I tried to forget you but the wind whispered your name and leaves etched each letter across my window when I closed it, and tried to shut you out.
You once told me how others paint and draw and read but you press flowers in books to preserve them as they are in a particular moment in time. It was your version of photography, you said. I thought that was beautiful.
I promised myself I would preserve every letter you sent me in a similar fashion, and I kept my word. I kept each letter in a different book, a little like a treasure hunt we used to do when we were kids. Some of them were kept pristine, most likely one of the first letters. In others the ink has bled a little, the pages stiff from salty tears fallen many months ago. Some pages are crumpled, others brand new. I marked each letter received with my lips, to show you I had received it. I never told you this and I guess I’ll never know if you knew. I hope you did. I was never any good with words so I replied the only way I knew how.
Your favourite book was Alice in Wonderland. You told me this at 2:43 a.m. I remember this because it was the night we camped out in your garden. We were freezing but had fairy lights and each other’s bodies for warmth. You recalled quotes to me until I fell asleep and the following morning was spent in blankets with mug after mug of coffee watching the film over and over.
Your last letter stained the pages of your favourite book red. I printed it over and over, as if every press of my lips was on your skin, tracing every vein carefully, healing every blemish, telling you everything I wanted to tell you but couldn’t. I often wonder if different kisses mean different things to different people. Perhaps a peck on the cheek is ‘I miss you; you’re special to me.’ – Does a lingering kiss on the lips translate to ‘I love you, please stay’. Perhaps we will never know the true meaning of kisses sent and received, maybe the only person to know is the giver of them.
I pressed your reply to your letter for days but I don’t suppose you heard. I stopped when my lips became bruised and the paper flimsy. I kept your book on the shelf above my bed so I could keep you with me always. I still wonder about you some days.