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Chapter 1: January
I had spent New Year's Eve at my cousin Hillary's house. This was always a mistake I only realized when I got there, and Hillary's Absolut-stained breath wheezed into a "Haaaaay baby cousinnnnn!"
I would stand by the bowl of Chex Mix all evening and find myself strangely emotionally invested in her cat Sprinkles all evening. Meanwhile, Hillary and her college friends were drinking and vomiting and making out to the synthetic pounding of some Rihanna song, and I wished I'd stayed home to watch the Nick at Nite marathon.
We all went on the porch when it was midnight, and after the shouted countdown, mouths found mouths and I stood awkwardly with Sprinkles tucked beneath my arm, fidgeting and meowing to get down, while my cousin and her friends tangled tongues like it was some alien handshake.
I had no idea that you were just across town, swaying in the arms of Frances Hemsley, who you'd only known for the duration of the party. What if you two had kissed in front of me at Hillary's party? I would've thought you were the same as all of them.
I'm glad you decided to go to Frances's party instead of Hillary's, I really am.
I never told you this, I was afraid you'd laugh, but that night I felt so lonely and unkissable I actually kissed Sprinkles's cheek at midnight. She leapt from my arms immediately and I had to spit to get the fluff out of my mouth.
I met you wearing a sheath of heart-shaped arrows, a ridiculous bedazzled pink cardigan, and red pants.
I had lost a bet.
You'd actually been there to witness my losing the bet, but forgive me, I didn't know you were in Yearbook class. What would we have done if we'd talked more before then?
You'd have probably thought I was boring, which I am. I think the vest intrigued you.
You see, Yearbook needed two members to hand out valentines to the old folks at the home on Hillcrest as part of our community service. One of us was to dress up like Cupid.
Guess who that idiot was.
I met you at the home at promptly 7 AM, wearing something my mom had thrown together, pleased I was "participating in my community."
You looked me up and down and smirked. Your voice had a hot sauce bite to it. "I didn't know Cupid had a bedazzler."
I noticed your hair was chestn ut brown with bits of teal and lilac dancing at the ends, barely brushing the middle of your neck. "I lost a bet" I somehow mumbled.
"So did I," you said. "Let's get this over with."
The old folks' home smelled of soup and disgruntlement. And urine. Somehow the thought of soup and urine together made my stomach turn, but I had only just met you so I couldn't communicate this yet.
The procedure was simple: I introduced myself as Cupid, you handed them the handmade valentine, and they frowned until their nurse made them mumble "thank you." Perhaps the most eventful was a gentleman named Mr. Peters, who latched onto my sleeve before I could talk and started shouting about Vietnam.
Mr. Peters's nurse let us eat cold enchiladas in the cafeteria at the end of the day for free, probably because amidst his shouting he had torn off my sleeve.
"So," you said, wiping som e enchilada sauce off on your cloth napkin.
I wish you wouldn't give people just one word sometimes. You're beautiful, you know. People don't know what to say.
I took another forkful of food.
You sighed. "I'm gonna be crazy like that one day, you know. Screaming at bedazzled Cupids, letting my nurse send them off to eat microwavable enchiladas."
"You think so?"
"I know so. I'm crazy now, actually. Give me a few more years and I'll be running naked in the middle of traffic."
I snickered at this, and worried that I sounded like a horse asking for food I turned my head away. My face was growing as pink as my stupid shirt.
"So, Bedazzled Cupid. Some strange twist of fate has brought us here to the old folks home on Hillcrest."
"Yes. I assume that you watch movies."
"You're ver y intuitive."
"So I've been told. You like silent films?"
"Never seen one."
"No, I really---"
"Awww, no! Perfect window for you there, muchacho. You could've mouthed the words to me then it could've been just like a silent movie. You've so much to learn."
You took my hand then.
I'll never know why, but fingers curled around fingers and you said "Let's go."
