Sometime last winter I was nosing around on a neglected cell phone left out in the open. I couldn’t seem to find anything very interesting on it. In its ‘sent’ folder were few words… including “<3”
The phone belonged to Logan. Logan blows his paycheck on Magic The Gathering cards and rides our flatbeds like surfboards. A whole head of puffy, dirty-blonde hair, crafty and creepy, his entire aura seems unrefined. Sharp teeth, square jaw. Bright blue eyes. Not very tall. He reminds me of a baby wolf. He just sort of teeters on the edge of darkness but will never pull it off on account of his geekdom.
I sat down one day, thumbing through my phone. I had saved the recipient of love’s symbol. I told them what I saw as I lived alongside this person – how I can see the potential to be serious, how loud he can be when he breaks out into dance or adapts an accent. How quiet he actually is about anything important or personal. Autistic, but not. Normal, but weird.
Autumn May: As silly as he is, he protects you, whoever you are. He must care about you very much. I just wanted you to know that.
Mystery: Thank you. Who are you?
Autumn May: Some nosy girl at his workplace.
I waved and sent her my photo. Curious about the light, I kept poking at it. She was kind enough to answer my questions. Japanese emoticons, occasionally rude and snappy, very comfortable in her voice.
I love him, but please don’t tell him that. We are planning on meeting this summer.
We begin to trade secrets. I slide pieces of a puzzle around. Possible Girl In A Box, assembly required. She could be a friend or she could be a secret weapon. Either way she is a person, suddenly there and nowhere.
Through those snowy months I listened to Logan gearing up for dates with other girls. I found it rather conflicting with the terms from Sapphire’s perspective but I remained silent. I watched Logan during this time, balancing the different sides to his life, comparing him to the older man who had recently come back in the big, white box. Years and years later.
“Hopefully I have a date with a girl. We’re gonna have dinner and see a movie.”
“I met a girl. We’re gonna try to get together sometime this weekend.”
I thought, maybe there was something Logan was going to show me about humanity. Something that was going to help me to understand the hows and whys. I double-checked my facts. Sapphire was under the impression that he was the only one for her. And that his feeling, or the closest one to it, was mutual.
Slowly, I begin to ask him simple things. Yes, she exists. Every time they make a plan it falls through. Nothing is easy to explain. There is a history, there is a ton of doubt. Whenever it’s time for him to answer he either tilts his head way back and closes his eyes or hangs it low and runs his hands through his hair.
Sapphire would say how glad she was to have a friend in a friend of Logan’s who she could trust, blah blah blah. She was IT, but there was Everything Else, and month after month I would look down at my phone and think about the girl suspended in a tiny fraction of the truth.
One day it wasn’t Sapphire on the other end. It was her sister. Sapphire was getting help and had to go away for a while. It was a part of her own side and secrets, some which I know but will never tell.
Never real? Never there. So it goes, lesson learned.
Sapphire: Autumn I want to thank you for your kind words while I was away and you have to let me know how you and Logan are doing asap!
The moment she appeared I began to work on telling her.
Do you ever go out with anyone? Did you ever actually say that you were going to be exclusive? Logan is not a bad person but…
Silence. Silence. Chime.
Sapphire: That hurt.
Listen. Reality is a gift. And you are a wonderful person who deserves it. Just think about it for a while. I know that you two have something special but you need to see that there is more to it. I’m here. Please remember me. I will still want to be your friend no matter what you decide.
Sapphire: Don’t blow my high.
“Shit,” I say out loud. From the couch, Brad asks what I’m up to. Another chime.
Sapphire: I smashed a window I’m crying and I’m about to get in the car and I don’t know where I’m going.
“Way to play with fire,” Brad says.
Shit, shit, shit, shit shit.
I look at the clock. It’s late. I have to go to bed.
But she was real. And her life just got mentally fucked in the secret place that matters the most.
TV and lights went off. Dogs and boy went to bed.
I stayed right there. And offered my sideways heart.