Forbes and Fifth

The Pieces of You

The low sound of dark blue waves crashing onto the shore.

A small breeze stirring, blowing grains of sand into a bank covered by various grasses.

The distant cries of seagulls circling, looking for their next meal to steal.

All I can focus on is what is directly in front of me. As I stare at the ground, I use my index and middle fingers to trace patterns into the sand.

I look to my right and glance at the drawstring bag sitting against my leg, begging to be opened. I do not know why I brought it here, the stupid thing. My face burning with rage, I grab it with my hands and throw it as far as I can, hearing it fall after slamming into a wall of rock.

I return to my original stance, adjusting my legs so they do not fall asleep.

The low sound of dark blue waves crashing onto the shore.

A small breeze continues to stir, blowing grains of sand further along the shoreline.

The distant cries of seagulls—I look to my right once again; I cannot help it. The bag is taunting me, just lying there, patiently waiting for the moment I decide to give in and open it.

The wind blows once more, harder this time, causing the straps of the bag to fling in the other direction. My eyes practically roll into the back of my head.

Fine, I think to myself, if this is how you want to play, so be it. If I give into your game now, it’ll stop. I turn over and push myself off the ground, hands digging into the sand, and storm over to the bag. I use it to brush the sand off my hands, and then hold it to my chest, pausing to reflect on my decision.

Do I dare open it? I shouldn’t, I can’t. But I need to. I’m going to have to sometime in the future, might as well rip the bandage off and do it now. My heart pounds as the world seems to dim around me, the bag acting as the only source of light, knowledge, and hope within this void of temporary darkness. I hold my breath as I rip the top open, the first time I have done so in weeks.

Both of my eyes remain closed as I feel the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders.

Only one step left, open your eyes, open them now!

I slowly open my right eye, barely peeking inside.

Just a little forward, you can do it.

After what feels like hours of stalling, I finally open it, fully examining the contents inside like it is not the millionth time I’ve done so. A woven bracelet, a piece of fabric, a map, a seashell, and a letter. I smile to myself as I try the bracelet on, tears forming little puddles at my feet. It still fits, just like the day I made it. The day we made it.




I fiddled with my pencil as I dozed off, listening to my teacher drone on about the importance of something I do not really know or care about.

“Sydney, Sydney,” she said, purposefully speaking in a high-pitched voice, “I don’t remember earning my master’s degree to teach preschoolers. There’s no such thing as naptime in high school.”

“Yeah, sorry,” I mumbled, my head still attached to the cool face of the desk.

Mrs. Crossman did not take nicely to rules being broken in her class, so she grabbed a ruler and lightly tapped me on the shoulder with it, raising her voice. “Sydney!”

“I’m awake,” I said quickly, jolting awake with a new-found energy. I could not believe I had to take this class. I’m not a home-ec type of guy, but it was a gen-ed requirement, and since it was senior year, I finally had to face my demons and get it out of the way.

The teacher did not make the class any better.

“Since it’s Friday, I thought we could do something fun today: weaving bracelets,” Mrs. Crossman said enthusiastically. “I only have enough kits for a certain number of people, so I’m going to pair you into groups of two. Sydney, you’re with Everett.”

Oh my god, as if this class couldn’t get any more horrible. I never really spoke to him, but I’d heard many rumors throughout the years. Asshole, player, the cliché jock who uses girls, the list went on. I honestly couldn’t blame them, though; I’d probably fall for his tricks too—he was noticeably good looking.

He smirked at me as I made my way over to the seat next to him.

 “What?” I asked, slightly furrowing my eyebrow.

“Nothing,” His expression was completely unreadable as he began to unpack the contents of our bracelet kit. “Just admiring the person who was dumb enough to fall asleep in the presence of Mrs. Crossman.”

“Doesn’t seem like your business.” I honestly didn’t know what else to say; I wasn’t expecting that to be the first sentence he ever said to me.

