a/n: this was written for my friend Steve. some of it's about him, some is about me.
I sit back, sighing, and read over the letter once more. It seems panicked and unrehearsed. In a way, I guess it is, though I've been thinking of the words for a long time now. Before today though, it was just a theory, and idea. But March 19 has arrived and I have everything packed up and ready to go, and I'm no longer sure if I can go through with it. What if things do get better, and all I have to do is wait for it?
A hiss escapes the kettle on the stove, as if it is booing my plans, or possible my reservations. I jump up and silence it, pouring water into a cup I have prepared with a teabag already sitting in it. The kettle burns my hand, but I let it, hoping that the pain will bring me some insight.
It doesn't; it just hurts.
Once the tea is prepared, I take the mug and the letter, walking to my room again. The clock says it's just after 11:00, but it seems much later already. Three hours until the train leaves. I have three hours to decide.
I pick up the second letter. It is much calmer, much more resigned to the future, whatever may happen. I crumple it into a ball, throwing it across the room. Oops, I guess that isn't an option anymore. I try to feel sorry for myself, but I can't.
"I'm sorry." My whisper is soft, almost too soft to hear, and I repeat it again, louder. "I'm sorry."
I stop myself before I yell the words. Can't wake Georgie.
For the third time, I go through my backpack, checking that everything is there. It is, and it is so neatly packed that my inspection messes up the tidiness of it. I pour everything out and repack it. It takes me only ten minutes.
I wonder why time moves so slowly when you're waiting for something. Making the tea normally takes a decent amount of time, but I did that in less than five minutes. Checking my bag and repacking it took ten. It's not even 11:20 yet.
My bed is inviting, but I can't sleep tonight. If I sleep now, I won't wake up in time to have a choice. I need the choice. I wish I didn't have a choice.
Retrieving the crumpled letter from across my room, I spread it out, rereading it. I bet if I tried, I could recite both letters from memory. I don't try. I don't want to admit that two weeks has passed already. I was supposed to have made a decision by now! As if on its own accord, the paper is crumpled once again. I shove it into my pocket this time.
In my closet, there is a loose panel into the crawl space below the ceiling. I remove it, and check my supplies there. Everything is ready, all I have to do is decide. Why do I have to decide?
I pace. Time does not pass. Suddenly, it is midnight, and I can't remember what I have done for the past forty minutes. It scares me, until I remember my options, and then it is comforting. Outside, a car passes, its headlight shining in my window and momentarily illuminating my room. I want to throw a rock out my window to break the spell.
In my head, I recite lyrics until I forget a word. The rhythm is broken, and I stop and check the clock again. I need to decide soon.
Flopping on my bed, I almost laugh at the idea that I have actually flopped onto my bed. Everything gets funnier after midnight, and soon I am laughing silently at the whole gods damn situation.
I stop laughing as suddenly as I began, and get up off the bed again to resume my pacing. I think maybe I should be more worried or afraid than exasperated, but I'm not sure, so I stick to being exasperated.
The clock keeps changing its display, and sometimes the movement catches my eye, but I try not to focus on the numbers, until I realise it is past 1:00. Time works like that sometimes, very slowly and then all at once, like falling in love or falling asleep. It's odd.
I stand up and look around. I still haven't decided, and I'm honestly not sure if I will at this point. I don't know what I want.
I reread the letter yet again. I'm going to loose so much with this… Whatever I choose my life will change tonight.
Before I know what I'm doing, I've grabbed my backpack and walked to the front door and outside, silently closing the door behind me. I realise after I'm on the sidewalk that I've forgotten to leave my note, so I run back inside again and place it on the kitchen table before silently leaving one last time. I take one last look at the house I've grown up in, and then I'm off.
The man at the counter gives me a strange look as I buy a ticked for the 2:00 am train, but I ignore it. My heart beats loudly in my ears, and my adrenaline is pulsing. Too soon, I am on the train, watching it pull away from the station.
It's done. I made my choice.
Dear Mom and Dad, and Georgie,
I guess by the time you read this, I'll be gone. It doesn't seem real to me, yet. That I'll be gone from this place. I still have a couple weeks still, but I'm writing the letters early. "Letters?" you ask. Yes, letters. I'm writing this one, and another. I doubt you'll read the other if this is the one I leave for you. Maybe I'll leave that one too, I'm not sure yet. But if this is the letter you're reading, I've run away.
It's such a cliche statement. "Mom, Dad: I'm running away." Seems like something some little kid would say after their parent doesn't buy them a toy they want. Some passive-aggressive kid, I guess. And yet here I am, saying it. I'm not a kid anymore either.
I'd say I'm sorry, but I can't honestly say it and mean it. The signs are all around you, if you'd just look. If you'd just listen to what I'm not saying. I've tried saying it out loud, but I can't. The words just won't come. But I've been screaming it at the same time. Screaming it as loud as I can and it isn't working.
I have to get out of here though. I have to go somewhere else, because this house isn't healthy for me anymore. I'm going to die if I stay here, I really am. I've tried so hard, but it just won't work. I don't know, though, maybe something will happen in the next two weeks and you'll never read these letters. Maybe I'll give them to you early. Maybe I'll just change my mind and stay.
I need to explain some things to you guys though, before I go. I don't plan on coming back, or really talking to any of you for a long time, if ever, and there's just some stuff you should know before I do that. First, Georgie, I love you. You too, Mom and Dad.
I guess I should just start at the beginning though. When I first realised something was wrong with me.
