I first met you three days after the first day of sixth grade. That was back when I was still short and scrawny and had braces and limp hair, so I understood (although maybe not at the time) why you never took notice of me.
I remember that the first thing I ever said to you was ‘hi,’ and then I ran away, and you didn’t chase after me.
You were gorgeous. You had the flippy hair all the girls look for in guys. Your teeth were straight without braces. Your skin was pale and smooth, and your eyes were bright and shining and told stories. It seemed like everyone, even my best friend of the time, Alexis, had a crush on you. Because you were special. You laughed at even the stupid things. You were kind to the dorks and the nerds and all the middle school social classes, even the uncool ones. You were smart and talented and funny and wore Sperry’s with button downs, so naturally, you were also fashionable.
We talked a few times that year, and I can still remember every conversation clear as day. You smiled the whole time, even though I was just asking you about homework or trying pitifully to create small talk. You complimented my headband, which was gold and pink, and I was so elated I wore it for the rest of the year. You can recall that, right? It wasn’t even cute. I bet you were just trying to make me feel good, so thank you.
And then seventh grade came along, and I cut my hair into a pixie and started wearing combat boots, and you were taller and lankier and your skin had gotten tanner. You also had gotten a girlfriend. Her name was Verity. I hated Verity with a passion, not just because she dated you, but because she was mean and bitchy and was too pretty for her own good. Everyone I had ever talked to was jealous of her long golden hair and intense eyes and cherry colored lips. I could see why you would date her. She was the female equivalent of you, if that makes any sense.
You were still just as nice, maybe even nicer. You would start conversations with the people you stood next to in the lunch line. You would say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and had impeccable manners. You would never complain about anything, at least as far as I knew, and day by day, I was falling in love with you.
Maybe seventh grade was a bit early to have such strong emotions, and maybe that wasn’t what I was feeling. But you were perfect, and it was hard not to love someone like you.
I am in eleventh grade now and I am struggling.
Mom and Dad aren’t together anymore, which hurts. Dad now lives in the city, and Mom and I are still stuck out in suburbs, living in the same neighborhood, which is filled with almost identical stucco houses. I do my homework and eat lots of Baked Lays and read at least five library books a week. I can walk to the library from where I live, and I make it a point to read as much as possible. Mom says that it’s stupid. I say that it’s life.
My routine is the same every morning. I get into the shower, and I like the water lukewarm, not too hot and not too cold. I wash my face and my hair and my body and I get out and blow dry myself, even my stomach and my legs because the air feels good.
I don’t apply much makeup, except for blush and foundation and sometimes mascara, and because my skin’s so pale, just like yours was, lipstick is a necessity. Except you didn’t need it. Your lips were naturally pink and your cheeks always had a rosy tint, which I was jealous of. I wish that I don’t need makeup. I wish I were pretty without it.
Then I get changed, which is usually a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and my trusty gray cardigan thing, but sometimes I wear a skater skirt or a dress. I eat breakfast, which is a granola bar, and then I head out to the front of our neighborhood towards the bus stop. Since the neighborhood is big, a lot of kids wait there, and the bus is always crowded, which I hate. It’s hard to find a spot, and sometimes we have to squeeze three people to a seat.
When I get to school, I find Mikayla and Frances and Melissa and Megan and Rachel and Katherine, and we talk or discuss homework or go on Tumblr. It’s the same thing every day. Usually Melissa’s complaining about grades, Frances and I are discussing Doctor Who or Harry Potter, and Megan and Rachel are reading books. Mikayla and Katherine are on their phones. We sit inside, next to Melissa’s locker, and when the bell rings, we don’t say goodbye. We just get to class.
Over the weekend, we do stuff together, whether it’s studying or going ice skating at the local rink or stuffing our faces at the Burrito Palace. But it all feels a bit forced, you know? You probably don’t. You had lots of friends that you were always close to.
It’s strange. We’re all different. We argue more than the average group of friends. And I don’t tell them anything, really. I didn’t tell them about you.
I didn’t tell anyone about you. Maybe one day I will.
One afternoon, Melissa and I were walking home to her house, when we saw you. You may remember this, you may not. It doesn’t matter. Not really.
