Jan 27, 2013

Chapter 3, Part 4

I just cranked this out so it's still a little rough, but it's coherent enough for me to end the chapter with part 5 and for you to see where the story is going. Let me know what you think! As always, a compiled version is available by link at the top of my blog. Chapter 3, part 4:


They hadn’t moved from their positions. Jack still leaned on the counter, only now he swirled his finger on his phone, opening browsers, replying to emails, and looking at funny images. Greta kept her head buried in her arm, only now occasionally mumbling something to herself. Sometimes it sounded mean spirited and sometimes it sounded maudlin. In the hour that passed, as time clicked away on the microwave clock, his phone never called her and her muttered breaths never called him.

 “Do you want Chinese?” Jack questioned Greta, face blue from the glare of his phone.

“You know what the stupid thing about funerals is?” Greta spun around to face Jack, a red mark on her forehead where her hand had been.

“Everyone is wearing the same thing?”

“No. Almost. It’s that with a funeral everyone acts like that’s the end. That’s the end of grieving. They don’t acknowledge that there is no end. Grief stays with you forever. It becomes like a tachycardia. Inside that no one can see and only you can feel.  Slowing you down, destroying your body with pain, nearly killing you… Everyone acts like it’s all okay. Like we all keep beating on, when our tachycardia just keeps getting worse.”

“No one thinks any differently, Greta,” Jack placed his phone in to his pocked. “It’s just, if we all got shitty at exercising, we’d have let the TV doctors win.” Greta stared nonplussed. “That was a joke.”

“It was a bad one.”

“I don’t know what you want from me.”

“Nothing… I don’t want anything…” Greta muttered, trailing off in to her muttered breaths. Jack pulled out a brown leather stool and sat at the bar, waiting. Greta stopped muttering and went silent, waiting too. Waiting for words to reach her mouth, for a comprehensible and compatible sentence to make it from brain to lips. Greta and Jack gazed at each other, waiting for the same thing.

“I mean…” As the words came, Greta spoke. Her words were not calculated but they were thoughtful. Jack listened, hands folded and eyes intent. “Why do we have to rush in to the grieving? It’s like, we have this thing. I get it, it’s so important in cultures to have some sort of burial or ritual to mark the dead because we need endings and beliefs and it’s really more for us than them. So why can’t it be for us? Funerals don’t feel like they’re for us anymore. It feels like it’s for them.”

“Them?”

“I don’t know! You got me! Why are we rushing it? Who are we trying to impress? It seems like every funeral is done in almost a week of the death. Like that’s what we should be doing, baking potatoes and planning a party. Give me a minute to breathe, dammit. Let me realize the finality of what just happened. Because when the funeral ends… when the funeral is over… I won’t have anything to tell me it’s final.”

Jack stepped from behind the counter, closing the distance between him and Greta. He reached for her and hugged her firmly. There were reluctant tears in her eyes. The more she tried to force them away the more they sprung out. Her face was getting redder, her teeth more clenched. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this.  The only one who could see her like this was her shower head. Her shower head had seen a lot worse, to be frank.

Jack didn’t force her to do anything, he just held her as she breathed through the moment. He looked at her as though he could see everything. His black eyes penetrated her soul. His long, black hair curled like a snake around her truth. His touch was much too comforting.

She wrenched herself from Jack, turning back to the sink. Years her best friend, her neighbor, her only companion, who else would she turn to if not Jack? She knew her manufactured loneliness would be her tragic flaw.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

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