Grief | Teen Ink


April 7, 2017
By GloriaBurke SILVER, Vancouver, Washington
GloriaBurke SILVER, Vancouver, Washington
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments


Hey it’s me. My flight was really long and I ate too many of those cookies with the jelly in the middle. I think I’m finally getting used to the time change though. Today was my first day on the job. I think I did all right; my nerves definitely got in the way a little. My boss is really nice. She said she could show me around sometime. I may take her up on it. I hope you’re doing okay.


Remy leans over, gripping her knees with her hands. She’s been running for over an hour in aggressive rain. She stares at the wet pavement and imagines her lungs with small hands, grasping for oxygen. A drop of water glides down the side of her protruding cheekbone and her dark hair is soaked. Her jogging clothes are gripping her small body like sticky latex. She looks up at the moonlight forcing its way through the daunting clouds and the tree branch jutting its way across the sky. She leans against the tree’s body until she’s convinced her lungs are satisfied with the oxygen they’re receiving. Then she begins the slow walk home, her left leg displaying a slight limp.


Hey. The job is going well. And my night classes are starting to become more manageable, except I’m having a bit of trouble with Economics. The teacher is a real downer. You’d love him. My boss showed me around the area yesterday. It’s beautiful and there’re leaves everywhere. Have any holiday plans?


Remy is sitting on the ledge by her window, her legs tucked under her arms. She takes a long drag from her cigarette and washes it down with a sip of lukewarm coffee, its only source of heat coming from her tight clutch. She thinks about going grocery shopping but the idea of walking down the long flight of stairs from her apartment is almost agonizing. She looks out the window and pays witness to the world press on. She watches a woman walk her slow dog, a piece of plastic float among the leaves and a couple grotesquely display their affection on a bench. Her hand is trapped awkwardly behind his back and his is evidently finding a lot of pleasure in the strands of her hair. Remy gags involuntarily, grabs her wallet and braves the stairs, visions of soup cans and bananas consuming her mind.


Hey. I umm… I met someone today. He came into work and was really friendly and we talked and next thing I know we’re at a restaurant surrounded by people in love. He’s a stockbroker with dark hair and a short beard. I don’t think you’d like him very much but often your judgment of character surprises me. I hope your holidays were restful.


Remy wakes up on her bathroom floor. Its white tile is slightly grimy and incredibly cold. She shivers and grimaces at her pounding head. She stands slowly and inspects herself in the mirror. She sees translucent skin, haphazard short black hair and cold blue eyes, the whites of them slightly red. She stumbles to her kitchen and flicks on the coffee machine. She reaches for an apple but quickly retracts, fearing she may taste it again coming up. She leans against the counter and taps her foot impatiently awaiting the caffeine. Blurry images of the previous night surface in her brain and she swats her hand in front of her eyes in a physical effort to rid the foggy memories. 4 minutes later she gingerly grips her San Francisco mug and makes her way to her cluttered desk. She sits down and opens up her small laptop. She has one email from Louis and one from her dentist office, strongly urging her to come in for a checkup.


I got a raise at work today so I think I’m going to save up to move. My apartment is kind of a dump and my roommate never washes her dishes. There is cereal grime on almost every bowl. I think I’m gonna need to hide one in my room. So I have my own clean bowl. Anyway just thought I’d tell you that I’m going to move. I don’t know why. Doesn’t really affect you. You still at the same apartment?


Remy finishes the crossword and looks at her stopwatch. 5 minutes. 20 seconds slower than last time. She reaches for her oatmeal, its texture now resembling cement, and forces it down. She gets up to wash the bowl and when it hits the sink a small splash of water gets on her shirt. She can feel the water soaking into the fabric and touch her skin. She looks down at her shirt and is crushed by an influx of emotion. Suddenly she’s taking it off and then she has scissors in her hand and she’s cutting it into tiny shreds. And then she’s screaming at her wall. And she’s imagining the pictures falling off the wall because her voice should have that much power. It deserves at least that. And then she looks back down at her now bare chest and she sees the tree tattoo and she wishes so badly she could just scratch it off cause it came in contact with that shirt. She stands there silently for a few moments. And then she sits back at the table, grabs her crossword book and starts the stopwatch. She needs to beat 5 minutes.


Hi. I was walking today and saw a crow and I thought of you. Don’t take that the wrong way. I know crows are inherently ugly. You’re not ugly. But I thought of you! I... uh... I broke up with the stockbroker guy. It just wasn’t working out. My new apartment is painted yellow. I thought of you when I painted it. Isn’t that funny? Crows and yellow remind me of you. They’re polar opposites. A testament to your versatility I guess. I’m looking out the window and the flowers are blooming. Your least favourite season is almost upon us! Sorry. That was out of line. Oh I quit my job too. Just thought you should know.


Remy has been sitting in the coffee shop for almost 3 hours. She’s gone through 4 cups of coffee, one espresso shot and a stale scone. She watches a man a few seats away. He’s leaning over his mug, his hands clasped in front of it. The steam from his coffee is masking his closed eyes. A caffeine infused cloud. He looks sad. She notices sad people more now. She’s itching for a cigarette so she extracts herself from her chair and exits the café. She lights the cigarette with the elegance of an aged sailor and sits on the curb. She hugs her stomach with her other arm and squints at the sun, watching the smoke float in the air. She thinks about money and how she’s almost out of it. She vows to call Louis and ask him if he has a new case he needs her help on. He’s always been kind to her. She stubs out her cigarette on the concrete and starts to walk home, her limp almost obsolete.


