Heather, age 14
David, today everything seemed like an eternity. A vast endless dream. I was there but I wasn’t at the same time. I was in a different dimension, somewhere between reality and well, I’m not sure what else. I was awake, that’s definite. I kept my side of your cherry coffin aloft. So smooth. And yet for some reason I half expected you to come jumping out. That lop-sided smile on your face. The sun, the moon, the stars, the very joy of life dancing in your eyes. You’d do a little dance on the coffin. Hey, Anna, everyone, look what I can do! Tapping your feet and everyone would be happy. Can you breath in there? They’ve locked you up so tight. Sealed you in—freshly washed soccer shirt, jeans and all. Your brown hair flying in every direction like always. All with velvety lining. I wanted to climb in there next to you when no one was looking. It would be so comfy, just the two of us and the velvet. But what would the relatives think? It’s all right she’s just dealing with the shock of it all. She’ll be herself again someday. That’s what they’d said. Someday.
Relatives swarming around like bugs. Giant insects with sweet, soppy voices like the rich chocolate cake on the table. This time your voice wasn’t there to save me from drowning in all those relatives. They would have listened to you, your voice pitter-pattering out both parts of the play. They’re so sweet, that’s what they always said about the two of us, remember? You did the charming and I played the part of your shadow, identical in almost every way. We’d walk around the relatives with our little act. Two thin and crooked smiles. Two pale, stick-figure bodies. Two sets of eyes, the darkest shade of brown, and yet with all the light in the world. Two heads with flyaway hair, thin and brown. Two children, boy and girl.
Misfits. That’s what we were. Seems strange we couldn’t ever fit into eighth grade like we did at home. Teachers didn’t sympathize with us. Guidance counselors sent notes home from the beginning of kindergarten. Too close, need further separation to encourage other friendships. I don’t know why they bothered. We wouldn’t be separated for all the stars in the sky.
You said that.
Why am I saying your lines, just to fill up the silence? There can’t be a silent stage. But you’ve left me all alone; I don’t remember my lines. You always said them for me. All the way up until eighth grade you did it all, and nobody noticed. In their eyes we were the charming duo, nobody had the lead. I was never your sidekick; I was an equal. But you left the stage without warning me, barring the door behind you. The lights are on me, shaky knees and wrinkled forehead. My monologue isn’t memorized.
Tuesday, I took out your violin. I know I shouldn’t have. The house was too hectic. Too silent. Mammy was on the phone with relatives. Grace… I… yes… David… yes… of course… please, that would be so kind of you… Her voice dipped in and out of my hearing. A voice weak and choked. Sobbing. Dad was furious, watching the TV, braking out in sudden bursts of screaming and yelling every several minutes. Damn teacher! His voice echoed through the house with such clearness, eloquence. Damn school! Damn fire! Pounding his hands on the table. Damn students! Damn world! Damn you God! He would calm down after a minute or so, hoarse and tired, sinking down onto the couch. Damn me, I want to shout, to let out all this energy that is cramped in my body out. It was all my damn fault, so why is nobody daring to blame me? I let you tell me you were fine when I knew you weren’t. I left you behind, but I couldn’t get my voice to tell anybody. I didn’t know my line.