What we should let die by Madeline Anthes

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We promised that nothing would part us – not even death –  so we stay together after the accident.   

We lean our car seats back and listen to music, just like before.  You tell me about your first concert, your first joint, your first high school dance. I listen and take a hit. I wonder if this is what closeness feels like:  sticky leather seats, punk music playing low, the taste of weed, secrets spilling out of you like a hole in a tire.

I close my eyes when I get too dizzy.


We sip cheap wine coolers and go to shows, watching pierced teenagers thrust their fingers in the air and yell lyrics. We shout the lyrics with them, your arm around my shoulders. No one can see me shiver. 

We play pranks on the kids at the show. Push their drinks off the bar, drop their phones in the toilet, spill beers down their shirts. We laugh and dare each other. I want you to think I’m fearless, unafraid, even though your gaze makes me shake. 

The smoke fills my lungs and makes me cough, and you squeeze me tighter. I feel wanted and sick.


I have nightmares about dying, worse than when I was alive. Memories swirl with chaotic fantasy, and I wake up confused. It takes me several breaths to remember what happened. What you did.

I remember the message on your phone, the way you swiped it away. The way your breath smelled like IPA and sickly perfume. The way the steering wheel jerked to the right when you tried to grab the phone from my hand. The way the glass exploded around me in a burst of sound. The silence. 

I never found out who it was. There’s no point in asking about it now. 


I wake up with a headache and ask if you love me. You laugh and pull on your t-shirt, running your hand over your face. You look like a boy, like a child rubbing his eyes before a nap. It softens you.

You tell me I’m crazy to ask you after everything we’ve been through. After everything we’d lived through. You leave to make the coffee. I wipe the smudges of eyeliner from under my eyes.

I don’t ask you again. I let myself disappear into the sheets.

Madeline Anthes is the Assistant Editor of Lost Balloon. You can find her on Twitter at @maddieanthes, and find more of her work at madelineanthes.com.

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