The Devil

You’ll find him empty in one of the plastic chairs in your parent’s backyard, next to the swimming pool.

A scrap of paper will have fallen out of the calloused grip between his thumb and his forefinger. It will have a couple drops of water on it – damp from the overflow moisture in the air. It will say, “thank you for loving me despite yourself, I hope that you don’t spite yourself for it somewhere down the line.”

It will say: I loved you wholly. I loved you deeper than the ocean floor.

I loved you beyond the farthest stars, and beyond the stars beyond them, and out into eternity.

I loved you in a way that the angels might have been able to describe. I loved you in a way that the angels might love, maybe.

It will say: I wanted you to know that I loved you in a way that brought me back to that first kiss, the one that shattered my heart. And when you find my heart shattered, know that I broke into pieces so that you wouldn’t have to.

It will say: Forgive me.

It will say: Goodbye.

You’ll read that note and raise your head and you’ll look for those gray/green circles through closed eyelids,

and you’ll panic and you’ll start to shake him and he won’t answer –

just like normal. Just like he never seemed to answer.

You’ll shake just a little bit too hard, and the back right leg on the plastic chair in your parent’s backyard, next to the swimming pool, will snap, and he’ll fall backwards and his head will hit the small brick wall that your dad just built around the flower planters, and that small brick wall will split a small crack just above his ear,

and he’ll bleed out all of the thoughts that he kept hidden inside.

It will pour out onto the concrete and assemble itself into a paragraph of perfect, crimson cursive,

an afterthought. It will say:

I always knew that I let myself get away, but I never meant to let go of everything that I swore I’d never let go of. I was a child; maybe these rosy cheeks are the last remnants of that innocence… (or has all of the color gone pale, already?) But when our lips first met, I swore that mine would never meet another’s, and now that “we” have become “him” and “her” again, well… three years is some time to find yourself, child. I found my father’s temper. I found my mother’s worry. I found my grandpa’s depression. I found the devil’s anxiety. Do you like what you see? Did you like what you found? Do you like what you find?

Panic will rise in your heart, and you’ll begin to scream.

You’ll start to scream about how he's going to wake up.

You’ll start to scream his name.

You’ll scream his name until he's not real anymore, and then he won’t be. 

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