Sometimes Erasure Is the Only Path to Closure

by Nazanin Knudsen

When I see your eyes and feel a tug, I am afraid of mouthing your name as if you could hear me, and I would hurt you all over again and even though I click on the mail icon to drop you a line with the most mundane title hi hoping you respond this time, I close the window for the umpteenth time remembering our last images filtered through a lilac haze, the color of the glossy dustcover that hid the stiff binding of the two-volume translation of Jean-Christophe you gave me before I left, so crisp, so untouched without a hint of you until I discovered loose leaves of paper tucked into the heart of the book, your words scattered all around the edge, a few in such small hesitant scrawls dated months before, before I knew the you in those scribbles was me, and even though most of those sentences faded into the blankness of the paper, they said more than you ever had during our long phone conversations about politics that often ended with my worrying for your activism, or literary novels, or movies because you liked that I loved those things, but even then we hardly talked in complete sentences, and when we started writing to each other and calling each other Mr. your-first-name and Ms. my-first-name and it became our thing, just like the three little dots that quickly became ours and we learned not to be afraid of silence hanging between us when we were together, like the day we hiked one early morning, or was it closer to noon because the heat was exhausting and the air tasted acrid but we went for a hike anyway just to be away and alone together, and I sidetracked us off the trail after the third turn and found a large rock tucked away past a few tall trees that almost made a shelter from the unforgiving sun and occasional hikers, and when I pulled myself up the rock and lit a cigarette wishing for something cool, you produced a bottle of orange juice and two small cups from your backpack and asked to share the cigarette even though you didn’t smoke, and the city lay beneath our feet and pale clouds floated within my reach if only I cared to stand up, but I ignored the flares of light bouncing in your dark eyes and wiped the beads of sweat off my forehead, and those times we sat through work meetings and our eyes met, I wondered if there was something more between the three little dots we often exchanged, and later I found in the backseat where you’d put the books right before giving my address to the driver, before I carried them inside and called you and asked why didn’t you bring the books yourself, I wanted to see you before I left, and you finally explained that you didn’t like goodbyes, and I don’t know if in the chaos of those last days before moving away, before placing oceans between us, I was present enough to realize that you felt so much so deeply that remaining friends while moving on worked for me, but not for you, and I am sorry that I missed how the casual check-ins became so hurtful that in a few years you would avoid even saying hello before you wrote to me that you didn’t know that I didn’t know and that last time, when you ended whatever it was we had with don’t reach out to me againyou have the wrong personI don’t know you, it hurt as I tried to make sense of it all before I noticed the last line that denied our beginning ended with three little dots…

Naz is an Iranian-American writer and filmmaker. Her work has appeared in MayDay, (mac)ro(mic), Lost Balloon, and Ruminate. She is a Best Microfiction nominee and serves as an editor at SugarSugarSalt. Naz holds an MFA in Writing and an MA in Media Arts. She lives in North Carolina and teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @nazbk.


Photography by: Ben White