A GRAVEYARD VISIT – MILES
(ABOUT 10 MONTHS LATER)
I know. What am I doing here; we just rot and all, right? You must be laughing right now; well, go ahead. But… You ARE here, huh; so, if I'm here, then I AM talking to you. That you can neither hear nor answer doesn't change the fact that this, at least, is undeniably real.
I can't see you in the stars, James; sorry. I tried, actually, if that means anything to you - third to the right. But it doesn't work for me.
Jeez, it's hard.
Maybe because it's the first time I - your funeral doesn't count; no opportunity to talk to you by then.
I know that it was what you wanted. And I know that you'd most probably be gone anyway by now if I hadn't… But still… I did it, huh. Technically, I did it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not regretting doing it. I never have, and I never will. And I have absolved myself; right the moment when Davy held me, to tell the truth - if Davy was able to forgive me, then I should too, right. And I swear I've never blamed you for it.
But I'm still… angry. Guess I just still wish that it wouldn't have been necessary; that it all had gone differently. Guess I just still wish that you were still here with us…
Sorry. I'm annoying you with my wishful thinking, I know.
And that's so not why I came here today…
I mean… I've been longing to come here for months, but I hoped that I would have something huge to tell you; and then I knew I actually had, and so, I've waited.
So, on to the news.
I've brought you a few things.
See, I got published.
Yeah, just "M.C."; didn't want people to buy it because I was 'the son of'… It might get out, sooner or later, I know. But it's not in my hands now. And it isn't important anymore. I send the manuscript anonymously. Even took a box at the post office to avoid people looking up the address. So I know I did it on my own; not because of my name…
It feels so right, James; so right. I wish you'd have known.
Fuck. Here I go again.
Sorry. Told myself I wouldn't. Sorry.
Jeez. I really could use one of your punch lines right now. It's always been easier to keep a straight face when you'd piss me off.
See, just thinking about it helps.
So. Here's my little surprise.
Yes, mate. Bet you haven't been expecting that, huh.
Fresh from the press. Will get released on Monday.
I hear you; you wanted to write a book. Well, stop complaining and get used to it. You know it's not the amount of pages one writes that makes one a good writer. You just hadn't found your subject yet; doesn't mean the rest should be forgotten. Your short stories are great, and you know it.
I just couldn't take a shot at it if you didn't get a chance too… So. I've send them. I had to.
Anonymously too, of course. So quit wondering about you getting published just because you're dead and it's supposed to be marketing handy and helpful or whatever shit I know you're thinking right now, because it just isn't. You got published on your own, James. Congrats.
They're all in here. At least, all the ones you've send me - you judged them done, if you sent them to me.
By the way, I was kind of pissed off when I found out that – of course - you had cleaned your computer. Bastard. You got to snoop around mine, and didn't grant me the courtesy to settle that score. I understand though; and it's probably better that way, I know. Still, I wonder how much there is that you wrote and that I never got to see. It's annoyingly frustrating. I bet you're delighted.
But I digress. So. Except for the title – we all thought that there had to be "Barafundle Bay" somewhere - I've let them decide about everything. Didn't feel right to choose on my own; after all, it's not because I didn't like a few that they were per definition shit. I'm not omniscient – right, I see you smile; this is as modest as I get, indeed. Anyway… They didn't turn one down; not even the one with the nurse. Thought you should know.
The money will go half for research, half for care. Of course, officially, it goes to your parents; but naturally they wouldn't have any of it. I hope you approve.
Now. Notice the MAKE ME TRAVEL I've written in bold on the cover with a marker? I'm leaving it here. Someone might pick it up, read it, then leave it on a bench somewhere… I think you'd like that.
I should go, I know.
Not ready yet though, sorry.
You know, I don't really talk to Dad when I visit. Then, we rarely talked… My doing mostly, I saw him so above… But here… I just can't shut up.
Guess it feels good to talk to you; it's been a while…
It's been too long, James.
So. I know Chloe has come a few days ago, and there's a still green branch of larch, so I guess Bill's been around too. I'm sure you don't need an update. But you're going to have one anyway. Forgive me if I'm boring you to death - no pun intended. Jeez. That wasn't even funny.
We've told your parents. Right after the funeral. I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to keep it from Chloe for long anyway. But we've told them, as you've asked (*AN), for the good reason.
