Vic leaned back against the cement wall of the out-of-order restaurant, the bottle containing amber coloured liquid in his hand clinking as he set it on the ground. I watched as he bent his head back to touch the wall and shut his eyes tight.
This was hard for both of us.
The cemetery was only one block away.
We would have to stop avoiding the obvious and go soon.
But we couldn’t.
I knew what was to happen next when I found him in my kitchen that morning. Not because there was a guy in my kitchen, he was always at my house, if he wasn’t, I was at his house. But because of the day. The time. His red eyes.
Most people think I’m his sister when they see us. Maybe because the sister he has- I mean had is gone. We felt like siblings too. Me, him, and Marilyn. She would be the smart, older sister, Vic would be the not-so-innocent middle child and I would be the youngest. Although me and Vic could be twins, if you base it off our birthdays. He was only two weeks older, and we were born at the same hospital.
I think Baby Victor knew the day he saw me. Even if he was only two weeks old. I think he knew I was the one. The one he would be inseparable with. The one he would eventually make his best friend, and then his almost-sister.
What he didn’t know is the pain he was causing to the sister he had.
Marylin was the girl everyone loved. Adults used her as a role model for their kids, boys would always ask her out, and people would beg to be friends with her, and she would make them her friends. She was popular, but not in the “Mean Girls” way. She was popular because she was kind, and sweet. And yes, I’ll admit, she was pretty.
I remember when we were little, we would braid each other’s hair, paint our nails, you know, the girly stuff little girls would do. She was a nice person, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have a feisty side. Normal Marylin was nothing like Party Marylin. Party Marylin drank as many margaritas as she pleased, while Normal Marylin stuck to orange juice. Party Marylin got with any boy she chose, but Normal Marylin would never touch a boy if her life depended on it.
I looked over at Victor, and I could tell he was still reliving the same memories. Tears filled his already red rimmed eyes. I could feel needles behind my own.
I put an arm around his shoulders, shifting closer to him on the dirty gravel ground. The restaurant was closed, and had been for twenty years. It served as our spot to grieve before we went to the cemetery. I guess no one bothered to knock down the crumbling place. It emitted sad, lonely vibes, and had a calm environment. It was perfect for our cause.
“Hey….remember when she egged your mom’s car and blamed it on us? We got grounded for two weeks after that.”, a small smile decorated my face as I thought about the memory.
Vic put his head between his knees, the bottle in his hand again. I hated the fact that he drinks. But I let it slide.
“And...and that time when she found a kitten in your backyard? Remember how she took it in, cleaned it up, fed it, and took it to the animal shelter because you dad was allergic?” I thought that would’ve made him smile. Or stop crying at least.
Guys didn’t cry often, which I thought was weird. Well, probably because I was so used to mental breakdowns attacking me. Vic didn’t cry, but when he did, he made sure no one could see the tears dripping down his face.
I was starting to get desperate.
“JUST STOP IT KEELY. STOP IT.”
His outburst shocked me. He had lifted his head up to shout at me, and now you could see his face. His cheeks were wet, and his eyes were wide and red. His mouth was slightly open, his dark hair disheveled.
“I thought I was helping-”
“HOW? HOW IS REMINDING ME OF THE PERSON I LOST HELPING?”
“I THOUGHT IT WOULD MAKE IT EASIER TO LET GO!”
Now I was shouting too.
“MAYBE FOR YOU. BUT ALL IT DOES FOR ME IS IT SERVES AS A KNIFE STABBING MY BRAIN LIKE THE WAY SHE STABBED-”
I stopped him with one word. And it was quiet. Barely audible over his shouts. But he heard. I couldn’t let him say it. It would only make things worse.
He slumped back against the wall.
“I’m sorry.”, he whispered.
I hugged him tighter, wishing this never would’ve happened. Wishing everything would be okay.
Wishing she was here with us.
I wondered if Marylin knew, or understood the pain she was going to cause us. I wonder if she knows now.
Victor cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter, putting the bottle down.
“I- I guess we should...get going.”
His voice was hoarse and gravelly, as a result of the tears he shed.
“Only if you’re ready.”
He shut his eyes then opened them again. Vic stood up, the bottle slipping unheeded from his hand, and thankful not breaking. He then offered his hand to me, looking down with a sad smile. I took his hand and got up, brushing myself off.
And it began.
The dreaded walk.
I guess you could call it the “Walk of Grief”.
He took my hand in a death grip, needing reassurance that I was there. I squeezed back.
We walked slowly. Down the sidewalk. Cars whizzed by us, inattentive of the pain we were going through.
Then we saw it.
The black, wired fence that represented the start, the border of the cemetery.
Her resting place.
Today marked the one year anniversary.
It’s crazy to think it’s been one year.
One year and we were still grieving.
One year and we still can’t let go.
Vic froze in his tracks. I stopped with him.
We were in front of the entrance now, in front of the sign that had the name inscribed on it.
The place we had been visiting every month.
The place that collected all our tears and listened to our woes.
I took a deep breath, fighting the wave of nausea and tears slowly getting bigger in my head.
Then I clutched his hand, and pulled him in.
We didn’t need to look around for directions. Our feet followed the worn path in the grass that had been carved by us twelve months ago, when we first went.
There. In the grass.
Surrounded by bouquets of wilting flowers.
I couldn’t help it. The tears came.
What one was a pricking sensation behind my eyes was now a tsunami or tears running down my face like a waterfall. We fell on our knees, the stone before our eyes. I saw tears leaking out of Victor’s face too.
𝐻𝑒𝓇𝑒 𝓁𝒾𝑒𝓈 𝑀𝒶𝓇𝓎𝓁𝒾𝓃 𝑅𝑒𝑒𝒹
𝒜 𝓈𝒾𝓈𝓉𝑒𝓇. 𝒜 𝒹𝒶𝓊𝑔𝒽𝓉𝑒𝓇. 𝒜 𝓈𝓉𝓊𝒹𝑒𝓃𝓉.
𝐻𝑒𝓇 𝓂𝑒𝓂𝑜𝓇𝓎 𝓌𝒾𝓁𝓁 𝒷𝑒 𝓇𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓂𝒷𝑒𝓇𝑒𝒹 𝒻𝑜𝓇𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇.
Vic cleared his throat then took a deep breath.
“I- I broke my promise”, he said in a small voice.
He looked at me in my eyes and a sense of understanding passed between us.
Fresh tears rolled down my face.
I slowly reached out a shaking hand and took his hand, turning it to one side so his wrist was exposed.
My my eyes widened in sheer terror as I saw it.
It was there.
The one that proved that he really had broken his promise.
The one caused by a knife of his own.
The promise to not make the same mistake his sister did.
I looked up at him, water blurring my vision.
“She wouldn’t have wanted this.”
He stayed silent.
“She wouldn’t have wanted you to die in the same way she took her own life.”