Black Fiction Sad

There are two things that I've noticed when listening to eulogies. One, what's being said reveals how well you knew or didn't know the deceased. And two, how much the departed was willing to reveal about himself.

You are dead. You, my best friend and the friend everybody loved. You, who knew where the best parties were being thrown this side of Detroit. You, who discovered the location of the cool clubs in every city you visited. You, who turned every stranger you ever met into an immediate friend.

I'm sitting here in our small, red brick childhood church. The soft drumming of the rain hits the stained glass windows like silent tears. I listen as the endless stories by people speaking about you, began to merge into a monotonous heap of words. Most of the stories are funny. It's a tribute to your wild adventurous side. These stories show snippets of only one side of you. These people didn’t really know who you were or what drove you.

I remember when my family moved into the cottage style house next door to yours. While moving our things into the house, I surveyed the new neighborhood and my eyes fell on you. You and five other guys casually straddled your ten speed bikes in your front yard. You, afro a mile high, leaned back from the handlebars while waving your arms in full animation. Whatever you were saying, slayed the other boys. They rolled on the ground, coughing between guffaws at the story you were telling them. That was my introduction to the charm that was just a small part of you.

The next time I detected you, you were laughing with your buddies in the enormous hallway of the middle school we both attended. You, wearing your well-fitted jeans, brown suede jacket, and laidback attitude, gave me a playful wink. We sat across from one another in history class. I watched with amusement, the other girls in class maneuver their chairs, so that they could sit as close to you as possible. Every time I ran into you, people surrounded you. You demanded attention with your commanding presence. It surprised and flattered me that you even noticed me.

I am an introvert and I take pride in that quality, at least now I do. However, during that time, my family pushed me into being more outgoing. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. I didn't like large gatherings. It stressed me out. I would rather have stayed home and read instead of going to sports games or parties. Engaging with people at that age became excruciating. I shunned anything related to being social. You, unfortunately, weren’t about to have me wallow within myself. "Hey girl, put that book down and enjoy life,” you would shout, just to make sure I was embarrassed. You took delight in mortifying me at every opportunity.

Although I preferred my insular existence, you saw to it that I expanded my experiences. The first party you dragged me to, was during our freshman year in high school. It was an ABC party or better known as Anything But Clothes party. We could wear anything but actual clothing. I remember telling you that there was no way I would step my toe inside a party with that kind of dress code. You, being the most persuasive person I've ever met, cajoled me until I relented. Convincing my parents, took some serious persuasion. They were livid, but you charmed them the way you did everyone. That evening you rang the doorbell. Tripping down the stairs in my self-made designer trash bag ensemble, with aluminum foil shoes to complete the outfit, I bore a strong resemblance to the trash on the curb. I opened the door and you stood there, elbows propped against the door frame, hands on your narrow hips in what was a GQ model pose, wrapped in red and green saran wrap. Somehow you had strategically wrapped yourself so that certain parts of your body were not exposed. As we strolled our way to your tomato red Corvette, I got a mental picture of what we must have looked like to the neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Fool are on their way to this goofy party. We had a blast and afterwards, you got me to hang out many more times.

Throughout the years, however, there were moments where I watched you. When you didn't think anyone was around, the exuberance, the smile, and the joy disappeared. Sadness replaced them. I don't think you realized that I was aware of the why behind the sadness. We heard the shouting, the cursing, and the threats next door. It rang even louder when taking out the trash in the nook between our houses where the garbage cans stood. I would wake up, the night sky an inky black, and hear the motor of your mother's car tuning up. The shouts escalating to threats. I heard the frantic voices of you, your brothers, and mother while you all scrambled to get into the car. I would turn over on my back and listen as the car screeched into drive before tearing down the street. The distant sound of the scraping motor would get quieter until there was silence. Where you would go, I never knew. Those were the days your eyes appeared scarlet and the purple bruise peeked underneath the sunglasses.

You pulled it off beautifully because no one ever suspected.

By the time we entered college we began to drift. You attended one university and I chose another. You left and traveled as far away as you could. Word had spread that big things were coming your way in your chosen profession. When you returned home, we both had matured into different people. I discovered that my introverted nature served as a welcomed part of my personality. The small group of friends from school became all I needed. You still loved a good party and the cool clubs, but life slowed you down considerably. The spark that I found captivating had dimmed.

The last time I saw you, your father had died. You, with deep sincerity, mourned for him. You had taken a job closer to home so that you could take care of your mother. People are complex, and life has so many twists. It's like being on a perpetual roller coaster.

I was at work when I received the news that you had died. I completely broke down. The torrent flood of tears unleashed from my soul and wouldn’t cease. My supervisor insisted that I go home. Sleep never came to me that night, as the realization that your indomitable spirit, had been abruptly extinguished. The only person that could get me to be zany would never grace me with his presence again. I was asked to say a few words about you and my first reaction was to decline. I could hear you say, "Girl get up and tell them about me. Get your nose out of that book."

Rising from the pew, I strode toward the podium. I cleared my throat while staring at the room full of mourners. My voice, calm, without a hint of nervousness, spoke these words: "He was my first friend when my family moved here. I could tell you about the crazy antics he pulled, but I believe it’s been covered. Behind that gregarious soul was a person who genuinely cared about others. He encouraged me to peep out of my shell every once in a while and enjoy life. He exhibited more courage than anyone knew."

I drove home after your funeral. As I collapsed on the sofa, a strong inclination washed over me. My eyes spotted our class yearbook. Picking up the blue and gold annual, I wiped the dust off with my sleeve. Lodged inside the worn bent pages was an old picture of the two of us. We were dressed in a garbage bag and saran wrap. I the picture of nervousness and apprehension, and you the picture of boldness and confidence.

July 24, 2021 19:49

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Kathleen `Woods
06:03 Aug 08, 2021

This was a marvelous use of a Prompt, your descriptions really built your characters! Thanks for Writing!


Angela Guthrie
13:08 Aug 08, 2021

Thank you Kathleen!


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