Content Warning: This plot contains topics including depression, substance abuse, and death.
This short story was submitted as part of our Valentine's Day open contribution. You can see the other submissions here and here.
It was an early fall afternoon, - a Saturday I remember. You called me and you were still about 25 minutes away, but you were coming. We were laughing over the phone about how your mom scolded you again about not taking the trash out and I laughed about the baby voice you probably made to get out of it because you always did. Your momma loved you; I can tell. She looked at you the way one does when you’re proud. Like straight A’s on a report card or the artwork you worked on for years to perfect and it was finally perfect. Wow, was she proud. You talked about how excited you were to go to the pizza place you read about and how you couldn’t wait to tell your work friends when we got there. It was beautiful to hear you get excited about little things like that. You didn’t know it, but I kept track of your mozzarella stick ratings...every single one- and I knew this was another to add. There was a list of my favorite things about you, the mozzarella stick ratings were for sure one of my top ones. We hung up after you crossed what we called “the halfway point” and you said, “Okay hurry up, I’m here. I’m hungry.”
You were always hungry. I laughed and told you I would be down in a few and you knew that was probably another 15 minutes, but you never complained. Not a single time. Eventually, I came down and there you were sitting in the car smiling and bopping your head to the music that got louder and louder- cause why would you not turn it up for the whole neighborhood to hear as I walked towards the passenger seat?
I jumped in, “What are you doing?! Why are you like this, what are you a crazy songbird or somethin’?”I said jokingly. It wouldn’t stop until it was at a max, and even then, everyone would hear it till the end because why would you stop? You were someone like I’ve never known before. You were Vincent and for a short while, you were mine.
Vincent, Vinny, Vin, my best friend, and my favorite story to tell. We met at a movie theater on a Friday night in January, and my friends and I decided on a girl's night, and go figure I chose the movie because I didn’t feel like oversleeping again for work, I figured this was our “play it safe” weekend. I didn’t catch you at first but when I did, it was like magic, and at that moment it was you and me, me and you. I remember you were wearing a burgundy hoodie under your gray winter jacket, jeans, and some sneakers. A signature go-to outfit choice I’d later come to recognize. You had just gotten a haircut and you had your hands in your jacket pockets. I only remember thinking how loud and contagious your laugh was and what a cute smile you flashed, but you’d never know me to know that I thought.
Eventually, after a solid 15 minutes at the popcorn stand, we went our separate ways. You walked to your theater with your family, and I walked to mine with my friends. Needless to say, it was the first time I ever had to use the bathroom about 4 times while watching a movie and unfortunately, it didn’t seem like you had to go at all. Flashing forward a week later, I thought I had gotten you out of my system. A guy whose name I didn’t even know and flashed me a million dollar smile never to my wildest imagination did I think I’d see you again, but there you were crossing paths with me at the subway; burgundy hoodie and all as if you knew I would be here to recognize it. I couldn’t miss my chance and this time around; I ran with it and didn’t even think twice. I hopped on the train going downtown the same way you did, hoping it wouldn’t take so long to muster up any courage to talk to you as you sat across from me- not once realizing how much farther from home I was going to be. After 4 stops and some empty seats, I didn’t even think about the life you were probably already living. Maybe you had a girlfriend? Maybe even married? With children? How could I have been so dumb not to think about the possibilities and then you spoke to me for the first time,
“I’m sorry, are you getting off anytime soon? I’d hate to leave you here alone.”
I opened up my eyes not realizing how deep in my thoughts of you I had been, but I jumped up and laughed,
“Oh My God, I’m actually getting off now. Thank you so much. My friend's house is nearby!”
In reality, I had no idea where I even was. You laughed that contagious laugh and smiled again, and I knew I loved you the way I knew I loved you now. That night you walked off the train with me and told me your name, and how I should try this Mexican restaurant in Harlem you had gone to with friends earlier in the day. “The quesadillas are always my choice.”
