“I love you” are such heavy words. It’s funny how when we were kids, we used to hand them out like confetti, sprinkling them into bustling crowds whenever we felt like it, flinging them at whomever’s face we felt like flinging them in, like grubby pennies at the bottom of our wallets, carelessly, as if it was normal to give diamonds to every stranger.
Now, we tiptoe around them religiously, like a mother around her baby’s crib after having sung him to sleep, trying not to step on a creaky floorboard. But sometimes we forget to be careful, we forget to be delicate, we forget to be cautious, and the board creaks, the baby wakes, he screams, he cries, he wails, and you try, try, try to hush it, to sing it to sleep frantically, you try, but words are hard to put back to sleep.
You are hunched at the corner of your brain with your head between your knees and your fingers tangled in your hair, your eyes shut tight, your cheeks stained with acid tears, and these words are shoved down your throat like a fist trying to claw its way out of your organs, its nails scraping at your ribs, digging into your lungs, squeezing your heart tight until its knuckles are white so that it is nothing more than a sore throb in your chest.
It’s hard; it sits in the back of your throat like a stone, making it almost impossible to breathe or speak, making you wheeze and sputter, and you’re trying not to choke, you’re trying, but you can’t just spit it out either.
So it lies there in your windpipe and slowly, silently, with time, it begins to disintegrate, to soften, to become more bearable. You leave it there, it’s only a smooth lump now, and you continue bustling down the usual path of life with its corners and bumps and slopes, until – one day – it’s suddenly there, in your mouth, sliding over your teeth and gums, landing lightly on the tip of your tongue, like a feathery pearl, softly, calmly, so easily. How simple and nice it would be to just – to just let it slip off …
“I love you.” You hand the single crystal marble over preciously in your cupped hands, like a gift. “Look, look at what I found, look at what came to me,” you say. “Here, take it. I would like you to have it.” I love you.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.