What do you do when you’re in love with a narcissist? Yours looks like a girl that’s less a real girlfriend and more someone who wishes you were a mirror. I wrote a poem about you, you said, once. Because we’re both a little strange. She didn’t answer, but she squeezed your hand while applying her makeup as if she was actually listening. The same way she always does when you nag her to drink water five times a day.
You said, It starts by telling you—the reader, I mean: I wanted you, back then, with a ferocity I’ve never been possessed with before. I have loved you fiercely without restraint, and this, perhaps, is what makes me unforgivable. But it feels like you’re slipping away, now. Do you even look at me twice anymore?
And you wait for her to get the hint. You don’t think she cares enough to.
So what do you do? Do you let her—your lover, the one you think may be a narcissist—die of thirst from worshipping her reflection in the lake? You had good times, like when she took your hand in hers and fumbled and laughed as you went skating over its frozen face. But later, when you think back on it, you reason ice is a better mirror than water. Maybe that’s why she seemed so happy that day.
When you put your head on hers for movie night, she doesn’t reach for your hand anymore. She holds her hair in place like you’ve made a mistake. When you text her goodnight, she doesn’t answer with a little virtual kiss. She asks if you’ll wake her up tomorrow morning in time to meet up with her friends. And it’s funny, actually, how your anniversary coincides with her birthday. You only ever end up celebrating the latter.
You feel less like hers and more like the echo that comes along after her. Your Latin teacher taught you a myth, once, about a nymph and a man and a pool of water and his stupid, stupid reflection.
You love her; she’s your lover. The moral of the story is she is yours the same way she is the water’s.
And you love her, because she’s your lover. And you think that’s how it’s supposed to work. So when you take her to the lake, next time, you guess you’ll let her keep looking.
Sunny Vuong is a second generation Vietnamese-American writer, and founding EIC of Interstellar Literary Review. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Augment Review, and Kalopsia Lit, among others. Find her on Twitter @sunnyvwrites.