Is that a good way to start? I guess so; a good a way as any. So, hi.
Hello. Bonjour. Hola. And, its good to “see” you again.
Even though I can’t see you. Like, at all. It’s not like I, you know, stalk you from the internet. What? That would be crazy!!! I can’t see you through the computer screen, or anything. Heh…
I really can’t see you through your computers. Maybe Nudge can, but I can’t. Though that would be a pretty cool power to develop…
Well, now I sound like a creepy stalker, don’t I? Yes, I kinda do. So, I’m sorry for sounding like a creepy stalker. I’m not… Yet…
Had to add that. It was actually quite fun.
I’m sorry for that (it was totally worth it, though). And I’m also sorry for not posting for a while. I feel like I say this a lot, but I always really mean it. I always have a reason, and sometimes it’s a good one. Not always, as you’ve probably learned over the year/year and a half I’ve posted.
I think it’s pretty good this time. Hopefully, at least.
I’ve had a rough couple weeks and a rough couple of months, as you’ve probably guessed. Things have been… hard. Harder than usual. The whole Max “situation” has had me down. And, reasonably, too. It’s hard enough being on the run. It’s hard enough not having an actual childhood. It’s harder, though, to lose the one thing that’s given you at least a half-childhood and has kept you reasonably sane over the years.
Reasonably. I said reasonably. Not “fully.” Gosh, people.
It was hard losing Max. She was all of those things to me, and more. She was my mom, my best friend, my sister, my lover, my everything.
And then she was… gone.
Suddenly, out of the blue, with no warning, she had disappeared. And it hurt, it stung, it burned. Every bit of her was gone, as if she’d never existed in the first place. Only, I knew she had. Because I remembered her. I remembered everything crazy, and fun, and great about her, even the weird parts. I remembered things I hadn’t before, but that only made the emptiness inside of me emptier. I thought she’d be there forever, just as I thought so many other things had, just to watch them dissipate within my palms. I didn’t appreciate what I’d had until it was gone.
And I regret it.
I spent weeks thinking she was over, it was over, I was over. I spent weeks regretting every breath I had taken, because, I thought, I had done it all wrong. I regretted not telling her she was beautiful every morning, not realizing when she cut her hair, not keeping all of her in my arms and never letting go.
I spent weeks regretting not telling her I loved her, not telling her I loved her every single second of every single day. I regretted not memorizing the lines in her palm, not memorizing her heartbeat, not memorizing her.
Having “Max” around only made moving on harder. I could see her face, I could hear her voice, but I couldn’t see or hear her. It’s like having a family member die, and only being able to see their face in pictures. That’s honestly what it felt like. Every time I saw Max, I hurt a little more. I had something, something so close, something so beautiful, right in front my face, almost in my grasp, only to have it flutter away.
It was like that every day.
At least this story has a happy ending. So far, at least. Good news: Max is back; well, as back as she’ll ever be.
That’s kinda the reason I didn’t post. I wanted to wait until the end–whatever the end may have been–and just let life play out until then. I wanted to know the result before I shared the beginning. And… There was a bit of another reason. A, sadder, more emotional one.
It hurt to much to remember. I had to remember, to some extent, but to the littlest I could manage. It was so painful to look back at my memories, to look back at my pain and sorrow and happiness. It made it worse. Like I said before, it made the empty a little emptier.
And, so there. Now you have a little bit of the beginning, a little of the middle, and a little of the end. Was the excuse okay this time?
I guess I’ll fill in the details now.
Max came back from Chicago another person. At first, she was shy, she was timid, she was often silent. She had no snappy comebacks, only silence or a mumble.
I wanted to tell her–to shout to her, to the heavens–how she, how we, used to be. But I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t. She was fearful of lots of things, and I didn’t want to scare her into loving me. It had to be real if it were to be; real like it had been before.
I watched her start to like things she hadn’t before. I watched her fall in love with brownies, instead of chocolate chip cookies. I watched her fall in love with the name Maxine. I watched her fall in love with something, with someone, that made my heart break a thousand times over.
I watched her fall in love with Iggy.
That was the thing that wounded the most. That was the thing that left the scars in my heart.
