Lately (okay fine, for months really) I’ve been doing this thing where i reach out to him in my mind. I tease memories and try to relive that last moment, just to see if I still feel anything. And though I want it over, though I want him completely purged from my skin, it still surprises me when I feel nothing. Nothing. Where the pain or even the once joy should be, there’s a void…like he never existed at all.
It’s not that some twisted part of me still wants to find him. No, I want his place in me to stay vacated. It’s more that I keep visiting the spot to make sure he stays gone. I keep fearing that he’ll sneak back undetected and stab my mind and my soul when I’m not looking.
And today, he finally did.
It wasn’t because I stopped looking. I’d been standing guard with weapons on my tongue ever since the cool weather crept in with October. But I never expected the bastard to come at me through a friend.
Naturally, I ran…pushed away, blamed. A friend doesn’t deserve that. My head knows this. But my heart is a different matter. It’s taken this long to be okay. I don’t want to let a single bit back in, even if it is just a ghost of memories passed on the face of someone I love.
Dear diary, what do I do?
You were sitting in my father’s place at the kitchen table when I came up behind and snuck my arms around your shoulders. Judging by my mom’s sudden laughter at your shocked face, it must have been the first time you’d ever been held in such a way. And I hold you still.
Sunday evenings we’d come home from church, where we’d spent more time passing notes than listening about Jesus. I’d eat toast to save time before curfew and you’d let me pick what show to watch because you’d spend it watching me anyways.
It was always hot as hell in that tin roof trailer so we’d set off in your little rusted Honda that had all our love and drive over the state line for cheap gas and dollar ice cream. It was nothing, but it felt like everything.
when a new drawing pad was the most exciting expense of the day and we kept every single picture because it was proof that I, someone else on the earth, loved to draw just as much you did. A few times we traded lines on the same page and produced fascinating hybrids, like that trip to Pageland that birthed a lion unicorn beast, our strengths and weaknesses being opposite so as to make a whole image.
We should try again sometime…
“I went to visit mom today. She said she loves the African violets you brought her and was wondering if you could bring her some in pink next time you visit.”
“Oh that’s great!” I say. “I’ll make sure to get her some.” The pink ones were always my favorite. They made me think of the violets Grandma kept on her table in the sunroom. I used to pinch the cactus type plants, loving the way they’d squirt out water. The plastic green flooring meant to look like grass always left imprints on my skin which would itch for-
“Lynn? Are you even listening? I asked you where you got those flowers for mom.”
“Oh,” I say. “Sorry, er, I picked them up at that nursery by the Mass General.” They still have that wall full of buckets of candy that you can pick from to fill up a one price bag, only now it’s five dollars a bag instead of seventy-five cents. Dad always liked the gum that came in strings, a baseball picture on the package. I can’t remember the name though. I’d always steal-
“Ok, if you’re not going to pay me any attention, I’m just going to be on my way. Stop your daydreaming and learn to focus for goodness sake and maybe you’ll finally make something of yourself. You need to get your head out of the clouds, Lynn, I swear.”
I wish I could. For you. I hate this habit affects you…
But at night, it’s safer there.
you will get a wild urge to clean your attic.
You will be coughing on dust,
opening boxes you don’t remember.
That’s when you will find this old photograph.
You will stand still.
You will barely breathe.
You will trace the sharpie scribbled
‘I love you’
with a arthritic weathered finger.
You will close your eyes,
And though it’s 50 years later,
you will want to go back.
It was a game that had me breathless and frozen. We’re winning, we’re not. We might, we don’t. Then I thought of you, watching from your part of the world. And I started wishing that I could take tweezers to my ear and dig till I reach brain and rip out the memories. I’d pile them up in a neat corner, leave the room, shut the door, step out to the lawn and burn the entire house down.