Warning: fiction and non-fiction will tangle. Don’t twist the spaces in between and don’t take it so personally. I don’t owe anything.
Here it is. Two years later, and I’m still haunted.
The New Year has never held a bigger surprise for me than that, and to this day I still feel the explosion. I remember the suddenness of loss, the split-second spin of the planet upside-down. You bade your first good-bye, quietly, from miles and miles away.
You kissed me in the square room when I was sick. I forget how it felt. But we laughed and you asked and you stuttered and I remember one thing: we were happy.
There was the mad and the sad and the I-don’t-know-just-make-it-stop. A month, or two; was it three? I don’t remember much, but now I know that we were fading then, and you would begin to haunt me. By the time I forgave you, you were long gone. You bade your second good-bye, from miles away. You didn’t say a word.
You kissed me in the shadows at night, once, and not for long. I remember it. What I can’t explain is how I don’t miss your kiss or your hands or your eyes. I miss your words, and I miss my friend.
I have a small body and I’m scared all the time, but if you want to know what I care about, wait for my voice to get big. I’m barely twenty, and I don’t know at what age the world begins to get heavier. I’m pretty sure my heart broke at fifteen. But I’m still here, and I can still love, so perhaps things went better after all. There’s a tattoo on my arm; it doesn’t say anything, but it isn’t permanent. Maybe that says something about me or the person I was when I got it. People say you’re only twenty once. People are wrong. You’re only twenty, three-hundred and sixty-five times, and we forget that. We forget who we are, what we are, because we’re small and scared all the time, but try this: care about something. Because when you care enough, you’ll find that you’re bigger than your body. I did, and I’m barely twenty. I’ll have three hundred and sixty-five chances to be twenty, and maybe I’ll use one of them to be someone who has a tattoo that’s permanent. And maybe I won’t. I’m tired, and I don’t just mean my body; but my heart still works, and I guess that says something about me. Or about hearts. Or about love. Maybe love is permanent. Maybe love is my tattoo.
We fit into each other, quite unexpectedly, like orange and blue, earth and air. A bit strange, but we fit. The honesty was suffocating; we made rules that weren’t necessary, but we wanted to try. You said you knew it was coming, but you held on and saved the blame for me, fingers crossed. No, no, no, darling. I do not hate you. I remember the way your name felt around my lips, I remember the time you lost me in the crowd. You haunt me, with the things we never told each other despite promises of no secrets. I wish I haunted you, too.
In Year One, we went to see the exhibit of secrets. We wondered and pondered what it meant to people to write their secret to the world, nameless. Was it a release, or was it nothing if they didn’t even know it was you? Was this one a joke? Is this one someone we know? Could this be my soul-mate and not know it?
Of course, I had a secret. Of course, I didn’t tell you which one. But it was there, right below your question, my answer: “I still remember.”
The thing is that we’re all a little lost. Some of us want to find ourselves, some of us are trying to.
“Come back. Stay. Please,” you said, not ever.
I think of home, deserted desert, and wonder why you love it so. My fingerprints are still on the wall, my lipstick stain at the edge of the sink, long after she moved in. Your scent is long gone, your shirt buried in forgotten places, and you’ve never once been here, in the city of your dreams.
“Do you miss her?” she never asked.
But we remember, don’t we?
“Are you okay? Is everything alright?”
Dizzying, blurring vision from the leaks on your face, and you choke down the questions.
“What’s happened? Is everything okay?”
I don’t know, I don’t know.
Cold tiles and grass and concrete.
I don’t know.
“Are you lost? Are you sick?”
Maybe, no. Ghosts running through the stone seas and notebooks buried in golden rust.
“Are you alright?”
I forget the question.
We were in the middle of the street, of course, when it began raining. I was in the middle of a yell and you in the middle of a defense. But you pushed me up the sidewalk and told me to run. The nearest inn was a few turns away.
We were in the middle of a war, I think, when it began hurting. I was in the middle of a word and you in the middle of a song. But I pulled you out of your hole and told you to dance. The nearest exit was a lifetime away.
We were in the middle of love, they say, when it ended. Words are drowning and I am lost.
I can write with frozen hands, frozen toes, sometimes a frozen heart (like twinkling icicles, and the cold whisper before it goes numb). But I cannot write with a frozen soul.
I can write with empty thoughts, empty pens, empty notebooks. (On the sky, the sand, the rainfall on car windows, and lost boys’ eyes.) But I cannot write with empty chairs. I don’t know where the stories are.
When we meet, it always takes some time to get used to her eyes again. Maybe honesty is easy to forget. Or maybe it’s just her eyes.
(I know her stories come from places after all.)
I ask if she feels everything she writes. She understands. She says I thrive on disturbances. I love the way she says anything. I understand.
(You can’t become my ghost if I can’t lose you.)
People who love me past midnight love me best. Not most, just best. The relief and the laughter were comforting, and I don’t get this honesty from a lot of people.
(No, thank you.)