"Science," you say with a wave of your hand. "Forget about science."
I don't think that there's a sentence I've understood less in my life. Forget science? Forget the only thing keeping me sane? Forget-
"Love is real." Your voice, gravelly, croaking, and strange for your age, breaks me from my thoughts.
"No, it's not. Familial love, platonic love, that's real. But romantic love? That's just a fairy tale mothers tell their children."
You stare at me, as if I've said something irrational. "How can you say that?" Somehow, I want to chuckle and punch you at the same time. I don't do either.
"Besides the obvious..." It's just a whisper, and part of me hopes you don't hear it, don't hear me admitting weakness. "The chemicals that produce the emotion love fade after four months."
"Science." You're practically laughing this time, and it confuses me. "How do you explain the hundreds of married couples in this town?"
"Easy," I snap. I always seem to snap when you're around. "They're just old fools trying to live a fairy tale."
"Science," you mutter again, and I want to punch you so badly.
"Yes, science. Better than your willy-nilly emotions. What are emotions, anyway, besides the imbalance of chemicals in the brain, caused by-"
"Hannah." Something in your voice compels me to look up, and I'm suprised at what I find. Your eyes- always a strange shade, all of brown and green and blue, all at once- burning with a strength, a ferocity, I didn't even know you had. Your fists clench- I find it strange that this was supposed to be an apology, but I can't even remember what I was apologizing for- and I almost expect you to yell at me.
But instead: "Don't think. Feel."
"How do I-"
Again, more intense, "Feel."
I close my eyes, bringing each running train of thought to a slow stop. First is the probability of this conversation happening if I hadn't opened my mouth last year. Too late, I decide, because I did open my mouth and we are having the conversation, and it's too late to change.
Next is quantum mechanics, trying to figure if timetravel is actually possible. I've got to be kidding myself. The human understanding of time is so amateur, it may as well be a line instead of a ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.
Then there's physics, because how can a bee fly when it breaks every rule? ...Store that one on the backburner for later. I've run through it a thousand times, but I think I'm missing something.
And so it goes. It's strange, my ability to run ten trains of thought at once, but maybe that's why I don't feel.
But, after silencing myself as best as possible, "You want to know what I feel, B? I feel..."
"I feel frustrated," you nod, as if it's understandable, "I feel...lonely."
"Then get a little outside your comfort zone." As if you understand.
"I'm trying to say that I miss you, idiot!" But not as a crush. I miss my best friend.
The bell rings and, almost like a coward, you flee. "That's my cue to leave."
A rushed goodbye, and you're out the door, that stupid- because that's all I've really thought about it- red jacket of yours flapping behind you. You're not a coward, I decide, You just seem like one sometimes. Because how could the bravest guy I've ever met be a coward?
I stand in line, trying to start up a train, when one of the boys smiles at me. I feel the happiness coursing through me, -endorphins- and my heart skips a beat.
Maybe, I decide- because I never just think, I always have to know, Just maybe, it might be okay to feel, just for today.
And so I cast off my shields, my ten trains, my explainations for emotion.
And so, for just one day, I don't worry about who's going to break my heart.
I almost enjoyed it. Then dinner came along.
"Baby Gary has dementia." That's from mom, informing me about the fifty-year-old man with Down Syndrome, my father's best friend. I feel pain then, in my chest. I don't like this, don't like it at all.
"Kalie's been thieving from my safe. We actually sent her to jail, but you know how Nick is about his grandkids." Great-Aunt Deb, telling us about her granddaughter, my third favorite cousin out of almost a hundred. I feel so tired then, just exhausted. Her mother had kleptomania, too.
And so it goes, as everything goes, that constant spew of bad news. Before, it would just have been information, data.
Today, it takes all I've got not to find a razor when we get home.
I stare at the scars adorning my legs, the ones my parents think came from bugs bites and broken beer bottles on the sidewalk. The ones I got from letting myself feel.
I'm sorry. It's just not good for me to feel, otherwise I would.
Thus, I close up, waiting for another day to set myself free.