"There, all done." Jeremy steps away from the snow man and surveys it as he tugs his toboggan down over his ears until you can only see the tips of his brown hair. His green eyes are sparkling and he looks pleased.
"What should we name him?" asks Conner coming up from behind with the empty snow-pot.
"Hmmm, how about….Bartholomew?"
"Bartholomew, Bartholomew," Conner tries out the name several more times to make sure it fits "I like it."
Jeremy pulls off the other boy's earmuff hat, and runs his hands through the blond strands of hair before kissing him. When they pull back they are both flushed from ardor and cold.
"We've done good, haven't we?" Jeremy's words are more of a statement than a question but Conner answers anyways.
"Yeah, we've done good."
That was the last time I saw Jeremy. Ever. He disappeared on the way home from my house. Two days later they found his body in the woods five miles from his house buried under heaps of snow and ice.
I was there when they found the body. I was the one who found it.
Jeremy looked terrible. His skin was blue from the cold and someone had tried to hack off all his hair. The policeman said it was probably an attempt to make him look different from his missing picture. We got the call later that week that it looked like someone had beaten him senseless, than dragged him to the woods and strangled him to death. Under Jeremy's scarf they had found bruises in the shape of fingers.
It's been a month since then and every night that particular scene, when I find his body under a mountain of ice and freeing snow, plays in my head over and over until it burns itself into my eyelids. Now I see it every time I close my eyes. Some nights I find his body and he's still alive; but the moment I try to touch him, he dies and turns to ice.
When I kissed him before they took the corpse away, I tasted dried blood, and cold death. My mom saw me kiss Jeremy's lifeless lips, and because of that she blames my social withdrawal on his death. Just one week after we found the body, she sent me to a physiatrist.
During one particular session, she started asking personal questions, you know like if I ever had any mental issues, when I first met Jeremy, where, when we first kissed, stuff like that. Mostly I tuned her out and just sat there. It drove her crazy.
"So, did you ever have a sexual relationship with Jeremy?"
Hold your horses there lady; I know you were asking personal questions, but isn't that a little too personal? How would you like it if I asked you how your sex life with your husband was? I ignored her.
"I'll take that as a yes."
She looks shocked. "Okay, you didn't have any sexual relationship. That's a first."
I didn't answer, and instead opted for staring at the floor. I was wearing a pair of fuzzy socks that Jeremy gave me for Christmas last year. The Christmas of '05, not '06; they year we came out to our parents. Most people thought I would want to get rid of all the stuff that reminds me of Jeremy, but that's not the case. I want to keep every little thing that reminds me of him. Mementos allow me to cling to my past, something I have never been able to quit doing.
"Okay, that should wrap it up for the day. See you at the same time next week?" She looked hopeful that I would shake the hand she'd held out, but I just nodded and left. My mom was sitting in a chair in the waiting room reading a long expired home and garden magazine.
"So, how did it go? Feeling any better?" Mom asked as we walk down the staircase.
"Okay I guess. I'm telling you mom, this isn't going to help." I sped up a little bit and ran across the parking lot. My mother sighed as she exited the building; I couldn't hear her but her facial expression and the way her mouth moved were all too familiar. The headlights blinked as she unlocked our old beat-up Toyota and I climbed in the backseat, not wanting to sit near her.
The ride home was uninteresting, we passed by the usual sights one sees in a small city; fast-food restaurants, tall brick businesses, clothing boutiques, and trinket shops just to name a few. Everything was covered in a thin layer of white. It had started snowing the day before Jeremy disappeared, and had continued. We had to stop at a Conoco for a gallon of milk before we could get home, and while we were waiting in line to pay-out I browsed through the gum and candy.
I was never very fond of sweets but Jeremy was. On the bottom shelf there was one pack of banana salt-water taffy; it was Jeremy's favorite. I picked it up off the shelf and joined my mother in the line just as she handed the money to the cashier. Mom raised an eyebrow at my choice of candy, but didn't say anything. When we got back in the car I pulled open the packaging and took a large bite. It tasted terrible, but I ate it anyways. I guess I felt like by eating it, Jeremy was also eating some of it as well.
The instant we got home, I hopped out of the car and ran up to the front door, shifting from one foot to the other as I waited for my mother who had the house key. My dad wasn't home yet, but I knew my mom would call him as soon as she got inside to tell him about how little progress I was making with the physiatrist. I practically ran from the front door out into the back yard, leaving wet boot prints on the tile floor, and didn't stop until I was behind our tool shed.
