Sometimes I convince myself Im invincible. I can drive that much faster, and drink that much more. I am a teenager, fuck you. I am immortal.
Mostly, death is just lurking behind a wall of smoke; one that is always around, but never really seen. Right there in the shadows the autumn sun leaves on the browning grass behind your house. It is a reality you forget is real, one your eyes prefer to skip over.
Then you see the obituaries and the facebook posts and a feeling sinks in. Suddenly, the smoke screen becomes just a little more transparent. You can see something- though you cant say for sure what it is. Next there is the silhouette. A crumpled lump on the ground that becomes more human and broken with every “RIP” facebook post.
Thats when you know. You know, but you wont let yourself accept that that girl from elementry school is dead. Real life, actually never coming back, dead. Finally, the shadows become spotlights, as if the whole world is illuminating Amy’s cold and bloody body. The dead twin. They are all screaming at you that life ends. They write it in letters so bold that even when you close your eyes the words are burnt into your eyelids, “you too, are going to die”.
But you still cant wrap your aching mind around ‘forever’.
And all the shadows are no longer nothings to be glanced over, but horrors to be drawn towards and inspected with melancholy care. Death becomes a tangible presence in your life.
The children have it right; the dark is full of ghosts.
But with time, you forget. With every sunrise the shadows grow deeper and the bodies more hidden. With time, you begin to glance over them again. You become a being of the light. One who once again forgets that one day they are never going to wake up.
That is of course, until it happens again, a year later. Then the day after. And you cant believe you have reached an age where two friends can die on the same day.
Then, the darkness takes over once again. Tonight I sleep with the light on. Death hides in the darkness, and there has been too much death for one day..
RIP Amber. RIP Iheany.
Someday I will sip alcohol from a martini glass at a bar and I wont let myself cringe as it burns its way down my throat.
I will go home with a man with brown eyes and I will sneak away in the morning just like in the movies; tiptoeing with heels in hand.
I will go to a real restaurant where violins play and laugh in my new black dress as a dull man tells me about his childhood.
I will spend too much money on a pair of heels that make my feet hurt.
I will forget it took 16 years for a boy to like me enough to kiss my face.
I will travel with nothing but the clothes Im wearing and some change in my pocket.
I will have a daughter who hides cigarettes under her mattress and sneaks out at night.
Someday, I will be confident. I will be bad. I will take chances.
You asked me what I wanted and I said: “I want my life to be one big story.” When someone asks me where I got my nose pierced I want to tell them of the cobblestone street and the woman named Petra who didn’t even count to three. If they asked me where I smoked my first cigarette I want to tell them about the kiosk at midnight and the way the package was written in a language I only wished I could understand and how my lungs sucked in the smoke only to cough it back into the sea. I want them to know about the broken english and why I started to count the stars one evening in July. I wrote it all down so when they ask I can tell them and when I forget I will remember. Remember how the morning seemed so quiet, but nothing else did.
The other day I found myself sitting around another chipped wooden table. A different one. And I laughed at June and its redundancies. I am so naive to think these moments are strung together by something other than coincidence. Me and him. Him and I. Lost together somewhere like the balloons I set free into the wind on my tenth birthday. I had spent so long- no, I had spent eighteen years of my life getting lost with the people I’ve loved. Silly to think that at one time I was saying sixteen, then it became seventeen and now I am eighteen years deep. If you are smart, I have learned you never give your heart away. Instead, you must give away the things you can live without; like a finger, or the heart-shaped scar beneath your left eye. In eighteen years I have given my left pinky, a few eyelashes whose wishes didn’t pan out, the star shaped birthmark on my left hip, and the hair chopped off in a spontaneous bout with bravery when I was twelve. I gave these things instead of a lung or a right ventricle, so that when I decided to get lost, like I and all other lovers of the universe eventually decided to do, the me that was left behind kept on breathing. You gave away the pieces of yourself you could live without, because eventually you would have to live without those pieces. That’s what the sixteen year old learned, the seventeen year old denied, and the eighteen year old accepted- it only took me a few dozen nights around cigarette butts and wooden tables.