By Jessica Ricks

“Are you hungry?”
“No.”
“Can I get you anything?”
“No.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because I don’t want to eat.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Because I have to.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“I don’t fully understand either.”
“And yet here we are…please talk to me. I don’t want to see you like this.”
“Do you remember Mr. Arnold?”
“The guy with the receding hairline and ridiculous bow ties?”
“Yeah him. Remember how he took a sabbatical junior year to focus on horticulture? Everyone said he was crazy. When he came back he had discovered energy efficient uses for sage and spinach.”
“But you’re not taking a sabbatical.”
“It’s still the same thing.”
“No it’s not.”
“Yes it is.”
“So you’re going to come back with some weird vegetables?”
“In a way.”
“…What about the frogs?”
“What frogs?”
“When we were at my house that night. We chased the frogs in my backyard. Then we made a fort out of sheets and slept under it…and told each other everything.”
“We were drunk.”
“They say your true feelings come out when you’re drunk.”
“I don’t think that happens with the cheapest wine in the store.”
“If we were drunk right now, no matter how expensive the wine was, you’d tell me you don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want to live my life being drunk anymore!”
“But that was the only time I’ve ever seen you drink…”
“I mean drunk off of a fake reality. I want authenticity. I can’t live this lie anymore.”
“Gavin lives in Pittsburg.”
“You know I’m not going for Gavin.”
“He’ll be happy to see you there. Ecstatic really. He’d do anything or get you to stay there with him and you know it.”
“I don’t need Gavin. I don’t need you…I don’t need anyone. I just need myself.”
“Everyone needs someone, even you.”
“You don’t understand…”
“I understand that you’re hurt, you’re lost. I can see it in your eyes. I’ve known you since we were five, you think I don’t get it? You think I haven’t seen you grow up alone without a father, or even a mother really? You think I haven’t seen you try as hard as you could to connect to the world without any luck? You think I haven’t tried to be there for you every second even when you tried a hard to push me away? But that’s fine. If you don’t think you need anyone, if you don’t need me, I can’t do anything else for you.”
“…Why do you love me?”
“Because I see passion and life in your eyes than anyone else I’ve ever known. Even if you don’t know it’s there. You’re the only one who was there for me through the divorce and my addictions and the only one who literally slapped me in the face and got me to realize I was the problem. You’ve been there with me through my worst times and reminded me why I need to keep trying. I need to do that for you.”
“I am trying. It’s not easy for me to be here. If I go, start over in a new place with new people and a new job, maybe I can figure it out too.”
“And it doesn’t involve me.”
“You don’t want me.”
“Why wouldn’t I want you?”
“You don’t want someone as fucked up as me.”
“Everyone is a little fucked up.”
“I would only be bringing you down. You have so much to live for.”
“That’s only because you’ve been here for me.”
“I had to take care of someone. It’s time I started to take care of myself now.”
“God damn it you’re stubborn!”
“Says the guy who lived in his car for three days because he was mad at his stepfather!”
“You think you have to do shit all on your own for what?! To settle some kind of internal battle with yourself? All you do is run away! You have people who want to help you and you push everyone away! You’re stubborn as hell and you know it!”
“This isn’t about settling some score with myself or making people stay away from me. I need to take care of myself. I can’t stay here when all it does is remind me of a past I need to forget and my mind I won’t escape from. I need to leave, for me…and maybe someday, when I’ve figured my life out and feel like I can be a whole person again…I can be with you.”
“…I want you to be happy.”
“I know.”
“I want you to realize everything that you are.”
“I know that too.”
“You’re not what your mom or your sister or any other of those assholes tells you.”
“I’m trying not to be.”
“Stay with me.”
“I can’t.”
“So you’ll leave me alone to leave nuts in the driveway every morning for the squirrel on my own?”
“Bubbles will be fine as long as he sees you coming down the street every night.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“I won’t forget you.”
“But will you come back?”
“…I want to. I need to be on my own first and find some meaning…wherever that is.”
“I…I hope you find it…I’ll be here when you get back.”
“The train is here…I love you.”
“I love you too.”

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