Excuse my dramatics. The world is so big and I can only sing my love in extremes, in nuclear roses and cursive armageddon, in ink that’s actually blood and paper that’s actually a sheen of zombie skin. If I say I love you like the stars then you will burn this letter without reading it. You will be bored of me, my uncomplicated mediocrity. You’ll know that deep down I’m an anti-visionary: the kind of girl whose love ends in weddings and not storms, in a beachside McMansion and not the last rebel base on colonized Mars. You’ll know that I’m the puddle under the tempest; that lightning and thunder are like deadly sodium and deadlier chlorine clashing to create salt.
So sprinkle salt on your cannibal organs and listen. I do not love you like the stars or the moon or the sun crashing rage-first into the earth. I do not love you like a wife loves a wife. I do not love you with all my heart or till death do us part or in any way a priest can bless. And I pray this gets me your attention, because warheads are raining from the sky and I only have a few seconds to die a hero’s death. To hold the princess in my hands and gargle my heart up my throat.
I love you like God loves himself, how’s that for a start? I love you like man-made creations love unmaking man. I love you like missiles love their targets once they’re locked—like fighter pilots love terrorists in those homoerotic action movies. I love you like the warm gush of blood when a vampire gores open my neck and like the cold crush of global freezing, bodies trapped in ice. Like pathogens corrupting people from the inside. Wipe-out plagues to end humanity. Pathogens are humanity, if you really think about it. This time each cell of bacteria is a dollar bill in a billionaire’s pocket adding up up up until he explodes. This time the world ends via climate change and I get buried next to you in a grove of mutant willow trees.
I love you in the worst-of-times sort of way. A toxic, radioactive relationship, so here, put on my gas mask, feel where my lips pressed up against the kevlar. I will suffocate in your stead.
This is why I can’t talk to you in the hallways at school, slip a lipstick note in your locker or shove my backpack next to yours. This is why I can’t raise my hand or raise my voice. Why I will flatten my skirt, smile when smiled to, and always wave back but never wave first. Why my love for you is trapped in ice. My ink is not blood, my pen is glitter, and my future is two-point-five kids to make my parents happy. I can doodle zombies as much as I like. Spin tales about natural disasters and alien invasions, religious raptures and satanic infernos, serial killers and wastelands and serial killers roaming wastelands. And I can twist the plot—it was actually humans all along that were the bad guys, what do you know? Your bunkermate betrayed you. Your sister works for the authoritarian government. Your boyfriend was a robot all along. I know I’d be the first to die if technology collapsed and teenagers raided the local Whole Foods, but I can imagine. There’s strength in extremes.
So, I’ll put it more simply: I love you like the world loves ending. The earth turns blue and green and red and green again. Palaces burn down and grow back up. Revolutions overthrowing revolutions. Me overthrowing myself. I love you like the world loves ending, so maybe if we live to see another tragedy, I’ll slip this note in your locker. My shelter is open to you. I know tricks to make the monsters walk right past us without raising their claws. Sit with me by the campfire. Roast a hunted squirrel. Here are some nuclear codes I found at the bottom of my boots, right under my pinkest polka-dot socks. Use them wisely; that is to say, don’t use them at all.
Shaliz Bazldjoo is a high school junior living in Cleveland, Ohio. Work of hers has been recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards and other contests, and she is forthcoming in Radon Journal and Lost Boys Press. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys daydreaming aimlessly and watching the worst movies she can find for free online.