Moving On

July 17, 2009 at 1:11 am (Random Writings) ()

*Athor’s note:  This is a short story I wrote back during my Sophomore year of college during an intro fiction writing class.  I didn’t mind the class so much, but I also didn’t get a chance to just write what I wanted either.  however, a few fun things popped up nonetheless, this included.  I argue that it was the best thing I wrote that term, but I’ll let you decide.  Enjoy.

Moving On


            I hadn’t nearly prepared myself for this.  I mean, we all know that death is inevitable, no matter who you think you are, but when it hits so suddenly, well I don’t know, I suppose I still didn’t expect it.  No more than two days ago we were sitting in our usual seats, playing our usual game of chess.  Truly a gentlemen’s game.  I’d be sitting across the table, shifting my pieces expertly across the board.  And he’d be shifting his pieces just a little better.  Now look at where we are.  I’m standing in the middle of a quiet, darkened room, and he’s sittin’ in a casket.  My best friend Kyle is sitting in a damned casket.

            “Grampa?  You okay?”  I can feel a little kid tugging at my jacket.  They say he’s my seven-year-old grandson, and I suppose I don’t have reason to doubt that, although he never did act anything like his mother, my daughter.  “Are you gonna be alright?”

            “Me?”  I can hardly think of anything worth saying here.  “Oh my, I’m fine.  You just run along there.”  Anyone else would have gathered that I was merely humoring him.  God bless my grandson, he was never bright enough to catch on.

            “You sure?”  For all his kindness, I was in no mood to receive it.  “I can go get you some lemonade from the table if you’d like?”  A small nod and that’s all it takes to send this child away.  He scurries off towards the refreshment table, my chance to get some privacy.

            “Oh, thank you for coming.”  The widow; the wife of my late best friend.  I never had any reason to dislike her, but then again I never did have a reason to enjoy her company either.  She was the one who was always trying to take my best friend from me.  She was the one forcing him to divide his time.  I could have had more time with him if it wasn’t for her.  But then again I’m just being unfair.  It’s not her fault that he passed away.  It’s not even her fault that he passed away quicker than he would have otherwise.  Hell, she probably added a few years onto his life.

            “He’s my best friend,” I snap at her, unintentional but rude nonetheless.  “Why wouldn’t I show up?”

            “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean anything by it.”  Great.  Now I’m a jackass.

            “No, I’m sorry.  It hasn’t exactly hit me yet, so I’m not dealing with this well.”

            I can feel my jacket being tugged again.  “Grampa, your lemonade.”  Great, now in the midst of coping with my best friend’s death I’ve got to think up some random task to keep my grandson out of my hair.

            “Thanks,” I somehow choke out and grab the glass from him.

            “Are you hungry?” he asks.

            I smile big for him.  “Absolutely.”  I’m not.  He smiles back and runs off again.  Good, I didn’t feel like smiling so much at the moment.  And now I get a chance to deal with the widow again.  Wonderful.  “So,” I just throw out, unable to think of anything relevant to say.  “How you holding up?”  Good, that’s good.  That sounds about like what I’m expected to say to the widow.

            “It’s hard,” she responds.  “I’m used to waking up with him in the bed every morning.  Now that he’s not there, well it’s just hard.”  She has no idea.  She didn’t know him like I did.  No wife can ever understand her husband like his best friend can.  I knew every detail about him.  I knew what he wanted to be when he grew up even before he had a chance to grow up.  I was there after his first date.  I was there after his first failed relationship.  I was his best man.  Not just anyone, I was the best man.  She didn’t know how hard this was.  I knew how hard this was.

            “I’ll bet,” I droll out.  Someone comes up beside the widow and begins talking to her, taking her aside to talk between just the two of them.  Good.  I wasn’t in the mood for idle chat.  Why would I be though?  It’s insulting to think I’d want to talk about anything today.

My jacket’s being tugged again.  That must mean he’s back.  I look down and there’s my grandson once more, this time carrying a small plate with a sandwich on it.  “What cha got there?” I ask him.

“I made you a sandwich,” he tells me.  Turkey, mayo, swiss, a little pepper, on a hoagie roll.  My best friend’s favorite sandwich.  Simple, yet elegant.  Kid’s got good taste at least, even if it was a lucky guess on his part.

“Thank you.”  This time, I find myself genuinely thankful.  “Thank you very much.”  I take the sandwich, smile at him again, and ruffle his hair a little.  He smiles back.  “Give me a second, okay?  Grandpa’s gonna go talk with his friend for a minute.”  I wouldn’t expect this child to understand what I’m talking about, but somehow he does and gives me some space, so I take this opportunity to address my friend, just the two of us.

“How you holdin’ up?”  He would have laughed at that if he wasn’t dead.  I fidget with the sandwich in my hand.  “Sandwich?” I ask him, to no response of course.  I set the sandwich down on a table nearby along with the lemonade I’ve neglected to drink.  “I don’t know what to say here old friend.”  I fiddle with my tie.  I hated wearing suits.  He would have laughed at me having to wear a suit if he wasn’t dead.  “You remember a few years back?”  I’m talking to the corpse of my dead friend.  I’ve become senile.  “You remember when we agreed to live another ten years?  I said it was impossible, and you said that if I died before then, you’d owe me a Coke.  Well it seems that you won’t be owing me a Coke.”  Yeah, he definitely would have laughed at that.  I’ll miss that laugh.  I’ll miss him.  “Thanks a lot for everything you’ve done for me over the years.  You were always my best mate.  I wouldn’t have made it this long if you hadn’t made it easier to age gracefully.”  I’m beginning to tear up now.  I feel somewhat ridiculous, an old man starting to cry.  I haven’t cried since third grade, and I’m beginning to cry now.  At least I saved it until a time when it really counted.  “Goodbye…Kyle.”

A hand comes up besides mine and grabs my pinky.  “Grampa?  You ready to go?”  He really isn’t such a bad kid I suppose.  I look down at him and smile weakly.

“Yeah.  Yeah I think I’m ready.”  I give one last look around the room, checking to see if there is anything left worth hanging back for.  Seeing nothing, we walk out of the room.

“Grampa, what was your friend Kyle like?”

“He was the greatest friend I ever had, and nothing will ever change that.”  I look down at the kid again and smile.  “C’mon, enough sad talk for now.  How ‘bout I take you out for some ice cream and tell you about the time me and Kyle got thrown out of our senior prom.”  My friend would have laughed at that story again.  I’m gonna miss him.


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