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I didn’t mean to storm off and slam my door like that. Sometimes my head just gets so clouded I’m not sure how to handle my own thoughts.

I’m really going to miss you, and I’m not used to feeling this way.

I know that’s selfish, and I know you’re going through so much worse, and I know it’s stupid for me to even be this sad about it when your life just flipped upside down, but it hurts.

Hopefully you can forgive me and we can be friends.


FROM: [email protected]

TO: [email protected]

DATE: November 24, 8:00 AM

SUBJECT: Re: Timing


You’d have to be crazy to think I wouldn’t still want to be your friend.


FROM: [email protected]

TO: [email protected]

DATE: December 2, 8:54 PM

SUBJECT: Father figures

My father’s such a freaking tool.

He’s hammering down on me to start interning at his company, but I just want to finish my senior year without that extra stress.

He called me a pussy for not having any drive.

I never want to be like him. I never want to be that cold.

I hate him…at least that’s what I tell myself, because that makes it easier. Truth is, I kind of still want his approval. It doesn’t make sense, right? He’s never around, and when he is he’s an asshole. He hardly knows me, and what he does know he doesn’t approve of. Still, I have this deeply rooted need to make him proud.

Being human is weird.

I’d much rather be an alien.

How are things in Florida?


FROM: [email protected]

TO: [email protected]

DATE: December 2, 9:30PM

SUBJECT: Re: Father figures

I’m sorry about your dad, that’s tough, but you gotta do whatever makes you happy in this moment—that’s what your grandpa would’ve said, right?

Things down here are fine. It’s been quiet, but it still feels loud. Mom is doing okay, but Dad is struggling. It’s like he’s screaming in silence, and his echoes are bouncing off the walls. I hate it. I can only take so much, which led to my next life choice: I’m going to pick up some new hobbies, just to keep me out of the house.

I hate being home now, which is weird because it used to be my favorite place in the world. It’s just too sad.

I’m thinking of taking a crocheting class downtown with Mom, if she’s feeling strong enough to do it. I figured it might be nice to do something she’s into.

Did you know she learned to make cardigans from my grandma? That’s where all of my cardigans came from. The dragonfly was the last one she gave me. It’s my favorite one.

I’m also thinking of taking karate, because I just watched Enter the Dragon, and now I’m pretty sure I have to learn how to break a piece of wood with my foot.

Do you think alien teenagers get annoyed with their alien moms and dads?

I really want to imagine angst-filled adolescent aliens rolling their one eye at their overprotective parents.

Can you imagine the fights?

“Clean your room. Brush your hair. Stop taking the spaceship out at night to party on Mars.”

Anyway. Watch Enter the Dragon. You won’t be sorry.


FROM: [email protected]

TO: [email protected]

DATE: December 3, 7:13 AM

SUBJECT: Enter the Dragonflies


I’m kind of hurt that you’d think I haven’t seen Enter the Dragon.

Me! Of all people! Ellie, I’ve seen that movie about fifty times, and I never get sick of it. It’s a classic. If you’re into that watch The 36th Chamber of Shaolin next. It’s so good!

Also, I’m happy you’re picking up hobbies. I’m going to feel really lost when the basketball season is over. What will I do with all the free time? Maybe I’ll pick up a hobby, too. Or hell, maybe I’ll just take the internship. Who knows?

Also, the idea of you kicking ass while knitting sweaters is pretty badass.

My kind of woman.


P.S. Saw a dragonfly last night. Reminded me of you.



I wished I could say things magically turned around once we got Mom near the water, but it wasn’t true. Her health only declined more each day. For months, it felt like an uphill battle we were losing over and over. After a while, we had to push her around in a wheelchair. Some days, she couldn’t even get out of bed, and others we had to rush her to the hospital because she couldn’t breathe.

After her last trip to the ER in late April, we all knew time was running out. We never talked about it, though, because talking made it more real than any of us were ready for it to be.

Ding ding.

I finally signed online late one evening in April. I’d been avoiding doing it for a while, because whenever I signed on, Greyson was there waiting for updates, and I hated that lately the updates were getting sadder and sadder.

That night, I needed him. I just needed to talk to him, and like the loyal boy he always was, when I signed on at ten at night, he was there.

