She drowned what hurt her. Dropped it in the sea and let it sink. Sometimes she tied silverware to it so it would surely drop to the bottom of the ocean when she threw it off the pier. She never watched it sink. She turned away and trusted the sea to do the job. It was deep enough to carry away fear and sorrow.
Objects could hold a lot. Razors and cigarettes. The bag of cocaine she'd found in her brother's room. The paperweight he had given her before he died.
She drowned the memories. Everything that held the memories. Funeral programs. The catalogue of coffins her mother insisted on keeping. Notebooks. His CD collection. His favorite books. The porn video he hid in the back of his sock drawer. The condoms in the bedside table.
The photographs. Some of them in his dresser drawers. Others framed around the house. Him, smiling with his friends, with his family, his arm around his little sister's shoulders, his lips kissing his mother's cheek. Riding a bike, kicking a ball, bent over studiously, smiling and smiling like he didn't know he was dead. One by one, they disappeared. She burned them and scattered the ashes.
Sometimes she took whole crates of his belongings and dumped them in. Clothes. She felt guilty about not giving them to Goodwill. Textbooks she should've donated to the school. A bed she could've slept in instead of her futon. The shampoo he'd used. She tore the posters off his wall and let them float away, the wetness slowly eating them away.
Once her mother looked for his picture and cried when she could not find it. But she'd forgotten the next day. She was haggard and red-eyed and was away for weeks in hospitals, worrying about symptoms she didn't have. Once she came home and opened the door to his room and stared at its emptiness, but she said nothing.
The girl repainted his walls. White, a clean fresh white. She looked at the new room and thought she would be sick.
He was everywhere. In the eyes of the people who looked at her with sorrow and pity. In the graveyard she passed every day on her way to school. In the restraunts where he had worked. Those flowers he had given his first girlfriend. They glared at the girl in pale violet accusation.
She took a vacation, flew to Paris, spent a week eating croissants and drinking cup after cup of iced coffee. She saw him in the dregs of those cups. She slept and she felt his heat beside her. He was in her dreams, flashes here and there. He was in the blood that came each month and in the pregnancy tests she took weekly. His taste was on the lips of the strangers she kissed. When she was drunk and high, she saw him smiling and he wasn't dead at all.
She came home. The house was so empty without him. Yet he was there. He was inside her. And he wouldn't leave her memories.
She remembered being nine years old and tucking the blanket around her legs tight. She kept her head under the covers and didn't even leave a space between the sheets to breathe through. When he came, she bit into her teddy bear's soft fur to keep from screaming.
She remembered being eleven and running away. She ran four miles and then his car pulled up next to her and she couldn't run anymore.
She remembered being fourteen and sitting next to him in church and hearing the priest talk about sinning and our youth today, his hand gripped her thigh so hard she had bruises the next day, five finger-sized blue marks, and she knew she had sinned by making him want her.
She remembered being sixteen and watching him die. His eyes were closed but he was watching her even then.
She was seventeen. She took the last photograph from her mother's bedside table and walked out to the pier and smashed the glass and the frame and dropped the glossy picture into the dark waters.
She sat on the edge and drew her knees up to her chest. She hugged herself. She didn't cry. She hadn't cried since she was nine years old. She couldn't remember ever crying. When the harsh wind drew tears from her eyes, that was all it is - just the wind.
She thought she heard his voice. He whispered. He smiled and smiled. If she couldn't forgive, she'd forget. His room was white. The walls were white and the window was boarded up and the room was empty and the house was emptied of him. Nothing that was his remained.
Except her. She was his.
She bit down on her hand, because the teddy bear she'd had when she was nine had drowned. She bit until she tasted blood, sharp and coppery. She felt no pain. She screamed, and there was no sound. The wind tore away her voice.
She'd never cried.
She dipped her feet into the water. She spread her arms like she was going to fly. She slipped into the water without a sound. She could cry underwater, because it wasn't really tears, it was just saltwater. She could open her eyes and she would see nothing but a murky darkness. She heard nothing but the beating of her heart. She opened her mouth and screamed until there was no air left, and she felt nothing but the water dragging her down.
She wore heavy boots and jeans and a winter coat, and that made it easy for the ocean to gently pull her away, easy for it to drown the last memory.
She only left a ripple, and soon the sea calmed, and the waters were dark and silent once more, holding their drowned secrets