The past–it lingers like a bad taste; you swallow to suppress it, but the emotion regurgitates. Details and actual moments have disappeared. I wish I could make sense of all things, re-work my memories and place them into precise order, fashion a new clarity and then, begin afresh. Yet, questions, details pester: Who were you? Who am I? With unwarranted freshness, I remember.

All in one room. We are just kids. Everyone is on the bed or hard-wood floor. I lie on the floor, and you are above me, feet apart and head in your hands. The room is an ill-lit, hazy peach.

“I want to go outside,” you say.

I smile, but I am silent. My eyes are closed as images replay in my head: the games and the laughter. You said you liked me, and I said nothing. Warm, yellow candle-light and blushing faces. My friend, she whispered in my ear, “Do you like him?” I said nothing. “He doesn’t look at other girls like he looks at you.” I laughed shyly, and my palms turned red and sweaty.

I have a crush on you. But, how should I tell you? Tomorrow, I am thinking, frantically planning. I can see the mountains, the sea.

“Do you want to go outside?” you are asking me.

I smile. I should have told you then, but I am silent.

The images in my head turn muddy, and I remember I don’t live near mountains or seas.

Red cups and red faces greet me as I am introduced to you: dark blazer and royal shirt. Your clothes matter. They emphasize how you walk and talk, define you. You contrast against the overlapping, black silhouettes at the party as I enter.

My eyes enlarge on a bottle of white wine, and figures swirl and expand on the colorful glasses of liquor. My stomach hurts a little.

I accept my first drink. It burns, but I swallow. I say something funny, and you laugh. I fall, but you catch me. Your hand wraps gently around my waist, and I think you have the softest hands, so I let them mold me like clay.

“What will you do when you get home?”

I grin vacantly and shake my head.

You laugh, and your hands shape my face like a fine dish. You smile.

“You’ll be all right,” you say.

I wonder what you mean because I feel lovely. The night is cool, so we go for a walk.

“Where are we going?” I wonder. I feel like we are walking in another world–a wishful land, more solid, more possible, where dreams and impossibilities make glorious sense. The wet streets gleam under orange lights. Our leader is broken and stumbling, so I judge him. I am in control.

“Where are we going?” I ask.

“You okay?” you ask me.

My hands are covering my eyes. “Mhm,” I say.

“Does your head hurt?”

“My eyes hurt.”

You embrace me, and your foreign body is so close and my ear is pressed against chest. I think of the heart, a real heart, and I wonder why your chest sounds strangely hollow as you breathe. I pull away, trembling. I am shaking. It means nothing.

We arrive at the park. Someone turns on music, and we dance in the green grass. We scream because we are young. I never dance, but I feel alive tonight. The stress of months and years is leaving; thoughts explode like fireworks. Awareness of life, tastes, and sounds infiltrates my defenses. My fortress comes crashing down. You roll against me, and everything disappears, but you.

We walk back from the park. You are further and further away from me. The world of impossibilities has been replaced, and I feel unwelcome in this strange company and reality. My companions are wiry shapes, shifting in the dark, indistinguishable shadows overlapping sloppily. Royal shirt and dark blazer, you weave and blend with the others. You turn gray. Who are you?

I never knew you. You are a shadow. I am a mystery. We never knew one another. It means nothing, but the memories burn colorfully in my head, and I feel alone and mundane in this gray world. I am yearning for impossibilities.

The other day, I stood in the park. Images echoed and blinked in my head. I cried because I had forgotten who you were–only the hollowness remained. It was gray outside, and pink blossoms littered the shore, bruised and crushed into clumps of gray mud.

I wondered what is this life. Why do we play games?

The mountains, the sea. I inhale the smell of salt and fish.

And we run. You right next to me, and I to you. The air bites, wonderfully sharp and you are next to me. The streets are uneven, lumpy beneath my feet, but we run past the shop windows; our reflection flees before us. I catch glimpses of us, but our shapes disappear too quickly.

We reach the harbor and stop running. Our feet bang on the planks, pounding the world, echoing to say we exist. I inhale the smell of salt and fish, the mountains and the sea. The water is pink; the dock is palely rinsed, worn by waves. Lazy fog lumbers over the waters, and I think this moment is perfect. I still think: that moment was perfect.

“I want to jump in the water,” I say.

“If it wasn’t so cold…”


I sit by the edge as you wander the wasted docks.

“I like you, too,” I say.

Silence. “Really?”


“I feel like I’m not your type.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. I guess–I don’t know.”

The sun illuminates your face, and I remember: I don’t live near mountains or seas.

I am watching for you. Everyone who arrives adopts your pale face. My heart beats with hollow gusts in my chest. My stomach hurts, so I drink and the blinking lights swirl together. Finally, you appear, and I rest my head on your shoulder, but you fade away into the black mass.

“Come back!” I call.


Your hands gently find my waist, and your ear is close to my lips. My thoughts are filled with you and swirling, blinking, vibrant white lights.

“Come closer,” I repeat, “I have to tell you something.”

I have forgotten what I need to say: your hand is behind me, a fetter, a net. As I stumble around, you tangle me. I am wasted and tied up in you–in myself. I want to be free, but I am afraid you will disappear.

“Are you okay?”

I nod and smile. You laugh.

The party is over, and we stumble to our cars. Silhouettes jiggle and disappear into vehicles that wiggle away. You follow me like a shadow. I keep checking to make sure you are there. I reach the car and slide to the ground.

“You’re a mess,” you say to me.

I shake my head, “I’m sorry.”

You crouch over me, grab beneath my arms and pull me off the ground. My eyes are closing, and I can barely see you. You are supporting me–for a moment. I lean to embrace, but you have disappeared.

“Good night,” you say and walk away. It is the saddest I have ever been. I remember that moment over and over again. In the world of impossibilities, you disappeared. And, the next day I never knew you.

I want to erase, and I want the burn to subside, the vividness to gray. Yet, these moments and these burning things, they are me. Who were you? I don’t know. But, who am I? I am gray too, an outline, filled in by you, by all those before you! I can erase you, erase myself, but I choose to let you remain, painful and sharp, vivid and living. I have a glimpse of who I was. Who am I? Who were you? I have yet to know. Yet, I have still to build and to become.