This goes for everything. Kisses, hugs, sex, movies---the last time you take a picture with a shitty cell phone or the last time you talk to someone. You never really know if the last time is going to be the last time until it's already too late. You only realize it's the last time when the leaves begin to fall and the color begins to fade from your skin and you realize that she took all of the color you possessed with her. All of the love, the hate, the sadness, the emotion----it's all gone. She took it all with her and never gave you a second look. She steals it away with her and you never think that it'll be the last time you'd feel something. You never really know what numb feels like until it's already too late and you're feeling it. You never know what loss is until you lose something.
I lost my girlfriend Gia. She disappeared one afternoon and never looked back. Rumors are flying around saying that she ran away and that girls our age disappeared frequently to find themselves in a larger city. They'd disappear and come back ten years later with a new face and a new name and tell everyone how much they've changed. Of course, that's when I learned disappearing didn't fix anyone's problems. My mom disappeared when I was seven. She took off with a suitcase and her red hair flying around, a snarl in her teeth as she slammed the door. She was gone and never came back. She never wanted to come back. She despised my father, and my father was too afraid to leave her himself. He held on hope that the last time would be the last time. He didn't know that life doesn't work that way. He was an optimist. Much like myself, he wanted to believe that there was only good in people.
Maybe that's why my mom disappeared. Maybe she wasn't good. Maybe she truly wanted to leave, to take the bad and to make that the only thing she was good at.
The bad things in life always outweigh the good.
The bad always wins.
I remember getting the phone call. I remember it so clearly, I remember how the officers voice shook, almost like he was dreading the news. There was a series of phone calls, one then, and one about a week later. They both meant the same thing to me, but both times the words passed through my head and completely disappeared. They were both lies. My girlfriend hadn't disappeared, and my girlfriend wasn't dead. I knew she wasn't. She was too strong, too smart, and too happy. Happy people didn't suddenly disappear or die. They were kidnapped or tortured or murdered. But they never willingly left without a goodbye, or a cause, or a reason as to why they left.
That, and no one leaves SmalltownUSA without a party. It's how our town was. Everyone knew everyone, and at least thirty people came to wish you goodbye and good luck with your new endeavor. That's just how life worked here. So the fact that there was no party and there was no goodbye for her was something that confused me. Where did she go?
And why wasn't I the first one to know?
Or really, why did no one know where she was?
I should've noticed. I should've noticed and I should've done something to help her. I had to have been able to do something for her, right? Even if it was subtle, I could've changed something. I could've been there for her, instead of making her feel like she was all alone.
I realized that this was her last letter she was sending me, and I swallowed hard, remembering the words she sent to me from the first letter. I'd have to find the last letter. It was supposed to be the letter that gave me the most answers to why she's disappeared. But where did I begin to look? Was I going to be able to find it? Her letters were straight forward, but whatever message she was trying to send otherwise was far from that. She was never usually good at getting straight to the point, and this was no different. Whatever she was trying to hide, she was succeeding in it. She was trying to keep it a mystery, and now, that made sense. Her life up until this point was a mystery. She was never one that kept things on display for the world around her to see, and this was no different now. She was always a closed book, filled with mystery and a new plot idea with every page you turned. And I usually liked that about people. I liked the fact that she wasn't like most girls. But now I was really beginning to despise that about her.
I didn't want a closed book. I didn't want mysteries and different ways of thinking. I wanted answers. I wanted the truth. I wanted to know what happened to her, even knowing now that she never loved me, and that she had depression, and that she was never attracted to me, and everything else I've learned about her. Even after all of the lies and the wrong things she's done, now I just want the truth. I just want to know what happened.
It's already April now, so I knew that death was imminent for her. But I need to know when it happened, how it happened, and why, so I can finally come to terms with it and finally figure out how to move on with my life. Was that cruel? Was it cruel to just want answers? Moving on had to be something I'd do, but honestly, I needed to know. I needed to really understand why Gia was so depressed, and I needed to know why disappearing was really her only option. I don't know when it happened, and I don't know why. None of her letters were postmarked, and I'm sure she meant to do that intentionally at this point.
Why was I so determined anymore?