You said that they remained every time we’d go for some of our spontaneous dates. We went separate paths after walking out of the train station that night and with that I figured this was really the end, I waited for you to be completely out of sight and I scurried back down to take the train back uptown to familiar territory. Surpassing my original stop and up home to my little apartment building in the Bronx- a place you became familiar with enough to even know the bodega store owner around the corner.
You never found out that the visit to my “friend's house” was only imaginary in an attempt to meet you even if it was for a little while. It was a fairly cold night and 8 PM felt like 3 AM. I could only think about the shower I needed after being on a subway train all evening, and what pizza place would be open for a quick bite. I remembered Dante’s pizza grill a few footsteps away from my stop and rushed my way up the block to hurry home with my slice before my parents got home because “God only knows” why I couldn't wait to eat the caldo de pollo* Mom made it for the second time this week. Hint, hint, the second time this week, and the fact that all Latina moms love a good caldo when the weather starts getting a little chilly.
My cousins from LA love to remind me how fortunate I am that mom and dad brought us out here to the east coast a few years back, and while everyone was in LA, my parents always said I was going to make it out here. They felt it in every ounce of their being that I would. Growing up on the east coast was different from what I remember LA being like, and when I would visit my family on the west coast it would show. I was 10x more “gringa” than I thought, and I swallowed my Spanish because it didn’t sound like the native LA Chicana I knew how to be anymore. I remember getting into an argument with my cousin about how over it I was that she would patronize me for using vocabulary that made them feel small.
Reality is, I felt small too, and the words articulated from my vocabulary came from the books I read as a child and young adult because it was the only way I had to learn how to fit in. My parents brought me here at 12 years old, and while I was a U.S. citizen most kids in my Bergen County school in New Jersey didn’t see that. They saw a tan, brown-eyed, Latina with a funny accent that didn’t sound “American”, but instead a false attempt to fit in. I was in full defeat mode from then on. I wasn’t even Camila anymore, I was “Cammi” or “Camile” for the teachers who looked past my name to get the day over with. I had to reinvent myself, and any time after mom and dad offered to fly me home to LA for events or get-togethers- I stayed in Jersey instead and found every excuse why I wouldn’t attend with them. I missed home, but after succeeding in Jersey, my parents then thought it would be fun to pursue the ultimate dream in NYC and thus my senior year of high school brought us together in the melting pot of cultures.
From one moment to the next we left our tiny home in Jersey and made our way to our 3 bedroom, 1 bath apartment with my two siblings, my parents, and our little brown chihuahua. Walking into my school senior year felt like a deja-vu I never experienced before. I saw kids from all over making their way to classrooms and running into friends they seemed to have known forever. I smiled at a few kids and rarely got anything back, and I realized how much it felt like being in LA again. The outsider“gringa”, but this time I wasn’t sure if it was the way I looked as much as it was my overuse of “thank you’s” and “I’m sorry” for anything that wasn’t even my fault.
Anyway, it wasn’t a hard year, and I made some sweet friendships; like Elena, who to this day is my go-to. We met at the library attempting to finish the same paper but from different class periods and our friendship was almost instant- as if we knew each other in some other life. She can tell you everything about met that I myself can’t even pinpoint. We worked so hard our senior year. In the end, I broke mom and dad’s hearts, because while I had gotten accepted into the top 3 schools of our dreams, I lied and told them it just wasn’t meant for us as I reviewed tuition costs over and over again. To know mom couldn’t work another day and dad shouldn’t have to give up his hobby. The green thumb on that man has saved him countless times, the community garden he created from scratch is his pride and joy, and at the time his source of salvation. They swore up and down it was all their fault and almost a decade later I found myself scrambling into the big ol’ city to work my 9-5 receptionist job even after attending community college with Elena.