Everything about her was gone. She was like a whole other person, and, for more than two months, it left me reeling. It left me feeling sick and empty and everything at once. My strong-willed demeanor crumbled and I was left raw. I was left open to weathering and to breaking down and to tears. I missed her snappy comments with all of my heart. I missed Max. I missed my mom, my best friend, my sister, my lover, my everything.
She became just like any other teenage girl. Her shyness melted away into makeup and dresses and just everything non-Max. I felt so extremely distant from her. She was so close, yet seemed worlds away. She wasn’t herself anymore. Her strength, her will, her bravery; all dissipated. I was left with this girl who I craved so badly, yet, at the same time, didn’t.
To her, I was insignificant. Her old best friend, her old more-than-friend–suddenly, nothing. I welded into the background of her, while the foreground became busy with boys, looks, gossip. Max hardly talked to me, other than the occasional, “Pass the salt,” or comment about my unruly hair and how she wished she could “chop it off.” Or perhaps how the whole emo/goth look was “sooooo last season.”
She giggled with Nudge and some girls down the street, and constantly obsessed over Iggy. Psssh, it didn’t hurt. Just shattered my heart into a million pieces and scattered them to the four corners of the globe. No biggie.
I watched the girl I loved fall in love with another. I watched as she fell for his supposed “looks, charm, humor.” I watched as she flirted with said boy.
Iggy didn’t flirt back, though. The whole “Max-is-in-love-with-you” thing made him insanely uncomfortable. He was only made more uncomfortable when she tried to kiss him, was rejected, and cried in her room for practically a week.
I think he knew how much it hurt for me. I think he could see the damage in my eyes, and see more than just empty silence in the absence of my words. I think he saw what I longed to say, longed to tell her. Everything I couldn’t.
Dr. M saw, too. She tried to refamiliarize Max with her real world, her real self. The wings were a huge shocker for this stranger in the body of the only girl I had ever truly loved. Dr. M told Max her past, her story, her tragic tale. Max didn’t believe a word of it.
And, when Dr. M told Max about my past relationship with her (much to my dismay), Max simply replied, “Eeeew. Him? Really?” I think there was more, but I couldn’t hear it. It couldn’t hear it because my skin was burning, my skin was on fire; on fire with embarrassment and resentment and misery, such misery. I couldn’t see her through my eyes full of white hot tears–she was just a yellow and brown and makeup covered blob in the blurry. And then I was upstairs, then I was on my bed with my face buried in my pillow and I couldn’t stop the tears, couldn’t stop the feeling that I was worthless, I was nothing. I was exposed to this whole other side of myself–one that hurt and ached and burned–this side who could cry, this side who could weep.
That was the part that hurt the most. It hurt in my blood, my fiery cheeks, my stinging eyes. It hurt everywhere, it hurt in places I didn’t even know could hurt.
It went on–it dragged on–like this. For over two months, I was left like this. And Max was left like… that.
And then yesterday, all of that–what I’d began to except as my reality and my fate–changed.
It was cold last night. I felt cold and hollow and empty. Iggy had said something to Max at dinner, and she had burst into tears and ran out of the house. The meal was finished in silence.
I told Dr. M that I was going for a walk, but really, I had wanted to find Max. I don’t know why, but something urged me that this was necessary, this was needed in the grand scheme of things. Some part of me deep inside wanted to go out there and comfort its best friend. I guess the rest of me went along with it.
I found her on the roof, shivering in the moonlight, face in palms. Her wings were spread and looked almost iridescent in the unearthly glow.
I sat next to her. “Cold?” I asked.
She inched away and sneaked a glance at me through the gaps in her fingertips. “Go away,” she mumbled. I could hear the tears in her voice. “Leave me alone.”
“Are you cold?” I stared at her, waiting for an answer.
She nodded a little bit, but didn’t lift her tear-streaked cheeks from her hands. I slid the jacket over her shoulders. She looked happy and confused and sad and angry all at the same time.
“You know, this jacket isn’t half bad. It’s genuine leather, right? You know, Seventeen says leather is really in. I might have to borrow this for a party.”
I guess that was the closest to, “Thanks,” I was gonna get. But I grinned anyways. “Maybe it’s not so last season.” There was an awkward pause. I spoke again. “So what’s got you down?”
Somehow, these words seemed right. Max glanced up from her hand-fortress and actually smiled. She looked unsure, though, and the smile turned to a grimace. “Iggy. I really like him-”
I had to ask. “Do you love him?” She nodded. I felt the burning again, and could barely stop the tears from coming. I felt so… empty.
