AprilI 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.