You were sitting on a bench near her neighborhood, and the sun was shining down on your face, giving you an iridescent golden glow. Your hair was shiny and fresh and your white Polo was fitted and tight. I remember practically dying, right then and there, because you were so beautiful. The only problem was, you weren’t alone. You were with Verity, who had gotten, if anything, even prettier.
You were grinning at her, and your teeth were so white that they sparkled in the sunlight. She was grinning back, one of her skinny hands resting on your kneecap. You just stared at each other, smiling like idiots, and I hated you. I hated how you were perfect, and why, of all people you could have had, you had chosen Verity Duncan.
I don’t hate you anymore, just so you know.
Anyway, Melissa and I continued on the way back to her house, and neither of us said anything. I think she knew- Melissa has a way of being able to tell things- even though I never said it. At least not out loud. I’m not good with talking, so I try to say things in other ways. I try to convey things with actions, or with my eyes, and I think that was part of what made you special.
I think I’ve mentioned that your eyes told stories. And they did. It’s rare, I think, to look into someone’s eyes and witness everything. Because when I stared into those ever smiling eyes of yours, I could see things about you and about your life and it made me fall for you just a little harder. I remember how I would stare at you, and sometimes, you would stare right back, and it would make my heart flip and my stomach would fall out, but I wouldn’t dare look away because your eyes were entrancing and captivating. And then you would smile, which you did a lot, and then go back to whatever it was you were doing.
I’m pretty sure I blushed. I mean, I always blush, even when it isn’t embarrassing. I can feel it. It’s like the sun is beating down on me, and I can’t help it.
I still blush now, even if you aren’t here and there isn’t anybody left to feel embarrassed around.
In eighth grade, we worked together on a project. I don’t know if you remember it, but you probably do, because we got a 95 on it, and it was really good. We labored at it together in class for three days and met up at the library over the weekend. It was on Animal Farm, and we had created a laminated propaganda poster with quotes from the book and cutouts of all the animals and everything. I realized, when we worked together, how smart you were. You knew everything, it seemed, about the book, and you had even memorized some of the important quotes. Your voice was deep and crackly and it was hard to concentrate on anything with you talking.
While we were at the library, I think, I started talking about books, which is strange. Because I don’t do that with my friends. Well, I talk about Harry Potter and the Fault in Our Stars, and all the shit we have to read for school, but never about the things that gave me a different view on life. (Harry Potter did, but that’s different.)
I told you about this one book, Absent, that changed how I perceived death and friendship and love. I told you about Dear Zoe, which gave me the inspiration to write this to you, although at the time it was just a really good book. I told you about Tuck Everlasting, which made me question the want to be immortal. I told you about When You Reach Me, which is a kids’ book, but it still made me cry. I told you, I think, about A Corner of the Universe, which I love and have read almost uncountable times.
You listened. You didn’t judge, or at least I didn’t think you did. You sat there and stared at me and when I was done you asked me to pick a book out for you to read. I chose Dear Zoe, which is about a girl writing a letter to her dead little sister. It’s all a letter, actually, and perhaps it was those simple 180 pages that made me write this.
You read it, I think, but we never talked about it. You gave me your number but I never texted you, which I regret. I’m sorry. I was nervous, you know. I wanted to impress you.
Maybe we would’ve become friends, maybe we would’ve dated, but I know that’s a stretch.
I still have it. Your number. Maybe I should call you. You won’t pick up. But I should call it, anyway, because maybe you’ll have something that says to call you back. And when I hear it, maybe I’ll follow the instructions. Maybe I will call you back, one day. Or maybe I’ll cry at the sound of your voice.
Sometimes, my mom and I fight. I know she’s stressed about Dad and work, so I try not to snap at her, but God, it’s hard. She’s constantly yelling or bossing me around. I remember what she was like before Dad left- back when she was cool and calm and collected and had crazy hair. Now, she does her hair in the same hairsprayed bun every morning, and she doesn’t take it down until she goes to bed, and even then she brushes it until it’s limp and flat.
She used to be a little disgruntled, but it wasn’t a problem. She was what you might call ‘free spirited’, because she would wear ripped jeans and old t-shirts and had bumper stickers all over the back of her 2006 Prius. She loved cooking and eating and reading about organic foods, and she hated the city in general. Sometimes I think that’s why Dad moved there. So she wouldn't visit.
