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Fantasy Fiction Friendship

She sensed his decision to spend the night in the graveyard. It was a bad idea for her to join him there; so of course she left her room and headed straight to the graveyard. She would deal with the consequences later.

“Are you ready?”

She did a quick internal checklist. Heart rate: skyrocketing. Palms: sweaty. Vision: blurrier by the minute. Hands: shaking. All unnecessary, but it was hard to discard a lifetime’s worth of reactions. Muscle memory.

She nodded. The world spun.

“Are you sure?”

She made a sound that she hoped communicated her willingness and commitment to be sure about it.

“You look like you’re going to pass out.”

To prove that she was okay, that she could handle this, she adjusted her posture - shoulders back, head held high – then entered the graveyard.

He was sitting on a bench. His eyes were heavy with unshed tears and…it. Even like this, even burdened with it, he was breathtaking.

She sat down a few inches away from him. There was a time when they shared personal space. She missed that. She missed him.

It sat right in between them, squeezing in. It was a tight fit.

“Ah what a lovely night for reminiscing.”

The images suddenly hit them without mercy, without rhyme or reason. No matter how much time passed, it would never make sense. Blood. So much blood. White coats. White walls. Him, calling her name, screaming her name. Then…silence.

Silence. Someone should bottle it and sell it. 

It suddenly embraced him. Her silent scream pierced the silent night and the two silences combined to form one giant silence that was suffocating.

“Oh cut out the melodrama and relax. You knew this was going to happen.”

Yes, she knew but it hurts so much! He hurts so much! 

Her scream morphed into an angry growl.

“Fine. We’ll take a break. Even though we haven’t started yet.”

She glowered.

“Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot. Let me give you a gift. Peace offering and all.

She opened her mouth to refuse but he preempted her.

“Do you not want to know why he is here tonight?”

The next set of images were less brutal but no less heart wrenching.

“Guys, I can’t make it for band practice tonight. I’m visiting a friend.”

They - his friends, no, his family by choice - all looked at him with varying degrees of sadness, pity and helplessness.

“Will you be out late? Maybe we could still practice after you have visited your…friend?” That was the kind one. The perpetual peacemaker.

“It’s her, isn’t it?” That was her best friend. Well, former best friend now. She had forgotten how perceptive that one could be.

“I just want some closure.”

“Do you think visiting her at night will finally make you stop sleeping around?” That was his best friend, who had his own share of issues. She felt he was hitting his best friend below the belt. People deal with things the best way they can. Besides, he had always been faithful to her when she was…around. 

“Wow. Are we doing this right now? I wish I had carried my stones too so that we, the wonderful inhabitants of this glass house we call a band, could all participate in this inspiring session of stone-throwing.”

“Isn’t the graveyard closed at night?” The kind one was also the practical one. On the good days. He too had his own set of issues.

“I know the guard.”

“You know the guard? Just how long has this been going on? It’s not healthy!” That was the best friend again.

“Healthy? You’re one to talk!”

“What you do when you’re conscious is what gives your subconscious ammunition to…”

“I’m too tired for this. I’m leaving. I can’t reason with you guys when you are in this mood.”

We’re the ones in a mood? You want to spend the night in a graveyard and we're the ones in a mood?”

“Yes! You guys just want to pick a fight!”

“Maybe if we fought more, you wouldn’t feel the need to go to a graveyard at night!”

“It’s just a graveyard! I don’t see why you are making such a big deal out of a graveyard!”

"The fact that you don't see why we are making a big deal out of this is exactly the problem!"

It all went downhill after that. Or six feet under, as it were.

It stopped the images.

“Are you ready now?”

She probably was never going to be ready but she knew this had to be done. She just needed a few more minutes.

“Okay, but no more than half an hour. He’s not the only one I have to help tonight. Let’s kill some time. Tell me more about him?”

What was the best way to condense the awesomeness of him into as few words as possible?

“He’s a doctor. Was a doctor. He is now the drummer of a successful band.''

“From doctor to drummer! Pray tell, what manner of drama facilitated this dramatic conversion?”

She glowered.

It was amused. “See that tree over there?”

She looked. It was a strange-looking tree. The patterns on the bark were soothing, relaxing…

“I’m like the parts of a tree. I’m like the leaves and flowers. I come and go as the seasons unfold.”

She did not see it inching closer to him.

“I’m like the branches, reaching up to the sky, always asking why.”

Closer, closer…

“I’m like the trunk, keeping track of the seconds, minutes, hours, decades. My bark is better than my bite. My bark is healing. Time seals all wounds.”

It embraced him.

“I’m like the roots. I go deep, so deep…”

When she emerged from the trance, it was gone and he was sobbing. Weeping. For her. Because of her. In spite of her. Regardless of her. With her.

Mission accomplished.

She stood by his side until he was ready to go back to the land of the living.

At dawn, she watched him walk out the graveyard gates, his gait lighter, his grief gone…underground, to the roots; more malleable, more manageable.

She flew back to her room and waited for her punishment.

October 30, 2020 09:27

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