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A funeral home's job is to make the body presentable, hide all signs of struggle or any imperfections. To coat the body with so much makeup that they become unrecognizable. Hide the fact that the body is just a piece of s*** that is going to be shoved six feet underground, and trust me that's just what they did.
A puppet; the closest adjective to describe what Kaleb looked like. Yet no amount of makeup could hide the bruises on his neck or the paleness of his skin. His lifeless body left me to imagine what had happened that night. I visualize him just hanging there, about four to six inches off the ground. Laces from his white converse slightly skating on the puddle of sweat below him. His legs bruised. Dents along side the walls and door of a 2x5 coat closet. Scratch marks parallel to the belt that suspended him. I can picture him dying, gasping for air but receiving none. Face turning purple while his veins pulse. Legs and arms swaying back and forth and back and forth. His body screaming for help. I can only imagine the regret one feels knowing the last thing they are going to see from this earth is a suede jacket from the 1970s.
¨Hey kiddo, how you holding up?¨ A woman snuggled up beside me. One hand over my shoulder, the other holding a mop. She looked into my eyes and gave me a smile. The snaggletooth made the smile that much more unpleasant, along with the stench that came along with it. I gave her a blank stare.
¨I know it's hard but you can't just block the world out.¨
¨My names Octavian, and I'm fine.¨ I assumed by telling her I was fine she would walk away and continue her janitorial duties. Instead she just stood looking down on me. As if I was drowning child and she was waiting for my head to emerge from the water.
¨Guys, guys don't worry. I’ve done this plenty of times before. I'm fine, trust me,” he announced to the crowd of only 200 hundred of his closest friends. Light from the cameras illuminated the water. The water forty feet below us. Rocks surrounded us on every end, leaving only a few feet for error for whoever was dumb enough to jump. Kaleb stripped down to his black and red american eagle boxers. He threw his shirt, shoes, and jeans to the crowd as if they had some sort of value. He walked to the near end of cliff. You could see his toes grip to the sharp rocks on the edge, starting to drip in blood. He stood there for a while. One could see that fear was overcoming him.
The cameras were being tucked away when suddenly he jumped . Arms and legs wailing. The crowd went silent until his head lifted above the water, and then the crowd went wild.
“What’s so funny?” She stood there staring at me as I laughed inappropriately. Just judging me, like what kind of freak stands there laughing at his own friend’s funeral.
I didn’t answer. I stopped laughing, but held a smirk on my face, until my eyes landed on Kaleb again. I bit my lip, closed my eyes, and kept quiet
“Want a snack?” she held out a handful of crackers.
I hesitated to respond. “I actually would love some, but do you have anything else? I’m not big on crackers especially ones that have been sitting in your back pocket since I got here.”
She giggled even though I was being very much serious “ Actually I have some mashed potatoes and gravy that I made last night for dinner. I brought some, they’re in the break room come with me.”
I hesitated wondering if the break room could mean the trunk of her car, and she was bringing me to my death. Then I thought not even death could make this day worse, so I followed her.
“Attention attention” he yelled. His feet slammed on the bland cafeteria tables leaving a residue of dirt. “This here old lunch lady refuses to give me a new meal, even considering the fact a found a strand of her crusty ass hair in my food.”
The piece of hair stood out like a sore thumb from where I was sitting. It stayed ashore like a boat at sea, a curly blonde boat sitting on a sea of gravy . I even like to think of the dandruff as the crew on board.
The lunch lady removed her hair net and hid behind it. The cafeteria packed at full capacity. Some were laughing alongside him, but others weren’t so easily entertained.
“Dude what’s your problem, get off the table. You’re making a fool out of yourself.”
He couldn’t hear me speak due to how loud his own laughter was. People were staring at our direction, shaking their heads, and murmuring what I can only imagine were rude comments. Kaleb had no idea how the crowd was reacting. I even began to get uncomfortable myself.
I stood on the table I had been sitting in. I tried catching his attention, try knocking him back sane. The crowd abruptly turned away from the scene. I looked over my shoulder and saw Mr.Desouza stared right at our direction. My palms started to sweat, I could hear my heartbeat amplifying. I began to shake as I was directed towards his office.
“So, your best friend huh?” I could barely understand her. The mash potatoes dripping out of her mouth.
¨Yeah.¨ I sighed.
¨I remember my best friend. Her name was Hannah.” she giggled “She was a handful.¨
¨Remember? Are you guys not friends anymore?”
She froze. Stopped chewing and reached over for the napkin that laid in front me, brought it up to her lips and removed the potatoes from her mouth.
“Did I touch on a sensitive topic like you don’t need to ans-.”
She cut me off. “No, its fine I just haven’t talked about it in a while.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Well we were probably around your age and were out kinda late and she just kept drinking and wouldn’t stop. When I tried stopping her we got into this huge argument. Before we could solve our problems she stormed out.”
“You guys just never talked again?”
“Well, later that night she was found dead on the side of the road.
No one's sure what really happened.”
My heart's sinks. The realization that I’m not the only person who lost a best friend hits me like a truck.
“I hope you and Kaleb ended things on a better note than Hannah and I.”
“Yeah things ended fine.” I continued to tell myself everything was fine, but nothing about this situation was fine. I look down at my plate of poates and begin to twirl them with my plastic fork. “Well to be honest,” I paused for what seemed like a year. “
Things ended quit similar to you and Hannah.”
“What the f*** Kaleb. Do you think everything is a f***ing joke?” I storm into my room, Kaleb following behind me. “Do you ever think of anyone except yourself?”
“Dude, calm down it's just a detention.”
I felt the heat radiating off my face as the redness intensified. I bite my tongue until i tasted the metallic flavor of blood, but I couldn’t hold back the yells.
“I wish it was just a detention! Not only have you been putting yourself in dumb situations, you have been affecting other people too. We have become the laughing stock of the school, the idiot Kaleb and Octavian the dumbass who still stays friends with him.”
“Dude I can explain-”
“There is no excuse for acting like a total dick.”
“I have Fatal Familial Insomnia, which practically means I can't sleep most nights and eventually I won't be able to sleep at all, causing me to go insane. In few months I’m I’m most likely going to be hospitalized.” Silence echoed across the room.
“One, thats not funny. Don’t joke about things like that. Two, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Well ,the reason I’ve been acting out is because I’m not staying to the point I'm hospitalized, and in a coma for months.” Not staying?
“ Octavian...I’m gonna kill myself.”
My heart races at the thought of losing my best friend. The world unthinkable without him by my side. Not possible to process. It can’t be real. It's not real. I refused to believe it’s real. “Get out.”
“What? I just told you that I’m gon-”
“Get out of my house and don’t talk to me until you are ready to stop making up these sick twisted lies.” I watch as his white converse walk out of my house. That last image of him is imprinted in my brain.
“Just like you and Hannah.” She snuggled up beside me. One hand over me shoulder.
The tears spiraled down my face uncontrollably. My walls, the walls that held me up that kept me strong just collapsed. All the muscles on my face trembled. The once stifled sobs overcomed by cries.
I latched onto her chest, gripping unto the distressed leather jacket. She held me in silence, slowly rocking me back and forth. There was a rawness to my cry. To our cry. I felt her tears dripping onto the top of my head. Someone understood, they felt the same pain I did. It felt like for once I wasn’t alone.
“Don’t hold it in, it’s ok.” She stayed looking down at me making sure I was, what I kept telling people, fine.