I love you. Enough to camouflage you into my skin.
Never stop. Never forget.
I glance across the seat at Silas, but he’s engrossed in his own reading. I would like to see this tattoo in person, but I don’t feel comfortable enough yet to ask him to take off his shirt.
I flip through more letters until I find one I’ve written to him. I’m curious to see if I’m half as in love as he seems to be.
I can’t stop thinking about the other night when we kissed. Or your letter explaining how you felt about it.
I’d never kissed anyone before. I didn’t close my eyes. I was too scared. In movies they close their eyes, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I wanted to know if your eyes were closed, and what your lips looked like when they pressed against mine. And I wanted to know what time it was so I could always remember the exact moment we had our first kiss (it was 11:00 o’clock, by the way). And you kept your eyes closed the entire time.
After I left, I went home and I just stared at the wall for an hour. I could still feel your mouth on mine even if you weren’t there anymore. It was crazy and I don’t know if that’s supposed to happen. And I’m sorry I ignored all your phone calls after that. I didn’t mean to worry you, I just needed time. You know that about me. I have to process everything, and I have to do it alone. And you kissing me was something that definitely needed processing. I’ve wanted this to happen for a long time, but I know our parents are going to think we’re crazy. I’ve heard my mother say people can’t really be in love when you’re our age, but I don’t think that’s true. Adults like to pretend that our feelings aren’t as big and important as theirs—that we’re too young to really know what we want. But I think what we want is similar to what they want. We want to find someone who believes in us. Who will take our side and make us feel less lonely.
I’m so scared that something will happen and it will change the fact that you’re my best friend. We both know there are a lot of people who call themselves your friends and then don’t act like it, but you’ve never been that way. I’m totally like rambling. I really like you, Silas. Like so much. Maybe more than green apple cotton candy, and the pink NERDS, and even SPRITE! Yeah, you heard me.
It’s sweet. I was sweet—a girl falling for a guy for the first time. I wish I could remember what the first kiss felt like. I wonder if we did more than just kiss? I flip through more letters, scanning over each of them. I come to one with a word in it that catches my eye.
I’ve been trying to write this letter for like thirty minutes and I don’t know how to say any of it. I guess I just have to find a way, huh? You always say things so well and I’m always the tongue-tied one.
I can’t stop thinking about what we did the other night. That thing you do with your tongue…it makes me want to pass out just thinking about it. Am I being too honest? Showing my cards? That’s what my dad always says to me. “Don’t show people all of your cards, Charlie.”
I don’t have any cards that I want to hide from you. I feel like I can trust you with all of my secrets. Silas, I can’t wait for you to kiss me like that again. Last night after you left I had all of these irrational, angry feelings toward every girl on the planet. I know that’s stupid, but I don’t want you to ever do that thing with your tongue to anyone else. I don’t feel like I’m a jealous person, but I’m jealous of anyone you’ve wanted before me. I don’t want you to think I’m crazy, Silas, but if you ever look at another girl like you look at me, I’m going to gouge out your eyes with a spoon. I’d also possibly murder her and frame it on you. So, unless you want to be a blind prison mate, I’d suggest you keep your eyes on me. See you at lunch!
I blush at that one and sneak a glance at Silas. So we’ve…I’ve had…
I stick the note under my leg so he can’t read that one. How embarrassing. Doing that with someone and not remembering it. Especially since he’s apparently so good at that thing with his tongue. What thing? I sneak another look at him, and this time he’s looking at me too. I immediately feel hot all over.
“What? Why do you have that look on your face?”
“What look?” I ask, looking away. It’s then I realize that I don’t know what my face looks like. Am I even nice to look at? I dig through the backpack until I find my wallet. I take out my ID and stare at it. I’m…okay. I notice my eyes first, because they look just like Janette’s. But I feel like Janette might actually be a little prettier than me. “Do you think we look more like Mom or Dad?” I ask Janette.
She kicks her feet up on the dash and says, “Like Mom, thank God. I would die if I was born as pale as Dad.”
I sink into my seat a little with that answer. I was hoping we looked more like our dad, so when I see him in a little while, he’ll feel a tiny bit familiar. I pick up the journal, wanting to distract myself from the fact that I remember nothing about the people who gave life to me.
I flip to the very last day I wrote in my diary. It’s probably the thing I should have read first, but I wanted some context. There are two entries for this day, so I start with the first one.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3RD.
Day your dog gets run over
Day father goes to prison
Day you have to move out of your childhood home and into a dump
Day your mother stops looking at you
Day your boyfriend punches someone’s dad
All the shittiest days of my life. I don’t even want to talk about it. By next week everyone else will be, though. Everything just keeps getting worse. I am trying so hard to fix things, make them right. Keep my family out of the gutter, even though that’s exactly where we’re heading. I feel like I’m swimming against this big wave and there’s no way to win. People at school are looking at me differently. Silas says it’s all in my head, but it’s easier for him to believe that. He’s the one with the father. His life is still intact. Maybe it’s not fair of me to say this, but I get so mad when he tells me everything is going to be all right—because it’s not. Clearly it’s not. He thinks his father is innocent. I DO NOT! How can I be with someone whose family despises me? My dad isn’t around for them to hate so they transferred it all on me. My family made their precious family look bad. My dad is rotting in prison while they walk around and carry on with their lives, like he doesn’t even matter. What they did to my family matters and everything is not going to be all right. My dad hates Silas. How can I be with someone who is tied to the person who locked him up? It makes me feel so sick. Despite all of this, it’s so hard for me to walk away from him. When I get angry he says all the right things. But I know deep in my heart that this isn’t good for either of us. Silas is so stubborn though. Even if I tried to break up with him he wouldn’t let me. It’s like a challenge to him.