// emily //

i searched the whole yard for a flower worthy to lay on your grave. this rose will have to do. i thought nature was lovely, but i’d rather have you then all the wildflowers that smile up at the sun.

the thorns lining your rose’s delicate stem dug into my skin as i picked it. it reminded me of when you dragged your hands over my arms and left blood behind you. i’ll remember you by my scars.

i remember when you died. i was caught up in the peaceful ignorance of sleep and i had no clue that my world was about to shatter like glass. my mother crept into my room that morning, dragging me into this ugly world that stole you.

“loren. emily is dead.”

the words didn’t stick. there’s something about death that our minds reject. how can a heart stop? where does the spark in their eyes go? what happens to their soul?

my mother climbed into bed with me. trembling arms wrapped around me as she murmured, “i’m so sorry.”

“i don’t understand.” the heaviness in my soul let me know something was wrong, even if my mind wouldn’t let me process her words. “what happened?”

 her eyes were filled with confusion and heartache. i’m sorry for refusing to believe it the first time, mom. i’m sorry for making you repeat that horrible sentence.

“she’s dead. emily is dead.”

i recall that as i tossed the last handful of dirt over your grave, my neighbor strolled past. her world was still intact. she wasn’t missing a chunk of her heart. her gaze settled on us, the grieving group clustered around your resting place, staring at the ground with stinging eyes.

“what happened?” she asked, coming to a halt.

i wanted to scream at her that everything was wrong, that nothing would ever be right again. i wanted to pour my pain and regrets and helplessness all over her so she would find it as hard to breathe as i did. but the only word my mouth could form was your name. and i couldn’t even bring myself to say that. it felt like an anathema, laced with sorrow and guilty black tears.

“we’ve lost someone,” my mother informed her flatly.

“oh. i’m sorry.” she waved and continued on.

my brother mentioned to me one day after you left that i was a perfect example of the kübler-ross model of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

how my mind hadn’t let me fathom the idea of your death at first? that was denial. anger: all those times i tensed up whenever a car passed our road, and i thought i could hear all the bones in your body breaking. i wondered, was it you? are you the one who took her away from me? and those long nights with my face buried in a damp pillow, promising to anyone who was listening that i’d be good from now on, an angel, if only you would show up at my door the next morning. i was trying to bargain with God.

why was there still color in the world? why did the sun still rise? why did people still laugh and smile? why did it feel like your memory was slipping away with every second?

“that’s the depression,” he stated. like everything was facts and science and there was no room for emotion in the universe.

all of this was pointless without you. i didn’t want time to move on.

but it did.


you never got a gravestone. i keep telling myself i’ll fix that someday. but it seems to me that setting a plaque into the earth with your name engraved on it would really mean you’re gone for good. maybe there doesn’t have to be a marker there. the whole place is filled with your presence already.

i visited your grave today. it’s under the almond tree, the one that’s covered with pastel pink blooms in the springtime. when the wind rushes by to sing to you, the petals are brushed off their branches and swirled through the sky. looking up at the clouds, i imagine i can see your face up there. i’ve been holding onto the hope that i’ll see you again someday, when we’re both up behind the sun.

 i’m sorry the last thing i said to you wasn’t “i love you.” i’m sorry i couldn’t protect you. and i know “i’m sorry” won’t bring you back.

dead rose, i will love you forever more (dead rose // the classic crime).

(this was written for my cat, who died the summer of 2015.)



// playing cards //

i’m sitting in the tree house that my father made for me when i was a kid. leaning against the sturdy tree trunk — one that’s been growing and thriving and alive for longer than i’ve existed — i feel the dips of the bark pressing against my spine. it’s God’s fingerprint on his creation. an artist mark.

k is on the floor, her legs crossed. she has a pack of playing cards with her and is laying them out on the mossy slats of wood. “this one is q,” she announces, setting the king of diamonds next to the queen of the same suit. she shoots a smug smile at b, who is hugging herself and staring into space. “the queen is you.”

b blinks. “really?” she laughs, her pale cheeks flushing red. then she points at the king and queen of hearts and suggests, “then these are you and t.”

a smile breaks out on k’s face. one flickers over my lips, as well. there’s something about seeing my friends happy over simple things that makes me think the world isn’t all bad.

k sticks her tongue out at b. with mischief sparkling in those clear cerulean eyes of hers, she settles her gaze on me. a joker card is pinched between her fingers. “this one is you, loren.” she casts it off to the side. “sorry, but your love isn’t coming back.” she laughs and gives me a sympathetic look.

i know she’s joking.

and i know that i’m a joke.

of course i’m the joker, and everyone else are the queens.

jokes always have a bit of truth to them. that’s why i’m the most fun to tease. everything about me can be turned into something for others to laugh at, and i won’t stand up for myself. why should i? it’s just a joke.

my friends are singing softly, smiling at their hands as the words leave their mouths and spiral through the air.

cause all of me loves all of you. love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections”

they don’t sound perfect. but they sound real. real and deeply in love and daydreaming of someone that makes them feel something sought after by the whole world. the memories playing through their heads and the names written on their hearts may be different, but the feeling they’re pouring into the song is the same.

once they finish, a breeze rushes through the delicate leaves of the tree. it sounds like the earth is applauding.

with a faraway expression one k’s pixie-esque features, she tilts her head up at me. “come on, loren, won’t you sing something for us?” she asks.

a hundred songs race through my head, filling me with a sea of notes and favorite lyrics. but they feel too secret to share, as if opening my mouth will unleash all the memories and feelings and ideas attached to each song. the music is woven into my soul.