Hey it’s me again. I snagged a job at a new office and I’m quite pleased with it. The apartment is finally starting to feel like home now. My fridge actually has food in it too, which is a massive improvement. And all my bowls are clean. No cereal grime. The stockbroker guy keeps calling me. I’m not going to call back. The final bruise is finally fading from my arm and then he’ll be out of my life for good. Spring is in full bloom. I’m predicting that you’ve hid yourself from the world now. Just remember to eat. Have you kicked that smoking habit?


Remy leaves the dentist office rubbing the side of her mouth. It’s almost noon and the sun is making the pavement so hot that she can feel the heat through the rubber souls of her shoes. She seeks shade under the awnings of the stores along the street until she gets to her apartment. Once inside, she turns on the fan in her living room and pours herself a glass of ice water. She grabs a novel from the table beside her drab swamp green couch and sits down. She reads and drinks her water, the ice already completely melted. She smiles as she reads about people in the forest and she pretends that she’s with them instead of in her apartment, suffocating.


Happy belated birthday! I’m taking a trip to California, on a train. It’s going to take 8 days. Remember when we rode trains? And that one time I lost my watch and you spent the whole trip across Oregon searching for it? We never found the watch but I do recall eating delicious dining-cart chili in its memory. Anyway, I hope your summer is well.


Remy is sitting at the top of a mountain. She drinks from her thermos and stuffs a handful of trail mix into her mouth. She shivers involuntarily and shifts her position on the sharp rock underneath her. The sun is setting behind her tent and the fire she conceived is crackling loudly, drowning out the sounds of mosquitos and birds. She closes her eyes and smells the pine. Its peaceful smell consumes her nostrils and for a second she allows it to completely engulf her, visions of her stifling apartment and painful faces wisped away by the tree’s fierce odor. She opens them and looks all around her. The space is silent and empty. She lets out a shaky breath as she is struck by the crushing reality that she is completely alone.


So get this. I’m on the train back from California. I’m in my sleeper car and I decide to watch something on the tiny TV. I turn it on and Blue is the Warmest Colour is playing. And I start to cry. And I can’t stop and suddenly I’ve watched Léa Seydoux for over an hour, and I’m still crying. You hated Blue is the Warmest Colour. You hated it so much and I remember sitting on your stupid couch and eating that stupid Pad Thai and I remember you not shutting up about that movie. Why’d you hate it so much?! Why are you still in my head? Please. Get out of my head. I can’t do this anymore.


Remy is lying in bed listening to a crime podcast. They haven’t made any progress in 3 episodes and she’s starting to get bored. She groans as she leans over to grab her mug filled with green tea. She lies back down and looks at her grey ceiling. She watches a spider make its way across the ceiling and thinks about how tiny that spider’s world is, how walking across the ceiling will induce such triumph and victory. Remy turns her head and looks outside. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow. How triumphant those leaves must feel. Remy wants to experience victory. A single tear falls down her face.


Hey I… um… I’m sorry about that last message. I lost control a little bit. I’m falling apart. Sorry you took the brunt of my crumbling. At least it’s autumn. Everything is cold and yellow now. I hope you’re happy.


Remy is in a taxi on her way home from her sister’s engagement party. All she can think about is tearing the disgusting red dress off her body. The cab driver is doing a superb job of going 10 miles below the speed limit, and she takes to watching the numbers increase on the monitor, indicating how much money she’s going to have to inevitably hand him; how beautifully unfair. She sits back and her mind begins to churn, replaying the evening’s trauma. She hears her family’s incessant questions about her lack of career, relationships and overall desire to live. She scowls. They wouldn’t know true companionship and joy if it vomited all over their freshly pleated trousers. She ponders this and realizes maybe she wouldn’t either.


I miss you. So much. I’m sorry. Please.


Your voicemail inbox is full and cannot accept any more messages. Please delete messages in order to receive new ones.


Remy is walking briskly home. She can feel the leaves beneath her feet and can see her breath, an opaque fog. It reminds her of the cigarettes she smoked. She endures the flight of stairs and enters her apartment. She puts on the kettle and grabs her phone. She dials the 10 digits and holds the phone to her ear. It rings 5 times and then:

“Hi this is Sal. Sorry I didn’t catch your call, feel free to leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

Remy’s heart rate begins to quicken as she says, “Hi. I’m sorry to hear your flight was so long. And I’m so pleased you got a new job. I don’t think I look like a crow but I think I want to paint my apartment yellow too. I think about that stockbroker and how he hurt you and all I want to do is hurt him. I want to put cereal grime on your bowls. Spring was the absolute worst but in the summer I took a train to a mountain and I watched the sun set. I don’t think I hate Blue is the Warmest Colour anymore. I don’t know what that means exactly. I don’t smoke very much anymore either and I miss you and I forgive you for what happened, my limp is gone so I guess that’s why and -”

Remy is cut off by a long beep, indicating she has used the allotted time to leave a message. She lets out a long sigh and sits at her kitchen table. Her hands are shaking slightly. She thinks about the triumphant spider and train chili and the man engulfed in the caffeine cloud. She thinks about Sal. She laughs and then cries and then laughs at how one can do both simultaneously. She drinks her tea and waits for the day to end.

The next morning Remy watches Blue is the Warmest Colour and eats cereal out of a clean bowl. She walks out into the crisp day and buys a can of yellow paint. When she gets back to her apartment she cleans her bathroom tiles and does a crossword puzzle in 4 and a half minutes. At 3:34pm she picks up her phone and dials the same 10 digits again. She smiles a little, shocking herself.
Hope is a marvelously malicious emotion.

The number you have dialed is no longer in service, at the user’s request.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Apr. 13 2017 at 7:24 pm
Quiet_Thunder BRONZE, Random, Alaska
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
When my prayers to God were met with indifference, I picked up a pen. I wrote my own deliverance. -Hamilton

Ok. That was incredible. I am breathless. You are an amazing writer.