I found a picture of you the other day. I stared so hard at it. Maybe I was hoping that if I stared hard enough, and long enough, it would make you real again. That your image would morph into a flesh-and-blood, 3D living and breathing model of you. And you'd be mine, the second time you were alive.
I dream about your funeral all the time. I've noticed that it happens when I'm happy before I go to bed; when I laugh or have a good time late at night. I dream about how the service was so stilted, so frozen, so cold, and in my dream – nightmare? – I'm crouched at the side of a wall, staring at the ground that's receiving your casket, and I'm crying. I cry, and I cry, I'm bawling my eyes out with my hands pressed to my eyes.
That's when I usually come back to myself, my mind waking up in real life, with real tears streaming down my face and they won't stop.
Maybe it's my subconscious trying to rid myself of the guilt, because I didn't cry at your funeral. Or maybe it's just my way of making myself feel bad about having a life after you, because you never really got one – how much can a person truly live at seventeen? – and here I am living it up and sharing myself with someone else, even though I pretend that person is you.
She asked me who you were, when she saw that I'd framed the picture of you I found. I put it on my desk at work; I made a copy and stuck it in my wallet. When I'm riding on the subway I look at it; when there's a quiet spell at work I look at your picture. I love you more than I love her, even though you were never mine and she always was. I told her you were a friend. You were one, weren't you, even though you saw through me instead of at me, and you talked past me instead of to me.
I took her to your grave; I almost got lost. It looks good, your headstone. Your mother looks after you real well. I'm sorry I haven't visited more often. It's hard for me. But the area looks almost exactly like it does in my dream; I can almost see where the people are standing around the hole in the ground and what angle the rain sluices down the umbrellas and onto the ground. It rains in my dream, you see. I don't know if it did in real life; your mother didn't want me there.
Maybe if she'd known me – maybe if you'd known me – things would be different.