“i can’t think of a song. sorry.”

my friends shrug and pick a new song to sing.

the sun is going down. pastel shades of pink and orange and yellow creep along the horizon. it’s warm and the crickets are joining the melody and the stars i hung on the tree’s branches are beginning to glow.

it’s a perfect moment. but i wish you were here.

 my friends are in love and the sky is a masterpiece and i am lonely.



p.s. b/den mother and k/pup have both started blogs: “dear universe” and “north to south.” make sure to check those out. :)

// the last day //

yesterday was the last day of co-op. i’ve got a lot of feelings about this, so i’m putting them on the internet, to be read by people who don’t care.

i’ve been in this co-op since i was three. every friday for nearly my whole life, i would show up at the church and have classes with a bunch of other homeschool kids. now i’m too old for the co-op, and i’m never going to spend another friday with my classmates again.

there are a lot of things i’m not going to miss: waking up early, doing p.e. in the cold, getting hunger pains because i forgot breakfast, the overwhelming feeling of being with people for hours. but i am going to miss trading notes during class and laughing over dumb jokes and squeezing my friends into the car so we can hang out after co-op. and i’ll miss seeing those people every week. they’ve been part of my life for so long, and now they’re gone.

“you never know what you have until you lose it.”

i’m glad that the co-op decided to make yearbooks. i want to remember these people.

on the back: “you’re smart, funny, sweet, dear, amazing, cool, talented, kind, helpful, honest, ship crazy, and the best friend in the world. i love you so much and i never want to lose you. ♥ -kelsie ♥” (aka pup)

one of my teachers made us write our name on a piece of paper and pass it around the table. everyone had to write something nice on it. i’m a rather sentimental person, so believe me when i say that i am never getting rid of this paper.

i want to write a note to everyone who has been in my class — even the ones who are gone, but who i’ve never forgotten. i don’t forget people. and sometimes that hurts, because they forget me.

so, anyway. here i go.

dear d,


dear s,

thanks for introducing me to people when i was the new kid.

dear m,

remember that time you cracked your head against the wall and had to get stitches? the blood spots are still there. that’s your legacy.

dear j,

i never knew you very well. you were the smart girl with all the answers, and i was the quiet one who shook whenever the teacher asked me a question.

dear i,

i haven’t seen you in awhile. i don’t really expect to ever see you again. but we had a good couple of years.

dear s,

people still ship us. i’m not sure why, because i never even liked you. but i’ve been called loren breen many, many times.

dear h,

i kind of regret never getting to know you. all i really remember about you is that you liked horses, and you’re cousins with N, and you’re a good soccer player, and you look nice in lavender.

dear N,

i told you that i would fight the universe to be with you again. i’m always willing to fight, and this should actually be a challenge. but it will be worth it, in the end.

i’m sorry. i’m sorry. i’m sorry. i’m sorry. i’m sorry. i’m sorry.

dear h,

you’re always going to be remembered by the video where t is humming uptown funk and you burst in with “sweet home alabama!”

dear t,

i tried to draw you in art class, and it ended up looking like troye sivan.

you’re a jerk, by the way. i’ve come very close to punching you on multiple occasions. it’s fine that you hate me, but you’ve got to stop making fun of the people that i love.

dear j,

idk. sorry for shipping you with h, i guess. i’m not sorry, actually, joward is my otp.

dear h,

you’re kind of a nerd, but i am, too, so it’s cool. you’re pretty popular with the mom crowd — my friends’ parents are always talking about how polite and smart and handsome you are.

p.s. joward ♥

dear m,

remember walking on the roofs? jumping down into the corn silo? the water gun fights?

you’re an amazing artist, photographer, and blogger, and you’ve inspired me to try to become better at those things.

dear t,

you seem to make k happy, so i guess you’re alright. but if you hurt her, i will end you. :)

dear q,

*batman voice* the dark dealer.

thanks for those lessons in video gaming, and the soccer game that was us vs everyone else — and we still managed to win. you’ve always kind of felt like a big brother, because you tease me a lot, but you’re still pretty nice to me.

dear b (den mother),

i think i could have helped you more if i had gotten over the fear of showing you how broken i am.

things will get better, my love. i promise.

dear k (pup),

sunshine girl. :D

 my favorite classes over ten years:

  • shakespeare
  • art
  • cultures
  • mini-society

random moments that have stuck with me:

  • getting first place at the gem fair
  • giving sour cream oreos to N
  • playing statue
  • finding a dead rabbit while running laps
  • when t asked who i liked
  • forming the cannibal murder club with q
  • getting the lead role in the musical
  • doing the great race with pup
  • the multiple pizza parties in public speaking class
  • teaching the class how to play “drug dealer”
  • “the murder of q king” skit
  • the pet mealworms
  • when j ate an entire pizza
  • making those huge, creepy skeletons in body class
  • delivering valentines in kindergarten
  • racing q in p.e.
  • improv
  • when q broke math
  • trading notebooks with pup, den mother, and izzy
  • watching N draw
  • the day we all wore flannel
  • the murder mystery
  • “take out the trash, pup.” “ok, where do you want to go?”
  • epic dodging skills in japanese dodgeball
  • when N got third in a dodgeball championship by using his jacket as a whip, and i got second

i could keep going, but this post is getting long enough already, and you guys are probably getting bored by my nostalgic lists.

if it weren’t for this co-op, i never would have met den mother, or pup, or megan, or N. so thank you for that, co-op.

thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great (thnks fr th mmrs // fall out boy).