About a week ago Chris and I were discussing our #FleshRave story (soon to be somewhere near you, teen chugging chipper and all) when he mentions it's 10 weeks til Halloween and that he has a challenge in mind. The wonderfully eloquent @West1Jess explains the whole thing way better than I ever could here (I'm just proud I know how to do those linky things, they're like magic!)
10 Weeks of Horror (Writing Challenge)
Love, does death mean the end?
I thought about him all the way through class. Again. I know it’s wrong, to be obsessed with a guy. I get it, but I still can’t help myself. We are finally, after years of “will they, won’t they”, together.
Jessica and Ronnie pass notes over my desk in class, they don't even bother letting me read them any more. I guess I do spend a lot of time with Alex, but this last year has been tough on him. Over lunch they talk about the skiing trip, again. And they ignore all my objections, just like I'm not there.
Alex and I were in a car accident, nearly a year ago now. He was badly injured, internal bleeding, the works. I was lucky to escape with a few minor injuries, a sprained ankle, whiplash… I soon bounced back. Alex’s body is still making its slow recovery from the impact. Though at least the hospital let him go home to recover, they said that environment would be better for him, “familiar surroundings”. Skiing is not an option for him, and I don't know that I could bring myself to leave him behind. I worry about him, he hasn't spoken to anyone else since the accident.
His family let me go over every day, which is a blessing. After seeing him in hospital hooked up to all those machines it was a relief to see him at home. To realise that he would live, he would be fine. Sitting through class is like getting needles stuck in my eyeballs, I just want to be with him, not listening to Mr Garibaldy lecture us on the merits of the Richter versus the Mercalli scale. I stare out the window and wait for the sun to roll away the hours.
Finally, I can leave. I never go straight home now. Alex always waits looking out the window, like a pale ghost behind the white nets. His blue eyes are bloodshot all the time these days, circled by dark skin, full of worry.
‘Don’t worry so much!’ I say from the door, pulling a smile from the corners of his mouth.
‘You’re late.’ He replies without turning. ‘What kept you? Not bored of me already are you?’ There’s humour in his voice, but I always worry that he means it when he speaks like this.
‘Never!’ I shout with mock horror. ‘Well,’ I walk up to his wheelchair, ‘maybe a little, sometimes. Can you blame a girl for wanting to do something outside every once in a while?’ I kiss his cheek, it’s cold, he’s been sat with the window open. ‘Alex, close that up will you? It’s freezing in here!’
From downstairs a voice calls ‘Honey? Do you need something?’
‘Your mom worries too, see? We’re fine Mrs Martin! Tell her we’re fine,’ I give him the look, and he rolls his eyes at me.
‘I’m fine mom, just thinking of going out for a bit, that ok?’ Alex calls down.
‘Really?’ I’m surprised, he NEVER wants to go outside these days.
‘It’s about time, I guess.’
‘That’s fantastic!’ I beam at him. ‘I’ll get your coat!’
‘No need,’ Alex rolls his chair over to the bed and picks up his coat. I hadn’t even noticed it was there, he must have had this planned before I got there.
I help him get onto the stair lift. His mom insisted they have it fitted so that he could keep his upstairs room. Chances are he may walk again, the chair isn’t a certainty, but she wanted his life to be as much like it was before as possible.
‘I won’t be out long,’ Alex tells his mom.
‘It’s not that cold out, I promise we’ll wrap up,’ I tell her from the doorway. She smiles at us sadly.
‘Just be careful,’ she sighs.
‘Sure,’ we reply as one.
Once we’re outside my mood lifts, but Alex’s seems to fall even further.
‘Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?’ I ask him as we set off.
‘Not yet,’ he replies ominously.
‘Ok,’ I nod.
We walk on in silence. He’s never this serious. Sarcastic, dark, but never serious.
‘How was class today?’ he asks suddenly.
‘Erm, it was ok, I guess. Dull, Mr Garibaldy banged on about earthquakes. I wasn’t paying too much attention really.’
‘Who did you eat lunch with?’
‘Where are we going?’ I don’t recognise this part of the neighbourhood.
‘Don’t worry about that, just tell me, who did you sit with at lunch?’
‘Jessica and Ronnie, same as usual. They’re still trying to convince me to go skiing next month.’
‘You told them you don’t wanna go?’
‘I don’t want to leave you,’ he winces when I say this. ‘Have you asked your mom when you can come back to school?’
‘Yeh, she says when I’m ready. Thing is, I’m just not ready yet.’
‘Cause of the chair?’ I haven’t asked before, I don’t know how much it really bothers him for others to see him like this, I just know he doesn’t mind me seeing him.
‘The looks of pity. That’s what bothers me. Like how my mum sighs when she thinks I’m out of earshot.’
‘I don’t think that’s pity, she just worries, you were hurt real bad in the accident.’
‘It’s not that.’ He sighs and stops.
Looking around I realise where he’s brought me. The cemetery.
‘Why here?’ my voice betrays my nerves. ‘What are we doing here? Alex?’
‘I just…’ he hesitates, then stares past me. ‘I just need you to see something.’
He goes into the cemetery ahead of me, unwillingly I follow, a good few steps behind. By the time I catch up with him he’s stopped by a gravestone.
‘You need to see this,’ he says in a deadpan voice.
‘Alex, please, just stop messing around. I hate this place.’
‘You need to see it.’
I step closer, my whole body turning to ice, and then I see it.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
But that can’t be. That can’t possibly be right, because that’s my name. That’s my name.
‘I need you to see this, Alex. She’s dead. You can’t keep talking to someone who isn’t here. You need to move on. You need to see this, Alex.’ Alex is talking to himself, looking at the grave. At my grave.After a long while Alex turns and leaves. No amount of pleading makes him stop, but I know he can hear me, he flinches as I cry out his name. My mind can’t understand what just happened and Alex won’t reply. I try to follow, my feet won’t move. He rolls off into the distance, and I can’t see him any more. And I’m stuck, dead and alone.