I’m finally here, helping you clean like I promise I would.
I piled up your Stephen King books into one corner because I don’t remember what you told me to do with them. Write everything down, you had said. Now I wish I had listened.
I’m late, I know. I wish I had come earlier, but I didn’t want to stain your books with tear drops. Then nobody would want them. Who would want briny books?
I woke up this morning, reached out for the napkin on my bed stand and dabbed it on my eyes.
Yesterday when I did, the napkin came back soaking wet. Today, it was dry. Not even a single drop of wetness.
I hadn’t been crying, not even in my dreams.
So I decided to come clean today.
I put your non-fiction books into three boxes and send them to the library. At least I got this one right, didn’t I?
I’ll go tomorrow. I wonder if the ice cream stand near the entrance is still there. I haven’t been there in months.
After you stopped going, I forgot about it altogether.
I only went for the nice conversations we had after you had picked up the books you wanted. I could ask you anything and you would answer me.
Except for this one time, when I asked you if it was true that the happiest people on the outside are the ones who experienced the most pain on the inside.
You said nothing and continued looking ahead.
Maybe because you knew who I was talking about. I didn’t insist.
It’s the thirteenth of October today, one hundred days since you left.
I’m surprised I’m coping so well. I’ve spent the last six hours here, going through all your things and I’ve not shed a tear.
Maybe crying for one hundred days gets all the sadness out of you, so all you have left is the memories that don’t make you sad, only happy.
Like the thought of seeing you for the last time.
You were waiting here for me with a board game. Everything was normal.
You played to win. I played to kill time.
Now, it’s just me here and I’ve packed up the board game to give away.
It should make me sad, but it doesn’t anymore. I’ve cried everything out.
I don’t think about the games we won’t play anymore, only the ones we already did.
They found you in the forest.
I wasn’t the first one to find you, but when you didn’t pick up my calls, I knew where you had gone and what you had done.
I didn’t need anyone to tell me what had happened, but when the call came, I dropped to the floor.
I had prepared for this day, but it did nothing. I was weaker than I imagined.
When I arrived they had already brought you down. The rope was still hanging on the tree branch.
Except for the marks over your neck and drips over your eyes and mouth, you looked peaceful. Like how I remember you when you slept.
At first, I thought you didn’t leave a note. I thought that was so unlike you, since you always wrote.
But then again, it could have been a statement. Like how when someone always does something and then when they don’t do it, it means something too.
I thought this was like that too.
On the day we buried you, mother cried the loudest.
I told them you wanted a cremation, but they didn’t want to do it. I’m sorry.
Most of your friends who mattered most to you came. The ones from university, the ones from the only job you ever held, and the ones who simply were friends for friendship’s sake.
They flew in from different states and different countries just to say goodbye to you. I hope that when I leave, people will do this for me too. Weren’t you just lucky to have known these people?
They all cried and said something nice about you.
Everyone did, except me.
I didn’t cry and I didn’t say anything nice about you.
I screamed at you. I didn’t understand why you didn’t keep your promise. You told me you would tell me if you ever thought of it, but you didn’t.
I screamed and screamed.
Nobody stopped me. They just let me scream.
I kept screaming until I realized it didn’t matter anymore. You could not hear it anymore, and you could not reply anymore. I should have screamed louder when you could.
So I stopped screaming.
I found the note.
You hid it in the middle of Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at The End of the Lane. They found it near you in the forest that day.
Maybe you were reading that, or just had brought it along for comfort. I don’t know.
I was flipping through the book to find a bookmark when it dropped out, so softly I almost missed it.
It dropped on the floor without a sound. I picked it up and there it was, the note I was looking for.
I read it and learned something new about you.
It’s interesting how a note like that reveals how little you know of someone you thought you were close with.
I only read it once before I put it in the casket.
One hundred days later, I can still repeat your entire note inside my head. Every line, every word.
After today though, I want to forget every single word.
It’s eight pm now and I’ve finally packed up everything.
I’m suddenly hungry. I haven’t eaten a thing since I came here this morning. After this, I’m going to McDonald’s.
I’ve loaded up all the boxes in my car.
One thing I’m glad of is that you don’t have as many clothes and things as most people I know.
I’m leaving the key in the mailbox like I promised your landlord.
He asked me not to come back. I never intended to. What would I need to come back for?
I can’t create new memories with you here, and every memory I had with you, I’ve kept somewhere safe.
So I won’t come back here anymore.
I’m really leaving now. I’ve started the engines.
I’ll learn to live without you. I know that’s what you would have wanted me to.
Forgive me if it’s tough sometimes. When someone has been in your life that long, it’s hard to just move on. You have to create a whole new life.
If you see me cry sometimes, know that it’s okay. I’ll make it.
Take a good rest, and I’ll see you when I see you again.