I weave my hair, letting the unruly locks frame my face. The same ones that you rolled around your fingers, before placing a soft kiss on my constantly chapped lips. My dark eyes become shiny and my reflection takes the form of a blurry mass. I tie the braid with the usual damaged elastic, which I always keep on my wrist. I hug tightly in the sweatshirt; suddenly I got cold. I sit at my desk. I think, letting myself be enveloped by that sense of emptiness that suddenly filled my chest. Yet, after you, so many things have changed. Even if the others don’t notice when they see me arrive, with my backpack full of writings on my shoulder, and my faded Nikes on my feet, nothing is the same anymore. My way of walking has changed, because after you every step of mine has become uncertain; I’m lost. And the hazelnut color that fills my eyes has become so thick that it doesn’t allow any emotion to leak out. My playlist has changed, but all the songs keep bringing me back to you. And even my smile, which once drew a web of wrinkles in the corners of the mouth and eyes, is now always forced, so much so that it looks like a grimace. I open my diary, letting my fingers savor the pages soaked in ink and tears. My way of writing has also changed; my words are so irregular and flickering that they give the impression of falling into the void and shattering into a thousand pieces. And here, at some point, our last photo together. The only one I printed. The ruined edges, the crumpled and creased paper. With my index finger I slowly retrace your image, in the illusion of being able to feel the softness of your lips and the way they bent to pronounce my name. I continue, towards your freckled cheekbones and, if only I could go back, I swear I would memorize every single constellation they formed. I keep going, until I get to your hair, and the memory of how much I liked to ruffle it makes my heart tremble. Everything gets too blurry and shaky, so I hold the photo tightly to my chest and start crying like a baby. My head is full of unanswered questions, and anxieties. And I know that no one will come to hug me and will be able to tidy up that tangle of thoughts, just like you knew how to do. Between the terror of forgetting the sound of your laughter and altering the tone of your voice, I don’t realize how much my hands are gripping our photo, and the fear of having ruined even a single frame of you petrifies me. I put it on the desk and watch it. Two years. Two years since the last time your perfume remained on me. From the last time your clear eyes looked at me, in the way that only you could do; as if despite all my mistakes, you continue to be perfect. Because for all the mistakes I made, you were able to make me feel right. Two years since the last time my fingers squeezed yours, that your lips tasted mine, that you whispered “I love you” in my ear. Two years since we finished. Two years that I continue to be stuck in the past, refusing to live in a present without you. On my cell phone, your last message is a voice note. You were saying “in 10 minutes I’m under your house.” And you don’t know how many nights have been spent listening to it, and listening to it again, and listening to it again. You don’t know how many times I’ve waited for you, outside the gate, just like last time. For 10 minutes. Which then became 20. Then 30. Then an hour. But you never came. When I learned of the accident, everything became dark and silent, and I no longer felt anything. I remember the car ride with dad. I remember the swearing to find the keys and start the car as quickly as possible. I remember my sweaty hands rubbing undeterred on my jeans and my heartbeat pounding against my rib cage, so hard I thought it might break. I remember the road that seemed longer than usual and the rain falling too hard. Then I remember the ambulance lights. The police car. And another car inside the ditch. And finally your car, with its crumpled hood and shattered glass. I remember when I opened the door, a strong sense of nausea began to rise from my stomach and that my legs were too fragile to support the weight of my body. I remember my eyes were so swollen and I had lost so many tears that I didn’t cry anymore. The frost inside me. I will never know that was the last thought that embraced your mind before going off with you. I will never know the last thing your eyes saw, or the song you were listening to, or the last words you said before leaving the house. All I know is that something broke inside me, creating a chasm, which from that moment began to grow in me. I locked my heart in the safe, and then myself, to the whole world. Once on Sunday morning you always brought me a rose, with a small cream-colored note tied by a white ribbon to the stem. There was always the same phrase “Whenever you need me, and I can’t be there, breathe the scent of this rose, and I’ll be in you. And you won’t feel alone anymore.” Now, every Sunday morning I head to the cemetery, clutching a rose. Who would have thought that in the end I would be the one to bring flowers to you every week, huh? In my note, with my terrible handwriting, I always write the same phrase : “

Not even in the perfume of this rose did I find you. I feel so alone. Please fill my lungs again, because without you, even breathing became difficult.

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