The last thing Summer told me was that she was sorry. An apology for something that hadn’t happened yet, a line plucked, no doubt, from one of the stacks of tacky romance novels that littered her room.
She knew how much I hated cliché’s, how I over analyzed everything- so I guess it should have come as a warning. Like a hazy glow streaming from the Old Point Cavalier Lighthouse, I should have seen the rocks ahead.
But I didn’t.
Head first, into the darkness.
A messy shipwreck, jagged rocks and broken sails- her death sunk the unsinkable and drowned me along with it.
It was an autumn morning, crisp and cool when she whispered the last thing I’d ever hear her sweet voice sing. She had this way of saying everything melodically, like a bird whose soft voice hung in the air like the key on a piano being held down too long.
I remember her long fingers brushing against my shoulder as I tugged on my beanie before school. Miles was meeting me early to finish up our film project, we needed the early morning light for our last scene. The sunrise wasn’t something I was particularly accustomed to seeing, the night was my natural habitat and dawn was carefully reserved for sleeping through.
I blame sleep deprivation for not having noticed the otherwise all too blatant fore shadow.
“Alexa,” she whispered, stopping me before I could trek out the door.
“Hm?” I mumbled, sleepily.
She smiled, rubbing my arm like she did whenever I needed some form of reassurance.
“Je suis désolé.”
It wasn’t too unusual for Summer to say things out of the ordinary. She was a novice writer, and sometimes her hand written scripts transported into real-life, although they didn’t always slot in naturally. She carefully constructed sentences, soppy, pretentious lines that sometimes had no relevance to anything in particular. They were meticulously forced into conversations so often that I had begun to overlook needlessly melodramatic one-liners from my beloved sister.
In this particular instance I was too tired and too short on time to pander to what I had regarded as another example of Summer Evans’ well practiced theatrics. If I had been paying attention I would have remembered she had been taking French lessons, a language I had admittedly never picked up naturally, however I had seen La Haine and Amelie enough times to grasp the basics. Had I been paying attention I would have known exactly what that sentence had meant. But it was hard to pay attention to something you didn’t know was important at the time.
So I carelessly rubbed my hand against her cheek, her lightly freckled face significantly darker than my own. “See ya later,” I murmured.
The obvious cliché to attach to the end of that sentence would be to say that I never did see her again. That’s what Summer would have written anyway, in her sensibly linked hand-writing, in the back of her journal where she wrote all of her wild, teenage feelings.
But, I mean, I did see her again.
Not in the way I would have liked, or even in a way that particularly counts- but I did see her. That’s not something I want to explain though, the way my back stiffened when she didn’t answer the knock at her door, how I knew something was wrong even before I opened it. How my body flushed cold, that’s not something I’m ready to explain.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be.
Summer was no manic depressive, nor was she some love sick teenager too unexperienced and shallow to suffer through some juvenile attraction, she felt things deeply, sure- but Summer Evan’s was no poster girl for suicide.
I know I’m generalizing in a hugely obnoxious and ignorant way, not all suicides are committed by people in black with shadows underneath their eyes, I of all people know that… but Summer was happy. Or at least, she was really good at pretending- it seemed cruel in a way, selfish if nothing else.
It had taken me a while to open it, pastel baby blue and well used. The journal that rarely left Summer’s side, the journal I found on the end of my bed the day she killed herself. Summer had stacks of journals, religiously scrawled in whenever a fleeting thought passed through her head, moments captured in elegant words that sometimes only she could decipher.
I used to tease her about her school girl fragility, about how she had too many feelings, about how nobody could possibly have enough emotions to fill the pages of twelve journals in a year. But they’d come and go, quicker than the seasons changed, red and pink and yellow, always hard covered and always lined with faded blue. Lines were guides but not necessarily rules. But the baby blue was her favourite, it had lingered through all the changes in diaries and never left her side, she said it was where all her important thoughts were kept. I would roll my eyes and say something sarcastic like ‘okay, Anne Frank’.
I opened that journal for the first time today.
I scanned the familiar handwriting, crafting out foreign sentences. Sentences only I had read.
The first entry was carved into the middle of the page with heavy lead that would have been pressed hard against the grainy paper.
Today I am quietly content.
A lingering happiness from nights ago will keep those thoughts at bay.
I am a mix of dulling happiness, or at least the illusion of it.
And a deep, repressed sadness.
Like a pallet of black and white
The result is a comforting numb- but I imagine that too will subside.
Happiness remains so hard to catch, it flashes by like a moment in an eternity.