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"Never Meant" • American Football (by Emily Costa)

at your wake, the line snakes into two rooms, the whole thing set up like a haunted house or a theme park dark ride, sunken floral couches, each side table checkpoint a new sucker punch: baby book, little league pose, heisenberg sign, t-shirt, skateboard, and your brother looks just like you, and the kids in a corner, their first funeral clothes, your friends, someone with a speaker, “never meant” playing, and I am so removed, knowing no one, not knowing the story, the how, the why (unknowable); but who to ask, why to ask, doesn’t matter, I see your mom, say I was his advisor, such dumb weight in an ultimately meaningless word, and she holds my shoulders and thanks me, you’re all so nice from the school, been so kind, he loved it there, and I don’t say how you were worried about stressing her too much, too many semesters in school, and I’d reread old emails the night before, you were always in traffic but on your way, you always showed up eventually, even after you were arrested, a smirk, tired eyes, semesters at the community college, a year gone by and then one last message telling me you were okay, back in school, just checking in, didn’t want me to worry, and I read it but didn’t reply because too many other kids were needing me, including my own, but man, we could’ve been talking about midwestern emo instead of your fucking grade replacements and you fucking wrote this email with a line break built in and it’s killing me

I don't know

How we can do this for four more years I think I messed up too bad and there's no turning back

Emily Costa is the author of Until it Feels Right (Autofocus Books). Her work can be found in HAD, X-R-A-Y, The Forge, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. You can follow her on Twitter @emilylauracosta.


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