Could I save your life, like you saved mine?

 

Sometimes I forget people exist. Sometimes I forget they stop existing. Sometimes I forget some people never existed to begin with.

Cassandra – but everyone calls me Cassie – wakes up one morning, staring up at the ceiling fan rotating above the bed she shares with long-term girlfriend, Flor. A buzz of a funeral procession echoes through her mind. She can ever smell the fresh, dug earth mounted. The murmurs of sobs and condolences. People speak at the podium. A preacher talks. She shakes her head and turns to see Flor sitting there on the bed. The night before, they spoke of their relationship. How it moved in two directions.

“We’ll talk later,” Flor says before grabbing her bag and books, heading out the door. “You have some things to think about yourself.”

Before walking out the door, Flor pauses and looks at Cassie lovingly. “I love you, Cassie. I always have and I always will.”

Cassie goes through her day. There are shots that ring out. The student union roars in a rising crescendo. Screams. People talk. Four shots and then a fifth and then nothing. Cops and medics pull the bodies out. Five dead, including the shooter.

There’s a tree I remember from my childhood. It stood gnarled and ugly. I imagined the imagines of dead children dancing around it. Skeletal masks upon their faces. I don’t remember if they were masks at all. For I know, their faces were skinned and they weren’t masks. Horror movie scenarios played and replayed in my head.

“What’s the cucumber song you’re playing?” Anderson asks.

“Shut up,” Mackie says.

No. This isn’t right.

“What isn’t right?” asks Mackie. “We’re not really here.”

Damien chuckles from somewhere else in the house. There aren’t many things left here. “You have to learn how to accept this.”

But that isn’t right either. Damien would never say something like that.

There are days when joy just comes naturally to me. I’m filled with undefined energy. I can do things. Accomplish little goals I set for myself. Then the inevitable crash comes and it’s not enough for me just to get out of bed. I’m irritated by everything, everyone. I feel the crushing sense of being alone. I talk out loud to myself just to hear a voice. And then they…

“This isn’t right,” Mackie jibes in. “You’re not right.”

Cassandra looks at Flor lovingly. “You’re dead, aren’t you?” she asks.

Flor simply nods. “You have to let go.”

There isn’t any letting go. I hope for moderate days. I don’t wish for the depression to ever go away, no matter how much better life would be. I don’t let it define me. I use it to mold myself. There are just days when I can’t hold on to reality and I slip. Float. Fleeting. Somewhere above head. And I become another person. Speak with a new voice.

And Anderson just smiles and takes Mackie into his arms as they watch Cassandra staring at the sunrise.

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