“Go with me. Or, you know,” I proposed; “Come with me.” He was unsure. He was never sure about such things, but then to my surprise, he spoke, “Yes, okay.” This sudden air of carelessness defined him not under usual, ordinary circumstances, but perhaps, this particular situation grew, evolved into something more, beyond our small minds’ level of comprehension. “Leave it,” I suggested. “What do you mean?” he inquired. “All of it. Just leave it all behind,” I clarified. “But,” he half stammered; “We need stuff.” “We need only a few things. You want ‘stuff’ to feel secure, comforted by the feeling of having.” He nodded, partially in agreement but mostly in disbelief. “Here,” I said as I threw him a backpack of a size worn typically by students. Holding the bag up to examine the size of it more thoroughly, he sighed, “Yea, okay.”
The solemnity between us was palpable. We had never been the ones to break the rules; we had always been the ones to enforce them. Memory fails at remembering the insignificant details, and honestly, the important details are too often times warped, formed to fit the narrative of not forgetting. Remembering, of course, does not mean that one does not forget. And so, I forget much about the details of the why. We were young; we were not ambitious. I wanted to see how far we could go; he wanted to see how far I could take him. Time moves faster the younger you are. “We have to move fast,” I instructed but by the time we were ready to leave, night had fallen. “Maybe we should wait for morning, or like,” he suggested. “Dawn,” I interrupted. “Yea,” he agreed. “Fine.”
Hunkered down under a fort contrived of bedsheets and chair backs, we were both too anxious to sleep. I was excited, of course, but he was scared. The how now also eludes me. “How long will we be gone?” he asked. “Maybe a week?” I guessed. “Oh,” he slowly let out. “It’ll be fun! Get excited! We’re going to live off the streets and have a grand adventure!” I attempted. My attempts to console him had ultimately created his anxiety rather than soothed his nerves. “Hey, so tell me what you’re most excited for,” I prodded in another lame attempt to get him excited. “Uh,” he half-heartedly smiled; “You know, just being, uh, somewhere cool. I guess.” “Yea,” I agreed.
At some point we both fell asleep because I remember waking up to that nauseating glow and sound of early morning light and birds. I shook him awake in an intense whisper, “Hey, get up! It’s time to go!” Groggy, he rubbed his eyes. We looked at each other for a moment before he realized to what he had been awoken. “Oh, right. I’m up,” his voice rasped in feigned cheer. I jumped up and simultaneously destroyed the fort after forgetting that I was much taller than the height of the fort at its tallest point. I laughed at the absurdity. He laughed out of discomfort, the nervous laugh of a premonition perhaps. “Yea, yea, okay, go get ready,” I commanded. “Okay, I gotta pee,” he moaned as he wiggled himself free from the weight of the collapsed fort.
“I’m ready,” he confidently stated as he stood dressed and ready to embark on our adventure. Backpacks secured, we carefully exited the bedroom window and lowered ourselves down from the second-story. On the ground now I was feeling giddy and enthusiastically whispered, “Oh my god. We’re doing this! Let’s go.” He nodded. Crouched, we crawled along the outer wall of the house until we made a run for it into the lightly wooded forest between each suburban prefab.
At this point, memories fail.
I walk to stand next to a grieving woman as we both look down into a deep, dark pit. “I’m sorry,” I whisper. The woman looks directly at me, eye-to-eye but utters not a word. A man approaches and collects her. The man looks at me and shakes his head. “I’m sorry,” I whisper again. Rainfall during a funeral is so … yes, I suppose I must say it … cliche. At what point it began raining, I cannot say, but the reality is that the world has been reigning down hard on me, heavy, for, well, frankly, for an unfair amount of time. Fairness in regards to my punishment being not fair. The person to whom I pay my respects on this foggy, damp day deserves more than mere burdens of emotions and regrets. The penalty, I decide, must be death. Death to me.