We Fell In Love – P. Olsen

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We fell in love outside, down the street from a school that we both hated during hours that we were supposed to be inside it. You sat there and cried, angrily stared down at the ground for minutes at a time without saying a thing, leaving me worried. It was before it hit me too, before I learned what the depression you feel was.

You lifted up the sleeve of your long shirt and showed me the cuts on your wrist. One large gash and three small slits, covered by shirts when it was cold, bracelets and hair ties when it was hot. The school couldn’t find out, they would tell your mom and your mom would just feel bad for herself.

With the fall air around us and the first few leaves of the season dropping, you told me how you didn’t want to be alive anymore, how you felt that maybe, somewhere, some other planet, there was a space for you but this wasn’t it. You hated everyone in there, you thought they were stuck up, you hated them all except for me, and you were angry that I didn’t express the same.

We deescalated the suicidal neurosis together as I told you little jokes that made you laugh, making life seem a little more light-hearted. We walked back to the school by the time it was ending, so we sat on the swings. They seemed calming in the way that they made us feel like kids, and we were kids. We had the mentality of them at least. The school didn’t mean a thing to us, it was just somewhere we had to be and we were about to learn all about the void together. Going deeper into the meaninglessness. You said you wanted to get high. I asked if you were sure; you were always upset that I was always high. Whenever we were on the phone, at school, when I would meet you on the weekend. I always had that little metal tin and tiny glass pipe, the one you would later smash, break into little pieces on the ground. We used to say it was unbreakable.

It was what you wanted. You wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere where it may feel like a world you were supposed to exist in, and maybe that world was right here, you just needed some help finding it. So we scavenged up four dollars, it wasn’t much but it was enough to pack a pipe once or twice. I met a guy around a corner. He was two grades older than us and hid behind his car in the parking lot while he weighed out little pieces of green plant matter. It used to be so magical.

When I got back your older brother’s friend was there. He was making you laugh, you were smiling, and it made me smile. I showed them the illicit little bag of green that I had acquired, but we were without a pipe. He had one, your older brother’s friend, and we became a team, off on our happy walk to separate from the rest of the world into one where we could giggle and laugh and find significance in the smallest things. A world in which it genuinely seemed like we mattered.

We found a world, our sanctuary. A circle of three rocks surrounded by trees and bushes that blocked the view of us from passers-by. The plants got torn and ground, put into the little grey pipe that we tried to think of names for as we sat in a semi circle talking senselessly about the things that really seemed like they mattered. The leaves fell and bright white clouds passed by as we passed around the burning pipe. Once, twice, three times, and then you felt it. You said you never had before, that you had never felt what it could feel like to be this high, this blazed, baked, fried, cooked, all the other things that we would come to call it until we burnt out.

What if the clouds were down here and the trees were floating in the sky? One of us pondered as we shifted from sitting looking at each other to laying staring up at the sky. We spent at least twenty minutes on this ridiculous question.

Eventually, the sky started to get darker and one of us had to go. We walked to the Walmart and looked at our eyes in the bathroom, checking to see if the redness had died down. We reconvened outside and realized just how hungry we were, so we gathered up fifty cents to buy ourselves two cheap pastries. I’m sure, to no one’s surprise, at that moment they were the best thing we had ever eaten.

We walked back to the school where your mom was waiting, we held hands and laughed, interlinked fingers had never felt so fitting. We felt strong together, connected by our palms walking into this new phase of our life.

We arrived and I looked deeply into your eyes, giving them one last check to make sure your mom wouldn’t find out where you’d been. We giggled and said our see-you-tomorrows and then you left. Neither of us would say it for weeks, but we both knew the feeling. Our worlds felt taken over by something deeper. I was still scared and I’m sure you were to, but it was all we had for now.

The next day when I saw you in the hallway, we both escaped from our separate classes. You told me it was gone, that life felt worth it again. You had seen the new world and somehow, it seemed to matter.

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