Our magnetism was as silent as the movies we watched at your house every Friday, except for the second one in March, where Hillary asked if we could hang out. I knew that Hillary felt a guilt-induced sentimentality every time she saw that picture of us as little kids in her blow-up swimming pool, laughing and clinging to each others’ necks.
But we do grow.
Hillary’s Princess Jasmine swimsuit grew too small, and her limbs long, and her college essays longer, and fingers that grasped for tiny hugs yearned for the long neck of a vodka bottle.
Unfortunately, I am guilty of growing, too. I no longer jam myself into the corner of my closet with a flashlight and a Dr. Seuss book, whispering the stories aloud to myself. I no longer see Hillary as a shining beacon of idolatry. When the depression hit, I sort of climbed into the closet of myself, shining a flashlight into the empty space where my first love wasn’t.
But I saw that Hillary still had that picture of us as little kids in a frame in her house every time I went to her New Year’s party, a guilty reminder that she had to contribute to the silly bonds of our similar blood.
So Mom insisted that I could see my “little friend for a movie” (that was you, dear, and those are her words, not mine) anytime, and that Hillary was family, and goshdarnit if I didn’t go to the mall with my cousin then the world would break out into World War III (my words, not hers).
So we went to the mall, the air conditioning sending goose bumps flaring up all over my arms and making the frozen yogurt she insisted on buying me completely illogical, and as she flicked through the clothing racks of her dimly-lit favorite store, I only started listening when I heard your name.
“The one you’re spending so much time with lately,” Hillary said, holding up a shirt to her body that looked exactly like all the others she had. “I like this one, don’t you?”
“Yeah, Hill. It’s great.”
She paused for a few moments, slid a few more hangers over. She was rolling around what she really wanted to say like a mint between her lips. “I mean…so what’s the deal, you two going out?”
My heart beat unfamiliarly in my chest, contorting around my rib cage. My family was particularly protective of the area of my love life, which is clearly every teenager’s dream. Seeing how my first love had run over my heart with a chainsaw and left me with clinical depression, they were interested in the details of who I decided to invest myself in.
I wanted to defend you, love, I did. I really hoped that we could be…’going out’, whatever that ridiculous term meant. But deep in the back of my throat I still felt a hollow pit of worry. I didn’t like taking pills and lying in bed all day and repeating the same things over and over to a stranger with a pad and pen. I liked the tips of your hair, teal and lilac flames, and I like how you made fun of me but it felt like praise, and I liked sitting on your couch with you middle school dance-distance apart and watching silent movies with you, but you have to think before you just rip your chest open and hand over your heart.
They could hurt it or heal it, and I didn’t know what your choice would’ve been then.
“We’re just friends,” I told Hillary, trying to seem nonchalant as I glanced over clothes I’d never buy.
“…Okay,” Hillary said, and I could almost hear her mind race and try to interpret my words like a supercomputer. Finally she stopped and looked right at me. “I mean, if you want to get together, fine. But if anyone ever hurts you as bad as the first time, I’ll kick their ass, okay?”
I knew I liked you the second she said that, because I wanted to kill her for threatening you, even if she didn’t know you.
“I love you, baby cousin.”
“Love you too.”
And I thought of that picture of Hillary and I again. I wondered if we loved each other, or the idea of each other.
I came over every Friday, you know.
I worried about movies getting sound; I didn’t want to run out of excuses to come over and sit on your couch. I always thought there was a parent upstairs, too, you never said anything about us being completely alone.
About you being completely alone.
I knew something was different when I let myself in through the front door and didn’t smell the cinnamon sugar popcorn that you’d gotten me addicted to. I walked into the living room and the TV was blank and dead, the forest green couch lumpy and rumpled but no one sitting there.
I opened and closed my fists. I’d never been anywhere in your house except the living room. “Hello?”
I heard a sniff and a thump upstairs. I thought of serial killers and kidnappers and then I thought of you, and without a moment’s hesitation I booked it, taking your stairs two at a time.