“I’m just joking, dude, no need to get defensive. Do you always get easily flustered?”

“Sorry if I didn’t catch on, it’s not like I know you.”

“Good point, I’ll give you that. Just this once, though…I don’t usually give up that easily.”

I froze momentarily, trying to clear my head as I processed his words. “Thanks, I guess?” Anyways, I think I’m going to make a green—no, yellow—bracelet, what about you?”

“I already made a yellow one, sorry,” he said flatly.

“Oh, okay. It’s fine, I can just make a green one.”

He then eyed my wrist, staring for a few seconds. “You know what, you take it. It’ll probably look better on you anyway. But you have to make me a green one in exchange, deal?”

I stirred at the hidden compliment, pausing as I tried to create different explanations for his sentiment; I did not want to become the next pawn in whatever game he was playing. “Okay, deal.” I started on my journey of bracelet weaving, delicately pulling the green strings together to create a triangular pattern he could wear proudly.




Afterwards, I found myself partnered with Everett in class almost every day, either because of fate or a vendetta Mrs. Crossman had against me. With my luck, there was probably some sort of imbalance going on in the cosmos. What else would accurately explain our continued partnership? Just what I need: another distraction.

 Now here I was, lying on my bed, mindlessly playing with my hands as I stared at my wall, Charlie rambling in the background over our FaceTime call.

“Sydney? Sydney? Hello?” she asked after I had not been responding to her for a while.

Shit, I thought to myself, She usually doesn’t notice. “Sorry, what’s up?”

“I just told you a whole story and you weren’t listening. You do this all the time, it’s so aggravating,” she answered, her eyes piercing me through the phone screen.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’ve just had a lot on my plate recently—keep going, I’ll listen this time.” I probably wasn’t going to listen; I didn’t understand why, but I was so hyper-fixated on Everett that it was unbearable.

“Okay, thank you,” she said in a sarcastic tone. “Basically, I was wondering if you wanted to go to the dance with me tomorrow, since neither of us have anyone to go with and I need to find a dress and…”

As she continued, my eyes widened as a notification popped up at the top of my screen. A DM from Everett? I resumed my barrage of “yeahs” and head nods as I opened the message, which said:

everett_clark: hey sorry if this is weird but I didn’t have your number. I just wanted to let you know that I think we took each other’s earbuds after class today

After reading the DM, I dug through my bag and noticed that the earbuds I had taken were definitely not mine. I am an idiot.

syd_johnson19: omg I’m so sorry you’re right I didn’t even notice. I can bring them on Monday if that’s okay!

I waited anxiously for his response, pacing back and forth, Charlie somehow still babbling about the dance.

everett_clark: would you want to meet somewhere later instead?

syd_johnson19: yeah that works! Where and when?

everett_clark: center park, 7:30?

syd_johnson19: sounds good, see you then!

            I closed out of the app, returning my limited attention span to the call that had been going on in the background.

            “Hey, I have to go,” I told Charlie, rushing to get ready.

            “Why?” she asked. “And why are you rushing around so much?”

            “It’s not a big deal,” I responded, “just returning something to a classmate.”

            “Okay, well bye, I guess,” she said. “Just meet me at my house before the dance tomorrow.”

            We hung up and I left to meet Everett, my throat tight. When I arrived, he was sitting on the edge of a fountain, staring into the water while swirling his hand in it. It was strange seeing him outside of school walls; in my mind, most of my classmates disappear and fade away in the afternoon, only to reappear at 8 A.M. the next morning. He turned his head as I came closer, seemingly disgruntled by my appearance even though he was the one who invited me here.

            “Here.” He threw my earbuds at me.

            I stumbled as I reached to catch it. “Thanks,” I said sternly as I threw his case back, “here you go.”

            “Thanks,” he responded, still staring at the water.

            “Well, see you later.” I turned to walk away, feeling more awkward than I ever have before, sweat beginning to build up in the palms of my hands. Why did I like him, again?

