"Make Way" Part Five: Oh, Danny Boy
There was a boy who just needed to relax.
"I brought you something," Booner said, standing at his front door, handing over a Trader Joe's bag. Bray noticed a blue folded sweatshirt on the top of the bag, and he instantly knew exactly what it was.
"So you guys met for lunch?" Bray asked as he went to his room.
Booner walked into the bathroom. "Yeah, she wanted me to give it to you. I'm sorry."
Bray pulled out his clothes from the bag, it all smelled of cat odor, a smell in which he misses too damn much. He teared up for a bit and composed himself before Booner got out of the bathroom.
"Hey dad, remember you use to sing that song about Danny? Ya know, for Tino's birthday, the song Mom and I came up with?" Bray asked as he was watering plants at the backyard.
The song went something like this:
"Oh, Danny boy... its just a silly toy... don't cry, just say goodbye and put a smile through the mile... Danny boy, he really loved that silly toy. He'll cry 'Lets get it back! Let's get it back!' But never say goodbye...'"
It was a corny song, for sure, but made around the time Bray was eight and it was Tino's (Bray's brother) eleventh birthday. The birthday party was at some park, and cousin Danny lost his monkey toy Jano Chimp Zolpei.
Bray was with his father, and they both sang the song for a moment. It wasn't till an hour later, Bray's parents were arguing again about grandma's blood pressure.
"Look, if you keep raising your voice, her pressure is going to go up — shit, it already did go up — just stop, alright?" His Father said, aggressively.
"Her pressure goes up because you keep fuckin' going over her shoulder, telling her how to eat and moving her chair—nothing is good enough for you, she's sick of it! You're driving everyone fuckin' crazy!" His Mother roared.
"You're gonna curse now? In front of my mother?"
"You did this. Every day — every day, it's the same shit. Let her be."
The house filled with the loud, rambunctious sound of mama and papa's yelling. Grandma just sat there looking tired, agitated, and she probably for a moment wasn't even really there. Maybe somewhere in Peru.
What was the point? Bray thought. Why live like this? Why choose to live accordingly when it just led to hating yourself? He knew Grandma hated life to a degree, at this age — things for her weren't the same after hitting 94. His father could not let go. Nobody can ever just 'let go.'
It's hard. Life's whole meaning is to live to die, yet, we've constructed this notion of never letting that happen. Like the 'end' of something isn't suppose to be a thing, we're all trying to prevent things from ending, either they end good or end bad. Well all try so hard to never say goodbye.
For some reason, death seems easier than separation. Crazy thing to announce, right? Here's the way that thought came to Bray's mind...death is absolute, who knows? He could die at any point, and when you die, everyone in your life remembers you, and then time goes by till you're just a memory, and everyone who knew you is forced to move on.
A separation? Lovers, family members, friends? They go days, weeks, or months without talking. They're gone, right? Hell, one could say it's almost similar to death. Except that person exists still, but everyone moves on, either way. They're just a memory.
Huh, maybe it was kind of the same. Bray doesn't know, just — the idea of losing something, well, shit, it was a suffering on its own form. Whoever really gets over this kind of thing, love? Watching his parents argue, and his grandma sitting in between them, with her head nudged to the left, was long term suffering. Letting go was out of the question for Bray's father, he had a bad attitude, he's the type of man who's loyal but always agrees to some shit he doesn't even want to do. He was a corrections officer, once, and speaks to people in a precise way, like in his old correction officer days. For instance, when he'd ask a question regarding just about anything, he'd give some kind of performance, it's sometimes interesting to see how much energy this man will put into something so miniscule. Like a good cop, or a bad cop, he interrogates people, sometimes including Bray, though the man always means well.
In a way, this was Bray at his worst. He asked too many questions, he'll dig deeper into any situation or exchange. He'd manipulate his own mind, taking the simplicity of a conversation and making it out to be this plot against his person.
He kept asking Booner what Nalani had said during their meet up.
"She's sad, man. But she's trying. What else can I tell you, really?"
"You think — you think there's a chance for me to make this right?"
God, shut the fuck up Bray. Every day he thought of the wrong thing. He wasn't focused just yet, but the idea of making things right for him and her, he couldn't help it.
Another chance? Who knows? Who really knows? Why was that what he was thinking about? Fuckin' Cancers, man. They're emotional.
