and i said,
what if the end was the beginning
and he looked at me
already so far away
i knew i had lost my friend

we braced against life together
our questions
once sweet curiosity
became the grueling language
of our tortured psyches

he was committed to dying
a little each day

and i was trying to figure out
how he could ever really like me

i felt plain stupid in his presence
i rarely uttered a word
for fear of being discovered
as the girl who only knew
how to pretend
she knew

sometimes teachers show up
as boys who read ted hughes
and write broken sentences
on scraps of tissue

and sometimes
we don’t realize the lesson
we are getting
till years later
when dreams come to haunt you
as your remember
waking to hear the news

“i just don’t know how to live here anymore,”
he said to me one day
and i assumed he meant his dorm room

i have always wanted to fix everything
i have always wanted to feel useful
so i went to problem solving
as i do

“well, okay,
i mean you could maybe get your own place
i would help you”

and he looked at me
chuckling as he did
when i missed subtlety
and patted my head
as men taller than me tend to do

“come here,”
he said
sitting down on his bed
touching the sheet next to him

i sat

i had never sat on a boys bed before

and he leaned in
and whispered to me
“that is not what i mean,
the only question is
should i keep living”

i must have looked confused
because he said it again
this time in plain english

“i am considering suicide”

i felt my heart start to beat faster now
i knew i was panicking
but i didn’t want him to see
i didn’t want him to know how much
this terrified me
i didn’t want him to know how much
he mattered to me

stay cool,
i said
to myself
as he came closer to me

“what do you think?”
he said

“isn’t that always
the only
real question,
to live

and i started crying
but only in the inside

“ah yes”
i said,
trying to seem
like it was something
i had considered before too

my voice was strained
and my eyes burning
from pressing back the tears

he got up
and started to put on his leather jacket

he said
“i could use a cup and a cigarette”

“ah yes, me too”
coffee that is
i was not a smoker yet

he always drank his black
and i always imagined
he thought me
rather weak
for putting in the tiniest bit of cream

he was someone i wanted to respect me
he was someone i wanted to love me

i remember staring at him
as he began to waste away
his trembling getting worse
and thinking
if anything i learned about energy
and healing is true
i will be able pour enough love into him
he will make it through

yes that
if i do that
he will make it through

but that isn’t how this story ends
and i stopped believing
half way through

i still remember the last time i saw him

we were at a party
and he was sitting
in the corner writing

i remember feeling annoyed
i was so tired
of trying to engage him
i wanted to have fun
and be silly
but i felt so guilty
i knew he could see me
behaving like the others
i knew he was judging
and i knew
he was disappointed
in me

he asked me to come outside
and talk to him
but when i did
he had nothing to say
just kept kicking the dirt around
and muttering

i said,
surprised at the harshness of my tone
“i am sorry
what is going on?
are you upset with me?
do you need something?
talk to me, please,
i need you to say something”

he said
“you wouldn’t get it anyways”

it was like he took a knife to me
and i felt myself bleeding out

the music from the party
was a whisper in the air
and i could hear the laughter
of my peers

i was frantically scanning my brain
for what to say

i wanted to scream
“please, i love you”

but instead
what came out was

“okay, fine, you’re right,
i wouldn’t get it anyways”

he kicked the ground again
and looked at me

i knew
he knew
i knew
and neither of us
could get the words out

neither one of us
had the maturity
to know
how precious this was

and neither one of us knew
that vulnerability was strength
we had been taught
it was our greatest weakness

i never saw him again
not physically
he died
at only 19

and i never got to tell him
how i felt
i never got to ask him
did he choose
his way out

this one
i never got to redo

sometimes we forget
how vulnerable we actually already are
and we forget
that it isn’t always up to our plan
how things unfold

so if you find yourself in a moment
where you have an opportunity
to say the thing
the thing
that so desperately
wants to push out of you
i hope you do

because sometimes
we just don’t get
a redo

❤️ emily joy rosen

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