Mia came to me the night before she left for good, taking all her layers with her. She was sitting on the steps of my front porch when I got back from church Sunday morning. It had been a year since the incident at Conner’s party. She stood up right away when she saw my parents and I get out of the car.
My parents exchanged looks. “We’ll leave you two alone,” my dad said as he wrapped his arm around my mom and walked into the house.
“Can we take a walk?” Mia asked.
I nodded. She started walking towards the woods behind my backyard.
“Mia,” I called. “Where are you going?”
“Away,” she responded.
I shrugged and followed her into the woods. My parents probably thought we were crazy, but they didn't say anything when I returned later that afternoon.
I’m not sure how long we walked or where we walked to, but Mia seemed to know the way. She stopped walking when we reached an invisible barrier separating the forest from an open field. She sat down on the field side and motioned for me to sit across from her on the forest side. I sat.
She grabbed both of my hands. “Charlie, I’m sorry,” she whispered. There were tears in her eyes.I let go of her hands. She grabbed them again. This time I didn’t pull away. “Hold on to me this time, Charlie.”
I squeezed her hands.
She pulled an envelope out of her coat pocket and handed it to me. “Don’t open it until after I’m gone.”
“What do you mean when you’re gone?”
She shook her head and stood up.
I stood up after her. “Mia! What are you going to do?” I took a deep breath. “Please don’t go. You don’t have to go.”
She looked at me, and I looked at her. There were no more droplets. We both knew what she was about to do, but neither of us wanted to believe it.
“Charlie,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”
There was nothing left to say. All we could do was stare at each other. Mia turned around and walked to the other side of the field.
And that was it. I never saw my Mia again.
A week later, I managed to bring myself to open her letter:
People have told me that there are things in life you cannot explain. I don’t believe them. I think that you can explain everything; you just have to find a person that is willing to listen to and believe in your explanation.
I hope you are my person, Charlie. You were the only one that ever understood all of me. Except at the end, but that’s because I wouldn’t let you.
My goal of this letter is to explain all of myself, so I will not end up like one of those things you cannot explain. At least I will know one person truly knew me. That is more than most people can honestly say by the end of their lifetime.
First, I think I owe you an explanation of what happened on the roof. I did not fall. I chose to jump, but I wouldn’t consider it a suicide attempt. I just felt like everything was screaming at me: the rain, the lightning, the thunder, the air, and your eyes. They were all screaming at me to be myself for once in my life. I tried to make the voices go away, but they wouldn’t. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I threw myself off the roof when you closed your eyes to blink.
Looking back on it, jumping was such a stupid idea. I had methodically thought out my entire life. It was the only way I could be so many different Mias at once. But this was something I did, literally, in a blink of an eye. Since then, I have come to believe the things that define you in life are the choices you make in a split second. Like every second of the day when your heart decides to beat and your lungs decide to breathe.
In the ICU, I began to realize how much I had messed everything up. There was no way I could possibly explain to my parents what really happened on the roof. I spent most of my time creating stories to explain what happened because they were sure to ask. In the end, I decided that some things were better left untold, so I pretended to not remember.
Everyone believed me because they weren’t you. You could always tell when I was lying, especially when I was lying to myself, and this was the biggest lie I had told yet. I knew you would want to know what really happened, and I knew you would understand. I wanted to tell you everything, and that scared me.
When you walked into my hospital room, I panicked. I tried to formulate a lie to tell you, but the truth was the only thing that sounded right, and that would involve letting you see all of me. I wasn’t ready for that, so I told you to leave. I hardly remember telling you to go. It all happened so fast--in the blink of an eye.
I lost my way without you to pull me back down to Earth. Without you, there was no one to keep the real Mia from disappearing. Charlie, you are the best piece of me; I regret pushing you away more than anything.
The new Mia was invented in fear of what you would do if I let you see the truth. It ensnared me into a life of lies I didn’t want. I knew you hated Conner, so I dated him. I knew you would never drink, so I did. Everything was another attempt to push you away, but you never really left, did you? I knew I had made a terrible mistake when you showed up to Conner’s party. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I told you to go without thinking about the consequences.
Now, to answer your last question: why I left. I did not leave because I am a coward; although, you have every right to think I am. I left because the rain, the clouds, and the air were screaming at me too. So, for once in my, life I listened to them, even though your eyes were screaming at me to stay.
I know you probably think I’m cruel to leave you with only a letter to describe the past two years and what you mean to me, but, Charlie, I think we both know I was never meant to stay here for long. I couldn’t let myself live the lies I created any longer. I have finally let go of all my lies and gone to a place where I can be the piece of myself I let you know.
I don’t think this letter is goodbye. We will see each other again somewhere, someday.
Give my parents a hug for me.
Thank you for never letting go. Love, Mia