The Entire World

June 19, 2012
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The cement is wet beneath my bare feet. It’s April in New York City, and when it rains, it pours. It is barely six, and the sun has already set. I look down to see the ever-crowded streets and the odd person anxiously calling to a taxi. The most interesting are the pedestrians with the umbrellas. A field of black, spotted with bright colors and gaps where the asphalt is visible. On top of my apartment building, I felt farther away from it all than ever.

I’ve heard that in the countryside, the sky is littered with stars by now. There are no stars in NYC. You look up and all you see is darkness.

There are all kinds of not knowing. There’s the sweaty kind, like when you’re taking a test and you forgot to study. That’s not so bad. Then there’s when you get that icy feeling down your spine, and you feel like someone’s watching you. Sometimes I feel like that, when I’m on my way home from the bookstore or Jerry’s house. There’s so many people on the streets that it’s hard to prove that there’s no one following you. I felt like that the day before Papa died.

The last kind of not knowing, I think is the worst. It’s that shot of anxiety that travels up through your gut like a bolt of lightning, crushing your spine and the back part of your skull. You get migraines, and yet you can’t stop moving, can’t stop venturing into different scenarios and reliving nightmares. Then just when you think it is over, you find out.

Sometimes I wish I could have gone on not knowing.

Most people get over it, be done, leave it behind. The memory gets washed away in the tidal pool in the back of their minds. For some though, it stays with them without their realizing or letting it happen. It just... does.

I think the thing I miss most about him is his laugh. You’re going to think I’m a creep, but my second favorite sound in the world are old people laughs. They’re just so full of abandonment and wisdom, at least his was. It wasn’t calm, though. However knowing and quiet it was, it was not devoid of energy. Exactly the opposite really.

His laugh spoke of times before this, a full colorful laugh with a ragged edge that told of hardships overcome.
I could see pictures in his eyes when he laughed. Princesses and balls, dragons and evil inventors, for he didn’t believe in magic.

It’s unoriginal to use it stories. He’d say, and requires a whole lot more creativity. For example, if there was, say, a little princess locked in a tower. Then he’d proceed to tickle me thoroughly, since obviously he was referring to me. I didn’t have the heart then to tell him I didn’t want to be a princess. That I wanted to be a knight. He seemed to get much joy out of me being the damsel in distress. If the author was careless rubbish, he could simply magic away the princess, but if there were no magic, what could you do? Well then, you have to think of something clever. Now Rapunzel...

He wasn’t really that great a story teller, like some grandparents are, but he tried. It was funny that he had such an unromantic death. He didn’t gently fade away, or die defending me from an evil sea serpent. No.

Papa died of a heart attack. In the middle of his work parking lot.

Giving someone directions.

I know that after all, that it’s kind of stupid to be moping about how unfantastic his death was, but it’s all I can focus on right now.

My eyes blur up with tears, and I can’t breathe. Four years. A lot can change in four years, but not much has. It feels like we’re on one of those old video tapes and somebody just pressed stop. The only thing different is that each year I go to different classes and different teachers. I don’t have many friends. I left friends behind four years ago.

That’s not entirely true, though. I still have Drew.

Drew was my first kiss.

We were thirteen, almost a full year after he died.

C’mon, Jen. You can tell me. I swear to God I won’t tell anybody.


What do you mean, no? Please, why won’t you...

I haven’t yet.

Haven’t what? Kissed?

No, eaten green eggs and ham. What do you think?

I don’t believe it.

Believe it.

Loser. Ow, don’t shove!

You asked for it.

But seriously, you need to get it over with soon. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me; it’s a necessary part of middle school. More important than mid-terms, I think.

Give me a break.

No, listen to me. Someday when you get married, you will need to know how to kiss. Now don’t tell me you won’t get married, because...
Before I knew what I was doing, I took a step forward and kissed him full on the lips. There, I whispered. Happy now?
Then I ran away. Drew was my last kiss.

As I look down at the beehive again, I figure that death could be a lot better than not knowing. Not knowing why he was gone, or where he went, or who would go next. I could just step off this building, and I would be forgotten. What can I do here anyway, if I don’t know? I could leave this world behind, in a pillow of air and pelt of raindrops.
There’s another kind, I think. The kind that wriggles into your brain through your ears and roof of your mouth. It sits like slime there, just drowns you. It makes your lips quiver and become unable of intelligent speech.
“I would not suggest that, if I were you.”
A convulsion came over me, like a ripple. I wanted to look behind me, but I could not turn my head. It only lasted for a second though, and find myself surprised to find myself facing an old man.
“Why?” I suppose I ask, though I can’t remember whether it was with my voice or my eyes. I just remember his answer. And his voice, full of abandonment and wisdom. Emotion and feeling.
“You think you have no where to go. You have no choice. You believe you can do nothing, that your destiny is already decided. That nothing you can choose or do can change that. That is where you are wrong. Fatally wrong.” He eyed my shoes, so close to the Edge. “Your choices and destiny are not separate, not cause and effect, but the same thing. The two are intertwined. Your choices are your destiny. You can choose to Learn.”
“And what if I don’t? What if I jump? You can’t stop me.”
“No. I have no more the ability to do that than you do to change the past.”
I look down again, and then back, but he is gone. I open my mouth slightly and just stare at the place that a solid, human body once occupied.
It was an illusion. An image created by my desperate mind. Created by its craving to survive. I will myself to just think of it that way, not the words that he said, not his voice.
I fail miserably.

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starshine3 said...
Jun. 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm
Wow. This was awesome :) You did a good job setting the scene while managing to avoid total detail bombardment, and the story is great!
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