We walk across the grass, not really talking. It's actually really pretty. The grass is starting to turn green, a couple flowers are growing, the snow is melting. It's really nice out. Calm. It's really quiet besides all the birds chirping. It's not really a place too many people come to hang out. We passed a few people on our way, but for the most part it feels like we're the only two guys on earth.
Riley looks at the map again and sticks it in his pocket. "Right here," he says, and leads me to a little area. For a second neither of us say anything. Just stare and sigh.
"I'm kinda mad he has one of the lame gravestones," I finally say, looking down at the little stone plaque. It doesn't even say anything besides his name and the dates. Andrew Kyle Mack. I never knew his middle name. Never came up. February 7, 1995 – January 1, 2012.
"What d'you mean?" Riley asks.
"It's so fucking…small. He deserves a real one. One that stands up and doesn't get walked on or pissed on by dogs or drunk people."
Riley shakes his head and kneels down, crouching next to the gravestone. "I dunno, I think he'd like this one. It can't get knocked down by teenagers and it won't crumble and it's not too showy. Not to mention it matches his mom's."
We don't talk for a second. I crouch next to Riley. He pats my shoulder. "You think he'd've wanted to know his mom was dead?"
Riley hmms. "Dunno."
"I think it's good he didn't," I say, just thinking out loud. "He was already miserable enough just thinking she left."
Riley hums in agreement. I lean into him and he almost falls over. "You might be right," he says.
We get quiet again. I don't know what Riley's thinking about, but I know I gotta stop procrastinating. I came here to talk to Drew. I sigh. It's kinda awkward that I'm gonna basically be talking to myself. I mean, Drew's dead. He's not gonna be listening. I don't know what he thought would happen when he died, but I don't believe in all that heaven and hell shit. Still, I like to think he can hear me. Maybe not in heaven. But somewhere.
"So uh, Drew." Riley glances at me. I nod. My turn first. "Just wanted to…check in, I guess. It's spring break. Me, my mom, and Jess are gonna go to Busch Gardens in a couple days."
"That's an amusement park," Riley says like Drew asked. I raise an eyebrow at him. "He might not know."
"Right. Well yeah, but dad's obviously not coming. The divorce is actually gonna be finalised like next week. Um. But it's feels like they've been divorced since the day you…died. Riles, I sound crazy."
"Shut up Andy. This is supposed to help deal. Anyway, he'd wanna know."
I roll my eyes. "Fine. Anyway, Jess is so much better now. I wish you guys could've met 'cuz she's just got this impression that you're some temptress that lured me in and then, and I quote, 'died when I needed you most'. It's b/s. I'm obviously okay, and none of it was your fault. I think she's a little mad I gave you her phone, actually. But I bet you guys would've got along." I pause, trying to think of what else I wanted to say. I look at Riley, who just raises his eyebrows and sorta smiles. His "you got this" face. I'm finally starting to get his expressions. "Uh, your dad managed to get two years, but he bailed himself out. It's bullshit, but I don't have enough evidence to say anything. So I'm sorry about that."
"Me too," Riley puts in.
"I guess the bright side is everyone feels bad for making fun of you. They still think you killed yourself though."
Riley just shakes his head. He's just as mad as me about the whole situation.
"I guess the only other thing is I came out. Like, all the way. Everyone at school knows I'm gay now."
"And that I'm bi," Riley says. "Which by the way. I am."
I smile real big. "Yeah. Drew, I guess…I just want you to know I'm over you now. I know it was kinda weird. But I'm definitely over you now." I feel Riley's hand slip into mine and squeeze. I squeeze back. "I found someone who loves me back."
"Finally," Riley says with a smirk.
I stick my tongue out at him. I remember when him liking me scared the shit outta me. After a while though, when I was getting over Drew, I realised that everyone already knew I was gay. And if everyone knew and it wasn't a big deal, why would actually dating someone be a big deal? That's when I realised I started loving Drew more like my sister or something. Still incredibly important to me, but just…not the same way as before. And when I realised that, I realised that Riley and me kind of was perfect. I think somewhere deep inside I always kinda liked him. We just click perfectly.
"Anyway, I just came 'cuz I wanted to say…I miss you. I'm moving on, but I'll always miss you."
"We'll always miss you," Riley says. "You were one helluva kid."
I reach out with my free hand and run it over his name in the stone. "Bye, Drew."
And I swear I hear his almost-laugh in the breeze. I smile.
Okay that's it! Thanks for sticking around, reviewing, stroking my ego, etc., etc.!
I'd like to thank Happy Hippie, Aletiah, CharlieTehUnicron, xSadistxFujix, Emiko03, Marnie-May, and yellow1105 for the super kind words!
Also I'm sorry about how it had to end haha.
I can't promise that I'll have anything else coming out any time soon but one can hope! And I hope to see you all on the flip side. Thank you for everything.
Love and hearts,