“When the dead departed, they took away any falsehoods
that they might have allowed us to believe while alive;
we who are left behind have to embark on a different life,
since the dead are no longer here to help us deceive ourselves.”
― YIYUN LI, "Alone"
INNER CITY STORIES
She was perfect. Her hair was the prettiest shade of deep red, getting lighter in the sun but changing as soon as you looked at her. Her hair reminded me of apples on a summer’s afternoon, perfect. Her eyes were more colorful than the depths of the ocean; they got better and better the more you’d look.
She told me everything with her eyes. Her freckles were prettier than the stars in the night's sky; each day it seemed as if she had another one. Her freckles reflected flowers in a meadow; the longer you looked the more there were.
Her clothes seemed to scream how she was feeling inside. If she were sad, she’d wear bright colors to distract herself. If she were happy, she’d wear blue to reflect her eyes; if she were mad, she’d wear black to comfort herself. On rainy days, her eyes were crystal blue, telling the best of her stories. On sunny days they were a deep, deep blue, mirroring the sky. Cloudy days were my favorite; her eyes were a faded dark blue, not deeply or lightly colored.
She always seemed to fix her hair differently from the last time, she’d have it in a bun, a ponytail, a braid, or just lying upon her shoulders; she’s done so little to it but it always seemed like so much. Her skin was a ghostly peach, it always looked perfect, not a single blemish in sight. She always looked beautiful, when she tried and when she didn’t.
Her freckles stretched from ear to ear across her face; they looked like leaves floating upon a lake. Her arms and chest were densely covered with little areas of freckles, she was the night sky decorated with stars. I could look at them endlessly, and they’d look better by the second. She always seemed to mesmerize me with all of her amazing colors. Her blue eyes, her deep red hair, her light brown freckles, and her ghostly colored skin.
On summer nights we’d go downtown on our skateboards to get ice cream and coffee. On our way back, we’d eat all of our ice cream and drink our coffee bit by bit. She’d always mix her coffee and ice cream, it was funny how it’d always get on her nose.
Sometimes at dusk, we would climb up to the roof and gaze up at the stars as they appeared before our eyes. She was always fascinated by the stars, I was always distracted by the reflections of the stars in her eyes. Each star that reflected in her eyes seemed to belong there, her starry eyes always seemed to glisten in the moonlight, and she always seemed to be awed by the different patterns of the stars. She always talked about how she wanted to live among them.
We spent most of our summer nights staying up until 4 AM, talking about the first thing that would come to our minds. Our summer afternoons consisted of having our “breakfast/lunch” at our favorite restaurant. Making our way back home along the streets filled with happy kids playing hide and seek, we would make friends with all the neighborhood’s dogs.
Every once in a while, I’d fill my pockets up with dog food to give them. She always hated when I did that because then the dogs would “betray” her. But she was always so happy to play with them.
These are the last vivid memories I have of her, I’ll never forget them. Later that summer, she “passed”. I was left all alone. She died from mixing the wrong pills together by accident; I wish I had been there. A few days later was her wake; she looked so different. Her deep red hair was almost black, her skin was nearly white, her freckles might have been the only lasting color upon her, and her changing blue eyes were hidden under her eyelids.
I was traumatized by seeing this; I can barely look anyone in the eyes after that. I’m scared of forgetting her, but I’m too sad to remember her. I’ll never forget how she looked, or how she dressed, but I’ve forgotten how she sounded. I’ll never be able to see the people in my life the same way again. I all I can say is that she never ceased to amaze me.
Her name was Joann.