Like a Diamond

Anna Cabe

You told me I was crazy —yes, you did; don’t you remember when we were traveling through North Thailand on the sleeper; I could hear you rolling over on the bottom bunk — “Listen,” you said, “I think you might need help” — and I couldn’t even respond; I was so mad; my skin was almost crackling; but I bit my lip and thought of sleep; wasn’t I the one who suggested this journey — planned it and everything; I was the one who kept track of the tickets, the reservations, the itinerary; you barely remember to tie your own shoelaces, wipe your own ass even; I am not crazy; why do you think it’s okay to call me that; you just said, “I think we need a break;” and I said, “Let’s go somewhere;” and there we were, on a train to Chiang Mai; and it was because of me; me — I was the reason we were together; remember the day we met, how you liked to tell everyone that you were the one who chased after me; you’re wrong; I used to see you in the library, bent over your books; you were different from the guys I had known; all the guys I had grown up with liked their trucks and their Confederate flag decals; and here you were, reading Derrida and Foucault; I used to watch you in the library; do you know; I watched and watched; and you never even noticed; I knew the way to get your attention was to make myself not beautiful but interesting then to ignore you; and wasn’t I right; but we were on the train, and outside the mountains; but I couldn’t see them; you took the bottom bunk because you were taller; and I couldn’t see out the window; I never said anything about it because wouldn’t it be irrational to ask for the bottom bunk when you couldn’t even fit into the top bunk; that is what you love about me — I know; I asked you, “Are we going to see the elephants?” even though I had planned our itinerary; and you said, “Of course;” and someone else on the train shouted, “Shut up!” in an Australian accent; and I knew we were being the worst type of American tourists; this train wasn’t even that crowded; it was off-season; and yet we still managed to bother someone else; maybe I am crazy; but I don’t think I am; I know I’m not; when I was younger, I decided I wouldn’t speak for a week; I wanted to see if anyone noticed; no one noticed; isn’t that the sad thing, not even my parents; I used to sit during recess in a corner and read; I used to go straight to my room after school and read; I might have scribbled cartoons instead of reading; but I only spoke in class when the teacher called on me to give the correct answer; and when I took the week-long vow of silence — I was really into nuns — no one noticed my voice was gone because it was never really there; I got straight A’s; but all my teachers would say, “Lili is very bright, but she never speaks during class;” I tried harder in high school; I was even on the fringes of the popular group, Ashley and Brittany and Taylor and Chad; Chad even kissed me once at a party when he and Brittany were on the outs; he used too much tongue; you don’t; that’s why I like, no, love you; remember the time early on in our  relationship when you and I were hiking in Scotland; there was a pheasant on the trail; it was emerald-brilliant and preening; it reminded me of you, the way you looked at me with your head tilted; you said, “Look;” and you squawked; and it ran away; it left a feather on the ground; and you picked it up and said, “Look what I got you;” but I burst into tears; and I tried to explain why; but I couldn’t at the time; now, I know it probably has to do with how cruel you were and are; and yet you are beautiful like the pheasant; and you’re running away from me; I’m not crazy; they said my Tita Liza, whom I was named after, was crazy; cousins and other relatives would have this look when my mother told them my name; she said, “So we don’t forget her;” and they’d still have the look; and that’s why I’m Lili not Liza; I only saw Tita Liza once when I was young; she didn’t look like any crazy person I could imagine; Tita Liza was beautiful; she had curling black hair and big black eyes; and when she smiled, her teeth were square and white and shiny; but then, she stayed in the corner and talked to herself; and that was one thing; but then she popped balloons with her teeth; and then, my Tita Flor and Ate Min hustled her away; and I never saw her again; they told me she died in an expensive care home my mom paid for; we’re the rich ones; my dad is a divorce attorney; my Lola never approved; she claimed that it was a sin for my dad to help couples break their holy vows; in the Philippines, there is no divorce, only annulment; my dad laughed and said, “It’s better than facilitating adultery, like with you and Flor and Larry;” and Lola smacked him; but everyone else in the room laughed because it was true; and Tita Flor and Tito Larry never divorced; they died within a month of each other two years ago, stone-cold in separate beds; and this is why I’m telling you this; I come from stock that isn’t the divorcing kind; we stick together; you are not the first one I’ve ever loved; but you’re the one I chose; I chose you; doesn’t that mean something; I’m not crazy for standing outside your window at 3:17 in the morning, throwing dollar-store beads; I’m not crazy for leaving you message after message on your phone; I’m not crazy; I’m not crazy; I’m not crazy; don’t you see it’s just me standing here alone, waiting for you, holding this last bead in my hand; you should see it; when I hold it up to the streetlight, it glitters; you can pretend it’s a diamond.

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Anna Cabe is a MFA candidate in fiction at Indiana University and the web editor of Indiana Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Toast, SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary Fiction,  matchbook, Reservoir, and Jellyfish Review, among others. She was a 2015 Kore Press Short Fiction Award semifinalist, a finalist for Midwestern Gothic's Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Series, and a finalist for the 2015 Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers. You can find Anna at annacabe.com.