- I met you three years ago in math class. The mole above your lip wasn’t even dark then, barely visible, perfectly forgettable. I don’t even think I noticed it until a week or two later, when I saw you laugh for the first time.
- You didn’t like me at first, but we became friends somehow, roommates the next year, and best friends the third. Neither of us remembered how. I guess it happened the way new moles appear, forgettable outside of a resounding feeling of novelty, the hey-look-I’ve-got-a-new-one-ness of it. By this, I mean to say that our friendship was careless and ordinary the way that moles are. By this, I mean to say that we stared at chipped corners of paint on the walls of our dorm rooms and talked about all the ways our parents had fucked us up. By this, I mean to say that we sprawled on the common room beanbag and complained about stupid, mundane things like mandatory meetings or the weather or the way your boyfriend loved you too much or the way you loved him too little.
- A year after I met you, I realized that I wanted to touch you all the time, and not just in the romantic places either. Soft across the mole on your cheeks, high on your sweaty forehead after squash, low on the intersection where your arms joined your shoulders. Sometimes, I would confuse wanting you with wanting to be like you, as if our matching moles could be the matching friendship bracelets in a pre-adolescent fever dream. On the Sundays when time would feel just as elastic as the hair ties on top of your chipped dresser, we studied together. I dedicated myself to memorizing the way your moles settled onto the planes of your body in between memorizing dates and places for APUSH. I became very good at multitasking. Jamestown 1607. The mole trapped between your lips and the slope of your nose. New Amsterdam 1625. The mole just below your shoulder, splattered onto your bicep like a mini Pollock. San Francisco 1849. The mole, barely a dot, imprinted atop your jutted shoulder blades that looked like broken angel wings.
- You hated your body. I am so fat, you once said, hair pulled up and squinting at yourself in the mirror as if your body was not really yours. I said no, we wear the same size and you call me skinny all the time. No, you would say, it’s not like that. We share some of the same moles on our upper arms, you said, but we’re different. Fundamental differences, you said. And I thought: differences like the way I take myself seriously when I say I love girls but you don’t and kiss them anyway. But I didn’t say anything. You said that your shoulders were too broad and muscle-bound. Said you wish you had my body, all lithe and skinny like a real girl’s. I hated you for that, thinking you didn’t really want my body, not in the way I wanted you to. Thinking I didn’t really feel like a real girl either because of the way I loved other girls. Thinking that maybe then, if I didn’t count as being a real girl, you could love me.
- Two years after I met you, I was relatively sure that I loved you, but it didn’t make sense to me. On Sundays, I thought of all the concrete reasons I loved you, and I couldn’t come up with any except for the way your moles looked like small, dusty little sprinkles in the sun. Sometimes, I wouldn’t be very sure of how much I really loved you because being your best friend meant that I was also privy to all the cruel and selfish and terrible things you had done to other people like me. But none of those things had been done to me, so why did it even matter?
- You were surprised when I told you I was queer. I thought that I was attempting, for the first time, to be honest with myself. You thought that I just hadn’t talked enough to boys yet.
- Three years after I met you, we ran to the library during detention, hid our footsteps as we tiptoed upstairs, and talked about our families in the dark. My dad used to work a lot, you said. I didn’t see him much as a kid, you said. By the time I woke up for school in the mornings, you said, he would be gone, and he wouldn’t be back until eight. Sometimes, you said, when he collapsed to sleep after he came back from work, I would wonder if he could even wake up again. We hugged and I felt as your nails pressed pale crescents onto my arms, and my nails onto yours. The warmth seeped through us where the marks stood out white and ghostly next to our moles.
- Hey, we match now, I said. Oh wow, you said. I didn’t even notice.
Rachel Liu is a writer from Beijing, China, and Paramus, New Jersey. A current student at the University of Chicago, she has been recognized in the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and The New York Times in various student contests. Her work appears in or is forthcoming from Polyphony Lit and Blue Marble Review.