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My Ex had white booty shorts that read, in giant bold letters across the ass: GOD WON’T LET ME DIE. Our fucked up love took place over the course of the summer that they wore those shorts day and night.

My Ex said that I was like a bull dyke in Strawberry Shortcake’s body that summer. I was wearing cherry red denim shorts and tiny plaid halter tops and huge platform sandals and we were bleaching my hair together when we had nothing else to do. They bent me back over the side of their pink tub so they could scrub my burning scalp, and we succumbed to losing precious AC by throwing the windows open when the fumes made us cry.

They let me wear the shorts sometimes while my Strawberry Shortcake body was in love with them. They were a bull dyke in a bull dyke’s body, so God refusing to LET [THEM] DIE was more like, fuck. On them the shorts spoke to a sinking feeling of rolling out of bed in the morning and still being alive; it was personal, a bitch between them and God. When I—a femme for the time being—wore the shorts, my hips would start swishing of their own accord, and suddenly the whole world was magnetized to my ass. I could feel it: My ass, and the whole world. In the shorts, my ass swelled up and the world wanted to spank it. On My Ex, the words expressed a sigh, and on me they screamed a femmey belligerence I didn’t actually relate to. I was very clean, and too pure, that summer, but the shorts marketed to the world that I was slut who was hard to kill. When I wore them to the grocery store, I could feel people treating me like I was the kind of Girl who slept in her makeup last night.

The reality of it was that if I was wearing the shorts to the grocery store or to get us iced coffees on any given 80-degree morning that summer when we were dating, I had probably washed my face the night before—tequila-drunk, sure, but still—with a bit of the soy face wash My Ex kept in their fridge for me. If I was wearing the shorts in the morning, I had probably fallen asleep the night before clean-faced (even if shit-faced) and holding My Ex’s hand under the pillow. We’d probably woken up lovey-dovey to birds cooing on their windowsill. I was all girlfriendy and innocent that summer but My Ex was the one that got “PURE” tattooed to their knuckles, later, after we’d broken up, but in a complicated gothic script so that their fingers ended up looking like “PUKE.”

My Ex. Doesn’t it have the nicest ring to it? In hindsight that was probably why we broke up in the first place. We were both into words, labels, into branding ourselves and being seen on the streets holding hands in our respectively gendered and complimentary bodies. It was sexy to be exes, we agreed over mezcal sodas late at night—early in the morning—on any given weekday. That would be about the last thing we would agree on. It was an agreement we could come to while we were still sitting at the bar, petting the backs of each other’s hands tenderly.

Then, a bar regular shaky on his high-top stool would take a scummy interest in us and My Ex would answer him, no, “It’s complicated,” and my sweet Strawberry Shortcake hand, which had been resting on the back of My Ex’s neck, would maybe slip—oops—and pull their necklace chain, hard. Then, I would shake my femmey ass around the barroom too late on a, say, Tuesday night and blink mascaraed eyes—that maybe I wouldn’t wash off this time—at anyone half-interested, keeping My Ex in my periphery until they came up behind me and maybe, probably, pulled my bleached blonde hair ever so playfully. And by that, I mean, hard. We became neither of us PURE, after that summer. Fucking My Ex in the bar bathroom. Doesn’t it have a nice ring to it?

We would act out our parts as exes: post-love, supposedly, and not quite partners anymore, no matter how many times I stayed over and needed to borrow clothes in the morning for a trip to the grocery store for our breakfast, to our coffee spot where the barista still knew our order. “My Ex” vanishes the obligations without forgetting the history. Partners can make demands on one another, but exes can too. Choking My Ex in the bar bathroom is a whole lot more satisfying, even, than placing tender fingers on your lover’s collarbone in bed. Dating My Ex is like demanding a favor you think you deserve from a God who you’ve always worshipped. He really should owe you one, but don’t hold your breath waiting on Him. GOD [WOULDN’T] LET [US] DIE.