Hitomi Smiles

I knew that I loved you when your mother broke your nose, when you laughed through tears about your wireframe glasses slipping onto the floor. I knew, without thinking, that you would survive your life, that you could find the strength within yourself to take all the shit and idiots and smart-mark slop in the palm of your hand and crush it into pearls and roses. I knew that I loved you when I heard you singing in the freezer and out the back stairs, like the house was burning and you were the only one inside. I knew that I loved you when you slapped my face and didn’t make me ask you why, smile cracking behind your eyes. You must have known something, too. Must have.

You always seemed so full of reckless wisdom, dumb youth tracts to spill about. You had so much to say to me, so much truth to offer up, that I never knew what to do with it all. You told me once about the time you decided to cut yourself while watching Two and a Half Men. You laughed when I told you I’d done the same while listening to A Flock of Seagulls. When you spoke, you would lock your fingers and let your thumbs press together beneath your chest. You would look at me dead in the eye and tell me the worst thing that had ever happened on the best day of your life. You would grin. You would press me into the corner of the pantry and wait until I was choking in tears. Then you’d smear my face into your shoulder, not caring about the stains I’d leave or the looks you’d get. It meant a lot to me. I never forgot it.

You used to say there was something magical about windows, how much you liked being able to see into someplace else. The curtains to your bedroom were never drawn, head always resting on the pane. When I drive by your old house, I still imagine you up there looking down at the street and giving names and reasons to everything you see. They never took your christmas lights down. They seem so dull, now.

You left your books out on the driveway while it was raining. You said you wanted all the words to blend together, that way you'd have less to read and misunderstand. Your mother didn't notice them when she came back home and her back tires threw the green and yellow pages up into the air, spreading them like flowers into the wind.

You would wash your work shirt every day in the sink, wringing it between your shaking fingers. The water would drip onto your canvas sneakers and pool into your socks, and you'd cry like it had really hurt your feelings. When you got frustrated with me, you would beat your palms against your thighs and make almost the same sound. Sometimes you'd try to hit me only to laugh at yourself just before you reached me. You said that you'd forgotten yourself and that you were sorry, but I know in your mind that I was wrong and that I really deserved it.

Where do things go when you can't remember them anymore?

For a minute or two, you were the most important thing in the world to me. I'm really sorry about that. It made me forget that you were a real person, and that in trying to help you I was really just hurting you more deeply.

You asked me to write to you, but I didn't think you really wanted to hear from me. Every time I started to write you something it would come out wrong and I would have to start over again and again. I would try to write the most basic things I could about you only to realize that I didn't understand you and that you probably didn't want me to. You used to mention a lot that you'd wanted to be forgotten, and I would laugh because it seemed totally impossible. Now the real you seems to drift further and further away. You wrote me one letter to tell me how much better things had been, how long you'd gone without hurting, but I was too weak to write you back. I didn't know what to say. I left the letter at the bottom of my dresser drawer. I looked for it today but it wasn't there. It must have been in disappearing ink.

You pointed to your ear when you couldn't understand what I said. You would follow my throat as it created the words, and smile that big half-moon grin when you realized what I'd meant all along.

The floor is wet and I miss you more than ever.

Thank you. I love you.

Yes, yes, a hundred times. On my life.