The sky was a perfect kind of purple as you stood across the street from me. And I thought of the boy who broke you. And I thought of the subsequent boys who fought over the broken pieces of you, taking what they wanted, leaving few remains.
And I smile across the street to you, thinking that I lost you when you lost you. You lost you, and I lost my best friend. But it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. Put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.
And we’re standing in the middle of an old college town, and you’re across the street from me, a reminder to both you and me, that even the lost get found.
And you give a wave, but we don’t agree to meet across the street, because the sky is a perfect kind of purple and once upon a time we would’ve hid from the rays on a day like today, but instead the dusk decided to fall, a reminder of the fall.
And so we both walk on, in different ways, the way life seems to go these days.
And I think back to the day and the call when you told me it all and you cried about a boy who you didn’t know, but a boy who knew you too well. And I think of that day when you cried about it all, when you told me about your fall—
Falling in love,
Because this was the fall out.
And you cried about regret. And I cried with you and with regret.
And it seemed pointless to ask what happened. Because I knew what happened, based on the happenings of the past few days. Instead, I let you cry, and I held my breath as you held your words. Before letting it all tumble out.
I took your words, the same way I wish I could’ve taken your pain. But pain isn’t a thing that can be absorbed. It’s not osmosis or a blood transfusion. Because we aren’t still sitting through a biology class—before things got hard—learning about how the body works. Because now we’re old—or so we tell ourselves—and we’re learning about the way life works.
But maybe that’s untruthful—we’ve always known how life works.
Only now we’re discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work.
And I see you back in the street again, and I wish we could meet back in the street again, when you were still you and I was still me and we were still we. A best friended we.
But you lost you when you broke. And you lost you when you fell down—
Like down the stairs, when pajama pants are silky and soft and too long for short young legs, so you trip and fall and tumble. Only then there was still someone to catch you.
Words catch in your throat now, and I long for the time when they once tumbled out. When words fell as easily as we once did—chasing each other through the woods and down the street. Aboard a bus and to the school.
Falling in line.
Until the day you fell apart.
Until the day that we fell out.
The sky is a perfect kind of purple because that’s the way life works, but we wave from our respective sides and then we move on. Because you put yourself together again—you are whole again—but once upon a time, on a different day, with a different dark sky, you tumbled and fell, and I should’ve held harder. Onto your hand. Because you were empty handed and broken hearted but it’s hard to hold on from far away, just like it’s hard to say hi from across the street. But I should’ve held harder, because then maybe you wouldn’t have lost you. And then maybe I wouldn’t have lost you.
Because cars are passing between us, and in them are our stories. Once upon a time, on a different day with a different blue sky, we shared stories—the same beginning, middle, and end. We shared the same stories.
And then once upon a time, on a different day with a different pink sky awaiting a storm, we shared stories. Shared different stories of our lives apart—a different beginning, middle, and end.
You cried about the end. Wondering if it was the end. The end of your first real fall—not down the stairs, not in the woods. Your first real fall in love. A love without a fairy-granted happily ever after.
It’s no longer Once Upon a Time, because broken hearts don’t belong in fairytales, but the sky is shining bright. Yellow. Like your hair lightened by the sun. Like the school buses that let us share stories together. Like the sun that pulled you through the dark. Because you’re whole again. You put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.
You’re standing across the street from me, in the middle of a college town where the lost go to get found. And the sky is a perfect type of purple, the kind that follows the hurricane, and I think it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. But sometimes I wish I could still have you again. Still have my best friend again. Before you broke in two, before they fought over you. You and your broken pieces.
Befriending fragments used to be hard. But now it’s all we have, so I wave across the street to you, and rather than turn in the other direction, I cross the street to you, because once upon a time I would’ve taken the fall for you, and soon the sky will turn a new shade of orange and red as the real fall arrives, so I reach out my hand to you, because we’ve always known how life works. The beginning, the middle, the end.
Only now we’ve discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work. We’ve discovered the fall, and what’s untruthful is to say that I’d ever want to fall without you.
Because you are still you, and I am still me, and as I reach out my hand to you, I realize all we ever lost was the best friended we.