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I snaked my hand against the rigid chains on the swing set, thinking of him. He was so beautiful, so noble, and dignified… I didn’t know how I was going to go on without him. He was always there for me, holding my hand and protecting me from the world. Now I only had the cold links of the swing to grasp onto.
I let go. My hand was burning from the freezing, bitter chain, and I got up. I walked over to the rickety wooden picnic table; he and I always used to sit here, talking about the movie we watched the night before and laughing about nothing. Now, he was gone, and I felt exiled, unwanted, and alone.
The words curled around my head: Parker Hamp is dead. It was the talk of the entire school; I thought going back there would keep my mind off of him…
“Josephine!” I whirled around to see Debra. She trampled gracelessly over to me, her wiry red hair sticking out in a Medusa-like hairstyle.
“Hey, Deb,” I replied sullenly. I didn’t feel like talking, especially if it was about…
“I’m sorry about Parker.” She pushed her glasses farther up on the bridge of her nose.
I sighed, upset that the conversation couldn’t be avoided. I bit my lip and nodded. “Yeah…” I started shuffling away, uncomfortable, not wanting to discuss this.
I shrugged. Why couldn’t Deb just keep quiet?
“I mean, Parker had it all: he was captain of the baseball team, he had a great girlfriend, now he’s dead…”
“Deb!” I exploded. “Shut up!”
Debra looked at me, taken aback, before she twirled around awkwardly. I was always a pacifist; it was weird for me to be harsh, especially to Deb.
I shoved my books into my locker and caught a glimpse of a picture of my dead boyfriend. Parker’s mouth was curled up in a grin, and his eyes were always smiling. His blonde hair was drenched and his clothes hugged his perfect body; I had just pushed him into the pool. He had laughed, and said, “Jo, you’re never going to see the end of this!” Every time from that point on he would toss me into the pool and tease me. It was so much fun and he was so amusing. Oh, how I loved Parker!
My mom always commented that our relationship had “eternalness.” She said we would be in love forever. My dad, who was tough and hated every guy I would mention, even agreed.
But I don’t believe in that permanence anymore.
How could Parker just give up and leave me? He always said, “I’ll never leave you, Josephine. Never in a million, trillion years.” He lied, though. He requested to be taken off of life support, and I still don’t understand why. Parker loved me… right?
I sat in class, looking at the board but not comprehending exactly what was on it. It all seemed so inconsequential to me.
“Josephine?” Mrs. Helen motioned for me to come up to her desk.
“I’m sorry about your loss,” she whispered. “I know how much you loved Mr. Hamp…”
“Do you want to go to the counselor?” Mrs. Helen continued. “I know your parents are worried and want you to visit Mr. Caust regularly.” She wrote me a note and handed it to me. “Don’t worry about the test this Friday…”
“Thank you,” I replied, flashing a small grin.
Hello, Miss Saunders,” Mr. Caust greeted. He gestured for me to sit next to him. I sank into the big, squishy, aqua chair that was way too soft. I didn’t care that I was uncomfortable.
“I understand you’ve been acting… erratic lately…?”
I nodded, but I didn’t know why he thought that was unusual. I had a reason to be acting this way: my long-term boyfriend that I loved more than anyone can love anything just died! Is that not an apt reason?
“Please, Josephine,” Mr. Caust continued. “I know you are devastated, but you can’t act this way. Your parents are terribly worried about you.” He rubbed the small amount of stubble he had on his chin. “You have to get through this. It’s been three weeks.”
“Actually, it’s been nineteen days.”
Mr. Caust shook his head and said, “You can’t wallow in this grief forever, Josephine.”
I sighed. I detested this; they were all trying to make me better, to fix me, but they couldn’t. Parker was gone, and I left with him.
Mr. Caust went on. “Josephine, I’m not sure if you believe in… Him, or heaven, but Parker is always with you. He’s watching over you.”
I cocked my head. I was a Catholic, and I believed in God, the afterlife, and spirits, but… “But why would he watch over me?” It didn’t make sense. “He has a family that’s upset, too.”
Mr. Caust thought for a while, wording his next statement. “I’m no… expert… but I believe that he ‘visits’ his family often, but he really loves-”
“Loved,” I corrected.
Then he disagreed. “Loves.” He stared at me, like he was trying to imprint that he still does in my head. “Parker loves you.”
“If he loves me,” I muttered. “He wouldn’t have left.”
“He didn’t leave you… he’s forever with you.”
I remained silent, and shivered as something unseen touched my hand. It felt like wind, air. It felt like…
I snaked my hand against the rigid chains on the swing set, sitting with him. He was so beautiful, so noble and dignified… and I didn’t have to go on without him. He would always be there for me, holding my hand and protecting me from the world.
I let go. My hand was burning from the freezing, bitter chain, but I didn’t care. I sauntered over to the rickety wooden picnic table; I smiled, was undaunted, and I shone.
“So,” I began. “How’s heaven?”