I remember you used to call me, “Stella” for reasons you could never adequately explain. Every attempt made you sound stoned out of your mind or like you were hiding something. I chalked it up to a name you assigned to all of your girlfriends and I didn’t care because you looked how you looked and smelled how you smelled and fucked how you fucked.

The week after we broke up and you moved out, I opened a hand-written letter addressed to you from a Stella Chadwick. It was your mom. I never gave you the letter and involuntarily reevaluated what the past seven months had really been about. I thought maybe I shouldn’t have cut every grilled cheese sandwich I made for you on the diagonal or shampooed your hair whenever we bathed together. You never asked for these things. I gave them willingly. How would I have known?

Or, somehow, did I?

Fixing your tie, handing you a towel fresh from the dryer, wiping the wet rings from underneath your beer and finding it a coaster; you’d follow each action with loving praise in a signature song crooned quietly: Sweet, sweet Stella, Stella so sweet. A song I always worked hard to hear; even when on my knees: Pavlovian.

I find myself humming it sometimes when I need a dark place to go to. It always gets me there.