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Sad Romance

I kept my head up at your funeral. That’s what you would have wanted me to do. 

   I gave your family and friends firm handshakes and told them you would appreciate their presence. That’s what you would have wanted me to do. 

   I delivered a speech that was like an obituary, but of all the memories I had of you. It wasn’t supposed to make people cry, yet everyone seemed to. Especially the part at the end where I said, “If he was a beach, I was the stars that danced for him and gave him light so he could reflect me in his own beauty.” That’s what you would have wanted me to do.

That line was supposed to be funny because your name was Beach and mine was Stelly, hence the beach and the stars. I say “was” Stelly because nobody will ever call me that again. No one will ever yell it across the parking lot when I was lost in it. No one will roll over in the middle of the night and whisper it in my ear like you needed confirmation that it was me. No one will ever stand on the top of an unfinished roof and announce it into the night sky, forever engraving it in the stars I was named after. 

Nobody knows that my Beach called me Stelly. I’ll go to being known as Este or Estelaria. Even if someone else called me Stelly, I wouldn’t want them to. Stelly is your name. Stelly is yours. That phase of me that jumped off of a cliff into a lake at three in the morning, traveled across the country on a whim, and stole wild horses from their herd, that was Stelly. Este would never do those things. I can feel Stelly curled inside of me, inside of Este, trapped and broken. Only you can bring her back. Nothing can bring you back. 

For some reason, they let me choose your outfit for the funeral. They told me it was because they loved me and knew how much you loved me, and that they thought you would want me to pick the outfit. I think you would have just said fuck it, I’ll go naked. It will make you stare, anyway

But I agreed because I loved them, too. Ben and Ellie who brought you into this world twenty years before and weren’t ready to let you leave it so soon. 

So I chose your favorite outfit that you wore on almost every date we had - a white tank top with an unbuttoned dark blue polo over it and your black slacks. I made sure they took your chain, but not before I polished it so much my fingers bled. You loved that old thing. Even if it kept falling apart and I kept having to put it back together. 

I also double-checked that I put that picture you had of me in the pocket of your slacks. It was weathered and I used to hate that you always had a picture of me with you. But now, I envision that the picture is one of Stelly, and that laying it to rest with you would help let her go, too. I’m still waiting to let go of both of you.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let you and Stelly go. But it’s the thought of releasing you from my protective heart that counts.

When I arrived at the church, I didn’t begin to cry. I knew Stelly would cry, but Este, Este was stone-cold. I’m sure you were rooting me on when I didn’t shed a tear. If you were there with me, you’d say something like, that’s my Stelly. Save your tears for someone worth crying for. 

And then Stelly would rise up and respond, You were everything, Beach, you’re worth it. 

Thank God you never came around to say that. 

They let me see you first, even though I insisted Ben and Ellie should go because they were your parents. But they said they simply weren’t ready and that they needed a little more time. I figured it was the least I could do, to give them time. 

So I marched through that church, through the throng of schoolmates and foreign relatives, and I burst through the door of the nave. The talking and weeping went quiet. I could see your coffin from afar and felt poor Stelly voice her objections. And yet, Este was still in control, and she led us

right

   up

   to

   your

   coffin.

   And she made Stelly stare at you for one final time. 

   You weren’t the same, to say the least. Your tan skin was no longer tan and imperfect in the best way. It was pale and your freckles were faded and blotchy. Your beautiful brunet ringlets were unkempt and not correctly taken care of. Your soft lips I once recalled the flavor of were chapped and pasty. The worst part was that your eyes were shut. My favorite part about you, your so-light-blue-they’re-almost-white-eyes were forever gone and I would never have the chance to uphold their beauty ever again. 

   Then I glanced at your hands, crossed over your chest. 

   My eyes rushed with tears. 

   They were the same hands. Your hands. Though not bulging with blood-filled veins, they were still those slender, splayed hands that had traveled places on me not even I dared to touch. It was like remembering the best time of your life and hating it for ending. 

