4

4

Not Here

It's weird to think that your body doesn't even exist anymore. Your neon yellow nails, your fake barbed wire tattoo, and your chipped tooth are all now just a bunch of ash and dust stuffed in a can. It's weird to you think you aren't here anymore.

How can someone who was so loud and so full of life, just suddenly grow silent and nonexistent? I remember the way your hands fluttered when you got excited while talking or the way you would destroy any books that you were reading.

I never really thought about those little moments until now. For some reason those snippets of the past sweep into my mind when I look at the dull black box that holds what is left of you in the physical world. That box is sealed now and so are these moments in my head.

I didn't want to come today, but I figured the best friend should make an appearance at the other friend's funeral. But to me this isn't just a funeral; it's an unwanted cancellation of the plans we made together.

We had always intended on going on adventures to new, exotic places together since we became friends in kindergarten. On Friday nights we would stand in front of the world map in your room and blindfold one another. Then we would spin around and randomly pick a place on the map. After taking off the blindfolds, we would stick a pushpin in the location we picked and research it. We would learn about the Valley of Arequipa or Mt. Mabu. The whole world seemed smaller and reachable with you by my side. But now staring at that black box, the planet has expanded and become shadowy.

In big cursive letters, the name Mildred Rose Smith is written on a banner above your sophomore school photo. No one ever called you Mildred; it was always Millie. The name was too boring and old-ladyish you told me. I notice your parents went with the sophomore photo, probably due to the vulgar gesture you were showing the photographer in your junior year photo.

You would hate your own funeral. There's a lot of crying people and black clothing, two of the things you hated the most. I never saw you cry because you claimed it would never solve anything. Tears made you uncomfortable, and you looked down on the other girls for crying so often.

But did you cry when you were trapped inside that car lying in a pool of your own blood? You probably realized you were a goner as soon as the semi truck slammed into your yellow VW Bug. So did you cry?

Did you cry for all the dreams that were bleeding out onto the asphalt? Did you cry for all joy and mistakes you would never experience? Did you cry in pain or regret?

Or did you lie there and laugh at death like you did at danger? I can picture you smirking while laying there in the dark, daring death to come. But, the way you died doesn't matter anymore, I guess.

I'm sitting in a pew surrounded by weeping people and all I can think of is how big the priest's ears are. I can almost picture you beside me jabbing me in the ribs while whispering, " Call the circus; Dumbo is on the loose."

You always had a talent of being crazy at the wrong times. Remember when we had Bio sophomore year with Ms. Jackson and we had to dissect frogs? You kept trying to reenact an Aztec sacrifice and kept jumping around, claiming you were performing a ceremonial dance. Unfortunately in the middle of your jig, your hand slammed into the edge of the tray. Suddenly an amphibian was soaring across the room and made a crash landing…. on Ms. Jackson's face.

This got us two weeks of detention and a lecture from Ms. Jackson that mentioned juvie and careers as fry cooks. Sadly, this wasn't our first lecture nor was it our first trip to detention. There was also the time you accidently pushed a teacher's cart down three flights of stairs and the fire you started in Chemistry. I never actually committed any of the crimes, but I was guilty by association.

Though you dragged me into trouble, I always admired you. I always wished I could stand up to people like you. Even now, I can picture you scoffing at the people that showed up and remarking loudly how two faced some people are. Teachers that used to yell at you and tell you that you would amount to nothing are now sitting in the front pew weeping. Ms. Jackson is there, dabbing her eyes daintily with a tacky handkerchief.

It's funny how everyone loves a fallen youth. They love the "romantic" concept of a person cut down in the springtime of their lives. People turn the person into a hero or a martyr of sorts. It's ironic how bad role models are redeemed by an unfortunate death.

As I look down the line of relatives, my eyes freeze on a certain face.

In the front row, your five-year-old cousin is squirming. She keeps talking to herself and is drawing unicorns and imaginary fuzzy creatures on her hands and arms with a pink pen. Every time she finishes creating another furry ball with eyes, she smiles and giggles. As she smiles, I notice the gleeful glint in her eyes and a chipped baby tooth.

Her hands flutter excitedly as she thinks of new creations. I see glimpses of sloppily painted neon yellow nails as she begins coloring on her white plastic shoes. Her mother notices and grabs the pink pen from your cousin's grasp. The little girl begins pouting, however, she sees her artwork and starts giggling again.

"You didn't really think I would leave you?" I can hear you chuckling in my ear

" We made way too many plans."