It was late, and it was just the three of us, your parents and Chloe. They knew. They shared a glance and interlaced their fingers. Your father started: "We can't believe it was an accident. We don't even want to believe it was." Your mother met our eyes: "The truth, boys. Please." It was more an order than a question, really. And it was my job to tell, of course. Davy hung his head. Your father nodded, your mother trembled, and Chloe kind of choked. Bill went to take them in a bear hug. And I told them everything. My eyes in Chloe's, I told everything, and I went out. Just couldn't stay.
Chloe came after me. I broke in her arms. "I love you", she whispered, cradling me. It wasn't the first time she had told me, mind you, but it is without a doubt the most meaningful time she ever said it. She went back inside after a moment, feeling I wanted some time alone, and I went home.
Your parents came by later on, right that evening. They thanked me. They're amazing, really.
They're doing ok. I won't lie and tell you they're fine. But they're ok. Same for Chloe. Same for all of us, I guess.
Chloe and Mike are divorced now. It's official.
We told him, short after… He didn't even give me a well-deserved punch in the face. I would have gladly taken it – I will never feel remorse about taking your sister away from him, but I would have preferred if he hadn't risen above me by staying all gentlemanly.
Your parents know about us now too, of course.
Your mother just sighed when we told them. She already knew that too, apparently. Your father said that he felt like kicking me in the butt; then he asked if I had told you, and when I nodded he just held me in his arms.
The girls don't know yet. We're giving them some time; they've been through enough lately. They're so cute, truly. We've been passing more and more time together, and I really think they like me. That might change when we tell them, I know. We'll see. Can't wait though for us to be all together.
Davy's doing all right.
What a class act, really! He did fool us all – well, except you, obviously. We would have never know it, if we hadn't decided to open your notes at the same time in the same place - we didn't read each other's letters, of course, but I guess we just needed to be together when we'd read your last words to us. Anyway, Davy's unbelieving outcry that "you'd known it all along" made us look at him out of concern, and he probably explained it all just to get our worries down. He hadn't planned for anyone to ever find out, and, I'm sure, especially not you. But it meant the world that you'd known it anyway. He was glowing, James. It was clearly visible, no matter the tears.
You've been so precautious about it all… Thank you, from us all - we've given your parents and Chloe copies of your general goodbyes too. It's been helping, so much. You have no idea how often I reread mine.
But I was talking about Davy. He didn't go back to his previous work. He took courses and all, and works now in one of those institutions. We were worried at first when he informed us of his change of career. We told him he was being morbid and all. But he said helping you had been the most horrible but the most beautiful thing he had ever done. He said he wanted to feel useful, and that it could never be as hard as going through it all with you. And what could we say after that... He's so brave. I don't know how he can... A bloody saint - I'd be honoured to set the first stone for his statue though… That's how he met Alex. She's a nurse there. They really fit together; her heart is just as big as his. But well, I bet he already presented her to you. It's good to see him happy, huh.
Bill split up with Abbie, right after the trip – he couldn't wait, in case she'd want to abort, of course. They went for it though. Ian is nearly two months old. Bill is so proud and all…
You're going to laugh at how much I've changed, but I'm actually thinking about it too now. We haven't started, but it's a more than probable outcome in the near future. Don't worry; if it works out and it's a boy, it won't be James either.
Back to Bill, right. He works now for National Geographic. UK mostly, of course, with Ian and all. But we all know he'll work soon enough all around the world. We should have had that talk with him years ago. We didn't want to intrude. But we know better now. Thanks to you. We know now that friends are meant to intrude.
I was a coward. My father. My writing. Chloe. You. And I'm so sorry. Truly. I'm so sorry, James.
But I promise you, I won't run from anything anymore.
So… You said you'd been blessed to have us. But the truth is… We are blessed to have had you.
We all owe you.
I owe you. I owe you so much, mate…
And I miss you.
(One deep breath.)
But I still have that, whatever that is.
You haven't been erased. We carry you in our hearts. You have no idea how often the guys or Chloe and I exchange something like "James would have liked that" or "James would kick my ass", and so on…There's always a pause when we make that kind of slip. But I don't mind the hurt. None of us does. It means you're still here, somehow.
Don't leave us, James.
Don't leave me.
(Five minutes pass.)
Alright, I'm going before you kick me out.
See you next time.
I still have to write James' last notes. Don't know when I'll have the time, but be assured that it will come, one day.