I dreamt of this day many times over the past year. I wished for it. I prayed for it. But I had never really thought it through. I just wanted an instant cure for my mixed up shit. I always thought that this day would bring a calm, almost placid portion of time, to my always rocky and bumpy life. I never really blamed myself. For anything, in fact. Not for the events of the last year, especially. But this….this is my fault. I am to blame. Do they know that? Can they see it? Did everyone see me secretly seething myself when we all heard the news? Do they see it now?
I have trouble tightening my tie. I walk over to the mirror for a visual assistant. I haven't looked in a mirror for days. I look like I got hit by a train. But I don't care. I'm not really trying to impress anyone. Not anymore. Even though I would never admit it to myself, everyday that I spent ten extra minutes getting ready….every minute was so I could look better for her. I never told her, or myself, but pretty much everything I did was for her. If she knew, if they knew, hell, even if I fully knew, it would somehow make me less of a man. Although I'm not much of a man to begin with. But who would want to be less than they are? Finally I get my tie straightened. Someone enters my room.
"Craig. We should get going."
We? What does he mean 'we'? I'm the only one going. He's just dropping me off. He isn't even going to stay.
"I'm coming, Joey."
I follow the bald man that is shorter than me by almost a foot out of my room and down the steps. He tells Caitlin to stay with Angie, and that he would be back in about ten minutes. Caitlin looks at me, and smiles. But not a toothy grin. It is a smile like she is trying to tell me everything is okay. I don't want to blame her for trying, but I do. I'm not going around asking for any sympathy. Things like this happen everyday. Just not to everyone. But it has happened to me before, this is nothing new. But at the same time, it is. For my mom, I was young. I loved her, but I didn't really get it completely, not until I was older. And with my dad…well, his funeral didn't go so well. But for both of them, I had the same feeling in my heart. Sorrow. And I was lost. But for her…I had grown attached. REALLY attached. I know I pushed her away on the outside, but on the inside, I was only pulling her closer.
We walk outside to get into the car. It's cold. It is the middle of June, and it is cold. The wind picks up and makes the jacket of my suit flop wildly around. My hair does the same thing, clouding my vision. But my vision has always been clouded. By love, by hate, by her. I look to Joey and he is already in the car, looking at me. He's trying to understand, and he does, somewhat. He has lost someone before. But not like this. It wasn't his fault when my mother died. I open the door of the car and slide in. I instinctively buckle my seat belt and stare forward. I'm looking out the window, but I'm not seeing anything. It is all just…gone. I never really thought she brought that much to my life. I thought she was just another girl. How could she have affected me so much without me knowing it? How can one person have such an impact on another person's life? Against their will?
Joey pulls up in front of a stony, old looking church. I start to step out of the car, but he stops me.
I look at him.
"Talk to me, Craig. Help me understand what you're going through."
"Not now, Joey."
"Craig, you gotta get this out of your system. For the past few days it's just been….you talk, but you aren't really saying anything."
I look over the car and at the church. And then back to Joey.
"I'm going to walk home."
I shut the door before he can say anything. Following the mass of black clothing, I too walk up the steps, pull open the glass door, and know I'm getting closer to the place I have come to fear the most. I notice that I am the only one who has come alone. But it is always like that, for me. I'm always the loner. The odd one out. The lonely one. I didn't expect so many people to be here. Walking a few steps down the hall and under the arch, I hear my shoes squeak. I smile to myself. I remember how that used to bug her so much. She hated the squeaky noises shoes made. I put my hands in my pockets as I grow very afflicted, having people on all sides of me, sitting, supposed to be staring forward, but I can feel them looking at me. Their eyes burn through my skin. They don't mean to do it, but they make me bitter. They understand me even less than I understand them. I didn't want to look around, but something forced me. I look off to the left and see a familiar blonde girl sitting with her family, sobbing. I momentarily stop, to look at her. I tilt my head, studying her. I know she feels just as estranged as I do. I continue walking, until a find an empty pew. I turn into it and sit in the middle of it. I slightly slouch, and put my hands in my lap. My eyes are forward, but my ears take in everything. I hear quiet conversations, crying, babies yelling. People still filing in. I feel someone sit next to me. I don't take the care or consideration to see who it is. It can only be one of five people. I'll take my chances, thank you. We say nothing to each other for awhile. But there is a question oxidizing my mind. I feel as if I have no energy left to speak, but if I don't, I would surely be driven mad.
"Why are you here." I say with no tone, no emotion, still staring forward.
"I….I don't know. I guess I feel bad, Craig."
"You? You feel horrible?" I still have no emotion attached to my words. Everything comes out the same. I can't bare to stare into those eyes, so I continue to face forward.
"Why? You didn't kill her. I did."
"Craig, you didn't kill her. She did it to herself."
"I made her, Spin, I made her do it."
