sara was the first person who knew everything, 
who held out her arm against mine, smiled, and said, “like sand and snow”, 
whose mom hit her too, 
whose hair felt like an untouched blanket, 
who picked her mosquito bites so hard, her legs had streaks of blood running down them like calm, curving creaks. 
I ran along the banks of her all summer long, stopping, every once in a while, to take in my favourite landscapes: 
yellow fuzz like dandelion seeds on her upper lip, her forearms freckled cinnamon in the summer, skin tanned, soft like sun on white sheet, warm and golden, but still clean, 
like lavender. her house always smelling of lavender. 
a fatal first love. made me jump in the deep end when I didn’t know how to swim, taught me that to breathe when your feet can’t reach solidity means learning to improvise your lungs into a life vest. 
the last time I saw sara, she was high and fell asleep on the table when I got up to ask for the bill, her drool like the pool of our childhood slowly stretching itself further away from her open mouth. 
she told me she tried to drown herself in it once. 
first time I realized people with pools and lavender homes could be unhappy too,  then remembered the time sara’s mother pulled her out of the water by her mermaid hair and demanded to know if she had eaten mcdonald’s for lunch 
and I, not knowing grease-stained bags of salty fries in the trash could ignite grown-up ember eyes, slipped silently into the water I did not know how to swim in and drowned a distraction that saved no one, but temporarily gave sara back a fistful of her hair and left me flopping like a desperate, dying fish on dry tiles. 
a slipper, flippery hero. 
eight years old. 
too old to be scared of the deep end. 
too young to know that sara let blood flow down her legs like creaks because she was used to the colour of blood mixed with water.
too young to know that sara’s father sent vases crashing to walls,
too young to know that flowers could be anything but beautiful, 
to know that secrets always float to the surface eventually, wrapped around foam rings alongside browned leaves and strands of hair, 
that rivers of red from knee to ankle like a crimson ribbon don’t always mean mosquito bites.
that “my mom hits me too” is a giggle and a pinky promise shared behind a happy meal you bought for the toys just so we could bury them behind the fishpond and kiss our own dimples goodbye. 
that when you stuff your nose with lavender to cover the scent of death, it doesn’t work if the body is still in the room. 

Mahta Riazi 
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