Now she wears business attire wherever she goes, even if it’s just to Target. She buys microwave meals that I eat for lunch and for dinner. She even has a new car, an SUV, and it’s a gas guzzler, something that she had always ridiculed. It was a type of car she’d pledged never to buy, and now it’s in our driveway.
She doesn’t talk much, and when she does, she’s upset. I remember when Mom and I would sing at the top of our lungs to High School Musical in the car, laughing and bobbing our heads, not caring that we were off key. I remember when she would force me to watch nature documentaries with her, and the whole time she would be telling me other facts that were pointless but more interesting than the ones on the TV. I remember when she would read to me, books that were indie and not necessarily good but conveyed messages. Mom was into that sort of thing. She liked hidden meanings. Her catch phrase was always 'life's a metaphor.'
She doesn’t do any of that. Not anymore. Not even her catchphrase. Sometimes I wonder if she even remembers it. Now it’s all about her work, which is at Comcast. All she does is answer phone calls with a fake happy voice and try to sell people rip-off packages. She works overtime most nights, which means I usually have to eat dinner and go to bed alone.
It’s at times like these, as I lie in bed, staring at my glowing laptop screen, that I miss you. That I miss Mom and I miss Dad and I miss Mom and Dad together. Sometimes, I think the pain is too strong, that I’m going to collapse under it, but I can’t give up.
I’m going to live in place of you, who can’t.
A couple days ago, I went to visit Dad. He lives in an apartment, and it’s small and doesn’t have much furniture in it. He sleeps on an air mattress, his table only seats two people, and his chairs are wood and uncomfortable. He makes me dinner, which is some sort of chili, and I don’t eat it. He doesn't, either.
He tries talking to me, but the conversation is strained. He asks me about school. I say it’s fine. It’s not. I don’t mention you. He asks me how my friends are, and I say that they’re fine, too. He asks how Mom is, and this time it’s too hard to not lie. I tell him that she’s terrible. That she’s a different woman and she’s never home and it’s all his fault. He doesn’t respond. He reaches for my hand, but I pull away.
I wish you were here. Maybe all of this wouldn’t be so freaking hard if I had your face to look forward to seeing every day.
You once caught me crying. You probably remember this. I certainly do.
It was in the chorus room at school. I was having a bad day. A really bad day. Mom and Dad had been fighting again, loudly, and then Mom had left. She wasn’t there in the morning. I had failed an Algebra 2 test, I had messed up my solo in Musical Theatre, in front of an entire eighty person class, and I was stressed.
And then there was you.
It was during lunch. I didn’t want to see my friends. I wanted to see you, but you would be with Verity, or some of your guys, like Patrick or Connor or Lee. So I had laid my head down on one of the plastic chairs and cried. I had cried until my throat was raw and sore and my hair was sticking to my wet cheeks and my lungs were gasping for air. Only once I had calmed down did I realize that your hand was resting on my back.
I remember being horror stricken. I had wiped my face, snot and tears and all, onto the sleeve of my jacket, and stood up, backing away. You had concern on your face and you asked me what was wrong. I had told you everything, and then you had hugged me.
You gave nice hugs. It was long one, and it made my heart hurt. All of a sudden, you had pulled away, told me that everything was going to be okay, and then you left.
I sat in the chorus room until the next bell rang. I felt like a matchstick, as if I had once had fire, but now I was extinguished, never to be rekindled.
I’m sorry that you had to see that.
It’s just hard. Everything about this, about you, is making even the simplest things infinitely more complicated. My memories are haunting me, and it’s all because of you. Of the raging fire and sharp ice you left behind.
School is getting harder. I know I’m quieter, more detached. It’s your fault, and I wish you didn’t have to go and…. Never mind.
I consider it a privilege to have known you.
Melissa has a boyfriend now. His name’s Gabe. I would think that you would know him. He was taken out of school for, like, three months last year when he came to school after getting high. He’s a little better now. He doesn’t have greasy hair like he once did, but he’s still too tall and skinny to really exist.
