i'll only say this once

Author's Notes: I know what you're thinking. But I had to. Seriously. I tried to stop and I couldn't.

i'll only say this once

For my high school

I love you, I hate you.

She looks out the window, watches the sun and the sky and the clouds. There's just the smallest degree of comfort in knowing that even after three years of downward spiraling there's still no rain in California.

She doesn't know what she would do if it were raining. She thinks she might want to die; but then, she usually does.

Marissa pulls out a cigarette and smokes it frantically, looking with nervous eyes at the letter on the table. She's folded it neatly, so that she can't see what it says anymore.

It's done. It's done.

She stands and leaves the room. The sun is shining, the sun is shining, it's time to go.

-X-

Dear Ryan,

I don't know how I'm supposed to write this. I don't know how I'm supposed to say goodbye.

Things have been weird between us. I think they always will be. But I hope you know. I wouldn't have made it this long without you. You have been the only thing that's kept me sane the past three years—so many times I would have given up if it weren't for you. I would have died in TJ. I would have been shipped off to the insane asylum. I would have run away after the whole Mom-Luke thing and never turned around (and probably ended up as a broke drunk somewhere). There are so many, I can't even begin to list them.

I wish I knew how to say this right. I don't. I'm sorry that I've been so terrible to you; I've hurt you more times than I can count and I just wish I could take it all back. I would. Sometimes I think that you would have been better off if I had stayed with Luke, if I had never wanted to prove to the mysterious cousin from Boston that I was different.

I'm so sorry.

I'm sorry that I'm in your life and I'm sorry to be leaving it. I hope you can forgive me. I hope you can understand. I love you. I know it's not fair to say it now, but it's true. I know I don't deserve you. I've been sitting here trying to pinpoint where things went wrong—Oliver? Teresa? Trey? Johnny?

In a different life, we could have been happy. I really believe that. But the world—the world had other plans. We aren't like Summer and Seth. They're good for each other, you know, they balance one another out. We . . . I don't know. We're like alcoholics. I need you. I can't live without you. I have to live without you.

For a while.

I hope you know that nothing that's happened to me has been your fault. I jumped willingly into this hole I'm in. I guess I thought that it was temporary, but… oh, God. I'm going to miss you, so much. Sometimes I think that there just isn't room in my heart for anyone but you.

Then why did I push you away? Why did I let us fall apart?

I don't know any other way to do things, Ryan. I've been falling apart since the day I was born. I don't know how to be good for someone else, I don't know how to be good for you. But I want to learn. I do. I want—

I want to go away, and then I want to come back, and then I want to try. With you. And if a girlfriend isn't what you need from me then I want to be your friend. Really your friend, without agenda or—or anything else. I want to go and fix whatever is broken in me so that the next time I see you, we can . . . I don't know. But I don't want to be your problem anymore. I want, for once, to be able to help you and be good for you.

Don't wait for me. I'm serious. I'm pretty messed up. This could take a while. Find another Lindsay, another Sadie. Someone who's nice and smart and drama-free. You deserve it.

I will always, always love you. One day I might actually deserve you.

Here's hoping,

Marissa.

-X-

He doesn't cry when he reads it. He wants to. But Seth once said that it's okay to cry when you're reading as long as you don't start until the end; and even though she's. Even though he knows she's.

The point is, it doesn't feel like the end. It feels more like an ellipsis.