If anyone laid a hand on you, I thought, they will wish they were never born. They won’t have time to wish. I’ll kill them before they can do anything else.
I flung open the bathroom door and there you stood.
No murderer. No killer. Only you and a razor, with your shirt over your hips, which were stained with fresh blood.
The silence and the reality suffocated me, love. I wanted to kill whoever caused you pain but I couldn’t very well kill you. It would destroy the purpose of my wanting to protect you.
“Is it Friday?” you choked, letting the razor drop to the floor and wiping off your tears. “I forgot.” You swallowed. “If you don’t want to hang out anymore I understand. I mean, this is really scary. I scare you now.”
I stared at your bleeding hips.
“Don’t be mad.” Your voice was teaspoon small.
I immediately went to the cupboard, digging past the deodorant and toothpaste and finding some peroxide and bandages. I dunked the peroxide upside down on the bandage, soaking it in full before sitting you on the edge of the bathtub and gently staining the bandages with your maroon sorrow.
“Say something,” you sobbed, and not because the peroxide stung. “Please just say something.”
I couldn’t, because I was mad. I knew you didn’t want me to be, but I was. I had been where you were now, and I wished you’d never had to go there.
“I know I pretend to be mysterious and above it all.” I looked at your face, covered in tears and saliva and contorted into the worst version of itself. “I just…I’m very alone, actually. I’m really, really alone.”
You weren’t. You were with me. That made me madder, that my presence didn’t somehow rescue you. It was a childish thought, but I held onto it as I cleaned your wounds and pursed my lips.
“Well, fine, don’t say anything!” You shoved me. You’ve really got good strength, dear. “Just sit there and be above it all. Pretend that we never even hung out. You can just…” You looked away from me, brought your hand to your mouth and bit hard on your pinkie nail.
“You can just go.”
I rose with sword-and-dragon strength, and I lifted up your body, limp and heavy. “I’ve been where you are, okay? I’ve been alone. And the fact is that you’re not. I’m right in front of you. I have been every Friday for the past three months. Do you want me to pretend that never happened?”
You shook your head no. I could’ve started singing.
“This…” I gestured to your hips. “We can get through this. I’m going to help you through this. But we can’t get through anything if you don’t want me to.”
I felt your breath on my chin and realized how close we were. I wilted a little bit. “I mean…if you want me to…”
You put your hands on my cheeks and you kissed me, and I put my hands on the small of your back so your cuts could dry. It was a slow heat, our faces pressed together with an almost candlewax fusion. I wanted to sink into your lips, fling myself into the full depths of your features and never see the surface again.
I knew I loved you as soon as I saw you, but I doubly knew it when I kissed you.
You looked more radiant than ever, with black formal pants and your pale lilac sweater to match the tips of your hair. You pulled me back from the door and I looked at the porchlights echoing in your eyes, your smile small and faint as you played with my fingers.
“What?” I mirrored the smile right back.
“What if they don’t like me?” you whispered, and I could’ve laughed, because you genuinely thought it was possible for someone not to like you.
“They’ll like you because I like you.”
“I like you,” you whispered.
“Well, good then,” I said, and reached for my doorknob.
“No, no.” You pulled me back and buried yourself into my chest, and I laughed as I wrapped my arms around your neck.
“Babe, you’re being ridiculous.”
“I’m just worried!” you insisted. “I’ve been a ruiner of things before, and I don’t want to be a ruiner of us. I quite like us.”
“You’re not a ruiner of things,” I said defensively, thinking of the cuts that are now scars, gliding like silkworms up the curve of your hips.
“You’re sure they’re okay with…” You gestured your hand and I thought of the obvious.
“Yes. They’ve known for years.”
“Okay.” Your voice got small. “Do they know about…my scars?”
“No,” I said, and kissed the top of your head. “Do you want them to know?”
“Well, they don’t need to. That’s over now and it doesn’t define you.”