That's where Jeremy and I had built the snow man Bartholomew. Everyday when I woke up, before I even got dressed, I pulled on my snow boots and dashed outside to kiss Bartholomew. I know that kissing a snowman everyday isn't common, but I don't care. I kiss him ever morning, when I get home from school or being out, and every night right before bed, and sometimes whenever I wake up during the night; as well as whenever the fancy strikes me. When it starts to warm up, I'm going to put his head in the freezer. I want to save this for as long as I possibly can. It's part of the last memory I made with Jeremy.
"Hi Bartholomew," I said walking up to the snow creature. "Sorry I was gone so long this morning. I had to go to the stupid psychologist." I stood on top-toe to reach his mouth and kissed him. It's a good thing we have a fence around our yard, or else we'd be dealing with nosy neighbors. I stayed outside until I could hardly feel any part of my body, and kissed Bartholomew once more before I went back inside. It was nice and warm indoors, though it was very dry feeling compared to all the snowflakes that had fallen on me.
Mom was one the phone in her and Dad's bedroom, so I disappeared into mine, taking a box of Saltines with me. Dad is going to be mad about wasting so much money for useless psychologist visits. Don't get me wrong, he cares but it was Mom's idea, not his, to start the sessions. I sprawled out on my bed and stared at the ceiling for a while, I wasn't hungry yet, and I did not want to eat dinner with my parents. To be quiet honest I was feeling rather nauseous, and I knew why. I hadn't drunk anything at all that day. Dehydration was one of the trivial matters that I failed to notice most of the time. Most of the time your have to force me to consume any form of liquid unless it's a food, like soup.
After about half an hour later, I still wasn't hungry and I was bored. I felt like visiting Bartholomew later that night so my parents couldn't catch me talking to the snowman. So, once I set my alarm clock for 1:23 (it's the coolest time in existence), I curled up, preparing to go to sleep. My teddy bear however, would not stop staring at me. Seriously, it looked like it was going to eat me. Finally I threw it across the room and it landed in my desk chair.
Late that night I awoke to the sound of my parents whispering down the hall. From the way their voices had a slight lisp, I knew they were trying to stay extremely quiet; they absolutely did NOT want me to hear what they were discussing. But there is absolutely no way voices will not echo in a house with all tile flooring.
"He's mentally ill," said my father. "What normal boy spends all his time with a snowman instead of other people?"
"Robert!" my mother scolded. "Conner isn't mentally ill."
Thanks for defending me mom. I hereby deem you worthy of a hug, especially if you keep standing up for me.
"Conner is just traumatized by Jeremy's death. According to several parenting books and studies conducted by experts, loss of someone close to teens can cause an extreme social withdrawal. Counseling is the best thing to do in this type of situation. It allows him to vent his emotions in a safe manner. Give it time; I really think he's starting to come around."
No mom, I'm not starting to come around. Haven't you been paying attention to what the psychiatrist tells you? You're just wasting your money and my time by sending me there. All hugging privileges have been revoked until further notice.
I got up, pulled a sweatshirt on over my pajamas, and grabbed my flashlight off my desk. With seasoned ease I snuck down the stairs and out the back door, pausing only to slip on my snow boots. Behind the tool shed Bartholomew was waiting for me like always. One of the river stones that made up his mouth had fallen off again so I picked it up and put it back. It fell off once again so I just stuck the rock in Bartholomew's scarf. I told him all about the trip to the psychiatrist's office.
When I first told some of my friends at school about Bartholomew, they thought I had something wrong with me. I knew it wasn't normal to talk to inanimate objects, but I thought they would understand. They knew how close Jeremy and I were. I mentioned Bartholomew a few more times at school before my friends started to ignore me. Once I stopped talking about Bartholomew my friends started paying attention to me again. Now they think Bartholomew no longer exists. They also like to pretend that Jeremy was never there. None of them ever talk about Jeremy around me, and try to avoid anything to do with him at all. It's really annoying because my mother often dose the same thing. I don't have anyone to talk about Jeremy with, except for Bartholomew.
The clock in the kitchen read 2:37 when I went back inside. I had been outside for nearly an hour. With minimal sound I took a pot out of the cabinet before heating some water in it. The microwave makes to much noise as dose the coffee maker. My parents get upset with me when I go outside during the night; they're afraid I'll stay out too long and freeze to death. I know how long I can stay out and not get sick, but they don't seem to realize that. Bartholomew doesn't mind when I have to go back inside from the cold, he knows I'm not made of snow like he is. I finished drinking my tea before going back upstairs to my room.
My mom and dad had finally gone to sleep, loud snoring from down the hall proved it. Before going to sleep I wandered around my room for a few minuets. Mostly I just put stuff up and moved it around to make the room appear less messy. When I crawled between the sheets they felt freezing cold. For the first time that night I slept without Jeremy's death haunting me. Maybe the psychiatrist was helping.
So what do you think?