I stood silently in the graveyard, letting the wind blow through my ponytail. I stared silently at the grave in front of me. This wasn't right. Something was wrong. I hugged my familiar red jacket around me and read the words on the tombstone for what felt like the billionth time.
Beloved Brother and friend
That couldn't be true. I was Edward Elric. Me. The Fullmetal Alchemist. And I was standing right there, in front of my own grave. What kind of sick joke was this? I touched my arm. It seemed real enough, so I couldn't be a ghost.
I started looking frantically at the graves around mine. It didn't matter if I was dead; all that mattered was if Al – my brother – was dead. I would only feel at peace if I knew that Al was alive and well, or at least well enough to get well.
The only other Elric grave I found was my mother's. I traced my fingers lovingly over the familiar name. If I was dead, then where was mom? I always thought I would be able to see her again once I died. But other than me, the graveyard was completely empty. I looked back to my grave. Why wasn't I buried next to mom? If mom did come for me, would she show up at her grave or mine?
Mine, I decided. After all, I was the one who had just died, not her. I quickly ran back to my grave and sat down in front of it.
After what felt like hours, my mom still hadn't shown up, and for the first time in years, tears were flowing freely down my face.
"I'm sorry Al," I whispered softly. "Big Brothers are supposed to always be there to protect the younger ones."
I started thinking of all the different things I would miss out on now that I was dead. Al's first girlfriend, his first date, his first hair on his chin. Who would be there for him, to guide him through the dark ages of puberty? It couldn't be Winry or Pinako; they were both girls.
And then I was sorry I was dead. I wouldn't get to ever see Al's smile again, never. And Al would have to grow up on his own as the last Elric. I wouldn't be able to help him at all. He would have to tough it out on his own. I stretched out my fingers to touch my own tombstone. The cold rock sent shivers down my spine.
I'm sorry Al. I'm so sorry.
And then I fell asleep.
That was about when I started guessing that something was wrong. After all, ghosts don't need to sleep, right? If I really was dead, then why was I sleeping?
But I didn't really care. The ground was so warm and soft, and I just wanted to escape from my own thoughts. I had to stop thinking about Al. It would only make me more depressed. And so I fell asleep on top of my own grave.
I don't know how long I slept. It could have been a few minutes, it could have been a few days. I lost track of time and I didn't bother trying to find out how long it had been. After all, I was dead now. Did time really matter?
Anyway, I woke up to the sound of Al's name being called. And I stared thinking that if someone was looking for Al, then maybe he was nearby, and if he was nearby, then maybe, somehow, I could find him and apologize. I quickly stood up and looked around the graveyard.
I didn't see Al, but I did see Winry walking towards me. I realized that she must be the one calling for Al. She was getting close now. I prepared myself to take a step to the side. I didn't want the weird experience of Winry walking through me.
But she didn't walk through me. Instead she stopped right in front of me and looked straight into my eyes. I stared at her in surprise.
"Winry? Can you see me?" I asked slowly, and Winry cocked her head as if she was confused.
"Of course I can see you," she said simply. "Now let's get back to the house Al, it's getting cold out here."
Al. She called me Al.
I felt a deep pang of regret at the thought of what I had to tell her. I didn't want to make Winry cry again. Winry was not the type of girl who should waste her life crying over a guy like me.
"Winry, I'm not Al," I said softly. "It's me, Edward."
"Edward?" she repeated softly, and I nodded. I was about to breath a sigh of relief when she shook her head firmly. "No Al. Edward is dead. You've suffered a major trauma and your head isn't working properly. You are not Ed," she told me sternly, and even though I started protesting, telling her how I was the older of the two brothers, she managed to drag me back to the house.
Even though it took her a few days, Winry kept strong and managed to convince me that I was Al. And for the second time in years, I started crying for my lost brother.
But being Al hurt more than being Ed.