Because they said “unresponsive in a gray truck,” but then again, the memories started before that dispatch radio traffic. And I don’t regard them as enemies, these memories, just like I don’t regard him as someone to hate. Orange is the most ugly color (especially when paired with a blue stripe), those ambulances reflecting his face still. And sure, I held my breath, afraid he might appear around the corner, and what would I do, facing down a pair of eyes that despise me? Despise me for wanting to live separately. A year from today, we boarded a train, two planes, a rental car driven precariously through narrow mountain roads, and we lived a week in Costa Rica, licking clean our fingers, our plates, our wounds, mucho gusto on the tips of our tongues. We stayed up late, watching Final Space. We spent my twentieth birthday arguing and not in a good way. We woke up, each morning, never simultaneously, and somehow still ate breakfast together.
Together, months later, he stopped believing in that word when we moved to the city. I started praying to it, nightly, lighting a candle on the kitchen table, the house so dark, so lonely. I prayed until that word became untether. Until every fantasy was my life, alone or with another, but in each, it was the same: without him. Someone asked me, the other week, how long we even lasted? And I lied, replying twelve months when it was really fourteen. And someone asked me, the other day, how’s he doing? And I lied, saying he was fine, busy with work but no, he hasn’t started classes yet. I lied about these things, and I don’t know why.
To be honest, I don’t give him much thought. I guess because I gave him too many thoughts before, there’s none left, no questions or words lingering. Instead, there is a lot of room in my brain now, and I’ve been filling it with a hundred million different things, accordingly. I’ve been filling my days with people who want my time, who are not fantasies.
We were a good story: boy meets girl in the back of an ambulance, endless possibilities reflecting in their eyes, coy smiles. But in the end, we were fourteen months of festering incompatibility. We were a good story, no sequel, and I’m glad it’s over.