I Knew You

When we were in high school, I often drove you around your neighborhood in my red Pathfinder, the truck with a side-view mirror held together with duct tape, and carved doughnuts in the snow. You slapped my bad ear. Then you said you were sorry, but that you were scared you’d die and no one would remember you. “But I’ll remember you,” I said, because I kissed you in the blizzard of ’97 in front of the A&P, the blizzard Jim Cantore said would “end the world” after the segment on the boy who died from falling out of a tree after trying to touch the stars, and you cried, but said you weren’t really crying, but that you had allergies to dust or cheese. Then you said you had an allergy to me because I drank the last sip of your hot chocolate in Dunkin’ Donuts when you sat near that chubby man who smelled of linseed oil, a smell you knew because you played the cello in the orchestra next to an Asian girl who had three fingers, yet she played the viola and the sax, but not at the same time, but better at the viola. And she’d rub and rub and rub her viola over and over and over with that oil until you turned to me and whispered, “Would you kiss me if I was covered in that oil?” The truth was that I would have done more than kiss you if you were covered in that oil, I would have covered my tongue with you like syrup, but not the syrup your mom used on your pancakes that day because you were allergic to that too. But she said, “Suck it up, you’re fine,” but you weren’t fine on the drive in my red Pathfinder to the hospital where you thought the doctor was cute, but “not that cute,” even though I could tell he was that cute, not that I go that way, just that he was more the rugged type, your type, maybe my type if I did go that way. So I stayed calm when he pressed the stethoscope to your chest—real calm. But not the second time I drove you to that same rugged doctor when we knew the headaches were more than allergies, and for some reason he wasn’t so rugged anymore, and neither was I during your last ride in my Pathfinder, your last sip of hot chocolate, your last whisper, “please remember,” and I did, I have, I will, because I knew you were scared to drive in the snow, because I knew you liked to kiss in a blizzard, because I knew you were allergic to that syrup, because I knew you knew what linseed oil was, and what it did for a viola, and what it did for me, because I knew you liked the rugged type, because I knew your mom was a bitch, and because you knew that I would never forget—and I haven’t forgotten—because I knew you.



T.E. Hahn is the author of the Kirkus Star awarded novel Open My Eyes (Running Wild Press, 2019). He holds an MFA in fiction from Fairfield University, and he is a research fellow and Ph.D. student (ABD) specializing in contemporary American short fiction and queer theory at St. John’s University. He teaches literature at Great Neck North High School and St. John’s University in New York. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are featured in The Puritan, Bright Lights Film Journal, Typishly, The Shakespeare Newsletter, and textbooks on craft. His short story, “Boy’s Night In,” was a semifinalist for a Norman Mailer Award. You can find him on Twitter and at his website where you can purchase the audiobook of his novel.