I don’t like to share what I write, but I wrote this in my fiction class in my junior year. My professor really seemed to enjoy it, but we noticed that there was a really subtle romantic undertone and I’m not sure how I feel about that, but oh well. I don’t have a header image that suits this.
I fucking died. I don’t know how, but I fucking died. I looked around and I could guess that I was fairly solid, but invisible to people, unlike the meat-suit I once had. I stood over my mangled body, bloodied and broken, smeared across the street to a nearly dent-less car. It didn’t look like anything even happened to it, but I guess that’s how it fucking happened. People, strangers to me, surrounded my body, my corpse, looking for any signs of life They looked for any breathing, any pulse, but at this point, I’d rather be dead; call me selfish, if I were still alive, I’d probably kill myself by having a staff member roll my hospital bed down the stairs or even have my nurse smother me until there wasn’t anything left in my lungs. I don’t think I could handle being bedbound and dependent on those around me.
I examined my own body, trying to believe it for myself. My white headphones, tinged pink with my blood, probably the reason I was hit by the car; I was just jamming out to some Taylor Swift on my way to class. My striped shirt was ripped and spotted with blood. Cliché enough, I was missing a shoe. Three feet away, the faded white laces of my black Converse shoe were still tied. Some random stranger had closed my eyes like you would in a cheesy movie scene. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t make a mess of myself. My pants were clean… well, except for the blood stains that would never come out.
EMTs wrapped me up in a body bag and strapped me down to a gurney and wheeled me away. No one had come to clean up the blood from the asphalt or the sidewalk , but every passerby stayed until the emergency vehicles were gone. The police had wrapped their yellow tape from tree to tree in front of the English building and they had diverted foot traffic away, hoping to keep the peace. There was no peace here; I was fucking dead.
I walked through people, mobs of people on the sidewalk of campus. I wasn’t there to them, not unlike before, no longer a nuisance to the living. My hands swung freely at my sides and with every glance, I could see scars had formed where there hadn’t been any. In a bus stop window, I took a long, hard look at myself and I studied these new features of mine. I looked like my corpse; my face was scarred, my clothes torn, and my shoe was gone.
I thought about my family. My parents would be devastated. My mother would cry whenever she had a free moment and she’d fall into a depression like she had when Samuel killed himself. My father would try his best to keep his composure, but he’d lose it when he was alone. They’d both blame themselves for what happened to their sons; there was only Elizabeth left, but she’d now be an only child. I didn’t get to tell my mother that I loved her. The last time we spoke was on the phone three days ago and I made her hang up because I told her that I needed to pee, but I really just wanted to watch television without doing my homework. The last time I spoke to my father was just a satisfied grunt when he bought me a cheap burrito from Taco Bell; it was over my birthday weekend and he just wanted to take a quick trip into town with his son.
If I were religious, I’d probably be in Hell right now instead of walking around as I am. No Heaven for me, as my possible atheistic view of the world killed that dream. Maybe I would just roam this town as one of the dead. I was stuck here.
The world to me had lost its color; the scenery had gone monochromatic, like the color was draining away from me. Every few minutes, something looked different. The grass wasn’t green anymore and the sky was no longer blue. My apartment building that I once described as a creamy caramel was a dying, dingy gray. My front door, once a dark green was now a charred black. I didn’t have to turn the handle.
Sean had waited for me to return from classes so we could watch The Flash on Netflix; we were halfway through the episodes available. He didn’t expect to get a phone call that calmly explained to him that his roommate and best friend was fucking dead.
Sean spoke in a soft and cracking voice, “Thank you for letting me know.” And he ended the call on his cell phone. I didn’t need to see that today. With everything that happened to me, I didn’t need to see this.
Sean was my roommate from freshman year and my best friend from that winter break, and here we were as super seniors. We always envisioned what we could be: he was going to be in charge of many multinational corporations while I rode his coattails, maybe writing a book every few years. We were stupid together and people dealt with us. He now had to deal with this.