We don't speak anymore. He can't think of anything to say to me, I know it. What could he say? He already tried the sorry bit, which did about as much as punching me in the face would. It did shit. Nothing can do anything. This wasn't supposed to hurt. It wasn't supposed to tear my heart apart. It wasn't supposed to break me. Cut me down to a shell of who I used to be. I notice that most of the talking stopped, and I can no longer hear anybody shuffling their feet to find somewhere to sit. The priest behind the podium raises he arms and tells us all to rise in prayer. We do. I do. I bow my head and close my eyes, my thoughts drown out his words. He says the same thing at every funeral, he didn't know her the way I did, so I give her a personal prayer. I know it must not mean anything. It's too late. Moments later, we are told to sit. I always find it hard to pay attention to a funeral. I'm always lost in my own thought. The point is that I am here. And I am mourning. And praying. And missing her. The coffin is closed. I don't know why. The floral arrangement is made of pink and white roses. It really is beautiful. It suites her. I wonder if she knew that. I wonder if she knew how beautiful she really was. I don't think I told her enough. There was a lot of stuff I didn't tell her enough. And there were things I told her too much. The things that hurt her. The things that drove her away. That drove her to this. I didn't want her, at one point. I didn't know where my mind was then, and I guess I never will. All I know is I wanted her gone. And then she was. And now she is forever. I never really got to tell her everything I wanted her to know. The priest stops talking. He moves aside. And now the sobbing blonde from before is up behind the podium. Giving a eulogy. I guess that is fitting. She looks so sad. I wish I looked sad. To everyone here, I probably look like I don't care. But it isn't my fault I can't cry. I tried. But I literally can't do it. I give her half my attention, but I can't really understand her. She's sobbing.
"…….no one knew her sob the way I did. She was so much sob more than you could ever guess." She says.
She breaks down and can't continue. She walks down the steps and back to her family. My eyes follow her, and then I look in front of me again. Her parents are sitting in the front row, with people who must be the rest of her family. I feel for them. I must have missed something, because everyone is standing now. The family stands by the casket as people line up to shake their hands, and give them hugs, and say sorry. How fucked up is that? Saying sorry for something you had nothing to do, and something you can't fix with a sorry. But it is what everyone says. Because they are too pathetic and don't care enough to come up with something that actually means something. If I went to them, I could spill my heart for hours. But it would only hurt them. And me. Besides, I can't let people see what this has done to me. After my past, people expect one more break down from me to be the last straw. Six men in black suits walk to the casket. Three on each side, they lift it and carry it outside and across the street to the cemetery. How convenient. As I take my first step outside, it begins to rain. She looked so beautiful in the rain. And she loved it. She would throw her arms out and spin in circles. And when the water ran down her face and she smiled, I always felt too lucky to be able to see something so perfect. She won't be spinning in the rain anymore. I follow the people across the street. Many of them run, others had umbrellas, a couple leave because of the rain. How disgraceful. To leave, they can't even honor her because they are afraid of the rain. ARE YOU GOING TO FUCKING MELT OR SOMETHING?! I feel like screaming at them. But I can't. the rain makes my clothes stick to me, making it hard to walk. But I do. Everyone is standing around her new resting place for the rest of forever. I stop and stand behind a couple people. I can still see. Her hole is already dug. The priest is saying more prayers, dropping flower petals at weird intervals. She is being lowered. I want to be lowered with her. I want them to bury me, too. I don't know how to function anymore. I forgot what it means to live.
People begin to turn and leave, as they bury her. I stay. This is my last chance, and I would die before I turn my back on her again. All that is left is me and the family. Every now and then, her father looks up briefly, at me. Wonder and confusion in his eyes. But I don't care. They don't know me, and it is probably better that way. I caused her so much pain, they would hate me with every breath she's never going to breathe because of me. They would hate me SO much. And I don't know if I would be strong enough to hate them back. Finally, they too, are gone. The workers finished burying her. A fresh pile of dirt lay on top of the love of my life. If only I had realized this before. If I knew then what I knew now, things would be different. She really was the one for me. But I, being who I am, messed it up and let her go. I knew she was getting closer to me than anyone ever had, and I was afraid. Afraid that if I really loved her, I would get hurt. And no one wants to be hurt. So I got defensive. And sometimes the best defense is to be offensive. So I was. I lied to her. Sometimes lies are the only protection you have. I pushed her away and sent her to her grave. And now I'm left with nothing. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to think. I fear I have forgotten how to feel. With her, my heart was buried. I'm incapable of love. But maybe I always have been. Maybe that's why I couldn't keep her around. No, it's because I wasn't good enough. I could never be good enough to have her. For real. But I love her, all the same. And like a switch on the wall, something inside me turns on. And I feel hot beads of water slide down my face, and when they hit my mouth, I taste salt. I know it isn't the rain. They are tears. For her. Not just tears, either. I cry. I make sobbing noises. I yell. I curse. I'm pained. The rules are never broken easily. But there are just some moments when life seems so monumentally unfair I just want to scream and cry and rage and fall apart. This is one of those moments. So I do. I regain my composure, and look at the ground. But then I know it is just her lifeless body. So I look to the sky. And I tell her, with every emotion I have left, I tell her what she needed to hear, even though I am too late.
"I love you, Manny."
And I turn and walk away. Even though I am not so sure I want to step back into the real world. I have to leave her, because there are so many other things I cannot leave.
Like my thoughts.
Like my life.