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I Planned to Ask You to Prom photo

I’m at the cemetery again.

Your gravestone still looks the same. The same as it looks every day. New. And yet it feels old. It feels as if you’ve been gone for a lifetime, or maybe two. Because despite the fact that your flesh is six feet below my shoes, separated from me only by soil, your soul is galaxies away, separated from me by endless space. I know you loved the stars. I hope you’re exploring them now.

Seventeen days since you spoke your last words to me. They repeat themselves in my mind, I never want to forget them.

The rain’s refreshing, don’t you think? I’ll see you tomorrow.

You never saw me tomorrow. You left, a smile that reminded me of everything good in the world on your face. And then you were dead.

Now I stand at your grave. Eve James, beloved daughter, sister, and friend. You weren’t any of those things to me, except beloved, you were more. You were love. The physical embodiment of everything my heart ached for.

I remember when we first met, I stumbled over my own name. I’d never been the type of girl who gets nervous in first introductions, until you. The dark waves of your hair and the brightness in your eyes made my words stick in my throat until I finally choked out some semblance of who I was.

“Mori?” You clarified.

I nodded, hoping the awe in my gaze wasn’t obvious, hoping maybe it was and you wouldn’t mind.

Storm clouds rumble overhead, and droplets begin to wet my clothes. I welcome it. Perhaps the rain would dissolve me, melt me down and wash me away towards you. The rain doesn’t. It leaves me here, standing in mud and sorrow.

I put a hand on the gravestone. The closest I’ll ever come to touching you again. There are no tears today. They all came and went the first week. I doubt I’ll ever cry again. Not after the ocean that poured from me. I don’t think I have any more saltwater to give.

After a silent goodbye, I walk into the woods behind the rows of buried bodies. Tall thin trees envelope me, shielding me from some of the downpour, but not all of it. I would never want to escape all of it. The rain’s refreshing, I do think. I breathe in the smell of wet earth, the smell of pine, of soft gentle woods. Water patters against leaves, unseen animals rustle fallen branches, birds sing far away. The sounds of morning. For me, the sounds of mourning.

Seventeen days— a day for every year you walked this Earth. Seventeen years, that’s not very many. I’d reach seventeen years soon, but there’d be no celebration. Because how could I celebrate life when you didn’t have it anymore? A birthday without the happy— that died with you. I thought about not reaching seventeen. On the tomorrow I was supposed to see you, when instead it was announced over the intercom that no one would again see you, I ran to the river. Collapsed on the bank, the rushing of water interrupted only by my weeping, I wanted to dive into the river and take a deep breath. But I remembered you didn’t like Romeo and Juliet, said it was pointless. I stayed on the shore, took a deep breath of mud instead. Laid there for what could’ve been hours, years, imagined I was lying next to you.

Damp grass and dirt cushion my steps, lessening the pain that comes with every movement away from your final resting place. Though, I hope it’s not your final resting place. I hope you’re wide awake, dancing in the cosmos, drinking in the warmth of your favorite constellations up close. Is Andromeda as beautiful as she is from here?

As my legs wander the woods, my mind wanders to impossible possibilities. My hand in yours, I only ever got to hold it once. Making you laugh, it’s all I ever wanted to do. I used to imagine the future, the future where I could be home, home with you. A future where home and you were synonymous. Now, I can only imagine the past. How you always tapped your heels together under the desk as you waited for the bell to ring. How you could recite Frost poems from memory. How we’d walk home together. Every day after practice, under the sun and in the rain.

“Eve!” I yelled the first time.

You waited with a smile as I jogged to catch up. I said I thought we lived near each other, you said we should walk together.

Eve. I said your name every chance I could. I loved the way it tasted. Simple and sweet and beautiful.

Mori. God, I loved the way you said my name. I loved when you said my name. I wonder if you liked it as much as I liked yours.

I planned to ask you to prom. I just wanted to dance with you. 

I wanted to give you every flower that’s ever grown from the ground. The only flowers I’ve ever given to you have been the ones I lay at your grave.

Even though I never told you, I loved you. I love you.

I turn around to head back, out of the woods. In the middle of the path, a fox. Light brown, bushy tail, ears perked up at me. I stare into its eyes. Its inquisitive pitying eyes. As if it could sense my internal agony, could see the anguish radiating off of me. The fox’s head tilts, it takes a small step towards me, then darts away, disappearing as fast as it appeared. It’s gone, already far in the woods somewhere. I longed to be farther in the woods somewhere. But I had to get back.

The woods hum around me as my eternally unsteady legs walk me out of them. Even though sometimes I didn’t want to live, I decided to live for you. For you, Eve. Because I know you wanted to live, I saw how much you loved it. Every day, whether you were under the sun or in the rain. If you couldn’t do it, I’d do it in honor of you.

The trees thin and I’m back in the cemetery, the rain comforting me along the way. Maybe one day I’ll find something still here to live for.

I glance at where you lie one more time before I leave. I’ll see you tomorrow.