            “By the way,” Everett yelled out as I increased the distance between us, “I like your case. It’s funny. Is that supposed to be an avocado?”

            I turned, blushing as he started chuckling to himself. “Yeah.”

            “I’m jealous,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to buy one for the longest time. See you.” He went back to his original stance, playing with the water as I began walking home. He’s so confusing.




I stood awkwardly on the dance floor as I suffered through the cycle of overplayed songs that every DJ uses. It was at the time of night where most kids had either decided to raid the refreshments table, take way too much time trying to take the perfect Instagram photo, leave—fleeing to the nearest fast-food restaurant—or even become busy doing…other sorts of activities…whether it was drugs, drinking, sex, or all of the above.

Charlie was verging on the latter, as she had found someone to entertain her for the night. My body jostled as she began grinding on him, and I was hoping that the moves would not become more risqué, for my eyes’ sake. So much for coming to the dance together as friends.

Come on, Sydney, it’ll be fun. Fuck all the boys at our school, we only need each other to have a good time.

I mean, power to her—I could never have the confidence to do what she did—but if this kept up, I would be stuck without a ride home.

“Hey! I think I’m gonna head out for some fresh air if that’s cool,” I yelled to her, and even though she was right beside me, I knew she would not hear me. I turned and speed-walked out of the gym, wincing and covering my ears. The music was blaring to the point where I could already feel the pain of the migraine I would have the next day, not to mention the hot and sweaty air becoming too much for my dainty lungs to handle.

As I exited the gym, blinking repeatedly to allow my eyes to adjust to the light, the full moon lit up the parking lot. I temporarily forgot how nice it was to not be in a crowded, damp gym with strobe lights flashing at a seizure-inducing pace.

There was not a soul to be seen, all except for one figure sitting in a patch of grass nearby—right in front of Everett’s car. I do not know what I was thinking in the moment, but I went and sat right next to him. Maybe I could be confident sometimes.

He was smoking a joint, the flame in his lighter casting a dim, orange glow on his face.

“Want some?” he asked, offering the joint to me.

“Uh no thanks, I’m good for now,” I responded, pushing his hand back towards him.

“Alright.” He seemed noticeably out-of-it; he was always easygoing, but this was a new level.

“So, how’s your night been?” I asked, desperate to spark a conversation and break the tension. Why did I do this to myself? I thought, instantly regretting the “confident” decision I had made.


“Same.” We both hadn’t looked at each other the entire time, with him focused on the joint while I stared in the distance towards the old playground and line of trees on the horizon. “Why are you out here?”

“I don’t know. I just needed a break, I guess. These things can be kind of overwhelming for me. Just all the people and dates and romance and stuff like that.”

“You didn’t bring a date?” I was shocked and out of anyone at this school, I was expecting him to have a line of people waiting at his door for a chance to go to the dance with him.

“Nah, I just came with some of the guys. I haven’t really been thinking about that type of shit recently.” His face lit up as the song playing in the gym changed; it wasn’t close enough for us to hear the lyrics, but we could still hear the mumble of some singer, along with the thump of the beat. He put down his joint, looking at me for the first time since I sat down. “This is my favorite song. Dance with me.”

“What?” I asked, eyes wide.

“C’mon, dance with me,” he said, giggling and flailing his arms around.

“You’re high, just sit down,” I said. I did not want to give into his antics, but I could not help but laugh at him.

He grabbed both of my arms, lifting me up quickly and dragging me along as he moved his body—uncoordinatedly—in many directions. I’m not a good dancer when I’m sober, and he was high on more than just life, so it was not long before I accidentally stepped on his pant leg, ripping it and causing both of us to fall onto the ground.

“Shit! I’m sorry, I suck at dancing.”

He ignored me for a few seconds—his body sprawled in the grass—before bursting into a fit of laughter. “Oh my god, did we seriously just fall trying to dance? We weren’t even going that fast.”