Booner is a good lad, he respects his friends and loves video games. He's kind of an emotional guy, himself. Though, after going through a certain period, he's found happiness and acceptance within himself. It was an awkward sitting to watch Bray try holding back whatever it was he wanted to say. Here's what a good friend does, they distract, make jokes about you, and advises something like "Let's eat food."
"A burger, wanna eat a burger?"
"I don't eat burgers, man. Remember? I'll get a salad or a veggie burger."
"Jesus fuckin' Christ, bro."
It's been about two weeks since Bray started being a vegetarian. Nalani has been one for a few years, so she got him to watch this Netflix documentary What the Health?
"What the fuck is What the Health?" Bonza asked him, once.
"A movie that kind of changed me, Bonze." Said Bray, inspired. He would've never guessed a 90-minute documentary would convince him so quickly to start eating, well, plants, for as long as he can, too.
"So Nalani's out and you're still gonna go vegan?" Bonze said.
"Vegetarian," Bray said now, flatly.
"Why? She ended things with you, man."
That was cold, but not intended. He would spend every day since the break up eating lettuce and fruits. Bray worked out every morning, too and he felt good. It's a good distraction, but he kind of hates working out. He couldn't see it as a motivative technique, but simply, discipline.
Eight days, now. Not long, but feels long. He thought about a lot, he was laying in bed and then something happened.
Nalani Jola sent a message, an icon that read on his phone.
He didn't know what to do, he panicked, yet at the same time, felt excitement. The message was heavy, but not terribly long. The first few set of words were "I miss you. I love you."
His heart felt jacked, it was also beating fast, and his hands were trembling. The rest of the message showed a sad but honest Nalani, the poor woman. She didn't want to do this but she had to. A woman can only take so much or can only give so much. She made it clear, she wanted Bray to work on himself, that was the long term goal. She implored him to never lie to himself, and she apologized for even sending a message.
Did it make things worse? He doesn't know. It was hard for her and he felt that. Bray wasn't sure of what to do, he read it and didn't know if he should respond with:
"Okay" or "I understand" or "I love you, I understand, I'm sorry."
No, what did he do? Stupid fuck, he is. He did what he thought at the moment was okay because cancers are dumb emotional, and some specific cancers like Bray, don't know when to fuckin' sit back and let things be, for the time being.
He wrote to her how he misses her...okay, that's alright.
He then wrote how he doesn't know why they can't just talk right now if they miss each other... See? He's stupid.
He then wrote he's respected her decision not to talk. And that he's making some sort of progress... Bray just kept going, the poor guy, he didn't realize how stupid he was being, right now.
What the dumbass really wanted to say was:
"It's nice reading this, from you. I miss you, I love you, always. I will work on myself, for me. I promise, I'll make things right. Thank you, Nalani."
But he fuckin' didn't. Nalani wrote back to him, disappointed, and quite frankly, annoyed.
"Your message proves to me I am making the right choice, Bray, and that fuckin' sucks." He didn't mean to write what he wrote in the way Nalani read it, or, he just didn't mean to write at all. He was caught off guard, nervous, so many emotions sunk in. He felt terrible, god damn it — why did I write that, he thought. He wanted to rewind time.
He hated himself for not writing what he should've. Her final words were:
"Get to work. Take care." Simple, and powerful. He understood, he really was sorry, and he really understood why things had to be the way they are, now. In all honesty, he couldn't just...accept it.
He wrote more, trying to explain why he messed up, and what he wrote was not planned, nor what he wanted to truly say. He just kept saying words, and that's what those were, words.
He sat back and stared at Nalani's profile for a minute. She was smiling, her eyes were closed. Every time her eyes closed when she smiled, he figured she was seeing something no one was lucky enough to see.
He wanted to say the right words. The ones that would count. But he knew, words were just, words.
He sighed. Leaning forward and then clicking another tab, looking at at the homepage for Google. Then, he closed his laptop.
"Okay," he said. "...for me." He said it like he was in the room with someone, his eyes were watery. He knew work needed to be done, and that's when he accepted it, so. All of it.
Danny boy came to mind, now. That cousin of his, he couldn't stop crying over that damn toy. Did he ever move on? It's a toy, of course, he did. But, Bray hasn't seen cousin Danny in 12 years.
Oh, Danny boy.