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After You

by Kukua Paintsil 8 days ago in grief

by Kukua A. Paintsil

The distant sound of children laughing meandered on the fall breeze. There was a slight chill in the air, but that did not deter many from visiting the park. Finding a perverse comfort in the crunch of leaves beneath her feet, Lucille walked over to their park bench and slumped down on it.

***

“Where did you get the pick-up truck from?!” Lucille screeched in surprise. She was standing in the driveway of her house and could not believe her eyes.

“Mere mortals cannot possibly hope to understand the extent of my resourcefulness.” Luca flashed her another one of his charming grins as he headed to the passenger’s door. “Fine. I know a guy who owns this truck and owes me a favour. Happy?” He opened the passenger door and stepped aside, allowing Lucille to enter.

“That is still under review,” Lucille sniffed in a haughty tone as she got in.

Laughing and joking the entire time, they drove to their favourite drive-in movie location. Ready with blankets and cushions, they made themselves comfortable in the bed of the truck. The movie was interesting enough, but the steady stream of commentary made the experience enjoyable.

As the credits rolled, Lucille leaned toward Luca slightly and, with a smile on her face, whispered, “I am happy.”

***

Lucille hugged her arms about her person and watched a red cherry leaf float lazily to the ground. Her eyes shone with unshed tears. Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to the leaf. She supposed if the leaf had feelings, it’d feel incredibly lonely being detached from its source of nourishment. In its place, she’d probably be reluctant to land when it’d just turn brown and wither away.

She’d spent the last couple of weeks barricaded in her bedroom, and the breath of fresh air was good for her spirit. Lucille looked up at the sky through the multicoloured leaves of the cherry tree and prayed for strength. As tears streaked down her face, she had, but one thought.

‘I want to hear him laugh again.’

***

Lucille was enjoying herself immensely.

She was at a rehearsal for a school play. She and a group of classmates had rewritten ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ by Shakespeare and planned to perform it. Currently, she was on the stage engaged in a comical improvised dialogue with Luca.

“-And finally, for someone so eager to marry me, you seem inclined to aggravate me continuously. These are the reasons why I cannot marry you, Petruchio!” Lucille announced with an exaggerated stomp.

Luca stalked forward. “Oh, Kate. You will marry me. Or I shall lock you up in a tower, like that princess in Shrek! Now, where may I purchase a female dragon?”

“Shrek hadn’t been written yet,” a voice piped up from the audience.

“She doesn’t know that!” Luca hissed in a loud stage whisper.

Lucille walked up to him and pretended to stomp on his foot.

“Woman! That was my favourite pair of papaya skin boots! Do you know how many papayas had to die for me to acquire this?” Luca bellowed in mock rage.

Lucille paused as they stared at each other and promptly dissolved into fits of laughter. Their makeshift audience dissolved into uproarious laughter.

“Papaya skins?” Lucille choked out between bales of laughter. “Really?”

Luca was laughing so hard he could not reply.

***

Lucille ignored the numerous messages from her mother. She knew she had to meet with her therapist, but she could not bring herself to meet her today.

Her therapist was supposed to talk her through her grief; they wanted to prevent her from becoming depressed. Lucille knew her parents feared she’d go down the same road Luca had.

There was an emptiness where a fountain of joy used to reside. She had her family and friends around her, yet there was an acute feeling of loneliness surrounding her. There was no happiness, no laughter. The most she could do was plaster a fake smile on her face and pray the tears didn’t fall.

Lucille didn’t know if this was depression, but if it was even a fraction of what Luca had felt before...

“I’m sorry.”

How she wished she’d been strong enough to pull him back from the edge. Or she’d even attempted. Instead, she’d kicked him into that dark chasm and laughed in his face.

***

Lucille knocked on Luca’s bedroom door and stuck her head around it. She stepped in and was smacked by the stuffy, stale air that carried a malodorous smell.

“Luca! You in here?” she called.

“What do you want?” was the disgruntled reply.

“Dude! Did you not see my calls or messages?”

Silence.

“I don’t know what is up with you lately. Where have you been?”

Silence.

“Luca, I needed you. I need my best friend by my side again. My dad is in the hospital again, and I just... need you,” Lucille pleaded.

“I don’t care about your stuff right now. I’m dealing with my stuff, so please leave.”

“Leave? Do you need help? Talk to me.”

“You wouldn’t-can’t understand. Either keep quiet or leave.”

Lucille saw red. “What is wrong with you? You’re holed up in this room. You’re ignoring me. And what is that smell? Are you smoking weed?”

“Stay out of my business!” Luca yelled. “You’re supposed to be my best friend. You can’t just come in here and judge me!”

“Oh, now you want to be friends? My friend is the person who sat beside me on that park bench four years ago and asked for my name! My friend is the person who makes up silly words every day. My friend is the person who holds me and whispers, ‘everything is going to be okay, little star’ whenever my dad is hospitalized. This person sitting in front of me is not my friend.”

Luca stared open-mouthed.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with you, and I don’t think anyone else does either.”

grief
KP
Kukua Paintsil
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