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The sun rests high in the sky, stationary, a disregard for time. At least, it feels so. Most of the others have left, but I couldn’t do so. Not just yet. None of this seems real. None of this could be real. That’s what I keep telling myself. And the space in front of your stone was ever so inviting.
When I was asked to say a few words on your behalf I couldn’t bring myself to it. Not out of sadness as I’m sure you’d expect, but because it felt too fake. None of it has really hit me yet. You’re at home, waiting for me to call. Probably listening to that cd I let you borrow, air-drumming to the intro of the second track. Just like all those other times we had done so, driving around mindlessly. My pocket begins to vibrate. I guess you didn’t feel like waiting any longer for me to call. I…i…ugh what the hell am I saying. I take out my phone and throw it a few feet away from my side.
Suddenly the wind picks up, the air grows cold; I’m no longer alone. Now that I think about it, it never actually felt like I was. But I don’t feel like turning my head; my gaze is too-fixed on the inscription in front of me.
“Hey Ian” says the voice next to me.
“Shawn?” I say, a perplexity and a bit of chagrin in my voice, averting my gaze from stone for a few seconds. “How are you…what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” Shawn says, moving his gaze towards me for a few seconds, before turning back to the stone before both of us. I do the same.
“I don’t think that’s too important at the moment, though. Who knows how much time we’ve got.” Shawn says.
We sit cross-legged as people outside the gate of this insensate park continue to walk back and forth, unhindered to the passing of time. Yet, the few fleeting moments of silence between us feel like eternities.
“How’s it feel to be dead?” I ask.
“You tell me.” Shawn replies. Turning my head towards him in confusion he says, “When I look at that headstone it’s your name I see.”
“What do you mean? After the crash they said you hadn’t made it, and that I was lucky to be alive. I’ve been blaming myself for the crash, it’s my fault you’re gone. I should have been the one; I was the driver after all.” I say, guilt overcoming my thoughts.
“Well I’m not sure where you are Ian, but where I am you were the one who didn’t make it.” Shawn says.
More moments. More silence. More eternities.
“So this is it, huh?” I say, my voice slightly trembling.
“That’s how it would seem, but I’m not so sure. I mean, after this I can’t say what will happen between us. But we both still got our lives head of us.” Shawn says.
“Living with only a fragment, a memory, of how the other’s life may play out.” I add.
“It’s better than nothing, ain’t it? I trust you know me well enough to imagine how I’d live. And you, you’ll become that writer like you’d always wanted to be. Maybe you won’t be as successful without my creative brilliance but hey, you’ll survive.” Shawn says jokingly, putting a smirk on my face; the first one in days.
Looking at me and then down at the ground, Shawn says, “Remember that time, a couple’ah years ago when we went ding-dong ditching down at the opposite end of town? You accidentally did it to Stefanie’s house. The look on your face when you jumped through the window of the car, turned, and saw her in the doorway; priceless. I never thought she’d want to talk to you, once Monday came back around. I don’t know how you did it but she’s one hell of a girl. Took this situation harder than you’d imagine.”
Confused, I listen on.
“That rose in front of you, in front of the stone. That’s from her.” Shawn says.
“That’s from your sis. Speaking of which, you should check in on that. She put that there, even will all the crap she gives you. Don’t cut her off like you have been.” I say.
I’ve returned his favor; a grin grows on his face. “Good advice. But I saw Stephanie place it myself.”
I may not understand it myself, but I trust him. “Let her know things are alright then. I’m alright. And I’m sorry things had to end so abruptly, so…thanklessly. Don’t feed her any of that sappy crap, though. She wouldn’t believe that it’s me.”
“Can do, ace.” Shawn simply replies.
One more eternity.
“Hey Shawn, you still got that CD I let you borrow?” I ask.
“You’re kidding me, right? There’s no way in hell I’m parting with that thing now. When all this is over I’m gonna go home, pop that bad-boy in, and play your air-drum kit like you’ve never played it before.” Shawn replies, letting half a smile creep up on his face, before he disappears from sight.
I laugh, quickly but noticeably; bittersweet laughter. “I figured.”