Alex, please.He balls his fists. Stop saying my name. You don’t know me anymore.I do know you. I’m still crying, swallowing back spasms in my throat, struggling to breathe. This is a nightmare and I will wake up. This is a monster-story and he has come back to me a terror-creation, patched together, broken and hateful and I will wake up and he will be here and whole and mine again. I find his hands, lace my fingers through his even as he tries to pull away. It’s me, Alex. Lena. Your Lena. Remember? Remember 37 Brooks and the blanket we used to keep in the backyard—Don’t, he says. His voice breaks on the word.And I always beat you in Scrabble, I say. I have to keep talking and keep him here and make him remember. Because you always let me win. And remember how we had a picnic one time and the only thing we could find from the store was canned spaghetti and some green beans? And you said to mix them—Don’t.And we did and it wasn’t bad. We ate the whole stupid can, we were so hungry. And when it started to get dark you pointed to the sky and told me there was a star for every thing you loved about me. I’m gasping, feeling as though I am about to drown; I’m reaching for him blindly, grabbing at his collar.Stop. He grabs my shoulders. His face is an inch from mine but unrecognizable: a gross, contorted mask. Just stop. No more. It’s done, okay? That’s all done now.Alex, please—Stop! His voice rings out sharply, hard as a slap. He releases me and I stumble backward. Alex is dead, do you hear me? All of that—what we felt, what it meant—that’s done now, okay? Buried. Blown away.Alex!He has started to turn away; now he whirls around. The moon lights him stark white and furious, a camera image, two-dimensional, gripped by the flash. I don’t love you, Lena. Do you hear me? I never loved you.The air goes. Everything goes. I don’t believe you. I’m crying so hard, I can hardly speak.He takes one step toward me. And now I don’t recognize him at all. He has transformed entirely, turned into a stranger. It was a lie. Okay? It was all a lie. Craziness, like they always said. Just forget about it. Forget it ever happened.Please. I don’t know how I stay on my feet, why I don’t shatter into dust right there, why my heart keeps beating when I want it so badly to stop. Please don’t do this, Alex.Stop saying my name.
Lauren Oliver