I graduated with a degree in Art History, except no one spoke about the art I saw growing up. No one talked about the beauty in things we saw in LA or even around here in The Bronx or Manhattan, there were so many pieces of myself and of my family, and Elena in these streets. I couldn’t understand the curriculum touching the surface and it being about things that alienated me again. My love for art was almost like a betrayal, but I stuck it out and finished and here I am in an art school watching parents pay for their kids to learn about things only a few can grow to love. I was promised a teaching position eventually and even that hasn’t happened, but for the sake of helping mom and dad I can’t leave this front desk, so I stay. Monday-Friday and occasionally on Saturdays when parents pay a little extra for their extra gifted child who loves art more than anything in the world- until the next hobby comes along for them to try. It reminds me of something Vinny told me once about how his mom had him do everything- boy scouts, basketball, photography, swimming, and in the end as fun as it all was, it was temporary and none of it was even close to whom he felt he wanted to be, and eventually, I found out why that ever was.
Two days after officially meeting Vinny, I received a friend request on Instagram and thought nothing of it. I saw for the first time the profile that put together the person I only dreamed about, and it felt out of a modern-day storybook. I yelped sitting at the front desk at work, practically spilling my coffee as I called Elena right away.
“ARE YOU OKAY? DID YOU MISS THE TRAIN AGAIN OR QUE TE PASA*?”
The Puerto Rican in this girl was special to me because it was a sense of belonging, I longed for in my years of being on the east coast.
“NO, okay listen. “I said as I proceeded to yelp again, “This guy from the other night that I told you about. He found me on social media and requested to follow me. He remembered me!”
Elena gasped so loud, the possibility that people thought she was on speaker was very high as I still remained at the front desk of my workplace.
I ran over a few feet to my break room and laughed as she proceeded to ask a million and one questions about Vinny. Except the only 4 pictures of himself didn’t say too much about him, and the other 2 only showed me a glimpse of what he liked, the puppy he later told me he had to leave behind from moving from Philly to Brooklyn years ago, and one of his favorite places he loved to visit with his family as a kid. A cute little area Upstate, one we eventually frequently visited after figuring out where it was exactly even if it were for a day trip. It was beautiful in the fall time, the polaroid of our first visit there still sits in the corner area of my mirror.
As I realized the time, I told Elena I would call her when I got home and talk about it. Rushing back to my desk I closed my apps and proceeded to check people in and complete my duties with a smile on my face like I won the lottery or something. I didn’t really date or fall for people; this was all so new for me, but my gut told me from the start Vinny was someone I couldn’t pass up. Hours went by, I couldn’t even take lunch. I was so busy, I left the studio and rushed to catch my train uptown home pulling out my phone. I saw Vinny’s username come across my screen and it was euphoric.
“Wanna get quesadillas sometime?” he asked.
I laughed and couldn’t catch my breath thinking that this was probably all a dream; I called Elena again and no answer, of course, my “cornball” comeback was, “It’s like you read my mind or something.” And the next thing I knew it was another weekend running into him except this time it was a date.
He told me about his love for the stars and the places he wanted to visit. He loved the feeling of being on a flight to a destination he didn’t know about yet, and how he can fight everyone about how to properly pronounce the words his very Italian grandmama would coach him in. The Italian in Vinny outweighed more than the Mexican in me, but there was Puerto Rican in him too and that was a side he didn’t get to know well of. So, like me, he patched it up in pieces he knew about himself and stored it away, it’s like we knew we couldn’t fulfill those pieces of ourselves, so we ran from them. Vinny kissed me on the first date at a taco stand and asked if I was blushing because my face was all red- and I was. But before I could answer he grabbed my face and pulled me in. It was magic, and every time I can remember his face, my heart skips remembering the smile he flashed at me when he came to pick me up that night. It had been months and again, it was all magic being with someone who only ever made me laugh and made me feel loved. It was happening so fast, and I didn’t want it to ever end. Elena and I would talk about a wedding and how excited I was to take him to LA to meet my family, it was all so close in my mind, and I thought it was that way for him too. Until it wasn’t. It was exactly a year and 5months into it and Vin didn’t call like he usually did. There was a decline in calls in the days following and I felt him slipping away. I just couldn’t imagine what I did wrong. There was finally an answer after my 3rd attempt to reach out and he apologized. There was a “slip up” and I couldn’t understand, but on my way over I tried to pinpoint the moment everything went wrong. I reached the small corner house in Brooklyn and his mom let me in, terrified, I saw her face and the fear in her eyes like someone let the biggest secret out of her- and I tried to make sense of it all, but she sat me down and told me.
