Isabelle Lee | Art by Phyllis Lee
I’m sorry, Naomi.
We met on a rainy day in December. Do you remember? It was near midnight, and the sky was pitch black. I could barely see anything through the mist, but I saw you. Even in the darkest of nights, I could always find your face.
By the time you read this, I’ll be gone.
I was the last person you spoke to. Nobody knows that, because nobody knows we met in secret for the past year. Nobody knows how your hand fit into mine like the last pieces of a puzzle. Nobody knows that you once tasted of brilliance and dreams instead of desperation. We were nobody to the world. (But you were always somebody to me.)
Don’t ask yourself why. Don’t blame yourself, either.
I’m trying my best to remember every detail about that last night. You gripped my shoulders so tightly I thought they would bruise and pushed me against a tree and kissed me. You said you loved me. I should have said it back, but I was scared. I was scared because the look in your eyes wasn’t one of sadness. It was one of defeat. It was one of surrender. I should have told you I loved you.
You were half of my soul—the good half. I loved you more than anything, Naomi, and I thought love could save me. I never should have asked that of you, to be responsible for keeping me alive.
Once, I wanted to be your lighthouse. Like a ship, rocking on a stormy sea, you would look to me as a beacon of hope. Even if everyone hated us, mocked us—even if they wanted us dead—we’d have each other, and that would be enough.
My mother found that picture of us from prom night. At first I thought she was going to kill me for it, but instead she started crying and asked me what she ever did wrong to deserve a daughter as repulsive as me.
You died at 7:37 pm on November 25th, a month before your seventeenth birthday. Your body wasn’t found until three hours later when your father returned home from work. Six minutes after his car parked into the driveway, the streets lit up with red and blue, and the sounds of sirens woke the neighborhood.
I’m so sorry, Naomi. In another life, maybe the world will be different. Maybe it’ll be better.
We could have changed the world together. We could have made it better. But instead you gave up on me. Our worlds have always collided in a myriad of hidden secrets and dismissals. I hope that, when you wake up, we’ll be standing together in the light; unafraid, unashamed.
I remember the way you looked at me, that night under the stars. Perhaps that, too, in another life.
It’s December again, and it’s raining. You aren’t with me.