You Are in the Sun

June 14, 2008
By Alexandra Piunti, San Jose, CA

I've watched your cheekbones become more and more pronounced, skin stretching tighter. The shadows on your face have become darker, and I'll admit, it makes you more beautiful, if you ignore the circles under your eyes. We all know they were there before, anyway. People are saying you look really skinny now. Like a model.

The intent of this hadn’t been to become thin, but it happened that way and that just made it all the more appealing to you. The last time I went into your room there was a piece of paper taped to your mirror.

“What’s that for?” I had asked. You stepped in front of the mirror and took a few steps back, adjusting your body.


Thin legs. The bone was poking out at the knees. Thin hips. You could see the bones poking through your skirt. Thin stomach. Your shirt, which was supposed to be fitted, hung loosely. Ghostly. Thin arms, bruised arms, sinewy skin stretching where the shoulder meets the back. Instead of your face there was a white sheet of paper. Blank. I looked away from the mirror and at your face. I saw what you saw in the mirror.

Compliments. They're an odd thing for you. Odd, but you like them. Take it to heart, this feeling, because soon it won't be that way. This is just the nice part, and you think you can keep it like this. Well, you can't. You'll want it more and more and you'll go after it and forget what you're leaving behind. Maybe you won't forget, but you'll forget that you care, and if you forget something enough times, it just wanders off.

I’m sitting outside my apartment. It’s dark and when you walk up from the parking garage I forget everything I was planning on saying to you. I haven’t seen you in the longest time and I’m just glad you’re here. You never show up anymore, but today you did. The fact that I was waiting two hours doesn’t annoy me, although I feel it should.

“Hi,” I say.

You’re quiet for a few moments. “Hey,” you eventually reply. Your voice is raspy and strung out. I don’t want to say anything else in case you respond and use up your breath. Each time you breathe I’m scared it will be that last.

You light a cigarette and take a drag. I thought you hated smoking. You used to hate a lot of things. Now you don't hate anymore, but you don't really love anything, do you? You shift and lean against the wall, and your collarbones stick out even more. There's nothing between the skin and the jutting bones. It's getting late now and I carry your things up the stairs because I don't want them to break you.

We go inside my apartment. You take your bag out of my hands and put it in the corner of the room. It’s an odd place for a bag, but I don’t say anything about it.

“Do you want to watch a movie?” I ask.

“Sure,” you reply, and we sit on my sofa, which seems to swallow you.

I fumble around with the DVD player for a moment and start it.

“Edward Scissorhands,” you say.

“Remember watching that?”

A smile flickers on the edges of your lips.

“I remember. It’s still my favorite movie.”

You finally meet my gaze. Somehow you find it in yourself to smile for me. It’s forced, tight, and short. But it’s a smile. When was the last time I saw you smile? It makes me so happy.

“Be right back,” I say, and I walk into the bathroom. I sit on the edge of the tub resting my cheek on my fist and I wait until I stop crying before returning to the movie. Your eyes are closed and your mouth is open, your lips cracked and puffy.

“You asleep?” I ask.

To my surprise you open your eyes.

“I was listening.”

“Do you want any Chapstick?”

You look at me as though you’re surprised I care.

“Sure,” you say.
I walk over to the kitchen and pull it from a drawer. A few minutes later, you say, “Actually, can I keep it? Just until -”

I cut you off. “Of course.”

Another flicker smile passes your face. “Thanks.”

You're sleeping again. You sleep a lot lately. A year back you had a peaceful sleep, angelic, almost; now it's different. Instead of wanting to take a picture and save the moment, I want this one to blur. I don't want to remember you like this, your fitful sleep. You don't even notice how bad sleep is now. How many times you wake up screaming. It doesn't register with your head because it's the most peace you've seen in days. Not that you see days, really. You don't go out at all anymore. You haven't seen the sun in eight days.

When you wake up, you look at me with a Sorry, wrong number look, a thousand yard stare you accidentally perfected. You get up and walk to the bathroom without saying anything, grabbing your bag from the corner. You come back out. It's been in your blood for less than a minute now, and you're already far away from me. You find your way to the door and I watch you walk alone down my street. At least you're in the sun...

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