Dear D.,

You know, in April, I hear your voice echoing in my house at night, laughing. Shadows thrown by streetlights gather and break apart, gather and form the shape of your lips, your cheek, your shoulders, and it’s dangerous – these grainy illusions made by papery shadows can seem so promising. But all your words and their promises were shadows, too, and in this way, April makes sense.

Sometimes I wander out into the darkness and open my eyes on a room full of me and you, dripping gold where we touched. I hate you sometimes, and sometimes I can only remember the gold light that surrounded us then, or the spring rain outside the windows; they were curious sights. But I never miss you. Oh, god, I never miss you, and that feels like pure freedom – never longing for those shadows to have blood and warmth. I never ache for those shadows to come to life, touch me again, or to say any of the things you never said to me. Those shadows are only left-over negatives.

But I’m vulnerable in my sleep. Not to longing or sadness or lingering pain, but to memories, insistent as black flies. When I am distracted in sleep, those raspy soft shadows come slipping into my bed with me and twine themselves over and under and around. They never hurt, but they suffocate like weights on my chest, hands over my face.

Because I’m sleeping, they can form themselves again into shapes which, in my memories, are all gold and green and blue – never shadowy grey.

Insistent! Black flies stinging and suffocating: your car, your left hand on the steering wheel because with the right hand, you held onto me all the way back to your bedroom. I toss and turn sometimes, but those shadowy creatures push themselves in through my mouth (your lips moving with mine; the flesh along your sides; the hair and the taste of you) and my ears (your voice and your songs and the way they made me delirious with fever). They wrap themselves around my fingers and then they’re everywhere (the tuft of hair at the nape of your neck; your thighs pressed between mine).

However, I always start from sleep to shake the flies away. They fly free from my body and dissolve in the light from my waking eyes. Now I see, for the first time, that you and I were never together, never in the same room at the same time.

But our bodies were. And these days (this April), when the shadows come to me in sleep, it is only your body they can manage to conjure up out of the dark.