she was fourteen and gangly and awkward and she said to me, 'i think i'll go somewhere where no one knows me.'

and i, sixteen and cocky and hungover, said to her, 'that won't be too hard, kid. just walk outside the door.'

she was fourteen and gangly and awkward and she slapped me in the face.

the next time i saw her, she was still a clumsy mess of a girl, and i was still sixteen and had the ego of a billionaire. but the change was that she was a year older. we celebrated in her backyard with lantern lights hanging motionless in the air like man-made stars. i wanted to set off fireworks, and she laughed in my face, those tiny little supernovas only iluminating her darkblackindigo eyes. i did it anyway, and almost killed us all. i learned, in the midst of all the shimmering flashes of light and explosive colors, that she painted those darkblackindigo eyes pink.

when the clock struck twelve, she cried.

(and i never understood the significance of that until now).

we ate pizza on fridays and watched reruns of game shows. she would curl inward, resting her cheek on my shoulder, and tell me that the silence of the house felt like a cocoon as same as it felt like a straight jacket. i would look down at her, half confused half desperate half worried half angry (too many things don't add up), and tell her i only came because no one was throwing a party.

which was a lie, of course, but for some reason i was convinced she had to believe i didn't care about her.

caring was never something i dealt with well, especially caring about people who couldn't care for themselves. i wrote her off, expelled her darkblackindigo eyes from my mind, and kissed girls with names like ashley.

but then suddenly, she was sixteen and tall and beautiful, and everything became so. hard.

we didn't make sense anymore, i didn't make sense anymore, she didn't make sense anymore, and the entire world was either gibberish or startlingly clear to me.

i went out on fridays and after hours of getting drunk with people i not-so-secretely wanted to punch in the nose, i would stumble past her house at times in the morning that my grandmother would flinch at. she sat on her front porch step, smoking things that worried me. she would just look at me, with all those things that don't add up, and i would just look at her the same way i did when she turned fifteen and cried off all that pale pretty pink eyeshadow.

she left in the morning for new york, her mom said.

new york.

how far away.

and that was that.

(years later i found her with black ink singing behind her ears and a boys hand clenched in hers. she told me i was an asshole, and i told her that i thought

her eyes were beautiful).