I joined him in his laughter, both of us lying on the ground, neither of us wanting to move. Stars filled the night sky, with blinking satellites passing by every now and then. Both of us remained silent for several minutes, busy admiring the atmosphere, until Everett looked over with glossy eyes.

“Do you ever wish you weren’t born the way you were?”


“You know, like having certain characteristics?” His face was grim, a stark difference from the giggly guy that was present a few minutes before.

“Like what kinds of characteristics?” I was genuinely confused; he seemed scared, like he was trying to beat around the bush of the true subject he wanted to discuss.

“I don’t know. Just ones that a lot of people don’t have. Ones you might be judged for.”

Is he hinting towards my sexuality? I thought to myself. I was one of a few openly gay students at our high school, so I was wondering if he wanted to talk about that. “Like being gay?”

“Yeah, that could be an example.”

“I mean, I used to cry in the shower, wishing I could change, but now I’ve just kind of accepted it. Why spend so much time and effort trying to act like someone I’m not, you know?”

“That’s a good outlook to have; I wish I could see things like that.” I looked down at his hands and noticed he was twisting some blades of grass next to him. First the water, now this; he might have had anxiety, too.

“What do you mean? Are you struggling with…”

“No, no, sorry, I was just curious,” he answered as his voice rose, “It was probably stupid to bring up, anyway.”

We both turned quickly as we heard someone calling for Everett—presumably one of his teammates he came with. Everett put out and threw his burnt out joint into the distance, standing to join the rest of his friends for whatever festivities awaited him for the rest of the night. He looked like he did not want to go, but maybe it was something he needed.

“Thanks for that, it was fun. I’ll see you later, right?”

“Yeah, sounds good,” I responded, not really knowing what else to say. The mood had shifted greatly, and we could not figure out how to fix it without seeming too awkward. “Sorry, again. About your pant leg.”

“It’s all good. You can just throw the fabric away. See you later.”

I watched him walk off into the distance towards his friends’ cars, greeting them with fist bumps and pats on the back. I got up and joined Charlie back in the gym; I wanted to leave before Everett needed to come back to his car. While dancing, all I could think of was our interaction.

I kept the fabric.



The next morning, I sat in home-ec, continuously glancing at the door, waiting for the moment Everett would walk in. One minute turned to five, which turned to thirty, and minutes before class dismissed, the door opened, Everett slinking into the seat next to me without making a sound. He looked worse than usual, his hair in a messy style, the bags of his eyes a dark purple, and his skin a grim light yellow.

“Are you okay?” I whispered quietly, hoping Mrs. Crossman would not notice.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he grumbled, his voice sounding hoarse, “You know you worry a lot, right?” I did not believe him; he was harder to read than street signs on foggy days. As I stared at him, he finally gave in. “Fine, it was just a rough night. I said some things in front of my parents I shouldn’t have and didn’t sleep much. The weed and alcohol in my system aren’t helping anything, either.”

“I’m so sorry. I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”

His face lit up as he scribbled on his notebook. “Thanks.”


As I walked into the hallway after class, Charlie strode up to me, keeping my pace beside me. “Are you going to keep ignoring me all the time or are you actually going to be a good friend for once?” We talked to each other like this all the time, but now she was being completely serious.

“I’m sorry,” I responded, “I really am. I’ve just had my time taken up by a lot of other things recently and—”

“Like your new boyfriend?” she interrupted. “There are a lot of other gay guys in school who are actually gay. Why can’t you go for one of them?”

“Charlie, I’m sorry. I’ve definitely been a bad friend these past few weeks, but I swear I’ll make it up to you. I’m free anytime you need me.”

“You left the call on Friday out of nowhere, which was fine, but then I tried calling you all weekend, Syd—no response,” she said, tears starting to form in her eyes, “You acted like you didn’t want to be at the dance with me like some cliché wallflower, forcing me to dance with someone else, then left to meet up with him instead. Not to mention you’ve been so spacey recently. I’m not jealous—I’m just asking that you show your friend of twelve years that you care.”

