If this blog isn't indication enough, I love writing, and while said blog has served as a fantastic venue to do some personal essay type stuff, it's by no means the only type of writing I enjoy. Fiction, as a medium, has never been my strong point, but at the same time, who doesn't like a good story? Enter Nika Harper into this equation: author, geek, and host of the Geek and Sundry vlog Wordplay, which is a semi-weekly youtube show in which she discusses writing, shares some of her own, and then encourages her viewers to write as well. I highly recommend it.
At any rate, for some reason this week's episode really caused an inspirational epiphany in my brain, and I actually partook in the episode's challenge which, because it is the nature of this blog, I am now sharing with you, I hope you like it.
By: Brandon Draga
It had been three months since we had seen one another. He was on his way home when it happened, a transport truck whose schedule was clearly more pressing than the life of a young man. It doesn't matter what the old adage says; absence only makes the heart grow fonder if there's some fondness left. I had every intention of seeing him the next day, giving him The Talk, and instead I spent the next few days at a funeral home, using every bit of my resolve to try and maintain composure, and not doing the best job. I don't know what was harder about it, the fact that he was gone, or that in his last moments he probably still harboured that fondness in his heart, that fondness that I couldn't reciprocate any longer. It was like someone throwing out all of Thanksgiving dinner because I didn't like the cranberries – my minor issue was gone, but with no real closure, and at too great a cost to everyone else.
About a week passed, a week with restless, and often sleepless nights. The following Friday night, I couldn't deal with it anymore. I couldn't deal with the tossing and turning, the drifting to sleep by four a.m. only to be shocked awake by another nightmare. I got up out of bed, threw on some clothes, and left my apartment. I needed closure, I needed to have The Talk.
I stopped by a little 24-hour convenience store along the way to get flowers for the grave. All they had was lilies, appropriately the flowers he gave to me on our first date. The graveyard was just a few blocks from the apartment, an old place where much of his family was already buried. I walked the cobblestone path toward his grave, and my heart began to quicken. I didn't understand why; in a kind of morbid way, this would be easier. There would be no questions, no explanations, no sorrowful pleading, just my words, words I had recited in my head what seemed like a thousand times a day for the last six weeks. Still, I was as nervous as I would have been if he were still there. I needed a minute to compose myself, get my head straight. I sat down on a nearby bench, and thought about what I was going to say, and then I heard his voice.
I shrieked. I jumped. The lilies hit the ground and my heart hit my ribcage. He was there, on the bench. I mean, not totally there, but still there. After what felt like an eternity, the smallest, softest words within me were able to creep up. “....Brad?... How are you?... How is this?” if my mind was a mess before, it was the aftermath of a natural disaster now.
“Oh, this?” he smiled, demonstrating his lack of physical substance by waving his hand through his head “I don't really know... I guess maybe I'm a ghost?” it was amazing that not even death could curb his nonchalance. “I'm glad you came,” he said, looking at me “I missed you.”
“Brad...I...” I scrambled to pick up the lilies as I came to terms with the situation. “We...need to talk...” So much for the easy way out.
He raised an eyebrow quizzically “If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're trying to break up with a dead guy.” he began to chuckle. The chuckling was short-lived when he looked back at me. “Wait, Em, seriously?”
“Look,” I began, “We had a lot of great times for a while...”
“You don't need to do this...”
“...it just feels like, lately we haven't been able to connect...”
“Emily, this is ridiculous...”
“It's gotten to the point where we've been living different lives...”
“I don't have a life anymore, Em!”
“I just feel like it's best if we...”
He rarely ever raised his voice to me, so that alone shook me, but there was something else to it now, something ethereal, otherworldly, that just made me freeze. “Em... I'm dead. There's nothing left for you to break up with... it's over.”
“Brad,” I said, looking up at him through tears “this conversation needed to happen.” He looked back at me and nodded. We both walked over to his grave silently, and I laid the lilies down in front of his tombstone.
“Lilies...” he smirked “how apropos.”
“You know, if things didn't happen the way they did, I would have liked for us to stay friends...”
“There's no reason we can't be.” His smile seemed a bit less melancholy now. “If ever you want to talk, just as friends, you know where to find me.” As I watched him fade into the night, I caught the faintest hint of a wink.
I sat there, at the bench in the graveyard, and sobbed. Good, loud, cathartic sobs, for almost an hour. I went and sat in a diner after that, had some coffee, and waited for the sun to come up. I walked home wondering if what happened was real, and if it was whether it would ever happen again. If nothing else, one way or the other, I got my closure. I went back to my apartment, and was finally able to sleep.