I fell asleep later that night, her previous letters sprawled across my bed. I tried to piece it all together before inevitably passing out. None of it made sense. I tried to think of the order of how she sent them, but that wasn't helping either. She told me she wasn't going to live here forever, and that she never loved me, which ironically went hand in hand. No one stayed in this town, and no one loved me. It was only natural for her to want to leave town. That's how my mom left my father, and it was no surprise that if she hadn't disappeared, that's how she'd leave me too. The third letter told me that she was depressed, and the fourth was about how she was afraid of drowning. The last two didn't make any sense in my mind, but there was also an irony to that. Depressed people were often drowning in their feelings. They were going through too many emotional waves, and they were more often than not, too many for a single person to handle on their own.
It suddenly hit me that she was drowning. She was afraid to drown. She was afraid of drowning in her feelings. She was afraid. And yet, it seemed like such a simple thing to be afraid of. We never went to the beach because she was afraid that something would happen and she'd drown. She was afraid of the water and afraid of what it could do to her. Maybe it reminded her of her depression and how she'd inevitably drown, or maybe she just wanted control, to know that the water wasn't going to hold her down.
If she was so afraid of the water, then why was she so desperate to face her fear?
I woke up instantly, my breathing heavy as I looked around my room. Her last two letters made sense. It all made sense. She wanted to leave, she never loved me, she was afraid of drowning, and she was depressed. All of the letters linked together at that point. She wanted to leave, so she found some way to leave. I wasn't sure where that location was, but after really thinking about it, there was a good idea in my mind of where she was. She was depressed and she wanted an escape. I swallowed hard, shaking my head. Before putting the other two letters together, I looked up, wondering if it was the lack of sleep talking. That was a thing, right? I shook my head, knowing this was the most clear I've felt in the past six months. I had ideas, I had more than I have had in the last six months. I had thoughts, and a clear idea of what happened, even if I was still unsure of what really happened to her. I was bound to figure it out soon. I read through each of her letters again, noting how all of them had something to do with water. They all had some type of metaphor that dealt with water, whether it was drowning, or it was floating, or just moving forward. She was afraid of water and yet she continuously wrote about it. It only made sense that it was somewhere here. She had to have planted the letter here. She'd make sure it was in a location where I would be able to find it, otherwise I'd know exactly where it would be.
She liked the harbor. There was a spot in town that looked so peaceful, so calm, and of course, there was a large lake that cornered our city. If she could, she'd put that last letter in the harbor, but I knew her better than that. She wanted me to find it. She knew I'd have to find it, and she had given me plenty of time to find it. All that was left was for me to do so.
I started digging around her room now, frantic to try and find exactly what it is she had left for me. I wasn't even sure what it was. It could be a letter or an object, or even just something left over from her past. I was scared, genuinely scared to find out what it was. This could be it. This could be the thing that decides what exactly happened to her. This could be the moment where all of it finally becomes clear. I am going to find out what happened to Gia and I'll have my answers. Good, bad, okay, depressing, I'll have an answer. And now, more than ever, I'm ready for it.
I started looking through drawers and underneath pillows on our couch, before letting out an aggravated sigh. There was nothing here. Nothing that screamed her, nothing that felt like her. I walked outside, staring out at the pond by our house before I swallowed hard. I walked towards our small pond, looking at the rocks before I looked at the few fake ones we had sitting around it. I tapped it with my finger, hearing a hollow sound. She took in a deep breath, before picking up the plastic rock. There was a hole in the bottom, and she saw a piece of paper fall out. She sucked in a breath, crouching down to grab the piece of paper. The rock fell onto the ground, before she sat down on the ground, her hand covering her mouth.
The handwriting alone and she already knew who it was from. Her hands were shaking, her heart racing as she looked at her name, written in that familiar script that she learned how to forge when she was a teenager. It was from Gia. The postmark was months before her disappearance, and that worried her. How was it that she never knew about a letter until this moment? And why had it taken her an entire year to find it? To find an answer and to find something that deals with her.
So she read:
May 17th, 2014
By the time you read this letter, I'll be nothing more than a soul, lost deep in the bottom of the sea. I know you're going to run around and think that I was kidnapped and murdered. Honestly, I wish that would've happened instead. I wish this story would've had an alternate ending for you, but it doesn't. There's no other way you would've found out because they won't find my body. You knew that though. A small town like ours doesn't have the funding for a missing person's case. Even if they did, they'd give up after the first few weeks. Girls like us disappear all the time. We go to find ourselves, to seek something better for our lives, even if it means we have to leave behind the ones who care about us. I know you're going to be upset, but you need to know the truth. Even if you're the only one who only ever know it. This secret will die with you, just like my secrets will die with me.
