AugustThe 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.