I laced my fingers through yours and you said, “You are a perfect human.”
I smirked. “That’s a lie.”
You finally let me open the door, and the smell of warm chicken and Caesar salad bounced off of my walls. I worried that my house might not be good enough for you; I still saw the ghosts of loose coupon books and sweaters strewn across the backs of chairs that I’d cleaned up this morning.
My mother hugged you, and you didn’t bat an eye. “So nice to meet you! Thank you so much for cooking dinner.”
“My pleasure, dear,” Mom said, and Dad swooped in behind to shake hands.
Mom mouthed to me ‘good one' over your shoulder.
I could’ve married you that night.
The day after school got out you surprised me with a picnic, writing cheddar cheese love letters on thick white bread and sealing away promises in a Ziploc baggie.
You had brought along microwavable enchiladas as a joke and the cinnamon sugar popcorn which I had eaten so frequently I now hated, but I ate the whole damn thing, and we sat with your arm slung over my shoulder as we ticked off the number of days we had of freedom on our intertwined fingers.
"Thank you for the picnic, love."
And there was a gap, a silence, a skip of a heartbeat as we breathed in the crisp oxygen of the day. The cold inhale cut like knives on the inside, because something inside me knew we couldn't last.
The thought settled like a mosquito bite in my brain, trying to deny its presence by constantly touching it. I somehow had a premonition that the picnic basket was a sort of time capsule, a summary of what had been, and that it would be over soon.
I rolled over and dug my face into your stomach, wanting to drown out this sickening feeling of end, when you shifted under me. "Babe, move your face. That's weird."
Later that night I wrapped myself, face and all, beneath my down comforter and would not move, willing my cells to rearrange and become a soft, stupid, brainless down comforter.
My dad sat on the bedside and rolled the comforter off of my face, holding a steaming teacup in his hand. "I saw your light was still on, so I made you some tea."
"I don't want any."
I only looked to her when I heard a sniffle, saw the cup rattling. "Dad, what's wrong?"
"I don't want to lose you. Your mother and I lost our child for a few months and we feel like it's our fault." He put the tea on my bedside table, and suddenly looked angry. "It better not be because of---"
"No," I shouted, more at the idea in my head then the actual reality of his question. "Not every relationship I have is going to ruin me."
"We don't think that," Dad said, wiping tears off his face with the back of his hand. "But if you feel like this relationship is bringing you back to a bad place, then please break it off. And if it is and you're not doing anything about it, I'll do it for you."
"No you won't."
He sighed, slumped over a little. I saw for a moment what he'd look like as an old man, when this night would be a distant memory.
"It's only because I love you." He patted my head and left with the light on. I let the tea go cold, staying up late, staring at a wall.
I wouldn't let you go cold. I would fight and protect you to the end.
It's only because I love you.
"Do you have the present?" you asked me, brushing your hair behind your ear and looking to the moving lights in the window.
"Yeah, I have the...what even is this?" I locked my car and rattled the wrapped present next to my ear.
You giggled. "Inside joke. Frances'll get it."
I suddenly got very hot, sweating beneath my oversize sweater, feeling magma boil through my veins. "How do you know Frances again?"
"Remember? We hung out at some New Year's party this year. We've kinda been talking. Frances is really cool, honey, you'll have fun."
I was always awful at parties. If I was the epitome of antisocialism at my own cousin's party, how could I have expected to be any different at Frances Hemsley's birthday party? I grinded my teeth together at the stupid inside joke gift I was holding, how cute you looked tonight.
"Did you hook up?"
Your eyes flashed when they looked at me. I was ashamed, felt a burst in my stomach when I saw how betrayed you felt.
"What? I mean...where the hell did that come from?"
"I don't know," I grumbled, shifting from foot to foot. "But that's not a 'no'."
