I have pictures on my laptop of people I don’t talk to anymore.

Their faces litter photo albums and yearbooks. They sprinkle themselves in the Snapchat memories I don’t look at and the Instagram highlights that I only recently took down. Their names are scrawled all over dedication pages and annotated books, in the envelopes of love letters and birthday cards that I’ve forgotten I saved.

They live within the walls that they don’t know I’ve moved to. They sit on my shelves, in boxes, beside signed memorabilia of a sport they never witnessed me fall in love with, tucked under scripts that I’ve written, ones they’ve read, and some that they never will.

I say “lil’ guy” when referring to inanimate objects like they did when they were feeling playful, and I use the same foundation she raved about when we were 15 during P.E. . The way my eyes turn accusatory when I’m flirting and how I bite the inside of my bottom lip when I’m trying not to give someone the satisfaction of a laugh, all comes from a boy I met on set and was trying too hard not to study.

I wear tighter clothes that double as shapewear to get the sentence that a friend’s mother once said about me, out of my head. “Kate’s beautiful, but if she’d just lose a couple of pounds, she would be drop-dead gorgeous.” I pick at my necklace and the skin around my ears when I get anxious like my best friend in middle school did, and my patience has thinned to paper just like a math teacher we had our eighth-grade year.

My life has been permanently infiltrated by the people I’ve met, the ones I’ve known down to the very last detail of McDonalds orders and favorite Starbursts flavors, and the ones that I spoke to for brief seconds while waiting in line at a covid-testing site in Culver City.

I have no regrets in the way I’ve lived my life, the way I’ve let it take me to the places that I’ve seen and met the people whose clothes and smiles and laughs I’ve stolen, the quirks I use on stage or the ones that have just become habit. But I have regrets in the ways that they’ve been preserved. The videos that painted them in a better light than they deserved, and even more the ones that painted them in a worse one than what they had earned

Every moment is brief, and most relationships are too.

But the devils that lived in their details now live in mine too, and I can’t seem to shake them out or box them up as easily as the pictures and the penpal letters that now lay scattered across virtual landfills.


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