Remember when I was just a kid and I said I wanted a dress for my birthday? You thought I was joking, but I wasn't. I'm not a boy, Mom and Dad. Well, I am, but it's complicated. I'm not always a boy, but sometimes I am. Sometimes I'm a girl, and occasionally I'm neither, or something else completely. It's so hard to explain, but so easy to feel. The disconnect between how I should be and how I am… It's so huge sometimes.
I used to be able to deal with it. I used to be able to handle it. But it's been getting more and more frequent now. The switches are happening more and more often, and I can't stop it. I hate it so much. I hate me so much.
I guess somewhere along the way, I got depressed. I don't remember it happening, just that suddenly, it was there. I don't even really remember being happy now, not really. Depression is like that. It gets better sometimes, but you can always remember how it feels to want to die, and when it gets bad again (and it always does), you can't even remember what being happy feels like.
I'm sorry. I should say that now before I forget.
Georgie asked me what happened to my arm once. I said it was the cat, and it actually was, which surprised me then. It still does. I started cutting too. It was so odd though, to have a mark from something other than the knife. I don't remember how I felt about it though, just that it surprised me.
I know you've seen the cuts. You didn't think they were actually cuts, though, just scratches from something or other. Sometimes I believed that too.
That's not all of it though. Maybe if it was just the depression, the cutting, being—a freak… Maybe then I could have handled it, dealt with it. Maybe then I wouldn't be sitting here, writing this. I'm crying, you know. Don't feel bad for me though. I'll be ok now, I think.
I'm gay too. Maybe straight. I'm not even sure anymore. I like the word 'gay' though. It's symmetrical, and I've always liked things to line up nicely. I know that's not even bad, that tons of people are gay. I feel so alone though. I can't tell most people, and I hate me that. I hate not having people know. I hate secrets.
It wasn't all bad though. I had fun sometimes. I liked it. I had some friends, from that camp I went to. I had some friends I met online too. I know, I shouldn't be talking to strangers online, but it's a little too late for that, is it not? They helped me. Sometimes I didn't feel like a freak when I was talking to them. They help me. I won't be leaving them though. I'm staying with some of them for a while, couch surfing until I can get something going for me. I promise I won't live on the streets.
I had a friend once, who did that. Ran away, lived on the street. I don't know what's happened to him though, not anymore. I kept in contact with him for a while though, and the stories he told me were more than enough to stay off the streets.
I'll miss you though. I'll miss staying up late to watch just one more episode. I'll miss helping Georgie with homework.
I've thought about staying, here, with you. I've spent so long thinking about it, about how it would play out, about what I could change to make it better. They say it gets better, you know. I decided that's bullshit. I have to make it better.
I almost said I'm sorry for swearing there, but, if this is my good-bye to you, shouldn't you remember me as I am, not as you think I am?
I'm sorry anyway.
I don't even know if this makes sense anymore. I can't se properly anymore, and I'm trying so hard to not make noise. It's late, and I can't wake Georgie up. Or you, Mom and Dad. I don't want you to see me like this. I can't let you. That's why I have to leave now isn't it? I'm not sure. Maybe I should stay. I can be a boy for you. I can be ok again. I can stop being so much trouble for you.
Don't let Georgie forget me, please?
I'm not sure what to say. I'm so tempted to just delete this whole thing, but if I stop now, it'll never get said, and some things just need to be said, no matter if it's said in a letter full of tears and word vomit.
I love you. All of you. I can't let myself forget that, even now. I think I meant to say that I can't let you forget that… I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…
I had to stop writing this last night. I started crying so hard I couldn't think anymore. My mind just left me.
I cut last night, again. I'm not sure if I should say that, but I want you to know how much this hurts me. It hurts so bad, more than you can imagine.
Please don't let Georgie grow up like this? Georgie deserves better.
Mom. I love you. Put a picture of me up on the wall. Put that picture of me dressed up for Halloween last year. I like that picture. I'll miss you, Mom.
I'm sorry, Dad. I know you wanted a son like you. I was supposed to take over for you when I got old enough. I think I might miss that… I just laughed. I never thought I would miss that, of all things. I never wanted to take over for you, you know, but I wanted you to be proud of me. Are you? I guess you can't be, not anymore.
Georgie… Be fucking awesome, kid. (Mom and Dad, maybe you shouldn't let Georgie see this after all…) Georgie, kick ass out there. You're so beautiful and smart. Don't let anyone fuck you over.
I guess what I'm trying to say is… I love you all. I'm finally doing what I want to do. Need to do. Don't be sad, please. I'm happy now. I hate that it takes me running away to say that, but it's true.
Love, Steve and Sara, your child.
You dream of the day your brother left sometimes. You were so young then, but you remember before he was gone. You remember loving him. You can't remember much of that day though. Mom and Dad tried so hard to keep you out of the house, away from the action. You remember the police showing up, and then your grandparents showed up and took you out for the day. They didn't say no to you that day.
After the day your brother left, the house got real quiet. People didn't move about like they used to.
They never told you what happened, either. He was just gone, and you tried and tried, but you could never get a straight answer out of anyone.
"Your brother had to go somewhere," they would say. "He took a trip." "He had something to do."
"Well, why doesn't he come back?" you would ask.
"He just needs some time. He'll be back soon. You'll see."
But he never came back.
Later, much later, when you're nearly grown up, you are snooping around in your parents things and you find the letter he wrote. You read it, sitting on the floor, crying. You never do confront your parents about it, but you take to calling him your sister in your head. "Sara's happier now," you tell yourself. "I wonder what she's doing?"
Once, you try searching for him online. But you can't find anyone that looks like her, under either name. You don't know what he changed her last name to, or if he changed it at all, even. After a while, you give up. There seems to be nothing you can do anymore, and the memory of your older sister becomes a shadowed thing, one only thought of on special occasions.