“Vinny, had to go away to a psych ward. It’s not the first time. Camila, I thought he was okay, but he has depression so heavy sometimes. The medicine isn’t enough. I didn’t even know he didn’t tell you, but he needed to go away and I’m sorry this was so sudden, and he did it so voluntarily.”
The room went silent, I watched her cry and speak, but I wasn’t prepared to hear the things she said to me. At that moment, I couldn’t help but think that maybe this was the dream you were talking about one night. You said I was so willing to help and protect people that you dreamt of me walking the street with a “crazy person” and I laughed because I didn’t imagine that your idea of a crazy person was someone who was mentally ill, none the less that it would be you. When I finally cleared my mind and found my way back into the room from my mental fog. I looked at her and apologized, because I couldn’t imagine doing this more than once, and I asked,
“I’m sorry, can I see him?”
“In a few days hunny, he asked me to wait as well.”
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe again, and everything felt like a punch to the stomach, and I asked if I could go up to your room at least. Thankfully, she let me, and on my way up I looked at all the pictures you showed me remembering our facetime calls from the first 2 months to the party I got to attend where I met some of your family and they all talked about your times in each picture. You hated baseball but loved soccer, and as you got older it eventually switched. I reached your room and I saw your burgundy hoodie on your bed like you knew I'd show up and it was like I'd find you here. I ran over and looked at the empty unmade bed like I saw it regularly when I’d come over and hugged your hoodie still fresh with your scent. Maybe you forgot it or something, but I put it on and for a second you were home. After a few minutes, I made the bed and dusted off the plant we brought a month before upstate in a small pumpkin patch we drove by. You knew I loved plants and you stopped by you said you would try to care for it but “no promises'', it still looks just as pretty as it did when we got it. It felt like mourning, but I knew where you were, and it only made things more terrifying. This is how I had to find out that the depression was this haunting to you and your family, I pinpointed that conversation with your mom downstairs, and I couldn’t imagine seeing you there, I couldn’t imagine that you would self-harm or cry, or be so desperate that rehab was an option at some point because apparently, drugs were a way out too. I hugged her on my way out and she didn’t say anything else, but we agreed to check on each other until you were home. For a week and a half, 3 PM was my sanity hour when I'd hear from your mom, and we’d talk and laugh and get excited to take you somewhere you’ll love. The day you came home, I was mixed with excitement and terrified at the same time, but I rushed over and picked up your favorite chocolate cake. As I reached your house, the atmosphere was off, but I ran up and there you were at the door waiting like you knew and you held me the way I remembered. I cried and I almost dropped your cake, but lucky enough you had great reflexes. Going in, we didn’t talk about it. No one did. Like the idea was to sweep it under the rug and go on like it didn’t happen, so when we finished dinner and ate the cake, we walked up to your room and you laughed because your bed was made and of course, you knew it had to be me. I decided it was my chance, so I asked, “Listen, I know it was a long day and week, but I’m glad you’re home. I just don’t know what’s going to happen next?”
You stayed quiet for a bit, and I knew you wouldn’t say anything else, “Movie?” you asked.