She stormed off as I tried to collect my thoughts, reeling from what just happened.




Before I knew it, weeks flew by, and Everett and I had grown almost inseparable. Because of our fight, Charlie was ignoring me, so Everett and I spent a lot of our free time together. Slowly but surely, even his friends welcomed—well, tolerated—me. Home-Ec, his games, and my science competitions—we became inexplicably close. I soon began to look forward to our hallway smiles, the times our hands brushed in class. There was something about not always knowing what he was thinking or what could happen that was exciting. Others noticed this, and the weird glances and rumors increased exponentially, but for the first time, I did not care what others said. I was with him.


Now here we were, sitting crisscross-applesauce on his bedroom floor, watching the pouring rain outside of his window while drawing out a map of everywhere we would travel after high school.

“So, obviously, we’re going to the same college as each other, right?” Everett asked, looking me directly in the eyes.

“Yeah, I mean, if that’s what you want.”

“Yes! I was hoping you’d say that. And then, after college, we can get jobs that allow us to travel. Maybe freelancers or starving artists or something like that. And then we hit every single country. Italy, France, Britain, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, the possibilities are practically endless, and I don’t care where we go first, as long as we make it to each one. Sound good?”

“Sure,” I said, laughing. “There’s a lot of logistical issues we’re going to have to work out, but I think we can do it. It might take a while, though.”

“That’s fine with me,” he responded, exaggeratingly winking at me.

“Is it okay if I take it home with me? You know, just to look at it a little longer.”

“No worries, I’ll make another one for myself. We can be map pals or something stupid like that.”

“Perfect,” I said, folding the map and placing it in my new drawstring bag. It was Everett’s from an event he had to go to, but he let me have it since he already had so many just like it.

“Yeah, pretty perfect, huh?”

“Yeah, I just said that.”

“I wasn’t talking about the bag, dumbass.” He closed his eyes, starting to lean forward. I, on the other hand, internally shut down, unsure of what to do.

“Wait,” I said, holding back, my heart racing. “Are you sure about this? What about your parents?”

“It’s fine, they just left a minute ago for some banquet my dad’s boss is hosting.”

Right as our lips brushed, though, Everett’s mom barged in, scanning the room. “Hey Everett, have you seen my purse—oh my goodness! What the hell are you two doing?” Her face dropped; it was like all the air had just been knocked out of her.

Everett whipped around, just as shocked as his mother. “It’s not what it looks like, I swear!”

His mother turned to the side, seemingly dejected, leaning her head against the door. “Get out.”


“Get out! This isn’t right; I can’t believe you would do this, heading down that path!”

“Are you seriously kicking me out?”

“For now. In the meantime, I have to talk to your father about this. I’m so disappointed in you. You had so much going for you, and you’re choosing to throw it all away just like that.” She grabbed her purse that turned out to be sitting in the hallway, and as she walked out the door, she said, “When we get back, I don’t want to see you here—or him.”

“Wait,” he pleaded, chasing after her, “Please don’t do this.”

He continued to run after his parents as they drove away, screaming as they furthered the distance between them. He fell on the ground, sobbing as rain continued to batter us.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he sobbed, punching the pile of mud next to him, “What the hell just happened?”

“I’m so sorry, I—”

“Don’t talk to me! What the hell were we thinking? I knew what we were doing was wrong. I’m so fucking stupid.”

“You’re not, it’s my fault—”

“Just don’t. Forget it. I don’t want to talk about it.”

I kneeled down, looking at him as the wind whipped both of our soaking wet hair. He buried his face in my shoulder, mumbling incomprehensibly.

“What am I going to do?” He pulled back, wiping his nose and face with his shirt. “Can I stay at your house tonight, please? I can sleep on the couch.”

