My day always began and ended with you.
I brought you home at midnight, and I’d be back to pick you up at six the next morning. That’s just how my life went back then. It meant you spent six hours without me.
They were the worst hours of my day.
That sounds romantic. It wasn’t.
I’d just fallen asleep when you sent me a picture of a shattered hand. Every bone must have been broken — I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, there was blood everywhere. Then you were calling, apathetic, “I broke it but it’s probably fine,” and I thought you must be in shock to be so calm. You were an unstable artist with a crushed hand and there was nothing poetic about that, just fear and panic.
I climbed out my bedroom window and got in the car. My skin was feverish, my heart racing, my breathing shallow. I was already in enough trouble at home, and I had no plan for talking my way out of this one. I couldn’t tell them the truth. Didn’t have time to worry about it. I pushed it away; I’d deal with that later. Later, when you weren’t broken and bleeding and calling me.
I got to your house, and you stopped answering your phone.
It wasn’t like I could knock on your door; I didn’t know who you lived with. It wasn’t like I could ask for you; I didn’t know who you were.
I found you five streets away. I pulled the car up next to you and you got in, your face unreadable and both hands in your lap.
Both hands, looking like they always did, smudged with ink and charcoal from your drawings, knuckles branded with a lighter and your knife, but otherwise unremarkable. They weren’t broken, not bloody or twisted.
I stared at you for several minutes, and you didn’t say anything. I didn’t either.
I never asked you questions. I knew you wouldn’t answer.
When I dropped you off I was dreading going home. I’d be in trouble, again, for sneaking out in the middle of the night, again. And to the inevitable question — why — I had no answer. They didn’t know you existed. So I couldn’t say he broke his hand, it was an emergency, he needed me. Because then they’d ask the obvious questions, and what would I say to that?
Why did you leave in the middle of the night?
He sent me a picture of a broken hand.
So you left the house?
I thought it was an emergency.
Did you take him to the hospital?
He wasn’t injured.
I thought you said he broke his hand?
It wasn’t his hand.
Then why did he send you the picture?
To make me think he was hurt.
Why would he do that?
I didn’t have an answer to the most basic questions, and anyway it was pointless to imagine the conversation because I wasn’t having it.
Instead I got yelled at, grounded some more, and answered questions with sullen silence because nothing I could tell them would make it any more logical to them. It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make sense. It wasn’t even sane. It was just how you were.
And when I picked you up a few hours later, at 6am, we didn’t talk about it.
We never talked about anything that mattered.