Welcome Noah, We Missed You

Chapter Seven

We rode side-by-side to the train station. We stood side-by-side on the platform. We sat side-by-side on the train. It reminded me of the first day that I had met you. It reminded me of what I’d intended to do, something that felt so unthinkable now. You shocked me then, because you reached over and grabbed my hand. “You’re shaking,” you said simply, sliding your fingers between mine.

“I’m anxious,” I had responded quickly, breathing an explanation. My fingers trembled over yours. You tightened your grip on my hand, and I thought about how with babies, how when they were born they had these reflexive grips. You could brush a feather across their palms and they’d tighten their fingers in a moment.

“Do I make you anxious?” you asked, whispering it into my ear so that I was the only one on the crowded metro that could hear you.

I responded, “And then some.”


“Alive, too.”

You turned your head curiously, as if you were reading my mind. Anxious and alive – that was exactly what you did to me. You liked having that effect on me – I know that because you told me later. We never kept things from each other. Instead of commenting on it, you said, “I start school on Monday.”

My heart thumped loudly in my ears. I thought if there was a god, a god anywhere in this world… “Oh,” I said as calmly as I could. “Where?”

Looking out the window now, you smiled. “Saint Peter’s.” You were still holding my hand, and you were going to my school, and I was counting the seconds until the other shoe dropped because nothing ever went my way and it was something I’d come to accept about life. “Your mom called my father.” I stared at our hands, sitting between us on the bench. “I’m sorry if I got you in trouble.”

“No,” I said quickly. “Don’t be. It was worth it.”

“Is she always like that?” You were always so curious. You asked more questions than you answered. You wanted to know everything about everyone. I’ll never forget that one day in January when we were lying on the floor of your room. You had said, “Test me.” We had the same classes – I knew there weren’t any upcoming tests. “On what?” You laughed. “On you.”

“Like what?” I asked you as the metro came to our stop, and we got up to get out. You still had my hand, and I led you out the doors onto the platform. It was that one day in January, when your windows were covered in frost, and the heat was blasting in your house, stifling me in my knit sweater. “Favorite color,” you said. “White-grey – the sky when its just about to snow.” You knew me better than I knew myself. “Your favorite class is English. Your favorite book is Norwegian Wood. Anddddd, your favorite…” You went on and on telling me all about myself.

“Like – protective, I guess?”

“She’s hysterical. She always has been but its gotten worse lately.”

It was that one day in January, when I wanted to pull the sleeves of my sweater up because it was blistering warm in your house, but my wrists were not ready to be seen, and you knew me, but you didn’t know my wrists. “You’re right,” I said. “You know everything about me.” And as I think about it now, I know that you’ve always been a collector of things. But you collected people, too.

“No,” you had said abruptly. “I have no idea why you’re so sad.”
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