hear me out, all right?

I might have whispered these words once or twice in a dimly lit car parked outside my house, but in case you weren’t listening, I’ll say it once more.

We are all broken.

Shards of sea glass buried beneath the sand. We’ve seen different oceans and wandered different continents and been chiseled away by vastly different rocks and stones and waters and yet we all ended up here.

I see it in the boy whose only voice crack comes when the whole world finally offers him acknowledgement. The girl who would beg for more than one bathroom to offer her family of six. The man whose God sits on his shoulders when he closes his eyes and loses himself in the music.

We are all broken.

And you wonder why I want to learn the chords?

It is because I’ve used up all my I Love You’s and I’m Sorry’s and I’ll Make It Next Time, I Promise’s. I’ve run out of ways to thank you and words to apologize and sometimes, quite frankly, it feels too hard to write.

I’d much rather duck my head and find the notes that don’t require words. The melodies that play on long after we’ve forgotten what broke us yesterday.

I’d much rather you taught me how to turn each soft and sad and delicate moment and spin it into something more, something for each of us to hold.

I am thinking I will stop waiting, stop asking, start learning.

We are all broken. Before & After your promises. Before & After the stardom and the success. I just want to learn to strum along in time with the music.


4 responses to “In case you weren’t listening, I’ll say it once more.

  1. The saddest thing about my last heart break is he was a phenomenal musician but he would never sing for me and said he didn’t have the patience to teach me

  2. teach me to play*

  3. That breaks my heart, Shelby. I hope you someday learn.

  4. Beautiful writing as always!

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