I need to forget the way you looked when I last saw you, lying three days dead on your bed but I remember every detail of it. I could describe it with great precision, twist my words and wring my heart out to convey the exact hue of your skin, work out the perfect simile for the smell. But I won't. Because I don't want to remember you like that. I don't want other people to see you like that.
This morning, for some reason, I woke up trying to remember where we had been on the first day that we kissed. Before the walk. Before the walk that I do remember. The walk where we kissed. I asked you in my head. I find myself doing that these days. I find you answering me. It makes me happy that I can still hear your voice. But you couldn't tell me where we'd been. You just told me how nervous you were that day. We'd been sending each other messages that week, both of us wondering separately where this thing between us was going. And then you said that if I came out to see you that weekend, you would wear your blacksmithing smock. I challenged you, said I didn't believe you had a blacksmithing smock and that if you dressed up I would come as Heidi - we'd talked about making a shepherd's crook in your new forge. I remember that you sent me this picture. I remember how it made me smile. I remember thinking, yes, this is a man that I can love. I remember showing it to friends and the excitement, waiting for Saturday to come. I remember wavering. Wondering if it was too much to dress up as Heidi. Would it seem kinky somehow? Was it too soon? And then, at the last minute, I did it, because this was how we were together. Playful. I loved your playfulness.
I remember that when I arrived, shaking with excitement, you were round the back of your house playing the trumpet. You called it your alpenhorn. You were rehearsing. Didn't realise I was there. You came out into the garden, if you can call it a garden, laughing. Your face lit up when you saw me in my straw hat and petticoat. I said the dog was my goat. You took a picture. I wish I could find that picture. I wish I could find your phone. I can't remember if we hugged.
I do remember the walk though. I'd changed in your forge. I wish I could remember what I was wearing. We walked up a soggy path under a canopy of trees, nervously, sometimes alongside each other, sometimes single file. We slipped and tripped. We were both clumsy, both extra clumsy that day. When the woods gave way to a grassy hill, you held out your hand to me and I took it. On our first walk together, we let go, but this time we held on.
"Do you mind me holding your hand?" you asked.
"No," I said, my heart jittering in my rib cage.
"Good," you said.
You gave my hand a squeeze and I could feel you shaking. You stopped under a tree. Did you plan it down to the last degree? I'd asked you before: if you were a tree, what kind of tree you would be and you had pondered, waited, said that you needed to give it proper thought. I liked that you gave it proper thought. I imagined you would be an oak and so did you but, no, you said, you were an ash. I can't remember why but I know that you said something about healing properties and that you weren't sure you could claim to have them. I wish I could remember the whole conversation but all I can remember is standing beneath that tree, I presume it was an ash, and me saying that perhaps, I thought, you might have healing properties. I needed healing. And we hugged. Or did we kiss first? I can't remember. But we definitely kissed and we were definitely shaking, like we were fourteen years old again and this was our first kiss. Yes, I remember that kiss.