I think it’s funny, because Melissa can have anyone. You know Melissa. She attracts every guy, and maybe at one time, you, but what do I know? Anyway. She says that she loves him, and that he’s perfect and they’re meant to be, and I just laugh, because they aren’t. Still, she feels in love, and as far as I know, Gabe loves her back. It’s a bit twisted, but so are hormones. I kind of wish that I were Melissa. Then I could be in love. And maybe at one point, I could’ve had you.
But never mind that.
I’ve gone off and depressed myself, so I think I’m going to talk about this book I’ve just read, called Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. I read it in one night and loved it. I even cried a little bit. The last chapter taught me a lesson, I think- that sometimes things end, and it’s important to take advantage of it while you have it.
Maybe I should’ve taken advantage of you. Well, not in that way, but of your presence. Of your smile, and your eyes. which crinkled when you were happy, and of that moment when I was crying and you comforted me. I never thought that we would ever get together, because I’m not pretty and I’m not particularly smart or funny like you, but I never thought that of all things to separate us it would be this.
I’m depressing myself again. So I’ll talk about another book. If I Stay. The movie just came out, but I haven’t seen it, because the book’s perfect.
You were in a coma for two weeks. Sometimes I wonder if you were like Mia. If you had a choice. If you chose to let go. And sometimes I wonder if you could still think while you were in that coma, and I sometimes wonder that if you could, if you ever thought about me.
I went for a walk last night.
Winter had just arrived, and the air was biting and cold and the wind whipped my hair and my coat out behind me. I kind of felt like Sherlock, from the TV show. I was wearing my long black overcoat and my Ravenclaw scarf, but I who am I to say? I don’t have curly hair or blue eyes and I’m not particularly tall or skinny. That’s okay, though. Over the years, my averageness has just become a part of me, and it doesn’t even bother me anymore.
I walked past the Wal-Mart, which was open 24 hours, and I was so cold that I decided to go inside. I walked through every aisle, staring at the Colgate and E.L.F and Swiss Miss and Tampax displays, and I felt numb. The air was warm and I was sweating but I didn’t take my coat off. It felt like it protected me.
Finally, my eyes were so tired that I could barely keep them open. I left the Wal-Mart and entered the frozen outdoors, sliding my coat off in the process. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be protected. I let the icy air encircle me and follow me as I trudged home, avoiding the corner of the road where the homeless people sat and talked and smoked lord-knows-what.
When I entered the house again, everything was silent. Which was good. It meant that Mom hadn’t woken up.
I ran over to my room and got changed, slipping on a pair of pajama pants and a tank top, and then I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in years.
I walked into Mom’s bedroom. The air was cool but heavy, and it smelled heavily of her perfume and hairspray. I could barely make out her bed and dresser and closet door, which was half open. Inside, I couldn’t see much, but it looked messy.
I managed to make it over to her bed without waking her up, and slowly, I slid in beneath the covers. I could feel her body, which was warm and bony and small, and I snuggled up against it, her long red hair falling over my face. Her arms wrapped around me, her fingers rubbing gentle circles in my back. I squeezed my eyes shut and pretended that you were still alive and Dad was still here and I was sleeping with my mom because I wanted to, not because I needed to. Which I did. This was what she had to have, and deep down inside, I knew that this was what I needed too.
Onto another note.
I dreamt about you that night. I dreamt that you were alive and well and we were kissing. To be honest, I’ve only ever kissed one guy, Fletcher, the school douche, but you won’t tell anyone, will you? You won’t.
You were different in my dream. When I kissed Fletcher, he was all spit and blood and he made my lips chapped and sore. But when I kissed you, you were all hard angles and straight lines, if that makes any sense, but you were also soft and slow and you tasted like heaven. I don’t know though. It was just a dream.
I’m not going to go into details, but I will tell you this.
I woke up with tear stains on my cheeks.
I’m not gorgeous like Verity, in fact, I’m not even pretty. My body’s okay, if a bit round, but my hair’s always tangly and lately I barely bother to brush it. It looks okay when it's knotty, actually.
No matter how much makeup I put on, though, it never really covers the acne scars on my forehead or enhances my nearly nonexistent cheekbones. I have kind of small, squinty eyes and truly, there’s nothing special about me.