I nodded my head yes because while I knew you didn’t want to talk about it- I figured you probably just wanted to watch a movie to disappear in the way you always did- and I just wanted to be with you that night. We watched movie after movie until our eyes fell heavy and we fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up. It was like a dream again watching you sleep, and I didn’t want to go. My phone rang over and over with my parents and sisters' names popping up. I didn’t even realize that I never told them I was staying. Elena sent text after text asking if I was alive. I wasn’t even worried, I just wanted to stay wrapped up in your arms. I answered dad and told him about how we lost track of time and fell asleep watching movies. It was hard telling them the full story but they knew you were away, so it wasn’t a big deal. I replied to Elena, and she sent a voice memo, “Chica, you had your folks worried and me too! Wait till I go over later- casi me matas!*”
Of course, I had to chuckle, but how lucky I was to always know I was cared for this way. I apologized and replied, “exagerada” with a crying emoji and decided maybe it was time to get you up for the day, then it crossed my mind that I don’t even remember what that was like anymore. Did you have a routine to follow now? Do you need medication now? Do I even exist in this at all? In the midst of the thought process, you woke up and I smiled and welcomed you into the morning. You laughed and always had to roll over for a good stretch and that felt great to see again. You almost never said anything waking up and like now- your first stop was the bathroom. I waved bye as you walked out to the hall, and I looked out the window to the clear crisp fall air and thought about what I should ask again. You came back quickly and laid down for a while and finally, I felt the words really come out, “Did you want a ride home?”
It struck me because those weren’t the words I expected at all.
“Do you mean after we get breakfast or something?”
You looked at me like I was crazy, “No, I meant, I heard your parents and Lena were looking for you I just thought you had to get home”
“No, what? That was all taken care of, I thought we could get food and talk about something. Anything, because I walked in here and not you nor your mom can tell me what is going on anymore. I’m losing it just wondering what I am supposed to do now. How am I supposed to help, you left me here. I’m fucking here. I’m a person and for all this time I thought I was enough to talk about things like this!”
“Camila, I’m sorry. I just don’t want to talk about it. How could I ever talk about it like it’s going to fix anything? I’ve gone away like 3 fucking times, my mom found me fucked up and the only reason I said I’d go away is because of all the people- I didn’t want YOU to see me like that. Like this. I’m so fucking good at pretending Mila, you have no idea how miserable I can get. I can’t take you down with me. Not you too.”
I don’t know who felt more selfish at that moment, you or me but I’ll tell you one thing I wish I never said anything because it only felt like the beginning of the end from there. We went for breakfast at your favorite pancake house, and we didn’t talk about it. Now I think I should have asked but I wanted to keep the peace. I didn’t want to risk a big public argument, God knows your Italian ass would, but God also knew that deep down you needed to let it out too. So, we laughed and planned another trip upstate because you were excited about the warmer weather coming in and we talked about a vacation, possibly to LA, so you could finally meet my family and see the barrios I got to see growing up. The reason I loved art the way I did, and although still patched up inside of me was the Chicana- only you got to see when your Puerto Rican showed. If only I knew the events that were to come next, Vinny, I would never walk away from you.
A month went by, and you went back to work at the fire department, and we were happy. Eventually, calls started to decline again. It was a busy time, and I didn’t want to bother but once again, they stopped coming and I panicked about the outcome waiting in the other line. I called your mom, and she told me you should have been home last night, but when she checked your room, not a trace of you was there. We stayed silent and the fear from her voice calling out for you struck me hard, it was a Tuesday, your usual day off. Your car wasn’t out front, and your phone was nowhere to be traced, I scattered everywhere I could think to find you, and not a single clue. Your mom called me, you finally came home. It was 8:45 on Tuesday night and you were out of your mind on drugs. I would never be able to tell what, but from what your mom said apparently, it was a lot- like what she’s seen before. I asked if I could come over, “Maybe not now honey, this is a lot. I’ll take care of him tonight. I’ll give you a call in the morning.”
The morning was so long, so far away. I went anyway. A downtown train through the boroughs to find my way to you, when I got there, I rang the doorbell and your mom was for sure not excited to see me.
“I’m so sorry, I know you asked me to wait but I can’t just let you keep doing this alone. I love him too.”
“Camila, so help me God. Please go home. I will figure this out. I always do, he’s going to be fine.”