You scoffed, crossed your arms. "Sweetheart, I...okay, so I kissed Frances on New Year's last year. I hadn't even known you then." You grabbed my elbow and kissed my cheek. "Please don't be jealous, babe. It's not a good look on you."
Instead of the kiss bursting like usual, it fizzled, and before you rang the doorbell, I handed you the present.
"I don't feel well. Enjoy yourself."
I walked away from your protesting, I called our friend Sarah and asked her to pick you up.
I knew what lay beyond that door: someone you had kissed before, standing in a corner, tortilla chips and salsa.
I just couldn't do it, and I know I've said it a million times before, but I am so sorry for that night.
The day we broke up was a Wednesday. I remember it because Hillary was going back to school on Friday, just two days later, and I still hadn't given her her going-away present yet.
I biked to your house and as soon as I saw you, I just knew. A sonic boom pounded between us as soon as we met eyes, and I flung my bike on your front lawn and ran to you, wrapping my arms around you.
"So you know then?"
We sat on your lawn, the grass curled and long like the first hint of a baby having hair, and I ran my hand over the contradiction of soft and prickly, thinking how no one would mow it. You were alone all the time because your mother worked all day and came home at the very short window of 2AM-6AM, and your father had been bad to your mother early on and was still bad to you both by never speaking to you.
I held your hand. It was limp in mine, but I cemented palms together for what I sort of knew was the last time. "Was I bad to you?"
"We were both bad to each other at some point." You looked to the sky. "It's like falling, you know? In the beginning it's this hysteric euphoria, but then you bang your head on some branches and you hit the floor, and you just..." You shook your head. "You weren't bad."
"You were the best."
You blinked at the clouds, shrugged. "No."
My palms started to sweat, and my heart flew to my throat, knowing how uncomfortable that would make you. I refused to let go.
Suddenly your hand was on my ear, brushing my hair behind it. "I'm scared. I'm scared I'm going to make you how you were before."
I yanked my hand away. That was the worst thing you've ever said to me, really. Some parts of yourself are really all your own, and it was wrong of you to vocalize that you were powerful enough to bring my depression back.
"I'm sorry. But I wanted to let you know that I'm not going back. My cuts are staying scars. And I have you to thank." I looked at you briefly. You were smiling at me. "I cared about you so much that I found that harming myself was selfish, really. It was a cry for...companionship, I guess? And after you showed me that was possible, I stopped."
I smiled faintly back. "Cared? Past tense?" Before you could rush to explain, I sighed. "No, no, I know we're going to be past tense now. But I want to tell you something cheesy. Well, to me it's not cheesy. Just please don't roll your eyes. I believe in fate, kind of. I believe we meet the people we do for a reason, and that certain people we meet shape who we are, and that you...shaped me."
You smiled, kicked a stone. "What part of you am I, then?"
"My left foot."
You laughed, leaned your head on my shoulder. "You're my left foot, too."
Later on that night I was under my down comforter again, aware that my parents were hovering in the doorway every two seconds, whispering to each other and then leaving.
I wasn't sad, I was just...heavy. This sort of thick, mayonnaise melancholy hung in the air, and the only person I wanted to talk about you with was you, and as I stared at the wall, wishing to melt into a down comforter again, I wondered if I had just imagined you, if every little facet of our relationship was just a phantom.
My body tightened when Hillary threw off my down comforter completely, heaving me up. "Get up."
Her tone was sharp, no longer an impression of someone who cared. Confused, I sputtered, "Hillary, what are you---"
"Get the hell up, okay? We're going somewhere." She picked up my sandals off the floor and tossed them to me. "Come on. Come ON."
"Okay, okay, okay!" I tugged the sandals on my feet and followed her downstairs, still trying to figure out why she had suddenly morphed from a syrupy sweet cousin to a drill sergeant.
I called to my parents that I was going out and they called back that they knew, and before I knew it I was in the passenger's seat of Hillary's car. She threw a jar of marshmallow fluff and a spoon at me. "Eat."
