at dinner i tell my mother
about a dark-haired, dark-eyed dolphin
that never, ever smiled
although he has everything
i ever wanted
even a too-tall boy-mother who smells like chlorine
at night i open my journal
and i write about that too-tall boy
that too-nice boy
and i write how i think he should smell like tangerines
and peaches
and every sweet thing
because that is how he acts
at bedtime when i close my eyes
i think to myself if i had that too-tall boy
i would never be able to stop smiling
like how i smile
when he is in my dreams
at the airport my mother cries as gou hugs her leg and waves
and i can remember the bricks laid out around the cherry tree i left behind
but i refuse to cry until i have my unattended minor task
and the letters glare at me and i turn that unattended
to alone
in australia its too hot, too humid
too lonely
and i miss three boys i never really got to know all that well
and i wonder if the dolphin still swims
and does the too-nice giant still cry and hide it
and has the grasshopper grown into his wings
and i wonder what they would say
if they found out i stopped dreaming
after those first dozen races
i wonder, if he, that too sweet boy,
would feed me sweet words as sweet as his smile
and would the dolphin call me stupid
and whether the grasshopper would cry
in the letters he sends me
i find my answers
he sneaks them into care packages along with glass jars of kimchi
and hair ties i only wear when no one is looking
(not that anyone ever does)
in my bed, hidden under my covers
is the only time i allow myself to cry
over the letters, the homesickness, the everything
and i keep all the memories taped inside and scrawled in journals
but never look at them again
just sit them under my pillows
as i try to forget everything i remember
(like tangerines, like chlorine, like gentle giants)
i do not know when i started puberty
but i can see the teeth growing in
and my voice cracks
over my already fumbling english tongue
and i cannot help but think
that this just gives everyone else
more reason to avoid me
i do not know when i first began to grow bitter
but i think it began when he stopped sending letters
after a year of going unanswered
and i am still too afraid
to ever lift a pen
and ask him to send them again
because i need them
oh god
i need them
i sit in the bath and i wonder what it would feel like
to fall under
if that is what dad felt like losing himself to the sea
or was it the ocean
i cannot remember
i just know i want to be swallowed whole
by the green-tinted waters
that fill the cracking porcelain tub
i sit and i think of being lost
within the watery nothing
that has so much in common in what i've become
i think "does it really burn that much?"
when it slips down my throat to fill my lungs
or does the pain dull after a while
into nothing but (heart)ache
i sit on my bed and i think
of three smiles pointed around me
and a camera in between my sister's prepubescent hands
and how she is not gou anymore
only kou
i almost laugh on what i miss(ed)
and i want to cry
i can feel the burning behind my lids
only nothing comes
just empty
just like me
i leave australia without telling anyone
i just want to be invisible
another piece of static lost within the white noise of life
and focus on
not swimming
i leave my roommate
constantly fretting over me
and i think that he can be a bother
but he reminds me too much of a blond boy with pink eyes
to push away
so i let him bring me things i never really ask for
and let him bother me as he sees fit
(if he gets too annoying
i can always lock myself in the bathroom
and wonder
when gou finds out i am back in japan
she cannot stop leaving messages on my phone
although i never answer
despite how much i want to
meet her and forget
about the bitterness
that has managed to sink into my very everything
and coats my every thought
like how
when i see them together
the too-tall boy and the dolphin
it hurts so much
like drowning in something terrible
and heavy
that just drags me farther down
when i feel the bad escaping my mouth
like air bubbles from blue-kissed lips
venomous words touch sensitive ears
although i am not sure exactly what i am saying
i can see hurt dim his peridot eyes
to the darkest shade
and i turn from them choosing to swim
and forget
but the pool is empty
just like the rest of me
and the dug up box
full of long-dead memories
when he calls me
i am not expecting it
but i want to store away his voice
to go with the words of the letters
and i wonder if just maybe
gou found out my secret despite how much i tried to hide it
behind sharp words, sharp teeth, and a sharp heart
and i wonder if i am truly angry
and i decide that maybe swimming will not be too bad
if not just to feel the water again
and forget
when i stop trying to forget
it is when he breaks the surface of the water
and i watch him,
dynamic and so very there
wordless but screaming
for me to notice him again
and i remember everything
all at once
bits and pieces falling from the puzzle box i had stored away
when he messages me that next time
after the meet and the competition
that my team lost but i won
i find myself looking at the message
and storing it with the others
but this time i reply to his 'good job'
and we end up talking the entire night
after the first i-love-you
falls from my cracked lips
in a rush of clumsy syllables
his gentle smile replies
with a soft 
"i know"
and he laughs and tells me
i have never been all that subtle
before silencing any arguments i have
with his lips
(after that
everything falls together
like peaches and cream
like bitter coffee meeting sweet chocolate
and i find out that being with him
is even sweeter
than i have ever imagined)


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