“I can't, I need to help. I’ll stay downstairs or something. I just can’t leave him alone.”
“Please sweetie, don’t make me call the cops, this is a lot to handle now. Go.”
In that moment everything I knew was gone and in some parallel universe where I would be threatened to have the cops called on me because I just wanted to help? Because I wanted to be there for the person I loved? How do I stay? How do I just go?
I got an Uber home that night and I crawled into bed with mom and dad and cried about how much I loved you, but it’s just not enough. The next morning, I never got the call, but I did hear from you through text: “Hey. I’m sorry about everything. I really screwed it up this time. My mom wanted me to apologize for everything too. She told me what happened, and I just can’t think straight right now. Anyway, I just wanted to say that, and I’ll get help again. I’m sorry Mila, I love you. I just need to go away for a while. Talk to you later.”
I was relieved and replied, “Vinny, please. I’m sorry I showed up, I love you too. This is all so hard.”
I called. “The person you have dialed...” straight to voicemail.
A week went by, and not a reply. Not a callback. Not a single word from your mom. I didn’t move from bed for 3 days. I called out of work and for the first time on an early fall day the clouds were packing up to make a thunderstorm and I remembered how much you loved those. You would leave your window open just a bit to hear it splash against the windowpane and the roar of the storm echo through the room. I pictured laying there with you, taking in the smell we loved so much. Imagining the plant by the window and how sometimes I brought my dog over and we’d cuddle her too, I held her tight. Enough for the both of us and I finally fell asleep after what felt like days. I woke up to Elena’s call, “Chica, are you home?”
“Yeah, girl what’s up?”
“Listen, I’m coming over. Um get dressed real quick we really need to go somewhere.”
“Um, okay? ¿Estás bien? You’re kind of freaking me out.”
“Just please, mama, get dressed, I know you’re sad pero vámonos.”
I grabbed my sneakers and made my way into my closet to look for a clean T-shirt and socks when I heard the doorbell ring. My first thought was, how did this girl just call me to get here 3 minutes later? She knows I don’t work fast.
“CAMILA!” I looked up so quickly because it sounded like bloody murder. “CAMILA!”
I stormed out of my room worried about what I was going to find, running out to see Vinny’s mom in my living room. Tears streaming down her face and so pale that it was like seeing her ghost roaming around.
“Camila, I’m so so sorry. I just needed come to see you. I needed to be the one to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“TELL ME WHAT?! WHERE IS VINNY? IS HE OKAY? IS HE IN REHAB AGAIN OR WHEREDID YOU TAKE HIM?!!!”
“He’s gone, Camila. He’s gone.” She replied.
“Gone? Like missing again? And you’re just standing here??! What if he doesn’t come back this time, we have to look!”
“Camila, cálmate.”my mom decided to chime in.
“NO MA! He’s missing!”
And there she said it. “Camila, he’s not missing. Vinny OD’d last night. It was his 3rd night at home, he said he was hanging out with Daniel from the firehouse, and I believed him but he was out doing more drugs and the police came by this morning. He. Is. Gone. My baby, I couldn’t save him this time. Camila, I’m sorry.”