   Because everything ended the day you told me you were dying. 

   I don’t remember ever falling beside your casket, but I did end up beside it. Stelly had found her way out through those hands and was giving her final bow. Sloppy droplets fell down my cheeks as I cursed everything out loud, hating the world for taking my Beach, hating myself for letting you die without me, hating Stelly for ever existing and Este for being so heartless. I was fire and sadness and loneliness and heartache all at once. 

   It was a long time before I stood up and let Este back in. 

   Este was mad at Stelly for making a fool of her, but I didn’t care anymore. Whether Stelly weaseled through or Este lugged my body around, I would dance at their command and let them take me, a rotting mess of bones and flesh and regret. Nonetheless, I delivered your speech and smiled for your family. I still ate with your parents and slept on your side of the bed that night because the sheets still smelled like you. All of your clothes are still folded in your drawers, your toothbrush is still in the holder, the note you left on the fridge is collecting dust. 

   And every time Este wonders why those things remain?

   Stelly answers, “That’s what he would have wanted me to do.”

April 10, 2023 21:48

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14 comments

Philippa Hibberd
11:11 Apr 18, 2023

Awww this is so beautifully sad! I like how Este thinks of Stelly as a separate person, and is grieving for her as well as Beach, hence the line "I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let you and Stelly go". It captures how when a loved one dies, a part of ourselves dies with them.

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Akhlys Ivy
14:34 Apr 19, 2023

Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it and found time to comment! :)

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Wally Schmidt
20:40 Apr 16, 2023

This is an enchanting story and while it takes place at a funeral it speaks volumes about the love Stelly felt in the presence of Beach. It was a nice touch that Beach is the only one who calls her that because it is symbolic of a lot of people who have relationships with a special person and only that person holds the key to who they really are -or the potential of who they can be- and that is a really special relationship. I agree with the other commenters: we need to see more of these characters!

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Akhlys Ivy
21:36 Apr 16, 2023

This is such a sweet comment! I really appreciate the time you took to go through my story and give me feedback! :)

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Russell Mickler
01:56 Apr 21, 2023

Hi there, Akhlys - So very haunting! Very visual. I liked what you did with the prose in places, like the descending lead-up to approaching the coffin; very poetic. I also felt that the narrator was trying to find their voice, their words, to describe what they were feeling. I liked that struggle, contending with such strong emotions. Well done! R

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Akhlys Ivy
02:24 Apr 21, 2023

Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate your comment!!! So sweet of you!! :)

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Grey :)
23:53 Apr 19, 2023

Beautiful absolutely beautiful made me cry broski :']

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Helen A Smith
16:30 Apr 17, 2023

Sad and poignant. Many will identify with how someone can bring out a side that can only be shared with that person, even down to having a special name. I loved your description of Beach’s hands travelling places that no one else had. Hands say so much about a person. Also, the recognition of being more than one person. The person that gets through and does what needs to be done and the one that really lives. The portrayal of a unique couple with so much living still to do.

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Akhlys Ivy
18:19 Apr 17, 2023

Awww, thank you so much for your thorough comment! Your feedback is very valuable to me and I’m glad you found my story enjoyable! :)

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Mary Bendickson
05:17 Apr 16, 2023

Beautiful! I want to get back and read more of your work. Thanks for liking my 'Monotony'.

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Akhlys Ivy
05:33 Apr 16, 2023

Thank you so much!!!! I really did enjoy your work - ‘Monotony’ was a great read!

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Deija Ray
18:08 Apr 15, 2023

Another great story, Miss Ivy! I love how developed Beach’s character is even though he isn’t alive. Looking forward to more!

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Akhlys Ivy
18:11 Apr 15, 2023

Thanks so much!! I started writing with Beach and Stelly a while back and really fell in love with them. Glad you think so, too!

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Deija Ray
02:55 Apr 16, 2023

I would love to see a novel of Beach and Stelly’s story one day!

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