Heartbreak’s Hoary Story

Photography by Kwaku David
Photography by Kwaku David

Why had he come back? Why the fuck had he come back?

He’d come and left again, just as he’d done twelve years before. My heart should have been ready for this. It should have been toughened by the wounding his first departure had inflicted on me…but somehow it wasn’t. Somehow, I’d let him back into that part of my spirit where a gaping hole – an abandoned cradle, or a grave whose headstone had the name ‘Tolu’ chiseled deep into its cold hard block –  without really meaning to.

But I was so glad he was back.

I let you go before, Kay. I never should have done it… I’m back because God has given us a second chance and I promise I’m not going to screw up this time.

Men like Tolu don’t speak of God unless there is an unction; an undeniable order that would be folly to disobey. God had said it. I wanted him. Nothing else mattered.

At last, this crypt I had kept in my heart would be rendered useless. For a year I have carried around the burden and pain that our first break up had caused me, nursed it like an infant child, tended to its every whim and fancy like a devoted mother, and locked it up deep within me. The pain and the tears were my constant companions from one birthday to the next. If I couldn’t live with him, at least I could nurture the last thing he left me with…

Eventually, to my horror, I forgot it was there. I lost myself in meaningless week-long relationships and casual cunnilingus, and girls’ nights out. But then he came back, and the pain of that first heartbreak remembered him and it wanted to be justified, recognized and validated.

Oh, I made him suffer for the torment he caused me. I cried in his arms the first night we made love, and the night after that, and the night after that. I ministered to his dick with the patience of a monastic devotee. I cooked his dinners, pressed his clothes, bought him gifts. I made him suffer for the lack he had caused me. I insisted that he move in, and he did. He moved across the country to be with me and the cradle/grave I had built in his memory was sealed forever.

How shall I describe Tolu? I cannot define him without a reference to me. His skin ended where mine began, the same shade of ebony. It shone under the street lamps where I drug him to dinner with our married friends. His lips, full and perfect stubbornly refused treats from my plate. A crown of locks cascaded down his back and coalesced with mine as we lay in bed dreaming up our future. He said he wasn’t making enough to buy me the ring I wanted. He was saving for it. In a few months he would have a ring and he would propose properly. When we fucked that night, he drove hard and deep into me.

What do you want to call our baby, my love? he said tenderly.

I want to call him Aluicious! I cried, now on the precipice of my orgasm.

He stopped in mid-thrust and fell into raucous laughter. What a silly name for a son – our prince – to carry through life!

I was so glad he was back…but why the FUCK had he come back if he was going to turn around and leave again? I came back from the gym and saw him sitting on the couch, staring at the TV. Oh no. Not this again!

I can’t do this, Kay, he said weakly. You want things I can’t give you. It’s not you, it’s me. You deserve better…

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!!

So what will you do now?

Me? Was he talking to me? What was I going to do? I suppose we have to set about dividing up the furniture. He could have the bed. I didn’t want the bed… Suddenly, I had a thought. I could try begging. I am a proud Black woman. He’s never seen me beg for anything before; but I could beg him. Is that what he wanted?

If it’s me, I’m working on it. I know I come off strong.

I told you, Kay. It’s not you.

But do you love me?

Yes. Of course I do.

So…so what you’re saying is “love isn’t enough”?


But couldn’t you try for it to be?

All he could do is look down and shake his head. That beautifully adorned head; twisted, tied and locked. God, had you sent him here? And what the fuck for if You knew he was going to do this again?!

The house is so empty now. No; he hasn’t moved out yet…but he’s not here with me. His things still are, his body still is, but his spirit and his heart aren’t here with me. And all I can think is new pain he’s left me. It’s grown up, spiteful and hungry, not unlike its younger self. I have not yet decided how long I will care for Tolu’s second baby.


*Narrated to me by my best friend Kay who was dumped this weekend.

6 comments On Heartbreak’s Hoary Story

  • Awwww. My heart goes out to Kay. I know nothing anyone will say will comfort her right now. Sending cyber healing vibes and lots of love

  • Kpel333 ooo. That’s gotta hurt. I have not experience a major heartache before so I cant compare to yours. But you will be fine Kay.

    • Hey all! I just spoke to Kay and she thanks you all for your well wishes. She’s also travelling abroad to clear her head. She asked me if she should seek out casual sex while she away, and my advice to her was “hell yes!”

      Just use a condom…

      She said even her MOM agreed she should, but she’s unsure. What would you all do? If a dude broke my heart like that for the second time, I’d seek out some soul healing, torrid sex asap. But that’s just me.

      • Ha! Casual sex is not a remedy BUT the endorphins you get from any kind of sex is great. I’ll say she should go with the flow. Not make sex the mission but see how she feels, and if she meets anyone she connects with physically

  • I’ve only had my heart broken twice, and each time I actually thought I was going to DIE. Fortunately, I’m old enough to know now that you can and will live through the devastation with time. Kay is traveling now. She seems to be doing well. Nothing heals the soul like a few miles in the air or on the road, I say!

  • Exactly! Even though the sex shouldn’t be the mission, she shouldn’t rebuff the opportunity to have some good, no strings attached sex with a worthy partner. Who does she owe? Not her ex, certainly!
    I can respect her hesitancy because I’m in the “sex is a spiritual act” camp, however I’m not on board with her hesitancy being as a result of wanting to “respect” her ex. Kai!

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