I’m standing in a barren field and it’s crowded all the same. My companions are silent. They’re still. They don’t cry here but everyone else always does.
I’m thinking about how it felt when I watched her being lowered into the ground. All the shit that came before.
Life in slow motion.
I’m thinking about the news reports and how barely half of what happened is in black and white. How the other half is always written in red. No one ever gets to see that part. No one ever really knows.
I’m thinking about how I used to call her Sunshine.
I’m holding a flower in my hand as gently as I’ve ever held anything. As gently as I’m capable these days…whatever that’s worth.
I’m thinking about the day I put in that shitty vase. How I tied the bottom of the stem to a ring. How she’d notice that, unlike all the plastic ones, it was starting to die. She’d pull it out and she’d see it.
Maybe it was a strange approach. Maybe it was a dark way to say whatever I was trying to say in whatever way I was trying to say it.
I’m thinking about how life is always this road of destinations that we think are guaranteed. How we’re hurtling down freeways of insanity with pop music playing and a GPS navigator telling us how certain everything is.
I’m thinking about all the things I never got to tell her. I tell myself that it was because it was too late after what happened. That she wouldn’t understand. That I didn’t understand.
That there was time. There was always supposed to be more time.
I’m thinking about a world with superheroes and what happens when Superman kills Lex Luthor, but Lois dies as well, and we find out that Lex didn’t have a fucking clue about what kryptonite really is.
I’m wondering about a world where superheroes don’t deflect bullets, just absorb them. They’re not immune to fire and knife wounds, they just bounce back from them. I’m thinking about a world where they look like I do. It reminds me of Dorian Gray and how his painting looked at the end.
I’m wondering if it even matters.
I tell myself that she found that flower. That she knew. She always knew. That she kept it because…
I’m trying not to think about it because I’ll never really know, and I don’t want to live in a world of what-ifs and could-have-beens. Part of me just doesn’t want to live at all.
I try to tell myself that it wasn’t always about her. That I’d found a purpose in what I was doing. That I was making a difference. And I’m wondering how much of that lie I can swallow before it makes me sick.
I’m wondering what comes next while I hold a flower that should have died years ago, looking at a ring that’s still tied to a stem. I wish I could tell you how and why. I wish I could say I knew the answer.
Far away, the noise of the city is a wall of static that undulates and shifts. It rises and falls. I can hear the high notes call out. Sirens and screams. Tears are falling on hard pavement. Fists are taking out sad inadequacies on people who don’t deserve it.
Life in slow motion.
I’m wondering how much hero is left in me. How much is just a guy who doesn’t know when to let go? I’m wondering what it says about us as people when we realize the most important thing we do is sometimes for someone else. Someone who maybe doesn’t know. Someone who may not even care. I’m trying not to let the answer to that question sting.
I’m wondering if it matters.
I’m trying not to think about words like “end”, “final”, and “death” while I stand in a cemetery.
On the side of her headstone, I etch my initials and I put the dates I died.
I put both of them.
They matter just as much.
I wish I could tell you what happens next, but life is a weird place. The music isn’t playing for me anymore. The GPS is gone. All that’s left is the sound of me moving forward into some form of oblivion.
Hell now, or hell later…
I wish I could tell you that there’s some happy ending here…but that’s not how life works, Sunshine. Sometimes…that’s not how death works either.