subject line: how it ends. June 16, 2015 by Hannah Brencher brooklyn, new york I take no pleasure in leaving you after a second drink. It is not a game, not theater. It might be that I know now the leaving feeling will come after two drinks or twelve, after one night or months of it. When I kiss your cheek you pull away as if you are already tired of me, already wish I were someone else. The way an affair ends is not with a bang, neither a whimper, but a single mewl choked back, a shrug, a paste smile. Something already hidden cannot be gone but a ghost of a shadow, a shadow of a ghost, an imprint of something that leaves no imprint. There were two of them and they had the same name and one I kept and one I didn’t and one I gave up everything for and the one was not you, in the end. He writes your name on me. I see it in the mirror, backwards. In green pen on my shoulder that I forget to wash off until the day after I go home, despite all you’ve taught me about erasing traces. With a paintbrush in a hotel room on the back of my thigh, smearing red on the sheets that some other woman’s hands will have to coax out.