Stephanie Arditte for Fiction

Jun 21, 2016 by

Stephanie Arditte for Fiction

Notes From a Very Sad Girl

 

When you picked me, vodka and lemon lipped, from the crowd of wine-stained teeth, my wildflower roots came up still covered in dirt and whistling a “told you so” to the earth worms that had, inspired by the long since stillness, wrapped themselves around what held me to the ground. And as you shook away the soil, I let an uncertain future imagine a certainty that included your lips on my forehead, your tongue on my teeth because every time you kissed me despite the muscles in my face that willed me to pull away, my mouth opened into the kind of smile I would never wish away.

Babe, I hoped to never wish you away. The first night I met you, you told me to slow down, I was moving too fast. You were moving too fast. I wanted you to lay down so I could trace your outline in chalk and lie in the shape of you. I woke up early the next morning and looked at you while you were sleeping, so excited for you to wake up so we could talk about just more stuff.

And then, like a mushroom cloud in a film studio, you told me it could never be like that—that you’d have to stop sleeping next to me, that you needed orange juice with pulp in glass bottles and my plastic jug of Tropicana would never be enough to start your mornings, that you could only ever promise me endings.

When it hits me, it happens like this: you’re my ghost or I’m your shadow, following spells of you a block too far in front of me, guided, misguided by a glimpse of your hair or your shoes with the holes. Call it the intoxication of optimism. See, I want to know everything about you. I want to know the name of your third grade teacher. I want to know, in the coldest, ice-black times, what words you would use to warm your hands. I want to know what it looks like to see things from that high up. Does the ground seem so far away? Are you scared of falling? I wanted to unwrap the newspaper protecting each precious detail, unpack the cardboard boxes of all of your stories, the ones you won’t give me answers to. But you pushed those boxes into the garage with your stupid, small hands and I know, I’ll never swivel past the old bikes, broken skis, tape yellowing on lacrosse sticks, deflated kick balls, the coiled garden hose. So I am going to try and know other things, things you know nothing about, about people I’ve never seen and people I’ll never show you.

*

I held a deep and private thought that he contained a spark of brilliance or genius or transcendence that would, I was certain, take me to places I could never speak out loud. I met a boy whose universe barely had room for me, although I would find a little crack and wedge myself in. I ignored the danger that he put me in, that time when we were brand new but fierce friends.

“You are a fantastic liar.” I said.
He smiled. “Only when I have to be.”
“Play fair.” I told him. “Stop beguiling me.”

*

Let me, lover, call your mother and thank her for your pores and your breathing, let me thank her for the half-side of you.

*

There is only a certain number of times I allow myself to say his name. Today, everyone else in the world is a blurry not-him. I’m wired. Too nervous to sit down and eat and taken too much Adderall. I want to know him so well I want to be him. I want to feel what it is like to wake up in his body so muscly.

He’ll flirt with anyone.
I am in the kitchen and he is yelling for spinach.
“What’s the matter,” I yell back, “you look a little ragged?”

Skin like bible pages, the belief that under self-loathing you will find him as a perfect person. Let me silence the voices in your head, you want to tell him. Let me hold your hand when it is scary to be yourself. When you are about to be cruel, call me first. It is possible that this won’t work as well as I think it could. He is a writing fool, isn’t he?

*

When I first met you, when I first learned of your depression, your infinite sadness, your long ago suicide attempts, I thought I could fix you just by loving you. I wanted to be the reason that you grew to love this city. I wanted to cover your eyes and guide you through the darkness past the pain and that homeless man on his laptop. I wanted to embed the street corners with happy memories. I wanted to warm the city for you. But it was Friday, a bottle of wine, a bar fight, and you navigating that big sadness. Friday, I realized I was completely hidden in your big sad darkness, my face obscured—just hazy lines. You couldn’t see me through it, through all my good intentions I would never be the light that leads you out. I hoped one day you would find a way out. I hoped you would find someone to show you that this is not all so scary.