First of all, I want you to know this wasn't your fault. I know you've probably spent the last six months thinking that this was something you did, but you need to know that it wasn't you. I know we promised each other no cliches, but I couldn't help myself with that one. That, and I also promised you the truth. And to me, the truth outweighs the numerous amount of cliche things I have yet to tell you. You also need to know that this wasn't all me either. And you're going to hate me, but please, Kathleen, don't hate a ghost for the rest of your life. I promise you I'm not worth that.
I jumped into the harbor. It was the middle of the afternoon. You would've thought it'd be busy for the time of day it was, but honestly, it was quiet and it was the perfect escape. I don't know what it'll feel like, if it'll be slow or if it'll be painful or not, but I jumped. I needed to, Kat. It was the only choice for me. It was the only choice that would give me what I really wanted. Freedom. I was a monster, even if you never saw it, I was tearing myself apart day in and day out just to gain some kind of feeling. I wanted to feel alive, to make myself into someone that you would want to love. It was never about me, but always you. I wanted to die. I wanted to die when I met you, and I thought that feeling would go away the further we continued to date. It got worse as time went on and it started to become more and more clear that I was suffocating no matter what.
I was never going to be the girl that you thought I was. She's a nightmare. She's a dark and stormy night---the kind of girl who was a hurricane. I destroyed so much before this point, and in the end I would've destroyed you too. I was twenty when I died, only five and a half weeks until my twenty first birthday. You're thinking that I should've stayed. That I should've experienced that. That maybe, just maybe I would be better as soon as I was able to have my first legal drink. Unfortunately, if I hadn't decided to jump, I would've died on my birthday, having too many drinks to the point where my body would begin to shut down, like shutting out people one by one. Then, the stories would've been different. They would've shamed my death; telling me that it was foolish and stupid and reckless. At least this way I was truly able to die in peace.
You're going to call me selfish anyway. You're going to tell me that I'm stupid for taking my own life. And maybe I am. Maybe it wasn't the right thing to do. But you also don't know the slightest bit about me. I've gotten quite good at lying, Kathleen. Both to myself and to the world around me. Unfortunately, you are included in this category. I didn't want to lie to you. God, that's the last thing I ever wanted to do to you. But telling the truth wasn't something I was strong enough to do. And you aren't strong enough to hear it. That's no crack on your character either, you're a very smart girl, and you see things no one else can. But you're blind, Kat. You didn't see me for who I truly was. You never saw me as the broken girl who needed help, or the girl who would fall apart and crumble into a million pieces. And I should've appreciated that. I realized then that I was truly fucked up. I wanted you to notice. I wanted you to get off of your high fucking horse and tell me that you knew. That you knew and that it would be okay. That even if I was depressed and had severe anxiety and numerous mental illnesses, that you'd still love me. That you'd keep me safe and still care.
No one's around. No one's here to watch me die. I'm sad, honestly. Actually sad, not depressed sad. I'm sad that no one is watching me die. I don't want to put on a show or have people find me. But it's a sad thing to think about, isn't it? No one's watching me die. No one watched me suffer for as long as I did. No one really cares. And you---you didn't care either, Kathleen. You had college and you had your future ahead of you. Things were perfect for you. Doors opened for you left and right. Internships at marketing firms and news stations, you could do whatever you wanted. You still could. I'm not the last girl you're going to love. I refuse to be the last person that gets to see you for who you really are.
You may have a one track mind and sometimes you get too caught up in your own well being and your own life that you don't notice the small things. I noticed the small things before I died. How the leaves were all on the ground, seemingly changing in the remaining week of October. It suddenly became bare and lifeless, and I knew that's when I'd have to leave you. You see, I already knew I was going to die. I would've become a threat to society and they would've locked me into a psych ward. Except I'd end up killing someone there. I almost killed you.
It was a few months ago, back in August. It was warm and you were so stressed with work and school that you were almost unbearable to be around. There was a knife in the kitchen, just staring at me. Staring at me and images kept flooding my mind to kill you. I thought about when, where, what time---I had it down to the minute, Kathleen. The minute.
So it's better this way. It's better this way because I'm not a threat anymore. I'm at peace. And I know one day you'll accept that. One day you're going to realize that I wasn't your entire world, and that things don't just stop spinning whenever I'm around. The world moves with you. It rises and sets and moves in ways you'd never expect. It moves when you move, and no one can change that except for you. So do not spend the rest of your life asking yourself if you could do anything better. Don't ask if you could've done things differently because the answer would always be no.
