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Plants vs. Zombies: And Other Things On Your Mind

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I’m holding your brain in my hand. It’s warm and soft from when you took it from your pocket. A pocket composition notebook; black and white, dog-eared, well worn, crinkled. You’ve written words on the cover, but they are barely legible. Some of the pages are trying to escape, but I hold on tighter so I don’t embarrass myself by soiling your thoughts. Obviously you think a lot.

I’m hesitant to open it. You’re sitting, waiting for me to open it, watching my face for an expression. I smile at you and you smile back, a questioning look in your eyes, asking why I haven’t opened it yet. For some reason I’m nervous. My stomach clenches and my heart races. Quickly, without thinking, I wrestle it open.

A blank, ruled page. I look up at you.

“You have to flip it over. Start from the back.”

Back to front. I should have known he’d be backwards. A backwards brain in a backwards person. I flip it over and begin to read. Mostly it’s page numbers, reminders about what sections you’re supposed to read in literature (King Lear and something about the myth about Theseus) and formulas in calculus you’re to find the solutions of, essay topics (Plants vs. Zombies), and dates. Lots of dates.

I glance up at you, but you’re not looking, so I read on. There are directions to someone’s house. I feel a little jealous when I see that it’s to hers. But then I remember that I’m the one examining the inner workings of your brain and I feel a little better.

There’s a phone number and I laugh when I realize who’s it is.

This gets your attention and you smile slightly. I glow just a little inside.

I flip another page and realize that it’s the last. In your loopy handwriting you’ve written my name three times. The first says to remind yourself to show me your brain. The second says that I insulted your saxophone, “Rob.” And the third says that it’d be better to show me your brain on the trip on Friday. My name. Three times. Permanent in your brain.

Somehow I hand it back to you, saying loudly, carelessly, and pressing my hand to my chest in mock flattery, “That’s so sweet. I’m the last thing on your mind!!”

***

It’s graduation and they’ve called your name to receive your diploma. We’ve been playing “Pomp and Circumstance” for a pretty long time now. You’re near the end because they’re handing them out in alphabetical order. I guess that’s just prolonging the agony. I’ll never see you again after this.

Finally, it’s over. The class of 2010 has just graduated. And I’m alone, watching as the graduates receive their congratulations, take pictures with their friends and family, shake teachers’ hands, make promises with friends to visit and hangout during the summer and to never lose touch, and say goodbye one final time.

It’s all rather depressing…

I’m walking toward the door. I’ve said my goodbyes. All except to you. I never want to say goodbye.

Of course you thwart my plan.

You run up behind me still in your shiny purple graduation robes. Your hair is tousled since you ripped your cap from your head and threw it in the air. You’ve made everything worse by being so cute and yet so unattainable.

You touch my shoulder to stop me, smiling brightly. “Hey, Ms. Inconsiderate, you’re supposed to say goodbye!”

I shrug. “I figured you’d just forget me by tomorrow.”

“Forget you?” You laugh.

I force a smile. “Unless of course you want to remind yourself. You know, write it down in your brain.”

You laugh again and pull the notebook from your pocket. “I think you’ve already done that for me.”

My face goes pale. “Wh-what do you m-mean?”

You thumb through the notebook, stop at a page, and glance up at me to see if I’m still there. I can’t move, though. My feet are rooted, my face is burning, and I’m trembling.

You clear your throat a little to add drama (damn you) then smile at me. “I’ll always remember to hate you forever.”

I swallow and try to look at anything but you. I smile, I laugh, I tremble. “That’s some goodbye, huh? I knew you’d like it.”

“Like it?”

I glance at you and realize you’re not that far away now. You’ve stepped closer. “Are you going to be cliché and say ‘I didn’t like it, I loved it’?” I laugh nervously.

“No. I’m going to say…” It must feel like you’re hugging a rigor mortis corpse. I can’t move. I’m afraid to move. I’m afraid I’ll betray myself. Don’t say it, don’t say it. Please. I can feel the tears. They’re coming. They’re spilling. I can’t even sob. I’m petrified in your arms.

“…I’m going to say that I hate you, too. And I’ll hate you forever. And I’ll never forget my hate for you because there’s so much hate in me that it’s never going to go away. I promise.”

Slowly, I smile into your shoulder.

***

“There's nothing in this world so sweet as love. And next to love the sweetest thing is hate.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




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