Dear Boy,
I am flying into your hometown against the wishes of my entire family. Do you know how long I will be getting shit for this? They are blaming it on something broken in my brain, not the broken heart. Fucking idiots. The first thing I am going to do when I touch ground is smoke a cig in your dishonor. You walked in on an incomplete soul, and didn’t stay around long enough to fix things up. You never gave me a nickname, but you knew I was desperate for something to lift my spirit.
I don’t know if you ever got my letters, you didn’t write back one time. The other boys tell me I should have known you were always bad news. You were great news for a while but then you started disappearing, just a few days at a time, and then you disappeared for good.
Love,
Girl

Be louder. Dance harder. Write sad and happy words. Do not give up. Don’t jump. Please don’t jump. Don’t fall. Come back. Come back. Where are you? Where are you? Where are you? Come back. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye. Good-bye.

This morning, right now, it’s still dark out. I woke up crying about you. I cried in my sleep. I dreamt that you were dead but you visited me as an unspeaking dead physical person (but not a corpse at all) to help me paint a wall. The wall had a pattern made of pieces of thin plastic attached that we painted over with a grey-blue paint and the help of the female Lululemon employees. I was only volunteering to paint the wall, and the Lululemon employees were all getting paid. The plastic was cut in a very preppy pattern. It looked nice until I realized you could see how the plastic was bumpy and the paint didn’t cover the edges. I used a stencil that I made myself and spray painted a red rectangle and inside the rectangle wrote “Yo, I was here LOLZ”. Then you painted a red rectangle with words I don’t remember. I was scared that we would get in trouble with the bosses for screwing up the walls with our stenciling but you somehow wordlessly reminded me that anything we painted could be painted over and caused no harm.

I wrote you a poem:
You are a hybrid dog donkey alien man lover.
There is no land in sight, just open river.
Ink down. Page one.
Surprise me or don’t surprise me.
Someday, somewhere, something will eat you alive.
Eat your skinny, dancing soul.
Try and survive the fall,
By fall I mean autumn just so you and I can build snowmen come winter.

You fucking died. You went and fucking died. You went and fucking died without fucking me one last time. You and your fucking habits—your fucking eating habits, your fucking smoking habits, your fucking disappearing habits, making yourself invisible whenever you wished, your fucking fucking habits, how condoms were so damn inconvenient for you.

All your friends were talented but you were more than that with gifts of light and life and language and sex and love. You used your body as a sense organ—touch, taste, sound, smell, sight, and sadness.

It has been months now, but I am still not done with you. You live in the words I speak every day. You are the thing I believe I will never find again, in person, place, or object. You chose to remove your soul from mine first and then from the entire world and you went and you fucking died.

I wonder if anyone yelled right before you did it: “Don’t jump, you stupid idiot.” Think of the wake you have left behind. The literal sense, your mom and sister puffy faced and dressed in expensive black dresses and greeting guests with all the strength and self-control they could fucking manage, and the figurative ripples cutting through the pool of tears puddled around your dead broken fallen body.

I frequently ask people if they knew you when you were alive, before your name was inflated with the dirty air of your death.

I have yet to accept your goneness. I believe that somewhere in this city you are skateboarding with a poem brewing in your brain under all of those curls or you are eating your raw eggs with your raw oats. No one else has ever eaten an avocado with such precision and sex. First, the plastic knife through bumpy green skin, then you pull out the pit and suck it clean.

I will never stop loving you, stop writing about you, stop missing all the things you never were for me and never could be and now, for sure, can’t be because you are fucking dead.

*

He always left the world a little more elevated than he found it.

*

I keep a picture on my phone of you naked in my kitchen wearing my apron. I have definitely masturbated to your orgasm face more times than we actually had sex. I told my professor about the time we hooked up in her office on the 3rd floor of the academic building and she said it was great. I think your penis is the perfect size for your personality. Heightened awareness anytime you walked in a room, my skin on fire. The last night I saw you, I was really mad that you were not wearing a helmet.

Boy,
You wrote to me:
Girl, I think you are so brave. Plus, your dad does not really work at a grocery store and I choose my friends based on their parents’ occupation, so you are my cup of tea, my warm little goat cheddar hollandaise brisket (that’s a question). I’m in Hawaii, sick of my fucking thoughts and knowing very well that I have less control over them than I think I do. I’ve…

I don’t know why you stopped writing or stopped coming over or stopped answering when I called. I don’t know why you thought there was not a better answer than this, to leave me with no answers. I don’t know if I will ever stop thinking you are a giant asshole. Still though, over and over again I write:

To the very sad boy: you are loved. You are safe. You always will be.

 

StephArditte

Stephanie Arditte lives in Vermont and received her MFA in Fiction from New York University.

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