“I- I want to be someone else,” I said through tears. My mouth cracked open, and my hand clutched my chest against whatever was being driven in there. But there wasn’t anything. Not that anyone could see.
And it was true. No matter what I’d done, it was never good enough. No matter how much I thought I’d beaten the loneliness, there it was inside me. Outside me in the shape of a glass wall. It lived.
I felt myself slipping away into nothing.
“No,” she said. “You want to understand someone else.” She lowered herself to her knees so that her slightly watery eyes were level with my puffy ones. “It’s different.”
“I’ve felt alone my whole life,” I said, at a loss.
“I know. But look what you did, all on your own. You knew what you wanted, and you found your way to it. Even in the depths of that loneliness you held onto who you were. So don’t. Don’t let go now.”
“I-I can’t hold on” I stuttered, my face a mess.
“Don’t you understand? At the end of the day, yes, you’re right. Deep down, staring down the blackness, you only have yourself to rely on. But, so do I. So do they. So does everyone. Don’t you see? You understand that about people. You understand that better than anyone I’ve ever met. Even though we’re on these islands right next to each other, and we can never cross the water between us, you reach out every single time. Do you understand how rare that is? That trying?”
I heard her. But I also heard my heart. And it still asked me: if no one can see inside you, how can they forgive you?
I fell into a sob, and into her shoulder, just feeling the cotton of her hoodie against my forehead. I couldn’t hear anything now but my own cries. But I could feel her arms around me. Thank god. Thank god even though we were so far apart we could still touch, and breath, and feel.