“Yeah, no problem.” I was once again at a loss for words.



As I dug through my hall closet looking for extra pillows and blankets, I glanced over at Everett, who was lying lifeless on my living room sofa. I could not help but feel sorry for him, but more so, I felt guilty for the role I played in all of this. It was my fault, anyway; I should never have tried anything with him, especially when I knew he was struggling.

As I walked over to him, he blindly stuck up his arm in an attempt to grab the pillows from me, even though he was lying face flat on the cushions. I wanted to speak, but I had no words that could ease the gravity of the situation. I had never gone through anything like this before, and because of that, sometimes I even forgot it happened to others. I gently laid down everything I carried onto the floor beside him, and as I turned to walk away and prepare for the next morning, he let out a mild groan.

“Are you talking to me?” I asked. I could not understand anything that had just come out of his mouth.

He pushed himself off the couch slowly, sitting up for the first time in the last two hours. “Thank you for doing this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I told him, “It’s the least I can do for you considering everything that’s happened. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I mean it,” he said, his green eyes glazed over, “I’m sorry for everything I said earlier. It’s neither of our fault, just my shitty parents’.” We continued to sit in silence—a recurring theme between us—until he broke it once again. “How is your family so cool with me being here?”

“I don’t know. I just got lucky with them,” I responded, trying my best to avoid being insensitive as I continued, “They were a little shocked at the beginning, but they’ve learned to adjust. Now they almost try too hard to be supportive.”

To my surprise, Everett let out a brief giggle. “I wish my parents were like that. Good news, though, I talked to my mom on the phone for a few minutes earlier today, so at least she’s speaking to me.”

“Oh, really? That’s amazing!” I said, smiling.

“Yeah, I know. We talked it out a little bit and she said that we could meet up in the morning for coffee or something, so things might be looking up.” He stood as he motioned for me to move, getting the couch ready for his upcoming night’s sleep. “Hey, after I get coffee with my mom would you want to meet up with me? I want to show you something.”

“Yeah, sounds good,” I said, wondering what it was he was referring to. “Goodnight, Everett.”




The low sound of dark blue waves crashing onto the shore.

Everett and I sat side-by-side, watching boats sail across the waves while children splashed each other nearby.

“This is where I come for some peace,” Everett said as a crab scuttled by, “I come here a lot.”

“It’s beautiful. I didn’t even know this part of the beach existed.”

“It’s really hard to find because of all the cliffs blocking it, so I’m really glad I was able to discover it. You’re the first person I’ve brought here, it’s kind of special to me.”

“Well, I’m honored.” I looked towards my right as I watched a couple holding hands, walking down the shoreline. There was an elephant in the room that we were both ignoring, and I did not want to seem nosy, but I wanted to know right away. I gulped as I asked, “What did you and your mom talk about this morning?”

My anxiety was the worst it had been in ages, but his carefree reaction helped somewhat. “It was pretty good, actually,” he responded, “She said that she talked to my dad, and they just thought it would be best for me to stay out of the house for a bit.”

“Oh, really? Why?”

“I’m not sure,” he shrugged, “but my guess is to just let them come to terms with it, and I’m okay with that.”

“Well, I’m glad nonetheless,” I told him. It seemed that he was getting a fresh start, which made me so happy for him. “Do you need a place to stay? My house is always available.”

“No, it’s okay. My parents said they set up a place for me to go.”

“What?” I asked in a sharp tone. “You’re not just some problem they need to take care of. You’re their kid.”

“No, no, it’s not what you think,” he laughed, “The way they described it made it seem really nice. I think it will help our relationship, too. Maybe I’ll even fully come to terms with it.”

 I was speechless, happy for him yet still disappointed that he was leaving. That was probably selfish of me, though.

“Here,” Everett said, dramatically raising his arms towards the sky, “think of this as a ritual. Now that I’m leaving tomorrow, I’m officially bestowing this sacred spot onto you.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “Take good care of it for me while I’m gone, please.”

