I know it hurts, Claire. I know the colours began to bleed, and the sparkle started to fade. I remember it as well as you do, his face in the dark, your blood on his hands. I tried to forget. Why couldn't you?

Don't think I'm slow. I saw in you the beauty you never could. I wasn't a fool for your laugh or your breasts. I was captured by your smile, your words. You accepted the love of others, returned their foolish infatuation, but you never believed that my devotion was real. Claire, my love was not fleeting, and it is not fading. Stay with me. I promise, Claire, that if your heart keeps beating I will make you smile again. Just open your eyes, please. Take those first steps.

I understand that life is just a series of wars. I see that you are ill-equipped, injured and alone. I know now that you cannot face the rise for anticipation of the fall. You would disagree, Claire, but I think it is better to fail than to never have tried at all. You lived your life in constant surrender. Don't pretend you didn't. When the storm came, you were under a tree at the top of a hill, wearing a crown constructed of television antennae.

You're just scared of getting old. You don't want to fight these daily battles, I understand that. But, Claire, accept that there are things you do not know, cannot predict. Not every day hurts, you know that really, and circumstances change. See yourself through my eyes. Believe in yourself. You need to look at the good and not the bad.

So you are scarred and marked. Does it matter? I know the blade hurt, but you have nothing to mourn. His name will disappear one day, the doctors promised you that, and even you can see the progress. That night, you were crying for your innocence, your sex, and not the maimed skin of your inner thigh. Since then you've learnt to love the bigotry, the ruling fist of teenage boys. Does it hurt less, that way? Do you feel less violated?

Your heart is only an empty room because you won't let yourself love. I know it must have hurt to watch him fade, to see your brother eaten up by such a ferocious disease. I understand better than anyone the neglect you felt afterwards. I would know your anger, your misery, if you would express it. I would bear the heartache for you. Let it go. Turn the dirt on his grave to mud with your tears if you must. You should learn to forgive.