Sunlight filters through a colored window, and the air winds a low sigh through the pews. The stained glass illuminates a picture of Judas, kneeling at the feet of Christ, his hands stretched heavenward. A pleasant smile graces the lips of the divine figure, and he offers his hand down to the condemned man. Jordan runs his sleeve over his face, looking once more up at the celestial scene, and wearily makes his way out of the chapel.
He is a tall man, with greying hair and a hollow look darkening his face. His jeans are ragged, and his boots scuffed. The leather on his jacket is wearing thin, pockmarked by scratches and tears from years of constant use. The hands in his pockets are bony, and his eyes are glazed. It's obvious he hasn't eaten in awhile. Even in the church, he can see his breath, and it worries him terribly. Jordan pats his jacket and curses, looking back at the pew where he left his gloves. Retrieving them, he quickly warms his hands and puts them on.
It is bright outside, even though the sky is covered in clouds. The wind is strong, and the walk to the car is a big hassle. Jordan walks into the wind, and the sheer coldness of the air brings small tears to his stinging eyes.
But the car is warm, and Jordan sighs in relief. Taking a moment to breathe, he pulls a lighter from his pockets and flips open the top. The cigarette feels great, and he relaxes in his seat.
He really shouldn't smoke. Rachel made him quit, and he had hated her for it. Actually, that wasn't quite true. He hated her at first, but he knew she was only looking after him. That's why he loved her, while she was still around. But Rachel was dead now, and he was smoking again. Jordan was smoking and hating her all over again, and not even the pills would take that away.
Jordan looked at the clock on his radio. The actual time didn't mean anything to him, but he remembered the last time he checked. It had almost been two hours since he last time he took his medicine. It was a little early, but what the hell? It wasn't gonna kill him or anything. Jordan shook his head and took a small orange container out of his jacket.
The stuff tasted horrible, and he had to swallow them quickly to keep from retching all over his dashboard. But the pills were big, and he spat one back into his hand before he could down both of them. He remembered what the doctor had said to him the day he got that tiny orange bottle.
"You're alright with this? You signed the release, so you know they're new, right? I wouldn't worry, modern medicine is so advanced these days. Two every three hours."
"Yeah, you got it. Anything else?"
"Listen, I know about Rachel, and I–"
"Save it. I'm fine."
". . . I. . . I really don't know, Mr. Morris."
It always irked him to remember that conversation, but for some reason, it always sprung to mind whenever he looked at the bottle. The pills were just as much a part of his life as the damn cancer sticks were, now. Even little Mary got scared whenever he wasn't on them, and he was ALWAYS on them. It made him sick just thinking about Mary.
It made him sick to think about her eyes. Gray, just like her mom's. It made him sick to think about her hair. Jet black, almost blue. It made him sick to think of her face. . . Looked just like his. Even looking in the mirror made him want to drive his car into a lake. Maybe there he could have some peace with himself. He'd dive so far down, not even God could find him.
Jordan shakes his head. Thinking like that wouldn't help anything, and Mary is his only comfort, now. He turns the key in the ignition a few times, but the car doesn't start. Piece of junk. The fourth time is the charm, and he backs out of the parking lot, and starts driving. A fat raindrop slaps into his windshield, and Jordan shakes his head again. The car didn't have any windshield wipers anymore, and bad weather would only make the drive home harder than it already was.
The quietness bothers him, and he flips on the radio. Rachel liked listening to the radio. Jordan had bought her a walkman for her birthday once, about a year before she passed, but she had never used it. It made him sort of angry, but that's who Rachel was. She just loved the radio, was all. He shouldn't have been so mad at her, but at least he never showed it. That's who Jordan was. Always thrashing around inside himself. His therapist was always on him about it.
Thinking about the radio made him think about the last conversation he had with Rachel. She was sick, and in the hospital, lying so still on the bed. Still as death, but much more angry. He remembered, she was so furious at herself, for not being with her family, or for being too weak to overcome her own sickness. Sometimes she took it out on Mary. Usually, she took it out on Jordan.
"I don't want your damn flowers."
"You're giving me a damn headache! You never visit. . . and take the damn cigarette out of your mouth! You're gonna kill yourself! Do you want Mary to die like me, on some hospital bed? I swear to God, Jordan–"
He remembered wiping his eyes with his sleeve, back then.
". . . I'm sorry, Jordan. I. . ."
"I know, honey." He had put his cigarette out, and put it in the ashtray. "I know, you're sick. It's ok. Really."
"It's just this room, I guess. The room, the doctors, the nurses. None of it is you."
"Sometimes, I wish. . ." Her voice had trailed off, but Jordan had seen her mouth continue to move. No one could have heard it. "I want to die in here."
Jordan shakes his head and focuses on the road. The rain is getting worse, and it's getting harder and harder to drive. The radio fizzles out into snow. Jordan runs his fingers through his hair and tries not to think about Rachel. It only makes him depressed, or sick. Sometimes, it made him a little happy, but never for very long. And every time he did feel good, the guilt set in.
