it started with an innocent question.

 “where did you meet her?”

“high school. we had biology together. she said she was looking for a sex buddy for the summer and i said ‘hey, i can be that.’ we dated for awhile and i thought i was falling in love with her.

she told me at my high school film screening. i should have listened to her then. she said ‘i ruin people.’” 

his voice cracks, he sniffles. i’ve never heard him cry before. i grip the phone harder and hold my breath. 

“i told her ‘you don’t ruin people.’ how was i supposed to know? i couldn’t have known.”

he goes quiet and i hear him rustling papers. i stumble to respond,

“when you have feelings for someone, you only see the good things about them. you can’t see any flaws.” 

a pause. more rustling. i know we are both thinking the same thing.

“you were young and you thought you were in love with her. it makes sense you couldn’t see that.”

another pause. 

“why are all my pens out of ink?” 

it’s like the conversation didn’t happen.

it doesn’t have to define you. you’ve been carrying this pain for a long time. life has thrown so many curveballs at you; nothing shocks you anymore. your resiliance astounds me. you recover from every punch. some of your bruises are still blue, and some of your cuts are wide open. i hope they heal soon, you deserve nothing but the best.

“are you going to go?”

“yeah, is that okay?”

“yeah, yeah. i just want to say something first.” 

my heart rate picks up and i feel my cheeks flush pink even though there are 3000 miles between us. 

“go for it.”

where do i even begin? a deep breath,

“i just wanted to say that i noticed you got upset earlier and i’m sorry i brought it up. it really sucks all of that happened to you and i wish it didn’t. but because it did, you’re so much stronger of a person. since you’ve moved to la, your life has taken off. you’re doing so well for yourself and i’m so proud of you. you’re one of the best people i know and i want you to know that.”

a soft laugh. i think he’s smiling. 

“thank you, i appreciate that. it means a lot, really.”

we hang up and i feel heavy. the weight does not compare to the burden he holds in his heart. it takes up so much room that i fear he will never have room for anything else.


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