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A Pocket Archive (16).


I wonder what happened to M. sometimes.

I still see her post on social from time to time and remember the afternoon we spent sitting at a café near the river, talking and watching rusty cars and mashrutkas pass outside the window, kicking up clouds of dust that shimmered gold in the warm afternoon sunlight. Saratov was an amazingly dirty city in the most literal way possible, which gave it an almost fairyland-like haze in the summer, especially if the wind picked up. In a way, it reminded me of home. It did make for nice photos, at least, especially at sunset, almost like a built-in filter.

M. didn't smile much, but had striking grey eyes, a deadpan sense of humor, and an air stoic of frankness that I respected. We both liked art and enjoyed drawing, so we exhanged pictures of some of our artwork while other patrons glared at us suspiciously. M. had drawn the most amazing ink drawing of an astronaut I've ever seen, all just in ballpoint pen. We ended up talking more about our lives, what we wanted in our future, and eventually our relationships, and we found we had a lot in common there too. I told her what had happened in Denver, and about the promise, and she told me about how E. had gotten his pilots license and had flown her over the nation's capital at night. It seemed very grand and romantic. I was happy for her.

I don't know why she was so easy to talk to, but maybe it was because we mirrored each other in a way neither of us could see just yet. I wonder now if something happened to her, especially remembering the peculiar, uneasy silence between us after talking one night later that summer. I do know that she understood what it was like to wear long sleeves in the summer to cover up bruises left by teeth. I hope that for her, it never escalated to wearing desses or sweaters with high collars to conceal purple handprints underneath or a $7,000 ER bill from a nasty UTI originating from the same night someone turned the lights out and cut off her breathing, then eventually something far worse. Hopefuly that's not why the pictures of the engagement ring and E. all disappeared from her profile just a few months after they were posted. Hopefully things just didn't work out. Either way, I hope that she's okay.

Unlike my friend, I feel it's best to leave visual footprints up; erasing photographs or tearing pages out of journals doesn't erase what happened in the past any more than terminating a pregnancy or deleting text messages would. It feels like an odd thing to do, almost like people think deleting pictures somehow erases the past or alters the present. Maybe that's just me- we all deal with stuff in our own way.

Hopefully what happened to M. is different entirely, but I do wonder from those early conversations, and I've discovered that survivors are very good at recognizing patterns in others. It's one of the few helpful side-effects. What doesn't kill you doesn't make you stronger, but it does make you see, and enables you to be more empathetic.

Whatever happened, I hope that M.'s life is good now and that she's living it to the fullest. She was far too smart and talented for mediocrity, and seemed like the sort of person who could accomplish anything she put her mind to. Maybe we'll bump into each other again someday. It seems unlikely, but strange things happen.

I certainly hope so.


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