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PROMPT — If only …

If he hadn’t stolen my hard drive and then blackmailed me,
we would still be together.

If he hadn’t lied about it,
minimizing it,
we would still be together.

If we hadn’t argued at “Prep and Pastry” about Homecoming,
I would have been with him in Mississippi now.

If we hadn’t fought about him going by himself,
I might be with him.

If I let him finish talking,
maybe we would’ve made it out of the restaurant okay.

If we would’ve bought the house on Allen,
I would have paid for the repairs,
and maybe he would have helped.

If I wasn’t so afraid of him stealing from me,
I would have been more generous.

If I knew he wasn’t looking for escorts on Backpage,
I would be different (I know this).

If I hadn’t seen him looking at gay porn,
If I didn’t see the Facebook message to his ex,
in which he told her he was waiting for her,
and would love her forever,
I might’ve believed him when he said
that he loved me forever.

If he hadn’t stayed with his ex, a Meth user
for five years and counting,
I would have trusted him more.

If I knew he wasn’t following me when I went to Boulder
finding my address and sending flowers,
I wouldn’t think he stalked me.
If he didn’t keep videos of me with other men,
I would be more willing to commit.

If he hadn’t sent me naked photos of myself,
claiming that if I didn’t talk to him,
he would smear them over the Internet,
I would feel differently about him.

If I knew he didn’t have sperm,
I would have thought about the timeliness
of our relationship.

If I knew he really wanted to play basketball
on Sundays,
then he would have played basketball on Sundays.

If I knew, he wouldn’t tell me about his disability check,
I wouldn’t have spent two years helping him get it.

If I knew he would ignore me on Valentine’s Day,
I wouldn’t have celebrated any holidays with him.

If I knew he wouldn’t return my calls,
I wouldn’t have returned his.

If he knew his dad would die on Halloween,
What would he do differently?
What type of casket did he choose?
Did he have regrets?

Did he think about me when he was in Mississippi?

Dr. Tamara MC is an Applied Linguist who researches language, culture, and identity in the Middle East and beyond. She’s the Founder/President of Muslim Jewish Love, a nonprofit that spreads peace, love, and joy between Muslims and Jews worldwide. Dr. MC studied Poetry and Nonfiction at Columbia University. She’s been awarded residencies and fellowships at BreadLoaf, Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Sewanee, Ragdale, and Vermont Studio Center. She’s published in Salon, The Independent, Parents Magazine, Food52, and Tiny House Magazine. She was awarded the Pauline Scheer Fellowship and recently graduated from GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator. She wrote her debut memoir, Child Bride: My Islamic Temporary Marriage, for which she is seeking representation. Dr. MC writes from Tucson, Arizona.

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