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Visitation and Amends

 

 

            “Oh, it’s you,” I say, startled from the thoughts in which I’d been lost.

            “Hi, Precious,” he replies.

            “Please don’t call me that. I’m not your ‘Precious’ anymore. And why are you even here, anyway?”

            “I dunno. It’s your dream.” He’s still obnoxious, even when he’s dead, even when I’m sleeping.

            He plops down in the grass across the little stream that keeps us separated and gazes at me intently.

            “What?” I ask, trying not to sound annoyed.

            “You’re angry.”

            “Damn right I am! Your stupid parents are having twins.”

            “So?”

            “So…they’re having twins, not because they want to start over again and build their family, but because you’re dead. You were their progeny, the heir to their legacy, and now that you’re gone, they’re—or maybe just your mother—terrified of dying and leaving nothing behind. That’s not a good reason to have a baby, much less twins.” I pick up a twig and begin to break it into little pieces, throwing little bits of bark into the stream.

            “Precious—“

            I raise an annoyed eyebrow.

            “Sorry. Kari, my little Valkyrie, you’re looking at this from the wrong angle. Don’t fight the creation of new life.”

            “I’m not fighting it.” I throw a handful of leaves and pine needles into the stream.

            “Then what are you doing?”

            “I’m judging it and frowning upon it.” I smirk as the words fall out of my mouth, suddenly realizing how ridiculous what I’ve just said sounds out loud.

            “They’re not your problem anymore, you know,” he says.

            I sigh. “Yeah, I know.”

            “So let go of being angry with them, and let go of all this judgment. It’s not good for your soul.”

            I feel my eyes begin to brim with tears, and as the first one slowly rolls down my cheek, I at last blurt out the thing I haven’t been able to say to anyone: “I don’t miss you anymore.”

            “No?”

            “No. I don’t miss you anymore, and I haven’t for some time. And when I found out about the twins, somehow it made this light bulb click on in my brain, and I suddenly remembered that I was going to break up with you. But then you died, and I couldn’t do it, and instead I had to become your widow and be an example of beauty and grace in the face of your complete and utter bullshit.”

            “Oh, Precious—“ He holds his hands up in…surrender? Perhaps to a truth we’ve both known all along.

            “Please don’t call me that.” This time I throw and handful of dirt into the water and watch the clear, flawless stream turn murky and brown.

            “I’m glad you don’t miss me,” he whispers.

            “Really?”

            “Yeah. “

            The world seems to stop: the breeze suddenly dies, the birds quiet their chirping, and all I can hear is my own heartbeat pounding in my chest.

            “They accused me of knowing you were going to die,” I finally whisper. “It was terrifying. I honestly thought your mother was going to punch me. How could I have known, though? I had wondered off and on, and I even told them that, but I didn’t actually know. You were so secretive.”

            “I know.”

            “And, for crying out loud, I had decided just a few days earlier that we clearly weren’t going to work out. You were so damn selfish, and you had an opinion about every God damned thing, and you didn’t give a shit about people other than yourself, and there were times when you made me so fucking miserable. But then you died, and this story was created wherein you and I had a perfect relationship, and I would cry by your grave every day. And I would take care of your insane parents; Jesus, they kept suggesting I should move into their home and take your room!”

            I shudder involuntarily and wrap my arms around my torso. He looks at me for a long moment, and I stare back at him through free-flowing tears.

            “But I don’t miss you anymore. Life is better without you. And I’m not telling you this to be mean, I’m telling you this because it’s true.” I wipe my face with the back of my hand.

            He smiles at me. “I’ve been hoping you would come to this point. I know you didn’t want to step into that role like you did—my beautiful widow, dolled up for my memorial just so you could cry off all your makeup when you gave your eulogy. I wronged you so profoundly, and I’m so sorry for that.”

            “You did a lot of wrong to a lot of people. You left a big hole in so many hearts, and that seriously makes you a total asshole.”

            He laughs, and I can’t help but smile.

            “But I know you didn’t mean to die, because you were so afraid to do so. And I know it was an accident, but I’m still gonna call you an asshole over it.” I pull my knees up to my chest and fold my arms over my shins. “So, yeah, you’re an asshole, and I don’t miss you anymore, and I was totally going to break up with you until you up and died. Then I just got stuck with you and no longer had a choice in the matter.”

            “You seem to have taken back that lost power of choice, since you no longer miss me. And I want to give it back to you all the more by letting you know that I’m so glad. I’m happy you’re finding happiness again. I wanted so badly to be with you always, and look at me now. I’m everywhere, with everyone, including you.” He’s positively glowing.

            “I have a new boyfriend,” I say into my knees.

            “I know. I’m glad about that, too.”

            “And I’m done being your widow. You have no idea of how much that sucked.”

            “No, but I watched your pain, and I know that it was awful.”

            I stare at my toes, unwilling to look at him. “’Awful’ is an understatement.”

            “You’re doing so good, though. Don’t worry about the things my family does. Don’t worry over what my friends might say. I want you to be happy, and to keep being happy, and even though my body is gone, I’ll always be here to keep an eye on you.”

            “Wow.”

            “What?”

            “I get the intended meaning, but that last statement is still incredibly creepy when you think about it.”

            We both laugh at that.

            I glance down at the bank of the stream, and when I look up, he’s gone. But I know he hasn’t gone far, because I can still hear him chuckle.

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