The Realist/Now That I'm Gone -- An Open Letter
Antonios Maltezos

I thought I'd be there with my drooping tattoo, my saggy balls slipping out of my too-small bathing suit, probably red, clutching your hand in mine, our aching feet dipping into the hot, white sand as we walked along a beach somewhere Caribbean, finally carefree roasting our flesh because we'd made it this far, too far to still be worrying about melanomas. We were good, good people, you and I, a great couple.
But you were worse than me, (you were) sucking back on your cigarettes every day of our life together. You could have chilled. You could have cut back, gone to the light, at least, so I'd have felt the urge to do the same, while there was still time.
It's okay.
But you do remember the one occasion we tried quitting together, right? I came home from work to find you on the sofa, a winter scarf wrapped tightly around your head like a turban. You were trying to contain your migraine, from the sudden withdrawal of nicotine, keep the pain from exploding out of your head, spilling like guts from your ears. Remember? Like my balls would have spilled out of that red Speedo I'll never get to wear. I spent the whole day fighting with everyone at work because it was so hard giving it up, because I was desperate to stop. It was my idea, after all, my unopened pack of smokes I threw at you when I came home and was disgusted by the spectacle of you, suffering your withdrawals by languishing on my sofa in your bed clothes, your deathly pallor accentuated by the winter colors of your turban.
My love.
We'd have made a cute couple in our old age, grossing everyone out on the beach, a matching tattoo finally pasted on your ass.