The start of things I can't bear to be forgotten but that'd be better off if they weren't remembered.
June 9th, 2009, approximately five years from the apex of our friendship. I think there's enough distance now that I can write about us without shattering into a million pieces. Or maybe there's not. I'll write anyway.
I don't remember the exact moment of our meeting—I know that the first time we met wasn't the epic starting point of our relationship. Nevertheless, I remember second grade. That's when you moved here and I first noticed you.
I was the goody-two-shoes and rightfully smug. You were the bad boy in-waiting, and everyone could tell. You walked in and we shared a glance. I remember you keeping my gaze the entire length of the room. I glared back. You stood for everything I stood against. That's when it began.
We started with this gentle loathing, not really caring at all about each other except to trade insults here or there. You'd tease me, ditch class and do other things that I detested, and I'd sigh dramatically.
Secretly, I loved your attention. I envied your carelessness.
The pattern remained a constant for the next three years.
Fifth grade came and went and we were truly thrown together. The leadership team tryouts were fast approaching. It was the final goal of all of our grade, and those preceding. Only the best, most talented and strongest leaders were picked to lead their grade on into the terrifying anonymity of middle school.
We both made the cut. We were both elite. And somewhere in those some odd six weeks of training and practices, we were friends.
Events, games, teams, report cards and countless competitions came and went. We were friends but rivals in all, dancing around each other—just close enough to ruffle the other's pride and engage interest.
We had a lot in common. Fathers that didn't really care about us; crazy, eccentric, hard-working and over-bearing mothers; siblings we didn't really like or get along with; and egos—always egos that ebbed and pushed against each other, always underlain with a tension beyond competition. It scared and thrilled us both.
During upper middle school we started to have long conversations and look for excuses to be thrown together. You'd seek me out and I only had eyes for you. Talking to you one night was the first time I got grounded for being on the phone for longer than two hours. We had a world together, one that didn't exist when other people were around to make us feel like we didn't belong in each other's lives. After all, the jock and the brain so rarely fall in love in real life. And now we were in high school and far too old for fairytales.
"Kai, what scares you?"
"Clowns, dragons, large black men…"
"Be serious!" I hit him and he laughed at me, probably pretending it hurt. I sighed and leaned my head against his shoulder.
It was quiet in the van. All the kids had fallen asleep long ago, lulled into silence by the never-ending stretch of road. Bree's curls tangled in Jay's spikes and Matty had long ago given himself to the dark and dozed against the window. The only sound over our breathing and the gentle noise of the tires wearing on the pavement was a strain of music barely able to be heard in the night.
I felt him take in a deep breath and I turned my attention toward him. He slipped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me against his chest. I listened to his heartbeat and waited.
"I'm scared of failing. Of being alone. Of you."
"I'm not scary."
"But, God, you are."
I pulled away from him and searched his face for his eyes, looking for some meaning in meaningless statements. I caught glimpses of the blue in the flashing lights from the passing cars. We sat still for a moment.
"You're too intense. I'm scared because I'm not enough next to you…Or for you."
"But, Kai, you're perfect."
"It's nice of you to think so."
I don't remember much else of that night—just the murmuring of his voice into his phone and the feeling of his fingertips combing through my hair and trailing shivers over my face, my lips, and my neck. The arm that wasn't around me clasped my fingers tightly and it wasn't the first time I didn't want to let go. I didn't notice it then, but that night was both the beginning and the end of us.
Oftentimes, people wonder why stars die and other, smarter people give them tidy answers. Do you want to know why stars die, really? They die because they've drifted too close to another star—a brighter star. As this star shines, the smaller one fades and fades until one day; you can't see it anymore next to the big one.
I'm learning that that night in the van, a part of Kai died, shining there next to me.
What he'll never learn is that I started to die that night too. With every little piece he lost—I gave him more and more of myself, trying to restore balance to a system that had far outlived its orbit.
It's that truth that haunts me now, writing this and allowing myself to remember. I gave too much of myself away. And now, I'm just another sad little star—dwarfed by the giants surrounding me. And though it may be futile, in my writing of this, our story; I still cling to that tiny sliver of light.