Careful: that is what he would always tell me. He never said it aloud, but every part of his being would whisper it to me with the few moments we had alone. It was so faint, perhaps unnoticeable to those who did not pay strict attention. In groups, he would often have no problem expressing himself—cracking jokes, pulling out sarcasm and smart remarks like he owned the room—he was a star, and had been for years. For what felt like years, he lit my cloudy skies, and his light shone brightly like no other. But stars put on a show; they like to perform. He had me fooled like nothing I had ever imagined. Underneath his stardom lied the careful whispers that still echo in my mind, the ones that speak from his anger and desire.
I have held on to the quiet pieces of vulnerability he gave to me as if my life depended on it. In return, I gave him my puzzle pieces ten, twenty, thirty times over; he decided that he wanted to create the picture he wanted with them without my say. He did this right in front of my face as clear as daylight, but his starlight was still bright in my heart, blinding me to his tricks and schemes. Yes, he was a magician, a master of manipulation, a mystery man who misled me to an abysmal madness that I do not wish on anyone. He rendered his most willing audience into marionettes who never truly wanted to be volunteers.
What he never truly understood was that his best friends would move mountains for him. I still would. I still would after all the pain he has left within my fragile being. The echo of his whisper still beats off the cracks in all my bones as if they are the old glue that still holds them together like a middle school art project. The resonance begins from my hands: where he gave me his first piece. I knew it from the warmth of his hands, though I still heard ‘careful’ repeated quicker and quicker as that warmth met with mine through the interlacing of fingers and souls and tension—the tension amplified the whispers into screams—I could not believe that I was trusted with this special susceptibility I never thought I was worthy of witnessing. Little did I know that he was not worthy of mine.
I let this misjudgment of a connection creep through every inch of my spirit. Misconceptions of expectations fed destructive sentiments as if he placed some charmed beast within the most naïve, a beast that would have swallowed me whole if I had not found clarity. Although he is long gone, I find myself fighting this beast daily. This man, this boy, was a thief who stole the purest elements of his victims for personal gain. He was so talented a swindler that those who loved him the most have a hard time seeing him as such even now. I send my compassion to the innocent who were so brave to let their guard down around him only to meet with sorrow.
Indeed, it is a sorrow that is unique and terrifying. The sorrow that is a grief so heavy, so grasping and complex that it will surely sink the weakest. The ailment of grief is the assortment of unanswered questions that are so important to our well-being. The kinds of questions he left involved questions of self-worth, evil and humanity: “Why would he do this to anyone?”, “How could you that I trusted so wholly objectify another human being so easily?”; “How could you wear this façade of kindness and concern so passionately, when in reality you become the monster that moved me to tears?” Why would he do this to me?
He saved and broke hearts like Walmart toys. As soon as one no longer worked for him he threw it away. No more fairytales, jokes or wiles, no more charms for the beaten and bruised. Blind eyes could now see, but far too late to create the original picture the puzzle had formed before the show. Ears could still listen but now they listen too much, giving too much consideration to his cursed murmurs. I do not want to hear the word “careful” any more. I want my pieces back, my purity and unharmed ardor, I want to learn to paint my truths with the vibrant perspective I once had. Be wary of pretty lies and the dazzling night skies because the devil is sure to entertain and take what he claims.