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“Do you remember last summer?” Terra’s eyes betrayed no emotion. She asked the question as if it held no significance to her. It probably didn’t.
“No,” I answered simply. Of course, I was lying. Last summer was the summer you fell off the edge of our universe, spiraling into another dimension. I wish you’d come back.
Terra’s honey eyes prodded mine. I remember the very evening we found out. Your mom came over crying and, I swear, I knew it then. Her face was paper white as she told us that you were in the ER, that Tommy had been going on a joy ride up the mountain and you wanted to tag along. Tommy hit a deer, the car swerved...They say your chest was crushed. I try not to think about it anymore at night; about your heart dying as your bones cracked. Imaged flashing through your brain synapses as you reached synaptic plasticity. Memories of all the past summers we shared.
I looked up to see Terra getting up from the park bench and I didn’t object. As she walked away I thought about that summer. Your eyes were saturated with color from the sun, turning them an olive green. The bike rides we made to the library, checking out J.D. Salinger and sipping on Izzies in the front yard. We were twelve then. My thirteenth birthday was on the third of July, and we celebrated by going to the park behind our houses and making soda explosions.
Sometimes it feels like you’re still here. Little ghosts and shadows of you still linger around us.
My hamstrings burn with the effort of biking up the mountain. I slow down as I reach the river where you fell off the edge of our universe.
Why did you have to leave? You were the sun that our planets revolved around. You were the star that the black holes wanted to suck up.
A chickadee starts singing from the trees we used to climb. My tears mix with the river water and I want to forget you. Memories of you are starting to fade; your Chuck Taylors, that poster of Joy Division, the scar above your ankle. But I won’t forget you, because I can’t. You are a supernova and your light will be etched into the backs of my eyelids, whether I like it or not.
“How could I forget that summer?,” I ask the world.
“Amanda,” Mom calls from the hallway as I walk through the door. I glance at the clock to see it’s half past nine. Her eyebrows raise, insisting I come up with a good excuse.
“I went on a bike ride.” Mom’s features shift from guarded contempt to a more vulnerable emotion I can’t place. I haven’t gone bike riding since you left. “Okay,” She says hesitantly,” Go to bed. M’kay?”
“Okay. I love you,” I say, thinking of all the ways I could so easily fall off the edge of this universe in sleep without having told her those words.
My bed welcomes me with its cozy warmth and scent of sleep. Sleep. Liam, I know you’ll always remain that chaotic, vivacious mass of wonder. Your spirit’s too strong to just leave. I used to question the afterlife. Religion is just this collection of beliefs that go completely against all human logic, but I know there’s a place for people with souls like yours. And, yeah, maybe there aren’t angels singing Hallelujah, but instead Sigur Ros or Elliot Smith. All I know is that wherever you are you’re not dead.
Because when a supernova dies it doesn’t just leave, you spread your neutrinos -your stardust- across the galaxy.
There are people, every now and then, that you spill out most of your secrets to. It’s just easy with them. You think back to all the influences they made on you and how scary it’s going to be without them. You were one of them.