"Hill, I'm not---"
"I can't legally give you alcohol yet. So eat." Her knuckles were white on the steering wheel, and the sky was fading quickly into night.
I obeyed, pulling the sticky sweet cloud from the jar to my mouth, sighing as I watched the stars twinkle in the darkness. "Hillary, if you're taking me to a party---"
"I'm not." She gritted her teeth. "I'm pissed, I'm so unbelievably pissed. I'm so glad I go to college in the same town as you go to school. I knew you'd never tell me."
"What, about the break up?"
She slammed on the breaks, looked at me. "TELL ME you broke up with that hoe."
"Don't you dare use that word."
Hillary wheezed into a laugh, driving faster than before. "Unbelievable. No matter how horrible a person is, you'll always put them before yourself."
"Hill, I don't know what you're so pissed about!"
"I'm pissed that I had to learn through party gossip that that stupid HOE cheated on you with Frances Hemsley!"
And everything was in cold, underwater slow motion as we slowed to the front of your house. How could you have not told me? I looked at the spot where we had broken up later that day, wishing I could be as ignorant now as I had been then.
Hillary went to her trunk and popped it open, opening my door with a roll of toilet paper in her hand. I stared wordlessly at her, my mouth gaped open like a fish. "I know you'll say no," she began.
I threw the marshmallow fluff to the floor and grabbed the toilet paper, and I chucked the toilet paper, letting it sail silently around the branch of the first tree.
I have my own secret from you now, love. I don't really care if you find out.
Things I Wish I Hadn't Done When I Saw You At School:
1. Hugged you. You stiffened in my arms. They say that when someone loses an arm or leg or something, they can sometimes feel it even though it's not there. They call it phantom pain. I felt a sort of phantom hug when you wouldn't even lift your arms.
2. Apologized for hugging you. You laughed, but it was not funny.
3. Commented on your teal and lilac tips being gone. The bell rang and you turned away before you could explain why you cut them off.
4. Written your name in the corner of my Calculus notes. I erased it, but now when I study there will be a sort of phantom pain there. And I don't need more pain when it comes to Calculus, that gives me enough grief already.
5. Read a text from Hillary saying to "be strong." Hillary was my best friend now, but being pitied/thought of wasn't what I wanted.
6. Talked to people. I usually try to avoid this at all costs, but especially after everyone hears that your ex cheated on you. They coo like a flock of stupid pigeons.
7. Saw you in Yearbook again and even after you waved a little, sat at the table furthest from you. You're not good at reaching out, and that was big for you, but sometimes I like to act like a child. See July for more evidence of this.
8. Saw you kiss Frances Hemsley. Saw Frances Hemsley's arm right on your hip, where your scars are. Wondered if you thought of me.
9. Went home and thought of you.
Sam from my Calculus class asked me to a movie.
Not a silent one, just a regular one, and it was strange holding someone else's hand that was not yours and smelling popcorn in a grimy lobby with no cinnamon sugar on it and giggling and holding buttery fingers on a seat with someone other than you.
We kissed during the movie, taking a cue from the beautiful actors on the screen. Their kiss was probably better than Sam's and mine, but Sam tasted like Sour Patch Kids and smelled like sandalwood, and the hair standing up on the back of my neck was nostalgic and strange, and I didn't think too hard about you until I stood on my doorstep and remembered that one night a long time ago you didn't want to go in because you were scared to meet my parents.
I was full of crap snacks from the movie theater but my mom was happy and restless that I seemed so happy on a date that she made me some soup and turned on the TV to some comedy show we never really watched.
"You didn't have to do this, Mom," I said, and her rosemary chicken noodle soup was light and warm.
"I wanted to." Mom ruffled my hair. "You're really different, honey. I have a good feeling about this Sam."
It was THEN that I felt a bit sad. I thought of my mom mouthing 'good one' when she had met you long ago. I hope you know that you are a good one, just not the right one, and that is a fact of most failed relationships.