Remember to live.
Someday we need to just take step back from reality and let loose. Let go, and just accept the fact that no one is fucking perfect. Most of the time, we need to take a step away from someone because they're no longer giving us what we need. Sometimes it's physically, but more often than not, we turn away from people because they no longer can give us what we need emotionally. Maybe they've reached their limit, or maybe they've decided it wasn't worth it anymore. Maybe there was just too much pain involved in their life at some point that it now became something they could no longer bear. I've always wondered what made people leave. What made them disappear and rip themselves out of your life without another thought. I've always wondered if they knew how the other person felt, or if they ignored it altogether. Was it simply that there was not enough time spent on saying how much the other meant to them? How many times have you told someone you cared, or that you loved them, but at the end of the day, they still leave? Is that a judge on their character, or yours? Do you keep falling for the same type of person and know subconsciously that you're only going to be left again? Do we choose to hurt ourselves this way?
Does the other person like to hurt and destroy those in their path? Are they meant to be hurricanes? Or are they really just a calm, steady hand in the storm in disguise? Why can't we go back in time and change how things worked? How people were wired? Is it astrological? Are some people the way they are because they're an Aries, or a Leo, or a Taurus? Or do we just know that we're meant to be assholes, or girls who cry whenever we lose someone we loved, or boys who become emotionally damaged because they don't get their happy ending too?
And what about the times when the girl pushes too hard? What happens when she's trying so hard to make things work because she knows deep down that they were meant to be? That the universe had been trying to tell her something, and that it's been trying to work it's magic since the day they met? Regardless of how many fights, break ups, promises, lies, and whatever else was between them, they still somehow managed to find their way back to each other. Why isn't it like the movies, when two people who were meant to be together, get back together? Why can't it be easy and glamorous and carefree? Why does it have to be reckless and messy and full of tears and yelling? Why does anything have to be like that? Why do we spend so much time fighting for someone to want us, even though we know they'll never like us back in the same way? Why can't we just get a sign that tells us it'll never be the same? Can't we have that much? And it might be greedy and we might be asking for too much, but shouldn't that be something everyone else is okay with?
I know she's gone. I know shes' gone and she's disappeared and she probably had a good reason to. She left because of me, more than likely. I don't think I could ever blame it on her. I could never say she left because she's an asshole, because that'd be unfair to her and her character. She was fine. She was happy. We were happy.
But I still wonder what it was that made her leave. Was it something I said one night? Or was it something that I did, something that drove her to that point of no return? Did I ask for too much? Did I look terrible without any make-up on that one morning? Or was I just no longer good enough for her? Was I no longer the color of the sky she was seeking? Was my red not enough for her blue? Was purple a color that she despised, so in return, she despised me as well? Why the hell was there no answer? Why on earth did she just leave me, leave me without any words or phrases or letters to mention why I wasn't good enough for her?
My heart was open. My heart was full of life and I finally was okay again. Too many people have burned me in the past, too many times I had given myself to people who didn't care about me, who didn't love me in the same way that I loved them. It's not that they were only focused on sex, or traveling, but they never were able to give me love in return. I can't be affectionate without scaring someone off. I can't decide if it's me, or if it's them. Girls have ran because it's been too much, but the question still stands. Is it me?
I want to spend time for myself. Take a year and work and study abroad and find myself, and do whatever I want to do. I want to try and see if I'll enjoy my life again. See if relationships aren't for me at this moment in my life. Maybe try hooking up, or going on a random date, or just finding myself again. I've lost myself numerous times to those I've loved. They've taken pieces of me and they've torn me apart and have broken me to pieces and left me to fend for myself. They've left me stranded, so to speak, with a part of myself that I no longer recognize. I no longer know who this girl in the mirror is. Her eyes are red and swollen from the tears shes's cried over the people who've broken her apart. She's drowned herself in too many shots of tequila to even know what she used to look like before everything became so blurry. She's become a ghost inside of her own skin. She isn't me.
So who is she?
Is she a girl that is worth saving? Is she going to pick herself up again and put the pieces back together, or is she going to struggle and never really recover? Will she ever recover to who she once was, or will circumstances make her bitter for the rest of her life?
Is there really a definite answer?