I watched from my usual seat on the couch as Sean stood quietly and pressed the power button on the television, switching it off. He closed the curtains to our sliding doors and locked the front door. The lights went off one by one as I followed him down the hallway to his bedroom door. He rested his head against the door itself and released a long and drawn out sigh.
“Why did you have to do this, Chess?”
Sean was the only person in the world to call me Chess. My family thought Chester was proper, but Sean didn’t care about what they had to say. In our own familial way, we loved each other; some people called us ‘friend married’. He opened his door and slipped inside his bedroom, shutting the world away with a soft click.
My bedroom door was ajar, but just a little bit. The room was dark; I kept my curtains closed. My bed wasn’t made and my desk was unorganized. Shoes were thrown into my closet where my dresser sat, clothes hanging out of the drawers. Star Wars and Batman posters plastered the walls. Photos of Sean and me were tacked up all over the room because I thought that printing them would make me happier than if they were stuck on my phone. I sat on my bed and laid back on the mess of blankets and pillows and a Grumpy Cat plush Sean bought me for one Christmas. I’d never sleep here again, or ever on that note. Homework would no longer be a problem; I had a paper due in a week on the representation of women in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. My mother and father would make the two and a half hour drive from home to come and collect my things, probably selling half of it like they did with Sam’s stuff; they didn’t want the memories of us, only wanted the happy times. I missed my brother and I wanted them to miss me.
My door was pushed open and Sean had stepped inside. I sat up in a rush and forgot that Sean couldn’t actually see me. I pulled my knees closer to me and wrapped my arms around myself. He flipped the light switch and the room was filled with color; I saw that his eyes were wet and red because he’d been crying over me. I always wondered about my friendships through my life, but Sean had just shown me that we were solid and I made the best choice. Sean padded around my room, gingerly touching things hoping not to disturb them. He drew his long fingers across the open space on my desktop, careful not to fix my chaotic mess. He skimmed my meager collection of novels and flipped through pages of my writing notebooks. His breath caught in his throat when he saw the photo of the two of us at Cedar Point three years ago. He stared at the poster of Yoda telling you “Do or do not, there is no try.” I watched him from the bed, silent. He glanced over to the bed and nearly broke down once again once he saw the oversized cat he knew I’d love.
“Your face was priceless when I gave that to you, Chess.”
I know, Sean, I remember. But what he did next surprised me.
Sean crawled into my bed and laid flat on top of the comforter and sheets, right next to me. He grabbed the Grumpy Cat plush and held it to his body. I couldn’t think that I could apologize enough to him. His phone rang out in our matching Batman theme song ringtone.
There was a break and he said, “I’m so sorry. I got the call just a little bit ago.”
“He was walking alone. I wasn’t told what really happened. I don’t know who was at fault.”
“I’m just as upset as you are.”
“So, the two of you are coming up tomorrow? I want to take you guys to lunch. I insist.”
“I’ll be around to help. My professors will understand if I don’t go.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I couldn’t see tomorrow as being a happy day and wouldn’t think that it would go well. Mom would bring a box of tissues for her and Dad to share on the way here. Elizabeth would be left with my aunt who wouldn’t know that I died until then.
I wouldn’t want to be around for my own funeral, but I might watch it from the back. I could just stand behind the tombstones of family members past and people who had been buried there for years. Mom and Dad would sit up front with Elizabeth and I’d hope that Sean would be with them. I think Dad would cry for me, destroying his tough guy act for his son. My grandparents would be there and stone-faced as the pastor read them his speech because they knew that I wasn’t getting into the Pearly Gates. My three aunts on my mother’s side would sob into tissues they brought from home. My father’s family wouldn’t attend because I was once a hellion and hated them with every fiber of what was once my being.
Maybe I would try to sleep. Maybe I wouldn’t have to roam for the rest of eternity. I just realized that I’d never drink coffee again. It’s always the big things that you’d think of, but there are the little things that we take for granted every day and my little thing was the fact that I could make a pot of coffee every morning and wake up to see my best friend’s smiling face because we were both genuinely happy.