I think about that first day. Often. Memories I call on when I feel like seeing you, when I’m willing to risk the comfort of my mind for the chance to sit in during one of our nights together again, submitting myself to a seemingly virtual reality of (dis)comfort. I take turns choosing what to focus on when the call goes through.
Sometimes, it’s me. I see the way I used to look at you, your silhouette embedded in the eyes of my past self, now in mine, like a two-way mirror: seeing you in front of me back then and now only seeing your outline when I see mine in memory. My eyes have since stopped softening. Occasionally, I’d know exactly what you were saying by the way my expression changed.
Most of the time, it’s you. It’s your laugh and how quickly it used to pull mine behind. The way your eyes would peek just above the covers. The pause in your voice. That one facial expression that would later become my favorite.
All of the time, it’s us. The way we’d stay up late enough into the night that if we peeked out the window, we’d catch the unsuspecting Pleiades dancing. Alone, hand in hand or in a dimly lit room full of others, I see just us.
I never thought I’d be here, that we’d get as far as we did. I used to tell you that people come and go all the time, that the wonderful thing about knowing someone is that parts of them remain with us long after they have left. This is it. You left, but parts of you never will.
I’ve felt scared for such a long time. Scared of the things I told you about and those I kept to myself. Scared to call, scared that you won’t pick up if I do because you’d want nothing to do with me. Scared that you’d pick up and I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’m scared that, one day, I’ll call you and on those memories, only to hear the line ring endlessly —
But most of all, I’m scared of how vulnerable you make me feel, and the uncertainty that comes with it. And yet, I can’t help but hope that those calls turn into knocks — I’ve left the backdoor unlocked for you.
During those shared nights when time slowed down, I never felt so alive.
I sometimes wonder if you call on them, too. If we both recall the same memories, if we’d be watching them simultaneously or if we missed each other by seconds. I’d call, only to leave a voicemail, preventing myself from enjoying the roulette of memories I’d reach, just so you’d know I was there — that I still think about you.
Some nights, I feel I should stop calling on them, that I should let the past be what it was, not submerging myself in them and cycling through things I’d do differently. Other nights, I ask myself: If I knew how it would end, would I do it again? I feel I —
Never have I wished I’d, instead, handwritten something as much as this. To transcribe the things I should’ve told you sooner in ballpoint 0.7 mm blue ink, translating my feelings into something that could be read to you at a moment’s notice. To find a way to sew the note into the lining of your favorite pair of jeans, knowing it’d be with you wherever you go.
We never deserved any of this.
I don’t know when I’ll see you, and I won’t leave you with those words. I can’t find the right ones, so I’ll be hanging up now.
You need time and I’m out of it.