my mother tells me that i get it from her. the codependency, i mean. she tells me that it’s because i grew up watching men walk all over her, and i’ve grown to let these boys walk all over me. she understands. we sit in these chairs, decorated with palm trees and ashes. she swallows smoke from her virginia slim and hands me the lighter. we’ve been out here for hours, and my pack is almost empty. she tells me that codependency is a learned trait, that i wasn’t born this way. that i can fix it. i’ve just told her the story of you, of how i gave you absolutely everything a girl could give a boy. how i picked you up and put you on your feet, i fed you for weeks. how i was the only source of happiness you really had. i smile when i tell her the part about you getting your life together and leaving. she smiles too. “you’re just like me, you know.”
these cigarettes go by, one by one. just like the boys. they leave marks on my lungs as the boys leave marks on my heart. killing me. slowly, that is.