As the pain starts to fade away, you realise that life is full of missing parts. A dusty puzzle piece forgotten under the bed, a singing-happy-birthday card, lost inside a chemistry notebook, a vague summer memory, hidden in one of the many boxes my parents tried to store away. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember. Sometimes, it’s an unbearable exercise, for which the mind doesn’t have the strength, or the courage to surrender to for a long time. Even after a year, the whole world still feels numb, like emotions never existed. And can’t exist ever again. Not after her. Today, the birds are getting sick, the trees are being cut down and the sun is slowly burning everything. I guess reality gets to me now, it drowns my head underwater and wakes me up, when I think I’m at peace with myself. Those fresh, happy, adventurous evenings, these impulsive nights, filled with sweet liquor and female energy seem far, far away now, like they never existed in our galaxy’s time and space. However, they told me that I am stable enough to tell the story. They said I needed closure. Amongst all the things I’ve lost, hope is probably the most difficult one to recover. We used to be dreamers, and now I’m just a loner, that’s for sure.
Never forget summer 2015. As my fingers gently go around the ebony polished wood, I see her again, taking a gold sharpie, writing these bold letters on her headboard. This bedroom used to be my favourite place in the whole wide world, I called it, « The Temple of Girlhood ». Bobby pins were always scattered all over the floor, mainly on the zebra carpet, shiny pink notebooks (which held way more than notes and doodles) used to make a big pile on her office and strawberry lipglosses populated her childish purses. Photographs of poneys were pinned alongside pictures of sexy boys, whom she probably forgot the names of, just like I forgot who got the idea first. I remember taking the notebook inside the Memory Box, next to the red vodka. She wrote the journal entry, it read: « July, 1st, it’s Mom’s birthday. I hope she’ll be mad. Today we’re going on another adventure. I think we’re gonna go to Lake Mohave, near Morning Star Cove. The wind should be very strong, we’re gonna have a good time. I’ll wear my blue bikini. » Then we waited, around 7 pm, her parents went to dinner to celebrate. She told me it was a stupid idea, to celebrate her mother’s birthday because that woman loathed birthday parties. I think her mother just simply hated her family. Apparently she never got the life she wanted, never got to travel as much as she aspired to, never got the career she hoped for, and the list goes on. At least her parents were still together. I vividly remember the weight of the atmosphere, on our tanned shoulders and the tension between us. I felt like something was tearing us apart, she told me that the heaviness air made people die. Apparently it became so hard for them to breath, that they suffocated, intoxicated by themselves. The air is an invisible killer, said a character in one book, one day, I think. Every time I hugged her that night, it felt like no one was there, it felt empty. She felt empty. I often imagined her insides as a big house, every room devoted to a person she loved. I always wanted to be the bedroom, the temple of girlhood, the temple and later sanctuary of our lives together, of what we created. An eternity for our escapades. Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true. That was her favourite song, when we were little. We wrote a letter to Judy Garland, we wanted the red shoes she wore in the Wizard of Oz. Of course, we didn’t know she died, a long time ago, when we weren’t even born. We never breathed the same air, never got to share the same hours, minutes and seconds.
After the accident, the police guy asked me if she was suicidal, it never occurred to me that this was a possibility, because there was only one answer. Of course we talked about death, only we talked about it just like we talked about sex. This assumption sounded ridiculous to me, she loved life. We loved life, that’s why we did what we did. To me, this accident was the ultimate proof that we lived how we wanted to, not that we wished to die. I knew her, she wasn’t that cruel, she would have never taken me as a witness, as a side character to her own tragedy. Then they asked me if I pushed her by accident, if we knew what we were doing. I remember that the police station smelled of boredom and piss. A man was handcuffed to a chair, he was screaming abstruse noises. He seemed possessed, his eyes were blank. I always wondered how he ended up there. The guy who did the interrogation had a very funny name, and that question made me laugh, or cry. I can’t exactly recall what I felt. Then he asked me to describe what happened. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember going back to her room after everything, and taking all the notebooks. I remember collapsing on the bed, trying to scrub off the insolent letters. I was and am never going to forget summer 2015. When they found out, my parents stored away everything related to that night. Before diving back to the ugliest, darkest moment of my life, I want to make it clear that I have all the pieces to the puzzle, all the hypothetic answers and reasons. They’re here, I just need to understand what I already know.
Once again, I’m lost on an island of useless school books. Drinking a passion fruit juice with too many ice cubes. I can see her body, silently asleep in the distance. A pale trace of puberty stained her lips, a milky nightgown soaked in her teenager odour was endlessly floating around her tightened flesh. It seems to me that whatever bond held us together, is now gone forever. Probably dissolved in the dark current, or by the strange turns life took, without warning. My hands are in control, I turn the pages, but her neck is still as white as the hospital sheets. And her odour still smells of a thick liquid that has been imprisoned for years in a rotten bottle of cheap perfume. The kind of smell she sprayed on her tennis skirt, splashed on her notebooks and drowned in on a typical Friday night. This particular kind of smell repulsed her mother, no wonder why that -mixed with the simple, arrogant smell of death- made her throw up. When she saw what was left of her daughter’s face, the immaculate conception, she looked the epitome of disappointment and rage. That woman probably thought, how is the cleaner gonna take the blood off ? The waves played with her body for a long time, taking and giving it back, crushing it against the spiky rocks. She was such a beautiful girl, most of them said. She always told me to be nice to others, some of them said. She embodied everything God wants to see in a young girl, the pastor said. After the police station, I didn’t say anything, I remained silent. I honoured our secrets, I honoured her trust until the end, even if I probably shouldn’t have, I never said anything. People who knew always thought that we were crazy anyways. They were wrong, we just wanted a good laugh, and a good shot of adrenaline. It’s weird, how people don’t understand. We were thrill seekers, not troublemakers.