Hayden- for the tattered lace and your mary-janes and cigarettes. For the tracks.

One day I'll be driving in my car, my car with the sun bleached seats and a 5 disc player that I bought with the money I didn't get from drugs, with the dollar bills that I didn't use as coke straws. And I will quietly tell the person sitting in the passenger seat all about you. They'll sit with their legs on the dashboard, shoes ripped and young ruined eyes and I'll think for a moment that nothing about me will ever die. I won't tell them, or anyone, ever. But I'll think I won't ever die. Like a breeze or a storm I'll pick up somewhere else, in someone else's town, messing up their hair and their skirts. Making them pull out their tissues and handkerchiefs from the front pockets of their coats and I'll laugh around their heads like a moth or a bumble bee. I'll be around and around like a book passed on through schools and years and friends. I'll be here. And there. I'll tell this person about the night we tried to get away. The night I really saw you. The night we broke trees and hands and everything we saw.

Somewhere in the middle of the passing car headlights (like spotlights they lit up your cheeks and hair all night) and the miniature broken record cocaine boy, I saw you. Leaning back, your eyes foggy, you grabbed my fingertips and I sat there, like a hanging leaf, my last few seconds before the draft, and you asked if I was okay. I said Sure but it didn't mean anything. You started to sing to them stories of someone else's life and secrets only I knew. I was gone now, lost in your fairytales and smoke, lost in my hairpins and dirty shoelaces. I felt like an open chess board with all the kings and queens and horses lying on the train tracks where I left them before this all started. Before you stopped leaning on my shoulder trying to balance on the steel beam, before we sang all the lyrics to all the songs we knew, before I took off my shoes and stubbed all ten toes. We were perfect like this. With you as my chapped, twisted mouthpiece and me as your broken-down balance.

I'll tell whoever it is about how you showed off your scars and told them no one ever called you beautiful. I was behind you now, in the spotlight, just out of view with my hair dull and short. I was leftover smoke in your hair, your stained sweatshirt on the floor on the car. You've always liked me because I listened. I listened to what you wanted to be, who you thought you were and everything in between. I choke on your words but I take them. You see it all but you're never inside. I see it too, but no one knows.

You'd kill me if you knew I was writing this. And then you'd be flattered. Standing over my dead body you'd start to feel beautiful.

I'll tell them that I'd known I made you feel bad. I made you feel ugly and worthless and ruined. But so did everyone else. Everyone always made you feel something, and you hated it. Even when they'd never looked you in the eye, even when you couldn't recall the color of their hair or skin, you felt uncomfortable or magical or ugly or sparkly or infinite or strangled because of them. All you've ever wanted to feel was beautiful. And you are. You really are. Behind the muggy sweaters and bedrooms, and the talk of the futures we'll never have, I always knew you were beautiful. I didn't think you were beautiful the way anybody else thought you were. I didn't think you were beautiful the way you wanted to be. You weren't beautiful because of your drippy words or your cheek bones or your layered rings or anything else. You were beautiful because you wanted to be. I could say it every other word until we died and you'd still ask for more. More More More. But More was always too much for you.