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Other times, we watched television together.

One of the last things he told me was to tell his son that he loved him until the very end.

43 Levi

Dad passed away the second week of March. Mom wanted to fly in for the funeral with me, but I told her I didn’t think she should. She’d have to miss her appointments at St. John’s, and I knew they were keeping her mind balanced. She was doing so well, I finally had my mom back. I wouldn’t want her to fall backward from the stress of Dad’s funeral.

My trip to Mayfair Heights would only last a week before I had to be on a plane back to Alabama. Aria had texted me the word of the day for the past sixty-eight days. I never replied, except to one message.

Aria: Are you even thinking of me?

Me: Every day.

It was true, too. I thought about her all the time, wondering how she was doing, wondering if the baby was okay.

When I reached Wisconsin, Lance picked me up and drove me into town so I wouldn’t have to take the city bus. It was funny how everything was the same, but so different. Lance lost some color to his eyes. When we pulled up behind Soulful Things, he parked the car and we sat silent for a few minutes. He tossed his hair on top of his head, then rubbed his fingers repeatedly over his face.

“I keep waking up hoping it was a dream, you know? That my brother’s still an asshole living down the street, eating artificial TV dinners.”

I didn’t reply.

The last I knew of my father was that he sent me away.

I felt bitter.



Mostly sad.

“He loved you, you know, Levi,” Lance said. A lie that was meant to bring me comfort. “Kent wasn’t the best at showing his feelings or expressing himself, but he loved you. I remember he would—”

“Can we head inside? I’m tired,” I said, not wanting to go down the memory lane of how my father loved me from a distance. All I wanted was to get this funeral over with and be on a plane in a few days, not talk about who my father was when in all honesty I didn’t know him.

“Yeah, of course. Daisy’s already upstairs. I’ll be up in a second,” Lance replied.

I climbed out of the car and started heading up to their place. When I turned around, I saw Lance with the palm of his hand resting against his forehead. His eyes were closed, and his other hand formed a fist as he tapped it against the steering wheel.

I’m such an asshole.

Walking back to the car, I opened the door and climbed back inside. Lance wasn’t telling me the stories to make me feel better. They were for his own comfort.

“You were saying?” I asked.

He looked at me, bit into his bottom lip, and sighed. “I used to catch him listening to you play the violin in the woods. He would sit in his lawn chair right on the outskirts of the trees and listen to you play. Once when I showed up, he said to me, ‘The kid’s good.’ That’s all. Then we would both stay awhile and listen together. He wasn’t the best person out there…but he was the best person he knew how to be.”

We sat in the car for hours. Lance told me stories about a man I never really knew. I learned more about my father sitting in that car than I had ever known.

It all felt a little too late.

* * *

The day of the funeral, no one from town showed up. I knew my father wasn’t liked around town, but no one showing up to his funeral really drove that fact home.

I sat in the back pew, not wanting to walk up and see his face for the last time. Lance and Daisy sat in the front row as the funeral organizer talked them through all the details about moving my father to the burial location.

My fingers tapped against the pew repeatedly. My tie was choking me. Each breath was harder than the last to take in. I loosened the tie, but the feeling of suffocation was still there as I went back to tapping my fingers.

Lance and Daisy walked toward me and sat beside me in the pew. “Are we leaving?” I asked Lance.

“They said there’s one more thing.” He placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it for comfort.

We stared forward as the organizer set up three microphone stands on the stage. I cocked an eyebrow. “What’s going on?”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he answered.

The speakers in the room squeaked as they were turned on, and seconds later a song began to play. I knew the song the moment the first note hit the sound system. A small smile found my lips as Simon and Abigail walked out to the two further back microphones, playing the air guitar to The Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels.” They played the intro to the song perfectly, Abigail even taking a moment to tune her invisible strings.

I turned to see Aria walking out to the center microphone, and right on time, she started lip syncing along with the song. Her fingers gripped around the mic as she sang her heart out, her beautiful eyes locking with mine.

“Jesus,” I muttered, trying to hold back the tears that wanted to fall as she lip synced every single word. She rocked out to the song, singing with her soul as she danced with the microphone stand across the stage. Her black lace dress hugged her stomach as her black flat shoes danced around.

She gestured toward me during Simon’s air guitar solo, signaling me to join her.

Before I could consider it, Lance pulled a microphone from his suit coat and handed it to me, winking.

I stood up and wiped my eyes before I started lip syncing with Aria. I walked down the aisle, and she grabbed her mic, meeting me halfway. We silently sang our hearts out, leaving no emotion behind, losing ourselves in the song, losing ourselves together.

After the performance, I was told to sit down in the front pew and Lance and Daisy were ordered to join me. Aria said it was time for the speeches. Simon walked up to the podium and cleared his throat, tapping his finger against the microphone. “Test one, two, three, four,” he whispered into the microphone, which rocketed his voice through the room. “Good, good, good, good. Hello everybody, I’m Simon Landon and I wanted to say a few words about Kent Myers.” He cleared his throat once more. “Kent Myers was an asshole.” I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “I think it’s safe to say that we can all agree on that. He was such a freaking asshole. I remember one time I was at the grocery store to buy a pack of root beer because me and my best friend Aria were going to get wasted on root beer floats.