À Lui: All the Things You're Good At by Mulan Matthayasack

You’re funny. When we first met, I saw our humor was different, because mine is dry and sarcastic, and yours is more spontaneous, but that’s okay. I find teasing cute, while you like sending memes. I love when you get clumsy, and I guess you think it’s hilarious whenever I tell you about my insecurities—how sometimes I feel low and you don’t help, and you just laugh like I’m some silly, little child who knows nothing.


You give me gifts that remind you of me, of simple, cute things. Like fluffy Pomeranian puppies with their noses scrunched, like plushie panda toys in Chinese take-out boxes. Not like the nights where we stay up arguing and you have your hands in your hair and I have tears in my eyes because we see this relationship is too complicated. When things aren’t simple and cute anymore, and you have nothing else to give besides half-assed sorries because everything is so much extra work now, and you don’t like to try. You don’t like fighting for what you want, or maybe you do—but I’m just not worth it anymore.


You’re good at listening to me. It’s one of the reasons I fell for you. You make me believe I can trust you, that I can talk to you about anything from how my family is beyond broken to how my friends aren’t even my own friends, and how I just feel so lonely sometimes. I know I can count on you because your presence is all it takes for me to feel better. So how come it’s so different when things go wrong with us? How come it’s like, suddenly, your ears are cut off, because all you say to me is, “I don’t remember that,” and it’s like my words mean nothing to you? How come it’s okay for you to get lazy, while I take the blame for being insane, when all I want to know is that you care?


You’re good at making me want you. I love that your hair smells like peppermint after you get out of the shower—how it’s sweet and cool, but it contrasts with the way you hold me right after, rich and warm, and I’m just so infatuated with you because when I love, I love deeply, and I miss you at random times in the morning after you leave, and I never thought of it as wrong until you made me see how stupid I sounded.


You’re good at directing. You’re so successful and I praise you every time. You’re so successful that you’re going to L.A., and I’m so fucking proud that I shut up and smile even though I know what it means for us. It’s the turning point in this relationship, but I deal with it because I know it makes you happy—yet the funny part is, you don’t give me any credit for supporting you. I guess because you’re moving out of Chicago, that automatically makes you better than me, and what do I know, right?


You’re good at making me feel beautiful. You’ve literally swept me off my feet and carried me like the princess I’ve always wanted to be, even though I feel like my thighs are too fat and my stomach is too round. You don’t mind the little things. You say I’m pretty and that I’m very special to you. And I believe it. I feel special whenever the morning light hits my bed and you run your pale hand along my tan skin, and I think the contrast is stellar. I feel special when you say you’re loyal, that you won’t leave me for someone else, like some pretty Japanese girl, because you’re so invested in Japanese culture—how you live and breathe it in like the way you live and breathe in air, and there’s nothing wrong with that except maybe the fact that you’re dating, I don’t know, a Thai girl. You make me feel like shit . . . but you also make me feel like a goddess.


You’re really good at leaving me on read, like all my manuscripts on your desk. You stare blankly and then say nothing when all I want, all I want, John, is to have an answer from you. All I want is to know how you feel, if you think I can make it, if you think we can make it, and if we can’t, then fucking say it. I want to be able to let go while still knowing and believing that what we had was real while it lasted. But you can’t even give me that. Instead, you keep me waiting and waiting, like a dog tied to a leash while its owner is who-knows-where.


Y̶o̶u̶'̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶Y̶o̶u̶'̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶r̶e̶a̶t̶ ̶a̶t̶ You’re best at making me feel guilty. I always get so mad at you to the point where I just want to rip out my hair and cry and see you lose everything so that you know how it feels to be so vulnerable to someone . . . but at the end of the day, I know I could never hate you. I could never stay mad at you, I could never hope the worst for you, I could never hurt you. Because unlike you, I care so much. I would never laugh at your insecurities, I would give you the world if I could, I would listen to your problems at two a.m., I would continually tell you how proud I am—but most importantly, I would answer you in a heartbeat if you needed it. I care that much, and although sometimes I just want to expose you in my writing, I can’t. Because you weren’t all that bad, either. You were truly funny and extremely loving. You complimented me and you made me feel so, so, so special to you.


You’re always pessimistic and don’t think you’re enough. Well, here’s all the things you’re good at. Congratulations.

MULAN MATTHAYASACK is a Fiction major at Columbia College Chicago. She is a hopeless romantic that enjoys rainy days, dancing, falling in and out of love, and writing about all the boys who stole her heart. She has work in The Vignette Review, and is currently working on two novels.