There are sixty-three pages in a folder I have hidden away beneath my bed (on the side where I put the pillow and lay my head to sleep). There are thirty stories, made out of twenty-seven thousand ninety-three words. Words counting one hundred seventeen thousand letters. Messages in bottles, on top of them, a single sheet of paper carrying a hope in my childlike penmanship.
„I wrote this so you’d love me.“
I’ve given you many names, tried to fit you inside dozens of pockets of a language that is not my own. Sometimes, the names were short and sweet so you’d slip and drip from the tongue more easily. These were the small and insignificant details of our happiness – walks in parks or around suburbs, evening visits to museums, dinners and breakfasts we shared stripped bare under sheets of the most ordinary days. Other times, I gave you strangers’ names – those I weaved out of consonants, starting in letters such as z, k, r, t, v. This was to outline the hard edges I scraped my knees on, when once in a while I hugged your left leg and let you drag me around town because I refused to be left behind, but had no strength of my own to walk.
In my favorite stories, you didn’t need a name. You were you, even when you yourself forgot who the you might be. You were the opposite of a character, you were the one who wrote, the one who was more me than even myself (when I forgot who that me might be). As ingrained a part that you often remained quiet in the shadows of what I thought was mine to tell, and no one knew who lurked behind the words save me.
This was our true opus: your heritage, my scrapbook detailing a few years’ worth of trivialities that were anything but.
The world needed to know, I decided, about that rebellious lock of hair behind your left ear, how you frowned every time you tried to comb it back, how you hated when I laughed at you and said you were vain. The world would be a poorer place if not for my dedication to mapping out the constellations of the spots and little scars of your chest, the way it heaved when you got excited or wheezed at night while you were sleeping. This world would not be my world if robbed of the mention of an inch of your smile I once saw dancing awkwardly in the right corner of your lips, where the vaguest shadow of a dimple appeared, a nervous twitch which betrayed your true nature and made you seem like a kid again.
The littlest pieces that can be known, my life’s work, an encyclopedia of you. Sixty three pages in a green folder, thirty stories, thousands of words, a beehive of letters – and each of them carries a sting.
One day, I’ll leave it at your door, after a decade or five, when I’ve finally gathered up the courage to tell you what never seems to want to roll off my tongue these days. Until then, I’ll pretend that giving myself to a story was the harder thing to do, when the alternative was giving myself to you.