GreyHoops87: Hey, Ellie! Just checking in on you. You haven’t been online a lot, so just a heads-up, you’re going to have a whole inbox’s worth of emails filled with my mindless random thoughts.

EGHogwarts: Hey, sorry. Things have been a bit crazy.

GreyHoops87: It’s okay. I get it. Any update?

EGHogwarts: Just sad ones.

GreyHoops87: I’ll listen to the sad ones, too.

I sighed, running my hand over my face.

EGHogwarts: I’m going to put on a five-minute timer, and that’s all the time we’re putting toward the sad stuff, okay? Otherwise, I’ll drown in it. So, I’m going to word-vomit and get it all out all at once. You don’t even have to reply. I just…if I say the stuff to you, I’ll feel like it’s not just waiting to explode inside of me.

GreyHoops87: Five minutes on the clock. Annnd go!

EGHogwarts: I think today’s the first day I realized my mom is actually dying. Before there was an unrealistic belief that she was going to get better, a belief that there would be a day she didn’t need the wheelchair anymore, or that she’d stand up and be able to dance again, or paint. But today we sat by the water, and I felt it. I felt the ending closing in. I felt that our goodbyes are a lot closer than our good mornings. I’ve never been so scared in all my life, and I have these terrible thoughts that make me feel like the worst daughter ever. If she were gone, she wouldn’t have to struggle anymore. If she died, she’d be free of the pain. What kind of monster does that make me? How can those thoughts even cross my mind? Anyway, I guess that’s where I am right now, and I completely understand if that makes you want to pull back a little from talking to me. Because right now this is me: I’m sad. I’m hurting. I’m so sad that sometimes I just want to stay in bed. I’m so sad that sometimes I have dark, dark thoughts and I don’t really know how to control them, and that can be a lot. I can be a lot. My sadness is a lot right now, and I don’t even know how to handle it, so I don’t expect you to know, either.

I hit send and waited for a reply. And waited. And waited.

GreyHoops87: What else?

EGHogwarts: What do you mean what else?

GreyHoops87: That was only two minutes of our five. You have three more minutes to spill out your heart on this open canvas. I’m not going anywhere, Ellie. I’m here.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I took a deep breath. I had been given permission to express myself wholeheartedly. What a freeing thing that was to have.

EGHogwarts: I think that’s it. That’s everything I’m feeling.

GreyHoops87: Do you want my reply?

EGHogwarts: No, not now. Not yet. I just needed to get it all out, I think. So, if we could do anything but talk about sad stuff, that would make me feel better.

GreyHoops87: Okay.

GreyHoops87: So, what did the fish say when he swam into a wall?

EGHogwarts: What?

GreyHoops87: Dam.

I smiled.

Thank you, Grey.

FROM: [email protected]

TO: [email protected]

DATE: April 29, 10:54 PM

SUBJECT: I know you said


I know you said you didn’t need my reply, but being the stubborn guy that I am, I wanted to email you after our talk tonight. I just wanted you to know that you’re not too sad for me. If anything, you are the perfect amount of sad, because you are going through a really shitty thing. Honestly, I would feel a bit scared if you were happy.

Be sad.

Happy can come later.

And you don’t have to push me away. You aren’t too much for me. I want to be there for you, and I’m not going to stop just because you tell me to. This is what being my friend means. It means me being too much sometimes, me checking in on you and wanting to know about the bad days. It means when you’re drowning, I drown, too.

It’s okay for you to lean on me, even if I’m a thousand miles away.

Also, and I cannot make this clear enough: you not wanting your mom to suffer doesn’t mean you are evil in any way, shape, or form.

If anything, it makes you a good person because you don’t want your loved one to hurt anymore.

That’s not a monster—it’s a saint.

Don’t let those thoughts eat you up at night.

You’re a good person, Eleanor Gable.

And if you ever forget, just check for my emails.

I’ll be there to remind you.




On a quiet afternoon after I returned home from school, Mom and Dad were sitting outside near the ocean, looking out at the waves crashing against the shore.

I walked toward them and smiled. Dad looked at me, his eyes dripping with tears, and my smile quickly disappeared. “What is it?” I asked.

Dad couldn’t even speak.

He just shook his head and covered his mouth with his hand.

“Mom?” I moved over to her. She was resting her head against the back of the wheelchair, and her eyes were closed. I took her hand into mine. “Mom.”

She ever-so-lightly squeezed my hand.