And then I surprised myself. I said something without hesitation, something my Max would’ve understood, but not this… imposter. “Do you love him this much?” I held out my arms to demonstrate just how much I was inquiring about.
Only silence resonated back. I thought she was mad, maybe even furious. I had said it carelessly, a joke only Max would’ve understood the reference to. But then I looked.
Only, she wasn’t mad. She seemed torn between two expressions: confusion and surprise. Her eyes were bluer than I’d seen them for ages–deep and powerful and beautiful. Something had changed. I didn’t know what yet, though.
“Fang?” She looked down at herself, her clothes; appalled. “Why the heck (not her word choice, but let’s keep it PG) do I look like a princess?!?”
I was shocked, and every other emotion at once. I could barely choke out, “I think it’s more of a Malibu Beach Barbie kinda look.”
She punched me on the arm.
My mind was in overdrive, trying to comprehend what had just happened. Max…?
“No, but seriously, why do I look like some little kid got a hold of some crayons? Did you give Nudge another paint set???”
My heart was pounding, my heart was pounding. Was this real?
“Yeah. I also gave Gazzy gunpowder, and Iggy some illegal fireworks I smuggled in from Canada. Oh yeah, and I threw Total off a bridge and got some alligators to protect the house.” Like I’d give Nudge a paint set after what happened last time…
Max laughed sarcastically and punched me on the arm again, harder. “Hardee-har-har. Very funny, Sergeant Sarcasm. I’ll be sure to remember that next time you’re in a life-threatening situation.”
I laughed, more out of shock than out of actual humor. She didn’t remember? What was going on? “You actually don’t remember? Why you look like…” I could hear the panic in my voice, hear everything at once. This was Max, Max, Max. I could feel my heart pounding against my throat, waiting for this all to disappear and for Max to return to the stranger I’d gotten used to her as.
“Like I just walked out of Hollister?” She curled her lip and made a face. “Welcome to Hollister. Would you like a gas mask and a flashlight?”
I chuckled, but only for a moment. Why was… this happening? “Max, where were you?” The questions began to pour out, questions about everything, everything I’d wondered about–had nightmares about–for so long of my life. And, suddenly, I couldn’t stop myself. I found myself crying, shaking, breaking down; a side of me I’d never let Max see before.
She held me tightly, and it felt… right. I was still crying, my tears silver in the moonlight, like Max’s tears.
And, then, once again, I surprised myself. I said something I wouldn’t have before, before this darkness had overcome my life. I choked out, smiling through tears, “Do you love me?”
The question had slipped past my lips before I could stop it. At first I was upset, but then, I wasn’t upset anymore. After so long of knowing it was no, knowing it was no, even though I had wanted it to be otherwise, I didn’t know if it really was no anymore. And I was curious.
Max stared at me for a moment, in some kind of shock. “Do I… what?” I instantly regretted the words. It would be no. What if she still loved Iggy?
“Love me,” I whispered. The tears started coming harder, faster, and I felt every bit of me being ripped apart. This couldn’t be real, no, no, no…
She paused. And then, she was crying too, sobbing; like every piece of her was falling apart. “Oh, Fang, I remember…” She laced her fingers through mine, sobbing through her words. “I remember everything. All of it. I’m so sorry…”
“Don’t be.” I squeezed her hand, and the little silver droplets came faster, faster, faster.
“Fang, I…” Max trailed off, and my heart skipped a beat. In her eyes, I could see something pure, something real, something right–something I wanted. I wanted her. I wanted Max. “I love you.”
That was all that mattered, all that mattered now, all that mattered ever. She loved me. And I loved her.
I felt her lips press against mine, and suddenly I was floating in warmth, floating in passion. It was right, more right than anything before.
When the kiss ended, her eyes were more blue than ever.
I brought her down from the roof, and into the house, allthewhile keeping my eyes on hers; her eyes on mine. The eyes I missed; blue as the ocean, the sky, the world. I could tell she was back, I knew I could, because I could see life in those eyes.
So now I have Max. Something old.
I also have tears. Something new.
But it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, because now I have Max. And love, once again. And Max is both new and old, a combination of the two.
I like having two things at once.