I loved her. Kai, the girl stole my heart and never gave it back. As if my own mind was mocking me, images of her flash through my mind. Her hazel hair, her emerald green eyes, and her beautiful smile stab me like daggers in the dark. I wish I’d never met her; she tore me apart and ripped me to shreds. Yet still, on these lonely nights, when the night sky looks down on me like an ocean of ink, I listen to the painful beat of my heart, and with each thump, I know I still love her.
My love for her flowed deep like the ocean, an endless pool beneath her feet. Her love for me was like tomorrow, so close yet I could never reach it. And now, I never will. So tonight, as I stare at yet another night of darkness, I whisper my prayer. Let me let her go. I breathe, count to four, and promise myself for the last time that I would forget about her after.
She never saw me.
I only ever watched her from a distance. Across the hallway, on the other side of the classroom, or through the side window in the back of Mr. Martin’s 8th-grade history room. The girl, heavy with depression who once tried to slit her wrists in 7th grade. The girl, who has to take 10 pills a day so she doesn’t do it again. The girl I slowly fell in love with. I watched the way she talked to her friends, tense jaw and clenched fists, pretending to be at ease. I watched the way she was when drawing-she only ever drew flowers-, shoulders relaxed with a smile. And I watched the way her backpack hung sideways off her shoulder, its white background slowly being devoured by drawn-on flower patterns. What was her deal with flowers?
That question happened to be the first few words I ever said to her, spat out after over a month of worked-up confidence. After watching her draw for 10 minutes, I finally managed to go and talk to her.
“You can’t ever find anything wrong with flowers. Flowers never lie to you.” Kai had answered simply, eyes never leaving her moving pen. “They are beautiful, graceful, pleasantly smelling, and lovely. No one has ever said anything bad about a flower.” Then, as her eyes grew soft and her voice thinned into a whisper, Kai quietly said, “I wish that I was a flower.”
Not being able to stop myself, I blurted, “If a flower is perfect, then you are a flower to me.”
Slowly, Kai’s pen glided to a stop. She looked up from her notebook. We locked eyes.
And it was the first time she saw me. It was the first time anyone really, truly, saw me.
She was so close to me I could smell her lavender perfume. We were sitting side-by-side on a broken log in the midst of the woods, a few hours after graduation. Slowly, I glanced sideways at Kai, taking in her soft blush and smooth curves. As my heartbeat increased, I felt letters rise in my chest. Letters that started to form into regretful words.
“I love you,” My hands shot up to cover my mouth, but it was too late. Those three heart spoken words managed to escape, lingering in the air like dust.
I turned my head slowly to witness her whimsical laugh, heavy with notes of sorrow. “I know,” she whispers, unable to look at me. “I just don’t know if I love you back.” My heart dropped in my chest. Before my lips could form words, Kai stood up. She walked a few feet to a rose, and carefully plucked it from the ground. She tiptoed back to sit next to me, holding her flower close.
“Let’s ask the rose,” Kai said, her voice still a whisper. “Flowers never lie.” Gently, she started to pluck at the petals. I love him, I love him not, I love him, I love him not… Quietly, Kai pulled the last petal. I love him.
Kai looked at me. “I guess I love you.” She stammered, sending color to flush my cheeks. Maybe she only loved me because of a broken rose, but she loved me nevertheless. At least that’s what I told myself. As I hurriedly pulled her into me, I could feel a deep kind of pain and sorrow rooted within her. I knew I should’ve been worried, yet I couldn’t let myself give up this moment, so I ignored it and kissed her instead.
That was the biggest mistake of my life.
A year ago: She stood on the edge of the metal railing, the ideals of life and death at her fingertips. She twirled them around like batons in her mind as if to humor herself, before staring at empty darkness beneath her. It was like the chasm between us; deep, dark, and infinite. It was the chasm that I threw in my love and my happiness. It was the chasm that she threw in herself.
Trembling, her feet pushed herself off.
There she lay, sprawled on the pavement.
Here I lay, at the foot of her grave. It was a night like the one of her death. A night so hopeless and heavy. A night where the darkness consumed you.
As my eyes adjusted to the blackness around me, I saw a rose, sprouted next to her grave. A single rose, mocking me and my pathetic life. I pulled it from the ground and caressed it in my palm.
Slowly, I began to pick off the petals, watching each one fall to the ground, synchronized with my tears. She’s gone, she’s here, she’s gone, she’s here…
As I reach the last petal with shaking hands, I hear her voice, whispered like wind through the trees. Flowers never lie. I pluck the last petal.
I close my eyes and mutter the last number, its single syllable buried beneath my sobs.