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It's Better to Forget.
It is dark, he thought. And it was. An hour before, he had closed the blinds, the door and turned out the single lamp on his night stand. The only light being produced in the room was the baleful ochre from his clock, filtered through the heavy glass of water sitting in front of it on his night stand. In his lap, the light drew little dark fires across his hands, which were cupped in a position that suggested he was holding a bowl with something very heavy in it. His face was bent over the bowl, staring and not blinking. In order to accommodate this, his back was curved over so much that he barely seemed to be sitting on the edge of his bed at all; instead he bore all of his weight on his bare feet, which were sinking into the dull wooden floor.
Being dark, and where it was not dark, the color of old blood; the room matched his thoughts with razor edged sharpness. This was because he was remembering; more precisely he was remembering her.
They had always been very close, in third grade her bike had fallen into a creek in a park near their apartment complex. Though it had been bitter cold for autumn, like a loyal and gallant troubadour he saved it, nearly breaking his ankle in the process. That was the first time he could remember ever being kissed. But the problems, like any others, were caused by hormones. In the beginning of ninth grade he told her how he felt and she told him she had been waiting, those resulting weeks were full of firsts too. Then, in the spring, with the cruel tool of hallway gossip he found she wasn’t really his at all. The following six weeks he received his first “D”.
It was time, he thought. Ah, yes time, with its’ woefully indiscriminate ability to make everything warm and fuzzy. They hadn’t spoken the entire summer, he purposefully chose a camp he knew she wasn’t going to, and when he was home his parents were more effective than any restraining order. But once school began, without the barriers of distance and his parents, it was barely cold and they were barely in their jackets before they were back in each other’s arms. This time she didn’t wait for him, in April she told him she was seeing someone else, had been seeing someone else. That spring he went to see his first psychiatrist.
Pitifully history was not his best subject, and so the next year when the leaves fell, so did he for her. Right on cue, on the Saturday before Easter she left, skipped town for three days with a boy they had both known from Drama. His parents began looking a private school right then and there.
The next two years had been very good. In a new school, outside her sphere of influence he made a new life with new friends. He even managed to graduate in the top fifteen percent of his class and secured a place at a great university. His freshman year in college turned out better than he had any right to believe it would, he made straight A’s, managed to channel his tumultuous high school experience into a win at a state drama competition, and to top it all off he ended up dating a beautiful green eyed girl who made him smile and laugh so often he thought his jaw might come unhinged from overuse. Ironically, the seeds that would grow into the cause of the worst time of his life were sown in his best. Over winter break she had somehow gotten hold of his cell phone number. The first time she called he had hung up at the second syllable of her name, but time heals all wounds (except for the ones it doesn’t), and the second time she called he managed to let her finish a sentence. Eventually though, he called her back, and through the magic of technology they reunited, but with one major difference; without each other’s physical presence they were able to develop a relationship that for the first time since high school was mutually beneficial. Neither one of them felt the need to go any further, and so, with miles safely between them, they fell back into the old, familiar patterns of childhood; teasing, telling stupid jokes, reassuring each other, all without the awkwardness that had reared its’ head at the advent of their sexuality. With this happy circumstance he was able to keep the green eyed girl, his oldest friend and most importantly his sanity.
I screwed up, he thought. At the end of his freshman year he received an e-mail from her that should have been heralded by the trumpets of the apocalypse. It said that she could transfer to his university next year, but that only if he agreed. His mind was still set in the childlike friendship he had shared with her that spring, and so like a child, he replied with a decidedly unknowing, “Of course!” It was seeing her, really, that did him in. After two years apart just the sight of her hit him like a two-ton truck. When she walked up to him across the campus yard his mind overloaded, every color he could see screamed at him, the grass below their feet seemed such a bright lime technicolor that he was sure that if he lifted up a shoe if would be painted green, the sky seemed such a heavy and real blue that he was surprised the color didn’t fall and crush everything on the ground. He wanted to vomit, he wanted to run away, but all he could do was look at her. In the first few weeks all he had to give up was the green eyed girl, but one by one his friends came to him, tried to show him what was happening. He had told all of them about her, and now they tried to show him the truth, that someone like her never really changed. But he paid them no mind, and one by one he lost the friends he had earned.
Sitting on his bed and remembering, he couldn’t decide whether she had changed a little or he was just too addicted that time, but either way it lasted until the end of May.
He was trying to find her, to congratulate her on her exams. She wasn’t at her dorm, so he asked around, more often receiving snickers and whispered comments than actual answers. A line of questioning eventually led him to a frat house on campus grounds. The door was answered by a surprisingly humane boy who let him in without a word. Inside he found her, lumped crookedly against a wall, a half finished bottle of cheap beer clutched in her right hand. When she saw him she didn’t say a word, didn’t even cry really, her eyes just seeped tears as she sank to the floor. He picked her up like a child, and as he was leaving some of the less kind members of the house let him know that on no uncertain terms was this uncommon for her and that drinking wasn’t all that she had done. He carried her back to her dorm room, placed her gently in her bed and left. His memory tells him that she tried to say something as he closed the door, but he would rather believe that she was silent throughout the entire ordeal. He went back to his dorm and remembers going into the bathroom with the intention of shaving, he does not remember doing so. Instead, he remembers looking in the mirror, with the shaving cream drying into scum on his face and the weighty feel of the razor in his right hand and most of all he remembers remembering. As he stared at a mirror he remembered his first three years of high school, the friends he had made and why he lost them, and he remembered his now sinking grades. As he was about to do something very messy he luckily remembered something else, he remembered a pair of bright green impish eyes and a matching smile that never failed to bring up his own. At that point he decided he would look better with a beard, washed off the scum and threw his razor into the trash.
The next day he never said a word and after his last exam he packed up and left. Over the summer he thought a lot and made a lot of decisions; he decided he would never shave, he decided he would keep going, he decided that he would never see her again, that she should realize that that was best, he also decided that once school began he was going to try to make amends with all his old friends and especially with a certain green eyed girl.
But in his darkened room, across from him, sitting on the floor was a laptop, whose screen displayed an e-mail that had made all his decisions mean nothing.
It read: Hi, Peter I just got my schedule today, it’s attached so see where we match. I’ll call you tonite so we can hook up once we’re both at campus. I can’t wait!!
What was wrong with her? Couldn’t she see what she did to him, what she did to herself? He had checked her schedule, just to make sure, hoping, but it really didn’t matter. He knew what would happen, she would hunt him down, he would just catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of his eye, and the grass would paint his shoes and the sky would fall. Then the cycle would turn again, leaving him crushed and lonely. So he was getting out.
Next to the glass of water were five capsules pulsing with the malevolent red shade projected by his clock, lifting one hand out of his lap he reached for them.