I just kept thinking about how this couldn’t be true. I couldn’t have lost you. Not like this. I dropped. I think Elena walked in ‘cause in the mental fog- I saw her or maybe mom reach out before I hit the ground. I woke up in mom and dad’s arms and I let it out. The bloody murder scream you think you only hear in movies like the ones you would watch that we always made fun of. I wonder if you’re laughing at me too. Tears streamed down Elena's face, and I wasn’t sure if it was from watching me or because she loved you too, but again there is beauty in the way we have been loved. The next day or two were a blur, so I took a leave from work. I couldn’t stay home, and your mom told me to go down to Brooklyn, but I couldn’t. The only cowardly thing I did was not face it for what it was, the honest hard-hitting truth, I loved you and you were mine once, but now you’re gone and how do I go on with that? I helped dad in his garden, and he put a little lemon tree up for you. Remember how he joked you were always sweet, but sour when you’d get competitive over mini golf? It was fun getting to see you worked up about it, I miss that too. The day of the service came and I made my way over, everyone crowded up in your home the way I remembered that big ‘ol first Christmas except instead of laughing, there was crying. It didn’t seem like anything was on, so I sat in the living room where your little cousins sat. Too young to get what was going on, so they kept me occupied. Your mom walked over and asked me to join her upstairs for a bit. I never wanted to go back up there again, but I also couldn’t say no so I went anyway. Walking up the stairs, I looked at the pictures that I always saw walking up to my surprise there was a new one. It was you and me on our first trip to Coney Island, we were on the boardwalk and laughing about how your mom wanted us to take this picture and we had just started the “talking phase” only a week before. I laughed and cried a bit and she smiled at me and said, “I know, he said he was so embarrassed about this, but he loved you, Mila.”
We proceeded to walk into your room and there was a box laid out with my name on it.
“Um, I actually found this in the closet, and I think he planned on giving you a gift I’m not sure. I found little things, but I didn’t want to be that invasive. Maybe it was something between you two. I also wanted to ask if you could help me eventually, maybe take some of his stuff if you’d like of course. He was as much your person as he was mine.”
I looked at the box and didn’t recognize it, then I looked up to the window to see our plant blooming. A single tear streamed down my face, and I laughed, “I’m sorry, were you taking care of the plant this whole time?”
“What? Oh no, actually I thought that was plastic this whole time. I didn't think Vin actually kept a live plant."
Suddenly, I felt you again. Like the daydream from days before when I found out you were gone. You were still here.
“He did actually bring up a small thing of water the day before he left, I guess give him some credit huh, he really took care of it.”
I laughed and said, “no yeah of course!”
“Camila, he loved hard. Even in his most painful times did he love you more. This plant is here for you. Listen, stay here. Look around I’m going back down to get these people their food. At this point, we need something to relieve these headaches from all the crying.”
“Yeah of course, I’ll be right down.”
I sat on your bed and picked up the box, opening it up I found everything the last year and a half was in snippets. The mini golf tickets, the scoreboards you kept, the pictures from day trips to some receipts from dinners. Your mozzarella stick reviews, my cafe reviews, and a letter. One I had never seen before. I opened it up and the first thing I see is the date, just 2 days before you went to rehab and then it begins:
The cornball girl of my dreams. I mean that in the best way, you know I’m not good at this but I wanted to let you know that the past almost 2 years with you have been magic. I know I tell you everything is okay and they are but mostly when I’m with you and I don’t have to think about actual “demons” my mom says. Anyway, I can’t wait to do more with you. We’ve been talking about LA and I haven’t been anywhere in forever so let’s go! I’m ready for all the quesadillas you talk about and tamales! I still have to get your dad back for winning that last round of mini golf and your brother owes me a rematch at the court! Anyway, I’m getting carried away, I can’t wait to feel more stable again to do life with you. Hey, maybe we can go upstate soon and check out some nurseries for a new plant. Our girl is getting kind of lonely. Love you baby. Can’t wait!
P.S: what monster would I be if I didn’t take care of our plant child? She really likes to listen to music! Oh yeah, can I also have my sweater back?”
I chuckled and thought that I indeed still had your favorite burgundy hoodie back home in my closet. We buried you early the next morning. I couldn’t even cry anymore; I has already done so much of it. Your mom and I held on to each other, and my parents, my siblings, and Elena watched in tears as well. You were loved. You were the best story any one of us couldn’t pass up to tell and with that, I went on to tell more stories of Vincent the dreamy firefighter who loved with all his heart. I found my way to help those who needed help too and I became an advocate for the Vinny’s who need support and love. Your mom went on to become my partner in crime and she fell in love with a man from Manhattan. “Wall Street guy” you’d call him, but he is love for her the way you were for me. I guess the dream you had told a story of you and me Vin, I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, the songbird of my life.