Dear John

Dylan Oliver

I’ve been thinking a lot about the other night, about how we left things and the things I said. I was just so angry, you know. So frustrated. I couldn’t understand—I didn’t want to understand why you had to leave again. I wanted you to stay. I wanted you to remember me, and remember us, and what you’re doing it all for. I wanted you to remember the day we met. The strobe lights and deafening music. The way we felt the earth shift beneath the sticky dancefloor. The way the crowd moved to let us through, like we were magnets repelling anything that would stop us colliding. The way our bodies synced together, moving in tandem like our minds were the same. God, your eyes were so beautiful that night. There was a light in them, a power. Magic. And when you kissed me, it was like there was nothing else that mattered, nothing else that could ever matter. It was pure. Infinite. I wanted you to remember that. 

I saw your mum yesterday. I know you haven’t spoken to her in a while. She was buying a black dress. I saw her see me, saw your eyes on her face. Watched them go dark, like yours did when you were sad, when you wanted to hide. She looked away, walked faster. I swear she almost ran for the hills. You know, one day she’ll accept things, accept you. She’ll see you for who you really are and be proud of you, and one day, when she tells her god she loves you, she’ll be telling the truth. You are worthy of all the love this world has to give.  

I always knew why you had to go away. I’m tearing myself up, you know. I feel so awful for the things I said. I really didn’t mean it. I just thought that when you came back last time, you’d be back for good, you know. I thought you were running away from me, running from our life together, our future. The whole time you were gone I was thinking about my brother’s wedding, and me standing next to him at the altar, looking down at you. When the bride walked in and the whole room turned to look at her, your eyes were fixed on mine. I could see the promise in them, that it would be our turn soon. 

We’re allowed to do that now—get married, I mean—and I guess I just hoped that it would finally happen. That all the waiting around would have been worth it. In my dreams we stand there, hand in hand, me in a white suit, you in your dress uniform. When we dance it’s like the night we met, moving as one soul. When you last came home, when you told me that you loved me, I saw the promise of my dreams there in them. Every cell in my body was filled with a warmth, like winter nights on the couch cuddled tight against your chest. 

You’re a hero, you know. Everyone’s saying so. You saved so many lives. They’re going to give you a medal and everything. I’m so damn proud of you, you have no idea. You were always a hero to me. You’re my travelling solider, always moving until the day I can finally join you. 

Maybe that’s today, or tomorrow. Or maybe more. All I know is that someday I’ll see you again, adorned in the uniform you were so proud to wear. And you’ll see me and smile and I’ll run into your arms, and I’ll be warm again for the first time since you left. 

I think I just wanted to write you to tell you how sorry I am, how sorry I’ll always be. Your sister called and told me the funeral is tomorrow. I think she thought I should know, but she asked me not to be there. I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye anyway, not until you’ve forgiven me. Every time I close my eyes, I see the flashes of our last night. Your eyes. Your smile. The way you kissed me. The strength in your arms as you held me close. The way I asked you not to leave, begged you. The way I pulled you as close as I could, holding you, willing you to stay with me. The way I yelled at you. The way you told me they needed you, as if I didn’t need you. The way I called you selfish. The way I said that if you walked out the door, if you left me again, I wouldn’t wait for you anymore. That I was done. That we were done. The way I told you to leave. 

I told you to leave and you left. I told you to leave and to never come back. 

I wanted you to come back. 

You were supposed to come back. 

This is all my fault. 

I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry. 

It’s so cold here without you. 

Please come back to me. I need you to come back to me. 

I will always need you to come back to me. 

I don’t want to say goodbye. 

Dylan Oliver is a Meanjin-based (Brisbane) writer currently working towards his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. He likes to explore a variety of themes and genres, with a focus on highlighting queer characters in a way that feels honest to the people who inspire him. Dylan aspires to be a novelist and is currently working on what he hopes will become his debut novel.


Sophie Gollant (she/her) is marked by her earnest oil paintings and photographs of earthly, isolated scenes. Sophie’s practice is steeped in metaphors and motifs that earnestly draw on her experiences of womanhood, chronic illness, and solitude.

Instagram: @soggolla