Elle

I take a deep breath. It’s a little past midnight, but I’m not tired. I’ve been staying up late lately. It’s been a few days since we have talked, and you made it abundantly clear that you don’t want to anymore. I want to. I want you.

 It’s not my choice though, and I respect your decision. I just – I just miss you. My index finger hovers over the photos app on my cell phone and I don’t know if I can bear seeing your face again. All of the photos have already been taken off of my walls. They’re bare now. A sterile white, aside from my Aunt Cindy’s art. I wish I could just get you out of my head but it’s gotten so bad that I can see your face in the abstract shapes on every canvas in the room.

I have to go through with this. I can’t keep pretending that everything will just suddenly go back to normal. I flick my index finger against the screen and the squares flash and spin and blend together in a Russian roulette of heartbreak. Which few frames will we stop on?

June 12 of 2017, apparently. It says so in black lettering above the photo as I click on it. There are flowers in your hair. I remember I plucked them, illegally, off of the bushes in the State Park. Your hair was blue then. Pastel blue, a little paler than a cloudless sky. My mouth goes dry. I can feel cotton balls being forced inside of it and –  I remember. That was our anniversary. One year. You had surprised me with a picnic under the trees. That was the reason you hadn’t texted me the night before. You were busy in the kitchen making those god awful – but I would never tell you that – sandwiches and trying to plan that day for us. I can’t apologize for getting mad now. I should’ve then, because maybe that is what triggered it. I mean, your disdain for me. Maybe that’s what caused a strain on our relationship, me being an asshole because I wasn’t getting enough attention. God, I’m fucking pathetic. I press my finger against the little blue trash can icon, and I want to punch a wall and I want to cry because this is all my fault. 

I swipe left to see the next photo of you. May 1st, 2017. It was that time we went to see the Northern Lights. They were faint that night. Almost like a soft green smoke pluming up over the waves and along the horizon. We ended up paying more attention to the stars, laying our backs against the seagrass, wet sand clinging to our sweatshirts, and your hand holding onto mine for warmth. I remember you snuggling up closer to me. Your parents were too preoccupied with the fact that your siblings were having a sand fight. It seemed like it was just you and me and the universe that night. 

I click delete and I crack my knuckles. Then I crack my neck and stretch and clench my jaw because this is a mess, and it’s too hard to relive all of our memories when you’re not here.

I continue scrolling past dead memes and Spotify screenshots of songs I recommended to Jamie and my other friends until I see a photo of a text from you. April 16th, 2017. It was the first time you told me you loved me. I can’t take this anymore. I click the select button and drag my finger to the top covering every photo in my library with a blue checkmark. 

I switch apps over to Instagram and scroll through my home page. It’s full of memes that I saw three days ago on Reddit, and none of them are remotely funny. I keep swiping up at the screen and reloading the page hoping for something interesting, but the only thing that appears when I load the page is a photo of you and your friends and me captioned, “I love you guys.” I furrow my eyebrows, confused as to why you’re posting me when you just told me you didn’t want me anymore. Rather than wallow in my confusion and bitterness, I decide to shoot you a message. I switch over to IMessage because it’s way too cringey to try to win back your girl in an Instagram DM. I type out, “I miss you,” and immediately erase it because what the fuck am I thinking? If I did that I’d get a read 5 minutes ago receipt with no reply. Ever. 

I punch out a “Can we talk?” instead because she’s way more likely to respond to a message if it’s a question, and throw my phone across my bed.

A minute later I hear the phone buzz. I grab my phone in the fastest motion possible and hold my thumb to the home button. My phone vibrates and reads, “Try Again.” I punch in my number quickly, only to click on my messages and see that the notification was from Jennifer, the admissions assistant at Augustana College, letting me know about scholarship opportunities. I close my eyes and groan as my phone dings again. 

It’s a text from Elle. You. I click on the message and it reads, “I’m sorry. I overreacted. I miss you. I’ll FaceTime you later, and we can talk about everything. I’m sorry. I still love you.” 

I break down. I told myself this whole time that I wouldn’t cry, but I am. It’s not even because I’m sad. At this point, this sense of relief I feel is so powerful that I can’t feel any other emotions. I cry for about a minute until I remember that I need to text you back before you think I’m an asshole who was just wondering why you just posted me. 

I type back an “Okay. Can’t wait,” and toss my phone near my pillow. I lie on my bed, statue-still, and wait for your call.