i wish you were dead.

by Sofía Abarca


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IFComp 2022: i wish you were dead. by Sofia Abarca, October 16, 2022
by kaemi
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Relationships are innately allegorical, a liturgy of symbols the deify manifold particulars into universal abstracts; the thousand thoughts racing through our heads are unique to us, but thousands have sobbed into their pillows just like this, thousands will again. A charged statement, the stumblesighed admission of finality, that could have been said by anyone, was specifically said by you: “I’m saying that I don’t know if this is still the– the best thing for us.”

Interplay between empathetic recognition and gradual revelation grips us into the push and pull and shove, with each begging for groundedness like “I won’t take it. You’re not walking out on me until you give me a semblance of a reason for leaving.” heaving into entanglements which cannot be contained in any constituent unit, an ambient esprit which pervades unisolated in our isolating: “Her: I– / Where is this coming from? / … / Me: N-nowhere. In particular.” Because, when we drill down to the reasons for the breakup, we seem to be slipping further away from what we wanted to say, diluted by all the things we’ll wish we didn’t say. When we come to the specifics of a complaint, it seems almost irrelevant, each implication into explanation rendering it moreso: “Her name’s not Link. She saw my Zelda tattoo on my wrist when I was taking her order at the shop, and when I asked for her name, she said “Link”. / While I was preparing her latte, she stood over the counter and tried to talk about the games with me. And I told her that I didn’t actually know that much about them. That the tattoo was for my grandfather. But she still insisted on making small talk. / And she came by every day at 4:30. She liked the music that I was playing at the café and gave me her number so I could send the playlist to her.” What does all that add up to? Not this loss. The twists and turns of who cheated or maybe cheated with who bloat over the core malaise of disconnect, just another tactic in a long list of not so clean extractions, a series of excuses emphasizing its first syllable: “Look– I love you. I love you. So much. / My hands start shaking as I try to hold back my tears. / But– I don’t think I’m in the best place right now to try to… work this out. I don’t think I can give this relationship what it needs right now. And I don’t think you deserve that.” A calcified reiteration of love to cohere our sense of honesty contiguous with how we mumbled the same thing only hours ago, somehow congeal a consistent propriety out of sudden severance, even a kind of altruistic care, ever so considerate about what the other deserves, renunciation as a supreme sacrificial love, don’t you see how affectionate I am, abandoning you like this? Knowingly, she insists on the lie, embarrassing us to another redoubt: “Her: Look– I know we’re in a rough spot. I know. / But I don’t need you to give us a 100%, if you don’t– if you can’t. I get it. I’ll give more than my 100% for a bit, if you need me to. / [Thinking:] Fuck. Fuck– no. This is not– / This is making it harder. / Why is she saying this?” What would she prefer, we acidically grimace, that we stark down to hatreds? And I thought she loved me!

Breakups resist preserving recharcterizations; vain attempt to endure in endings. Alienation persists, and that’s the intention. “Her: Where– / Where was all this before? / Huh? / Why / did you wait / until now?” Fantasy break of intimacy when presented with the richly inaccessible inner lives we carry beneath each curated connection. Actually, the person you’ve known so deeply isn’t a person, but a portrait made of the parts of themselves you have sought, they have revealed, and the true consciousness lies forever beyond you, no one will ever be with you the way you must be, marooned. Every painful echo and its nowhere implied: “And somewhere along the way I forgot how deplorable my existence was without yours. It was so– so empty, so inhuman– I couldn’t even hurt. There was nothing to be hurt about. And the first time I did– that I hurt– I felt that I had finally come into my own. / And forgot why I was able to hurt in the first place.” Breakages as an identity stronger than the one that held us an us.

That we don’t wrestle out a satisfactory conclusion, no resolution but only an after, is germane to the theme, but perhaps could have been more intentionally refined. There are juicy bursts of lyricism like “Her eyes develop a crystalline envelope” but the cavalcade of cryings can become somewhat cloying and don’t always emote as desired: “My face turns to my left, the twinkling lights of the city’s buildings merging with each other as tears infect my eyes.” Almost a poignant image, but the palpably wrong verb “infect” clangs it out of tune. The timed text is a further frustration. As an effect, perhaps it can be primed to impact, but as a standardization, it’s just annoying, reading with staccato lagginess. This work invites multiple readings, yet anyone who has tapped their fingers to the finish will be ill inclined to route back to the start. It’s also misconceived for the theme, rendering glacial a situation which should feel frenetic, intense, freewheeling out of control. Also, I hit a debug screen: “The (if:) changer should be stored in a variable or attached to a hook.” So that could be fixed.

But if it’s all a bit messy, so are we: “And as messy as hers– my mind churns with doubt and fear, unable to trace the link in between thoughts, scenarios, and choices; with all the things that led to this moment, and the ever-lingering question of if, in what seems to be our final hour, / she will finally tell me the truth.” Nowhere we turn to holds any of it together, so perhaps, really this time, we deserve better than this, and we can in love choose not to assign blames, maintain grudges, calcify the hurt, and simply and sweetly accept delicate destruction: “So please– just let me let you go.” Wishing we both might find better paths than the one we’ve shared. Still, as the door clicks behind you, a pang to echo through so many sleepless nights: “the end. / ...unless you don't want it to be.”