You already know this. I’m just repeating it so that wherever you are, you can really remember me and compare my drabness with Verity.
Still. I’ve always wondered. Would you have pushed for me if I were beautiful?
Sometimes, I don’t care how I look. I wonder why. Because what’s the point? Who am I trying to impress?
You. I don’t care that you’re gone. I’ll never be done with trying to be pretty. For you.
In every shadow there is light, in every tear, a smile. In death, I know there is still life, which lingers for a while...... -Unknown
My mother’s Jewish and my dad’s Catholic, which means I have a fairly good background with both. I would identify as Jewish based soley on the fact that I had a Bat Mitzvah in seventh grade, which you came to. I remember that afternoon, after the service, Mom took me to get my hair and makeup done at this really small salon for the party that night. A few days ago, I’d bought a dress at Macy’s, and I was really proud of it. I know that I couldn’t have found anything better. It was navy blue and sequin-y, and on top of that, it was lacey and short, had spaghetti straps the size of wires, and big bra cups that made me feel like a woman. I wore a little tiara and a high gold heels and I felt like a princess.
And then you showed up during the middle of the Cupid Shuffle, wearing a suit with a jacket and a tie, your hair swept back, a white envelope addressed to me in your hand, and I knew that you were my prince.
We didn’t talk much during the ordeal. You told me ‘happy Bat Mitzvah’, which I thought was funny, because no one says that. And then you looked sheepish, and I was still laughing as I hugged you. You smelled like cologne and hair gel and I swear that my heart exploded. Sometimes cliches are true.
But back to the main point- my mom’s Jewish and my dad’s Catholic.
Even through that, I’m pretty much Atheist. I don’t know- I like the thought of God, of heaven, but I can’t bring myself to believe in it. I took World History last year, and we studied Egypt and Mesopotamia and Assyria, and they all had their own religions, and they all had so called scientific evidence for it. What makes Christianity or Judaism any different?
Again, I don’t know. I’m confused about everything right now, even religion. All I know is that I like to think of you up in the sky, looking down and watching me write this. If you are, you’re probably laughing, because I told you how the cups in my Bat Mitzvah dress made me feel like a woman, or how I’m pitiful because I’m writing you a letter that you’ll never get.
It helps. I’m writing this to you because I don’t talk much in person, especially to you, and now I’m making up for it.
I’m sorry I never texted you.
I took a shower this morning.
Before I tell you what happened in the shower (nothing dirty) you should know something.
I haven’t cried since it happened. I know that’s strange, and I‘m sorry if your feelings are hurt. It’s just......every time I want to cry, my throat becomes the size of a pin, and my eyes close, and I can feel the water forming behind my eyelids-
I can’t let it out. Every day, it feels like half of me is missing, and it’s all because you’re gone and never coming back. I’m sorry I haven’t cried. I can’t. It will make it real. I don’t want it to be real. I want you to be back here more than anything, I want to tell you what I have never said before to anyone in my life, but I can’t.
Back to the shower.
I was scrubbing shampoo through my hair when I felt it. It was like someone was punching me in the gut. I stumbled backwards, and I could feel the tears coming. Although this pain wasn’t a physical one. It was eating me from the outside in, and the tears wouldn’t stop. I could feel the ice cold water against my skin, hitting it like icicles, turning my arms and legs red, but I didn’t care.
I think it was delayed shock, but I’m not sure.
I miss you. I miss you so much, and you’re never coming back. You are, were, just a crush, nothing more, but you were special. You are special. I don’t want to let go, I don’t want to face the truth that you’re gone, because when my life was upside down, I always had you to look forward to.
And now you’re gone and I'm stuck sobbing in a frigid shower, and just like that, my world has fallen apart.
Be with me always- take any form- drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!
Emily Bronte. My eyes skim over the page, the words blurring together save this single sentence, and I am gutted. Because I'm alone in the abyss, and I will never, ever find you.
I came to visit you in the hospital.
Mom was at work, and a lot of kids from school had gone that day to go see you, so I decided to go too.
You had devices hooked up all over you. You had some sort of mask on your face, and your skin was paler than usual, and when I touched your hand, it was almost as cold as my shower.
