Goodbye for Now, Maybe Forever
My Last Day With Haley Hannah Harrison Went Like This
It was Sunday. The sun was up and getting in her room and shining on us as we lay hidden beneath the sheets on her bed all morning, talking about things like what the funeral home smelled like.
Pictures of Aaron were pinned to boards around the parlor and people in black stood in clusters crying and mopping their eyes. Thick formaldehyde to keep my friend from rotting hung in the air and greeted us all rudely as we stepped one by one into the foyer. I hung in the back mopping my own tears until Molly coaxed me up to the casket to say goodbye. She said it would help, and I didn’t believe her at first. But after I did, after I saw him in there, I guess it helped a little. At least it wasn’t so scary. We all half expected him leap out and scare the shit out of everyone like some elaborate practical joke, ‘cause that’s just how he was. He’d do stuff like that all the time, but this time wasn’t one of them. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, some lingering denial, but we all sort of thought that in the backs of our minds.
Anyway, I remember the place smelling an awful lot like the dentist’s office I went to when I was young. It smelled how I imagine the inside of a petri dish might smell, and it scared me to know that Aaron was that petri dish. It was unnatural. Maybe they don’t all smell his way, but I’d never been in a funeral home before this one, and that’s when I knew it was all real, when I smelled it.
As Haley Hannah Harrison and I talked and hid under the sheets I wondered why all I could remember about Aaron were all the bad times that lead up to his death, when there were so many more good times I’d rather remember him by. But since he went in such an ugly way, I guess, it’s hard to think of anything but the most recent months where he gradually rot himself. Too bad, but that’s what sticks, and now it doesn’t even feel real anymore. Why can’t I remember the good times instead?
Later we snuck onto her neighbor’s roof-deck once more for old times sake, but this time we didn’t get drunk. For one thing, it was frigid out this weekend so the thought of cold beer was really unappealing, but more so it was because this sort of turned into a somber day for us. We were both in one of those moods where you don’t want to do anything but you want to have someone there with you. You can talk if you want, or not if you’d rather. It didn’t matter. We were just happy to be there. So we didn’t get drunk like usual. Just sat and watched the sky and tried not to freeze too bad.
That afternoon I saw Molly again. Haven’t seen her since the funeral, but she was in town a few days this weekend, so we met up. I asked her to meet me at my thinking spot, so after I got off the roof with Haley Hannah Harrison, I went for a walk. I stopped at a shop for some coffee and smokes and then went to meet her where I usually go to mull things over.
When I got to the bridge, she was already there. I walked up and stopped a few feet away and didn’t say a thing. We both just looked out over the water towards downtown and watched the junkyard workers move some junk around. After a while I set the coffee down between us on the rail and she grabbed it.
I asked about Seattle. She said it’s good and asked when I’m coming. I don’t know. I’m still figure things out, I told her.
Then some more silence. Then she asked if I’ve gone out to see Aaron yet, which I haven’t. Haven’t had the guts, I said, and she told me I should. It helps, apparently.
I told her I’m sorry. Sorry for everything that happened with Aaron. Told her I’m sorry I didn’t tell her and couldn’t do anything to stop it from happening. Or maybe I could have done something, but didn’t. She told me nothing could have been done by anyone, but it didn’t make me feel any better about it. Still hurts.
Anyway, she wanted a cigarette so I set the pack on the rail and she took one. I took the pack back and set down a lighter and she took it and lit her smoke. We stood like this a while longer and didn’t say anything. There was nothing left to say. We both missed him, and that was that.
It got weird at dinner with Haley Hannah Harrison. Maybe it’s because I was still in my head about the stuff Molly said and started feeling guilty all over again. Maybe it’s because it was my last night there and she didn’t want me to go and I didn’t really want to go either. I don’t know exactly how she felt about it, but anyway, it got weird. I got back from my walk and she’d made dinner and we started eating without saying much. Something with shrimp and noodles. It was good, so I told her so. She said Thanks. Then she told me what it cost to make. It wasn’t expensive, but it wasn’t too cheap either, since it wasn’t shrimp season or whatever. I don’t know why, but that really got me. I couldn’t enjoy it after that. It just didn’t taste any good anymore. Why did she have to say that? Why did she have to tell me what she paid for it? Was it a guilt thing? Like she was trying to make me feel bad for leaving? Like she had to tell me what it cost, like a “you’d better enjoy this” or something? I don’t know what she was thinking, but it really ruined it and hurt a little. It’s like giving someone a gift and telling them how much you paid for it, just to make sure they know what it’s worth. I didn’t know what to say back to that. We finished up and did the dishes and I went to sleep on her couch that night for the last night maybe ever.
It’s things like this that make me hate this town.
Anyway, I’m staying with Brad now. I’ll tell you about him soon, but for now, just know he’s a real character.