The house is large, and blue, and quiet. The paint is peeling, and Jordan had really let the lawn go to pot in the past couple of months. It didn't bother him, though, and he could care less what anyone else thought about his damn lawn. He had bigger problems. The grass squishes loudly under his boots as he makes his way to the front door. Key inside the broken bug-lamp, just like always. The living room is dark, and Jordan flicks the light switch.
"Mary? Mary, hon, I'm home."
Mary doesn't answer back, but that's ok. She had taken Rachel's death just as hard as he had, and she was a very quiet girl, now. Out of the rain, Jordan lights another cigarette.
"I'm gonna take a nap here, baby. Wake me up if you need somethin'."
Again, Mary is silent. The couch is a little worn, but very comfortable. Jordan remembered when he used to sit on it with his daughter and watch the cartoons before school. She always liked cartoons the best, just like any kid. It drove him crazy when the game was on, but he could make an exception if he was in a good mood or Rachel was around.
His eyes grew heavy, and he yawned. Jordan stretches out and lays his head on a beaten armrest, before scratching his chest and closing his eyes. He doesn't dream when he's on the medicine. Maybe he doesn't dream at all. It's hard to tell. It doesn't matter.
An hour passes. Mary is quiet, and Jordan can sleep soundly. The old clock in their kitchen chimes out the half hour. . . the hour. . . the half hour. . . the hour. . .It sounds a little bit off, just like always. Jordan stays asleep. Eventually, the rain stops, and the clouds part a little ways. The afternoon sun burns into Jordan's sleep, and he rolls off the couch. The light is shining right on it, and he can't get any sleep there anymore.
"Hey honey? I'm gonna go see mom, alright? You be good while I'm gone."
She's awful quiet today. Jordan feels a little disturbed, and he's starting to get a headache. A quick smoke, and he's fine again. The rain has stopped, but the grass is still wet, and it still squishes noisily under his boots. It isn't as cold out now, but the keys shake violently in Jordan's hand as he tries to open the door to his car. He drops them once. Twice.
The car takes a little bit to start, just like always. Jordan leans back in his seat and feels his forehead. It's really cold, but he isn't bothered by it. He's never sick for long. Light shines right into his face as he drives west, and he uses his hand to throw a shadow on his eyes.
The road is very long, and very dusty. A few cars drive on it each day, but otherwise, it's absolutely deserted. Jordan doesn't turn the radio on. He really isn't in the mood.. The air is heavy in his car, and it's all he can do to keep from being crushed by it. His feet are like lead on the petals, and his breathing is coarse and shallow. It really broke his heart to come to this place, but Jordan had to do it. He had to come, or else he'd forget about her. Rachel didn't deserve that. Not from him, anyway.
The last sliver of sun made the entire cemetery glow a bloody shade of scarlet. The air is oddly warm. Uncomfortably so, in fact. Jordan takes his coat off and leaves it in the car. The wind has stopped, and the narrow path leading up the hill is covered in dead leaves. All the empty trees are a little depressing, and the sad cherub guarding the dead shines an uncharacteristic shade of maroon in the afternoon light.
Jordan's gut clenches, and he drops to his knees. He never liked this place, but what about it made him so sick? Jordan checked his watch. It was late, and almost three hours had passed since he last took his medicine. It's never like this when he went without the pills, though. Never. Jordan breathes deeply and focuses. He would only be here a while. The pills could wait until he got back.
The path split a little, now, different paths leading to different rows of graves for different people. Jordan walked slowly, keeping his mind off the feeling in his gut, and staring intently down at the cracked red stones that make up the path. He didn't need to look up, he knew his way. One right, one left, straight... stop at the end of the row. Just like every other time. Jordan leans on the cute little picket fence that surrounds the cemetery. If the sun hadn't been so low, it would have been a classic egg-white. As it stood, the pickets looked a little like fire, but Jordan rested on them anyway.
Speaking her name made him feel better. It was like a sort of confession. It made him a little more honest. A little more free.
"Rachel, I'm sorry. I know it's been awhile since I was here, but..."
Jordan runs a hand through his hair. He'd said this all before. Even if Rachel was still hanging around this depressing yard, she'd have heard it all before. He had nothing new to tell her.
"I love you."
Jordan drops to his knees, and puts his hands on the soft grass. His gut twinges and aches, and he clenches his jaw tight. The light is almost gone now, and the writing is very hard to make out. Jordan's lone tear falls onto his hand.
God Loved you, and so do I.
Mary J. Morris
I should never have left you alone.
Tomorrow comes. Sunlight filters through a colored window, and the air winds a low sigh through the pews. The stained glass illuminates a picture of Judas, kneeling at the feet of Christ, his hands stretched heavenward.