FOR SAM

You were driving through the back roads, the main streets, the dirt trails, everywhere. Blasting The Beatles so loud I swear we woke God from her slumber. But within the power of the melody, we were silent. How long could we be silent? We didn’t have much longer. I opened my mouth, unsure of what I planned to say, but you spoke first. “Don’t tell me goodbye” you said, your voice trembling under the weight of finality. “Just embrace our paradise until it seeps into your bones and wears them to ash. Then, you run. Don’t you dare let these suburban streets own you.”

I sunk back into my seat, hoping for answers, but you just turned up the radio.

I never saw you again. A drunk driver took you away, they said. But you’re not gone. I see your footprints impressed into the pavement, even in places we never walked. I smell your perfume clinging to my skin, even though I’ve drowned my clothes in soap. You are still etched into every inch of me, and every inch of this town.

Now, as I clutch my bags in my hands, drenched in sweat and denial, I understand. I wish I could tell you that I understand, but I can only think. I think of the ashes of my core that dust the wood floor of my bedroom. I think of footprints, and of scents, and of the god forsaken Beatles. I think of you. I wonder how long you longed to leave before you dared take that first step. I need to take that first step. But instead, I pause. I breathe, I worry, but I do not doubt. You owned these suburbs, Sammy. I whisper. They never owned you.

I take my first step.