“Are you going to be okay?” I asked. I was nervous for him, although he seemed perfectly fine. Neither of us knew where he was going; it could just be boarding school to finish out the year strong, but it could be anything, maybe even some military school.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Plus, I’ll be back in a few months; it’ll be like I never even left.”

“Good,” I said, “I’ll be patiently awaiting your arrival.”

“Look!” he exclaimed, pointing somewhere near the shore, “That seashell is huge! And it looks brand new, too.”

“Brand new?” I laughed; that made no sense.

He ran over, excited like a young child, grabbing the shell with both of his hands. He hurriedly brought it back to me, dropping it in my lap. “Here you go. I want you to have it. Think of it as a parting gift, but only as a temporary one. When I get back, I want to have it. Deal?”

“Deal.” Just like when we first met.




The low sound of dark blue waves crashing onto the shore.

Here I sit, the opened bag and its contents between my legs. There is a fifth object inside, crumpled up, lying directly at the bottom. This was the only one out of everything that I refused to look at after opening it for the first time, but now, I have the sudden urge to read over it once again.

 For the last few months, I had been counting down the days until summer where I’d hoped that I would see Everett again, but a few weeks before break and graduation, I received a letter in the mail, my hope dissipating with each handwritten sentence I read. Looking at it again, it sounds nothing like him. I wonder if he was forced to write it.


Dear Sydney,

            Sorry it’s been so long, but I’ve been having a really good time at camp, and I genuinely think it was the best option for me. In the end, my parents were right: I had so much in my life, and I would’ve just been throwing it all away by living that lifestyle. It was so wrong, what we were pursuing, and I’m honestly disgusted thinking about all the things we did and all the things we said to each other. I don’t know what I was thinking; I was in the dark and so confused about myself and who I was attracted to, but now I feel that I’ve been brought to the light.

If you’re confused too, that’s alright, but it would be best for you to try and escape that lifestyle before it captures you like it was trying to capture me. I don’t know when I’ll be back or if I’ll be back, but I hope all is going well for you like it is for me! I still appreciate our friendship, I promise, which is why I’m trying to save you.

P.S. If you still have the seashell, you can keep it. I don’t want it anymore. And either way, they made me throw away my bracelet and map when I first got here, so it wouldn’t be of much use anyway. Plus, I would rather not be reminded of our dark past; hope it’s not a big deal.

                                                                                    Best wishes,



I close the letter, staring at the ground; I had only read it once before, but I was already desensitized to it. The first time I had been shaking and crying and proceeded to isolate myself for days. This time, just a numbing sort of sadness. One where you do not know how to feel yet feel everything possible all at the same time.

I unzip my sweatshirt and allow all the pieces of paper I had stashed inside to fall gently onto the sand. Every night, I would spend hours trying to craft the perfect response—one that I thought could somehow help him—but in the end, I always gave up. Just like him.

All my family and friends have told me it is not the end of my life, and I know that to be true, yet I cannot help but wonder what could have been. Regardless of how things ended, I am still grateful for all the happy memories I was able to take from it. As of right now, I am working on letting go of the past.

I rise from where I had been sitting and walk over to the edge of the water, where the sun was beginning to set over the horizon, streaks of red, yellow, and orange glowing brightly.

I close my eyes, feeling the slight breeze on my face, and look over as I notice the wind carry the letters across the ocean. My gut instinct is to run after them, but I remain still. Maybe that thing I said about the universe earlier is true.

I stare down for a second more at the bag in my hands before throwing it as far as I can into the ocean, watching it bob in the waves before sinking slowly below the current. I pull my phone out of my pocket, ready to make a step I had not taken until now. The phone begins to ring, until it eventually ceases.


“Hey Charlie,” I say, relieved that she answered, “What’s up?”

The low sound of dark blue waves crashing onto the shore.

Volume 19, Fall 2021