I stopped by your house today. I actually do it every week now. To see your parents, your adorable little sister, your dog, your cat that you always said you hated.
I find myself looking for you now. Like you’re still here. I like to imagine you’ll jump out from behind something, like, Surprise!
It never happens, though.
But I keep hoping.
You know, your parents gave me your truck. I didn’t have a car. Maybe that's why.
But every time I hop behind the wheel of that navy blue 2002 Dodge Dakota, I breathe in your smell. The faint scent of roses, mixed with a little bit of baked apples. I think about the memories. Sitting in the bed, watching the 4th of July fireworks. Calling your phone even though I was sitting just in front of you. Seeing your face scrunch up, and exclaiming, Cat!
Who knows why I hang on to these memories. Maybe I don’t want to forget you. Don’t want to forget the times we spent together. Those wonderful three months of dating.
I remember that time at the fair when we got snow cones and ate corn dogs until our stomachs hurt.
I remember when we played Pokemon cards, and I only started a collection because of you.
I remember when your adorable little sister adopted me as her big sister, and whenever she’d see me, she’d say Cat! Huggies!
I remember when you told me about your father, who couldn’t know we were dating because he wasn’t supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
And I remember the first time we kissed in your truck at ten pm, in your driveway, and hoping that your father didn’t see.
I remember when your father found out about us.
I remember when my mom let you come over for the night to escape his wrath.
My daughter is not gay! He had said.
My daughter had to be joking! He had said.
Any gay is no child of mine! He had said.
I remember hugging you, your apple and rose scent pressed up against me as you sobbed.
I just want my father to accept me for who I am. You had said.
I just want to be able to love whoever I want with no judgement. You had said.
And I had asked you if he didn’t support you, was he really your father?
Fathers are meant to support you. Fathers help you when you fall down and they don’t judge you, I had said.
I had also pointed out that your father was grammatically incorrect.
I remember that time you kissed me under the stars.
I remember that time you kissed me under the ferris wheel.
I remember that time you kissed me when you thought no one was watching.
I remember learning that people had seen.
I remember seeing pictures of you and I kissing taped to lockers, spread on the ground like snow, in the hands of gawking highschoolers.
I remember them whispering.
I remember hurting.
I remember when we caught the perpetrator.
I remember all the things I was going to say.
I remember not saying them.
I remember pulling you off of him. Because if you had beat him up, we would have been no better.
I remember when I called you. And you didn’t answer.
I called again.
Finally, one time you did answer.
But it wasn’t you.
It was your sister.
Her voice was thick and heavy.
She had been crying.
Hearing those words come out of your sister’s seven year old mouth nearly broke me.
Hearing it from your sister hurt worse than the actual words did.
I didn’t know what to do.
I hung up.
And I ran.
I didn’t stop running.
I ran for two days straight.
Pure concentration and adrenaline kept me awake.
Maybe if I ran enough things would go back to normal.
Maybe you wouldn’t be dead.
Maybe your sister would never have had to say those two words.
Maybe if I ran enough then we would have traded places.
They found me in a field fifty miles away from my house.
The smell of hand sanitizer and latex gloves.
The look of home.
Only it was not the same.
It was the same concrete. Same paint. Same welcome mat. Same door knob. Same dog yapping at me. Same room. Same mirror.
Only it wasn’t.
It was like everything was faded. Not the same. I knew it was my room. My house. But it was like everything was drenched in white paint and made impersonal. My pictures on the walls suddenly didn’t have meaning. It was like it was someone else’s life, and I was just looking in on it.
Days blurred into weeks. Weeks blurred into months.
One day I got up and left my whitewashed room.
I saw your truck in my driveway.
And I thought it was you. You had come back.
I ran up to the truck.
I climbed in.
And you weren’t there.
It was a foolish hope, I know.
But I looked in the glove box anyway.
And there was an envelope.
You left me an envelope.
I opened it and pulled out the paper inside.
I’m dead. Yep. If you are reading this, I’m dead. Yeah, I know how cliche that sounds. But listen.
I love you. I love always and forever. Even though I’m gone, you need to keep moving. Don’t let me bog you down.
I love you, Cat. Now and forever.
Tears were rolling down my face, Car. You know they were.
I put it away before my tears could smudge the ink.
The ink, the ink that you had used to write. Your handwriting, bright and bubbly, just like you.
I’ll never see them again.
But I had to respect your wishes.
So I moved on.
I still visit your house.
I still drive your truck.
I still love your sister as if she's my own.
You aren’t there.
And I wish every day that things were different.
But for now I just have to deal with it.
It’s what you would have wanted.
So, goodbye, Carly. For the last time.
I love you.