I've said before that you and I connected with a candle wax fusion. Sam and I were more like a seed in damp earth, slowly opening and spreading roots where we could. There was no need nor rush for labeling ourselves. Sometimes we would smile at each other in Calculus or eat lunch together with touching elbows but not always, and Sam made me sort of forget you.
Until you called me a week before Thanksgiving break.
You: A rustle. "Hi."
A pause. I put my thumb on the page I'd left off on and searched for a bookmark in the silence.
You: "Cahya come over?" A sob.
I dropped the book to the floor, my old instincts of protecting you flaring back up. "What? Are you okay?"
You: [sniff] "Not really. Not bad bad, like I know you're thinking, but...a little bad. And I'm home alone. You don't need to come over, I know it's getting late."
It was only 8:15. "I can come."
I used my car to get to your house this time. Nothing I could fling romantically on the front lawn. A scrap of toilet paper from a few months ago still clung to the walkway.
I surprised myself when I thought of Sam as I stood on your front porch. You had consumed my being for a long while, dear, and we had rescued each other quite substantially, and the thought of someone else surpassing you was so strange.
You answered the door with bags beneath your eyes and a bowl of cinnamon sugar popcorn. You grinned forcefully and shook the bowl at me. "I know you're sick of it."
I smiled back. "Good to see you."
We sat on your couch middle school dance-distance apart with no spark or feeling of excitement, only your telling me that Frances Hemsley was a prick who kissed lots of people at parties, and recently there had been a few that weren't you.
"Ouch," I said, helping myself to a handful of popcorn for nostalgic reasons. It still tasted like crunchy dirt as it had before but I felt it needed to be eaten.
"I just want you to know that I am actually the worst," you said. "I'm sorry for cheating on you."
There was a static silence in the air. It was the first time you had actually told me that you'd done it.
I didn't feel incredibly sad or really relieved or anything, the words were just sort of there. I turned to tell you that it was okay when you kissed me.
Your mouth was foreign to me now, a desperate acidic taste that made me gently push you off of me. You were crying.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Dammit dammit dammit I'm so sorry," you said, and the bowl of popcorn fell to the floor, spreading cinnamon sugar confetti everywhere.
I felt strangely calm and thought of Sam, and that I would tell Sam what happened, and that was when I held your wrist and said, "Not all good things can be repeated" and your eyelashes looked so nice when you cried but that wasn't okay to say, and you just asked "I don't want us to just have been a transition. Why can't good things just stay?"
"Every fall has to end in hitting the ground," I said.
You leaned your head on my shoulder and I held your hand, and you whispered, "I don't want to be alone again."
"You're not alone. You've always got your left foot."
You laughed, and we sat in a silent room, and I knew we'd be okay.
It's a sticky transition out of depression, a sort of quicksand mentality that can't be remedied by booze or a relationship or both. It's a matter of time. It's a matter of not thrashing about anymore and clawing at the walls in vain, but looking for loose vines to grab onto and gently easing yourself out.
With Sam on the crook of my elbow, I felt no anxieties going to Hillary and her roommates' house for New Year's Eve, and only waved a brief hello to Sprinkles instead of a long renedezvous. I didn't touch the Chex Mix. Sam took a picture of Hillary's framed picture of us as little kids, kept it as blackmail.
You said that you didn't want 'us' to have just been a transition. We were just a transition, but really everything is, everything in our lives is just trying to propel us forward into the next transition.
But every stage depends on the previous one, and there is no way that I would be holding Sam's hand instead of staring at my wall had it not been for you. You might've sat in your bathtub a lot more evenings than necessary had it not been for me.
We texted Happy New Years to each other, and I hoped that if you kissed someone that they would be nice and gentle and everything you wanted, but I really did not wish it was me.
At midnight I kissed Sam, and I felt the clocks reset and numbers change and thought of everyone kissing at that very second and I knew I was gonna be okay.