I have so many questions for you. So many things left unsaid that I wish were not. Let’s start with a simple one, a question left unanswered until your mother explained it to you in those soft, early years of childhood.
What does someone’s heart look like?
Most would describe it as a piece of pink construction paper, cut out to adorn a valentine. Or perhaps you’d prefer to go by the dictionary definition, describing it as a muscular organ that pumps blood throughout our system and gifting us with the ability to breath and take in life. It is something central, like the bustling heart of a city or your familiarity with the one’s you love. Love. Is that what a heart is for? I believe love would be better described as a patch of mellow daffodils seeded in your lungs. It sounds pretty until it starts to grow. Until it suffocates you. I suppose the better question to be asking is not what a heart is, but where love lies.
Mine rests with a folded piece of piece of lined notebook paper tucked behind the face on my license.
It’s worn and soft, and allowing my fingers to graze against its surface reminds me of you. The words are in a heavy, blue ink, which I know is important because you told me that that was your favorite thing to write in. That, and how the gentle but bold hue ensures me the words will never fade. Along each point, there is an attempt at a picture to be drawn, beautiful not because of their intricacy or your talent, but because you can see how much you tried. Your large statements are written with a messy but careful cursive, in a hand like mine. Significant, because while you were always the cut-to-the-chase, calculative, straight-hand type, I was the imaginative dreamer with flowery letters. It’s as if instead of simply writing it as you could, you took my hand into yours before whispering soft exclamations of love into my ear.
So tell me now, in my definition of love, how I have somehow lost it.
I remember how I found it. You, coming to see me. Walking down the winding roads through the trees of the beloved metropark near your house. I found it when I first asked you to kiss me, in my strange, “adorable” way. You had just told me I was the girl you’d been pining for. I’d known. Stepping away from your grasp, I remember my cheeks growing unbearably hot with embarrassment before muttering “I have something to tell...er, ask you, too.” Feeling my eyes lock on shiny aluminum floor, I closed my eyes and spit the following words out in a flustered flurry.
“H-how would you feel….about a particular part of my face touching a particular part of yours?”
Flushing a color deeper crimson than even that of my hair, you agreed you wouldn’t mind. I stood there, frozen by my action, my words, until I felt you press your cheek to mine, “Like this...?"
Laughter rang from our mouths as I spun on my heel, moving quickly before fear could catch up to me. I grabbed your tie. “I was thinking more like…”
And clash. My first kiss.
I remember, in these moments of found affection, how I got this letter from you.
Your parents were having some sort of party when you’d asked me to stop back by your house. Your mom looked at the car pulling into her driveway with a strange look, a forced smile spreading across her lips when I popped out. My name passed across her pursed lips like a choppy wave over stiff, unyielding rocks before she began bombing me with questions as to why I was there. I lied. I told her I was there for a slip of homework I’d forgotten, because you told me that your parents were so against the idea of us together.
She told me to wait for a moment, that you were upstairs, so I did. I do a lot of waiting for you. A warbled string of words fell downstairs as you shouted you’d be down before the ceiling shook with your footsteps. You appeared at the top of the stairs, towering over me with your wide, gentle smile. Socked feet smacked against the wooden panels as you descended towards me, catching me in your arms to steady yourself in one of your warm hugs. I felt my own smile grow as you start to speak, the words a little mixed because of a known nervousness.
Suddenly I feel a crisp piece of paper being thrust into my hand, the outer folds still warm from it being in yours. I can sense the hidden message of not to open it yet, wrapping my hand around it to protect his precious words from the harshness of the outside world. Looking both ways like you were about to cross a street, you wrapped your arms around me once again before giving me a small tug forward, and met your lips with mine.
I find it interesting that the best kind of communication is not made by forming words with your lips, but pressing them against another’s. There is some kind of gorgeous magic that melds your thoughts with mine, because somehow you know exactly what to do, exactly what to say. You knows the curvature of my face, how to angle himself so that our noses, mine always cold, fit nicely against a cheek. You knows the messy, bouncy red curls that my coral hair falls into. The warmth of your chest spreads through me and swells into my own heart, locking me into this beautiful moment with you.
You. Someone so magnificent that you are able to distract me from every other waking moment. Your broad shoulders, messy almost-ginger-but-not-quite-blond-either hair, the little white highlights by your eyes that make you look like a mighty lion. Your perfect imperfections. The things that make me look at every new person I meet and go “but that’s not him.” How kindness spirals out of your lips and tucks me into a safe home, a place where no one could ever hurt me.
I wish I could stay there, sometimes. In that little world of just you and I that you told me about once. We were in a library, surrounded by other words, words not our own. And you told me, with utmost certainty, that in that moment everything was perfect. I wish so desperately to go back to that, to grab onto your sweatshirt and hold you forever.
Alas, here I am. Or am I, really?
Part of me is here. My thoughts, emotions, and body are here. Overrun with hurt, but here. However, there is something missing. When I asked you earlier if you knew what a heart is, I neglected to inquire what he's done with mine. I know that it at least broken, but it is the location of its many pieces that I seek. Yes, some of it lies in this letter, but you see, in your proclamation of this “friendship” we hold onto, he grabbed the majority of the shards of what he's broken and shoved them in his pocket. I hope those sharp, broken edges cut his selfish hands.
Despite what my head says, the pieces still floating in my chest will chase after the trail those bleeding hands leave as you try and walk away from me. Not so fast, thief. For you know me. You know the shape of my figure, the coolness of my skin, and how my hands feel against you. You also know my persistence. The magnitude of my love, my care, my worrying. So, beloved, despite how it hurts, I will hold on. I will hang to the moments we shared until you re-realize that I am here, like your words are here with me.
Here to stay.