(TW: self harm)
I never know how to start these things, you know?
And I’m bad at conversations anyway — it’s worse when it’s one sided. But you didn’t pick up, so I guess I should just get it over with. I might leave more than one voicemail, sorry.
Remember when we went grocery shopping and every week I’d mess up the list? I always left out the milk or the eggs or the lettuce and you’d mark it down on my hand so I’d remember it this time, and I’d forget anyway. You laughed it off, though. Every time, and then you drove out near midnight to fix my mess. I’ve never been good with checking everything off.
This was the last thing on my list. I really hope I didn’t forget anything.
Lately I’ve been thinking about supernovas. They burn so bright for so long and then when they go out it leaves a mark — like a black hole or something, or a flash in the sky for a million miles. Something big before they’re gone. I’ve been wondering — [a sigh, long and soft] — I’ve been wondering if it makes any difference because at the end they’re gone anyway.
You used to want to be an astrophysicist. I remember that, still. And I remember you’d say you
would have gone through if it didn’t take so much math, because when you were little you had books and books of stars and moons and planets and black holes, enough to take over a wall in your room. You sent me pictures once. I still have them saved somewhere but I don’t want to look or I’ll miss you more.
People always ask if it hurts to die so slow. I never know what to tell them — I haven’t died any other way. [a crackling laugh] Sorry. Probably not that funny.
Do you still have that list of movies you wanted to watch? I remember whenever we talked to new people you’d mention how you’ve never seen Snow White and everyone would stare at you. You liked that, I think, how they’d look with their eyes wide open, and you blushed, sweet and soft like the princess you didn’t know, like you wouldn’t laugh about it time and time again.
I’d say I’ll miss you but I don’t know if I’ll be anything after this, so — I don’t know, maybe I won’t miss you, I guess. This feels anticlimactic.
It’s a lonely time to die.
I wish I’d picked the afternoon instead.
Or maybe I don’t, because then you’d pick up.
This is the last one, I promise. I’ll miss you even if I’m nothing anymore. I hope you’ll miss me too.
Mrinal Pattanaik is a senior at Neuqua Valley High School. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Sandpiper Magazine, and Up North Lit, amongst others.