I only had a few minutes before the next visitor was allowed in, so I decided to tell you everything that I’d been waiting to say, minus one thing. I don’t think you heard me. You were out like a light and you never even twitched. I even picked up one your hands and cried into it, letting my tears warm up your skin a little bit. I was desperate for you to wake up, but you didn’t.
And then I had to go.
Something in my gut told me I would never see you again, but I didn’t believe it until I got the news. The news that you were gone. It felt like a nightmare. It couldn’t be true. You were the ever-present, smiling, smart, charismatic golden boy. You couldn’t. It was impossible, but then again, it wasn’t, because now you’re gone, and I’m alone, struggling in the abyss.
If only you were here right now.
Yesterday was a Saturday, and Mikayla and I went ice-skating together. I guess you could say that I had fun, even though the air inside was biting and chilly and the skates were a size too small. But we tripped and fell countless times, until we were both laughing, and that’s something I don’t do too often now that you’re gone.
The only thing that wasn’t fun was the conversation. The entire time, Mikayla talked about some guy named Alexander. Do you know Alexander? Maybe you do. I don’t. He’s a senior and on the baseball team, but I don’t give a crap about baseball, so of course I wouldn’t know who he is. Anyway. She kept talking about how gorgeous he is, how perfect they are for each other, and I could only think of one thing, the very thing I couldn’t bring myself to say.
We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. -Unknown
I remember that once I got to go to Disney World. I was ten years old, and it was a dream come true (literally). Even though we (Mom, Dad, and I) had to wait hours to get onto rides, it was worth it. The music was loud and the beat was strong, the food smelled like heaven on earth, and the atmosphere itself was special. I loved the characters and the sodas and the gift shops and the personality of it all, and when we had to leave, I cried.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this. Maybe I’m just stalling for time until I have to say the final goodbye. Maybe I want to lighten the mood. Maybe I’m boring you.
I just……The epitome of the story is that even the best things have to end, sometime earlier than we want them to.
For example, you.
I could write about our other experiences together. Or I could ramble on about my life and how I want Mom and Dad to get back together and my friends to be a little more friend-like, but I don’t want to. This letter is about you and I’ve wasted it telling you about me. I’m sorry. I guess it all leads up to the same thing, though.
I’ve never been good at these things. Saying goodbye, that is. And since I didn’t get to do it in person, I’ll do it now, because I want to and have to and need to.
Before I say it, you should know that your death isn’t the end. People will remember you, including me. There is beauty in life, but there is beauty in death, too, and I hope that you have found it.
On that same topic, I once read this Shakespeare quote.
It was ‘when I saw you, I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.’
You were always smiling, and I…..I can’t bring myself to say it in words because it’s hard, because it’s harder than AP exams or reading War and Peace. It’s harder than saying goodbye, because it is saying goodbye, only so much more.
I love you.
I have loved you and I always will, and I understand that it’s time to move on, but I can’t, which is why this letter is so long and stupid. Because these words, these silly little words, are my last connection to you, and I want to tell you so much more, I want to convey through these typed sheets of paper how much I need you, but I have to stop. I don't want to. I wish I could keep going, but I've dragged this out, and the epitome of it is that I will never, ever forget you.
I don't know what I'm going to do with this letter, to be honest. Maybe I'll go to your grave and read it. Or maybe this letter isn't for you. Maybe this letter, all along, has been for me, for my eyes, to get out the feelings and the words I can't express or say.
But it doesn't matter, whether it's for you or for me. I think it's required to say goodbye, because you’re never coming back. I guess that’s part of life. Letting go and saying goodbye. You’re my everything and then some, and I loved you, and you smiled, because I think you knew. And that’s okay.
Everyone has last words, and so I will choose mine wisely and hope that I do you justice with them.
And since I feel like I must say it again, you are my everything. We were never close but you kept me alive, and the memory of you will continue to pump my blood through my veins.
I’m so, so sorry that you’re gone, and I wish you were here, but I hope that you’re happy and safe wherever it is dead people go, and that maybe we will meet again.
I am in no shame of saying it again, not anymore- I love you.
The girl who wants to see you smile again.
DAT BE ALL! So, the next chapter is going to be a bit about the books I mentioned in here (and maybe a few more :P). Please comment, I worked really hard on this!