easter photos

Say Anything Else

            Helena is relentless, calling, texting, sending hand-written letters that smell faintly of heliotropes. Myka asked for it, said she was afraid of losing Helena. Now she’s afraid the woman will drive her insane.

            On Easter, Helena texts a photo of Adelaide in a pastel blue suit, lined with flowers that Helena had apparently embroidered by hand. Who would have expected HG Wells to embroider? (God, there is so much Myka doesn’t know about her.)

            “She found the golden egg,” Helena reports, “which for some ungodly reason had fifty dollars inside it. Americans.”

            Suburbanites, Myka thinks, remembering all the fancy parties she was never invited to growing up, all the spoils the other kids reported getting for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, even Valentine’s Day. She doesn’t complain to Helena, though, just adds the snide comment to the list of things she doesn’t say.

            It’s a long list.

            The relationship with Nate falls through when “Emily” takes Adelaide out for ice cream as a reward for punching a bully right on the nose. Apparently standing up for yourself is only a theoretical value in that house.

            “Thank god he lets her write to you,” Myka says when Helena mourns the loss of another child in her life.

            Thank god that’s over, she thinks.

            She doesn’t ask Helena to come home.

            Christmas presents for everyone arrive just in the nick of time, along with a picture of Helena and Giselle in Rockefeller Plaza. Myka’s gift is a hand-made wrought iron puzzle in two pieces—she can’t get them apart, and she tells Helena it’s a lot of fun.

            Sometimes Myka thinks about Giselle and Helena, cozied up together in Giselle’s apartment, and hates herself for envying a woman she’s never met over an intimate relationship she knows nothing about. Besides, returning to activities you once enjoyed is a good sign in depressed people, and Helena has always enjoyed sex. Helena having sex might be nauseating, but Helena being happy is what matters most.

            On Mardi Gras Myka gets a selfie of Helena in New Orleans, alone. “I think I might stay on the coast for a little while,” she says. “I like it here.”

            The next week Myka gets a postcard from Santa Fe. She tries not to worry that Helena seems lost.

            “Don’t spend too many hours driving,” she says instead. It means the same thing, even if it leaves a lump in her chest that being honest wouldn’t.

            “I wish I could have seen it!” means I wish you were never anywhere else but here.

            Two hours straight of texting late at night, when Myka has to get up in the morning but Helena is in an earlier time zone, means I miss you.

            “Hey you!”

            “Have you read this book yet?”

            “Make sure you get a flu shot.”

            I love you, I love you, I love you.

            It’s a constant puzzle, finding ways to say just enough that Myka isn’t gagging on it anymore. She chips at the raw passion with other words until she can swallow it again, leave it in the pit of her stomach where it lives.            

            Because the best way to tell Helena how she feels is to never tell her at all.