“Minus the lack of me reading Harry Potter.”

“Your mom should date a wizard next time.”

I laughed. “Trust me, it’s probably next in her lineup.”

Around three a.m. he stood to leave, and I hurried inside, bringing out a pair of double-A batteries for his cassette player. He hesitated at first, but then placed them into his player. As he walked across the lawn with Zeus, he hit play on the music, placing the headphones over his ears. I watched his footsteps pause. He covered his face with the palms of his hands and his body shook.

I dropped down to my knees, watching the suffering that engulfed his spirit. A part of me wished I hadn’t given him the batteries, but another part was happy that I had, because his reaction meant he was still breathing.

Sometimes the hardest part of existing without your loved ones was remembering how to breathe.

He turned back my way and spoke. “Do me a favor?”


He gestured toward the house. “Hold her tight each day and night, because nothing’s promised to us. I just wished I would’ve held on tighter.”

Chapter Fourteen


April 4th, 2014

Three Days Until Goodbye

“This one’s really nice if you are looking for something strong,” the funeral home director, Harold, said to my mother and me as we stood staring at caskets. “It’s full copper, which has excellent resistance to corrosion. It’s stronger than stainless steel, and provides a remarkable life for your loved ones.”

“That’s very nice,” Mom said, as I stood completely uninterested.

“And over here, if you’re looking for something a bit higher class, then you want to look into this beauty.” Harold’s fingers brushed against his goatee before he patted the inside of another casket. “This is solid bronze, which is the strongest and longest-lasting of any casket material. If you are looking to send your loved ones out in style, this is the way to go.

“There’s also the option of the hardwood caskets. Now, they aren’t as strong as these ones, but they are shock-resistant, which is nice. They come in different types of hardwoods such as cherry, oak, ash, or walnut. Now, my personal favorite is the cherry finish, but that’s just me.”

“Fucking creep,” I muttered under my breath, my mom the only one to hear me.

“Tristan,” she scolded, turning away from the funeral director. “Be nice.”

“He has a favorite casket. That’s fucking weird,” I hissed, irritated with Harold, irritated with my mother, irritated that Jamie and Charlie were gone. “Can we get this over with?” I complained, looking into the empty caskets that would soon enough be filled with my everythings.

Come back to me.

Mom frowned, but went ahead and handled the details that I wanted to pretend didn’t exist.

Harold took us to his office, where he wore his creepy smile and talked about shit that annoyed me as each moment passed. “For the tombstones we also offer wreaths for the holiday season, vases for flowers, and blankets for the colder months—”

“Are you shitting me?” I murmured. Mom placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, almost as if to stop me from snapping at Harold, but it was too late. I was too far gone. “It must be really nice for you, huh, Harold?” I asked, leaning forward with my eyes narrowed and my fingers laced together. “It must be a good fucking job to offer sad fucks blankets for their loved ones. To get them to pour all their money into stupid shit that doesn’t matter because they are in a vulnerable state. A blanket? A BLANKET?! They are fucking dead, Harold,” I shouted, standing up from the chair. “The dead don’t need blankets because they don’t get cold. They don’t need wreaths because they don’t celebrate Christmas, and they don’t need flowers because what’s the point?!” I hollered, slamming my hands against his desk, sending papers flying.

Mom stood up and reached for me, but I yanked my arm away. My chest rose and fell, my breaths becoming harder and harder to control, and I could feel the wildness that was living within my eyes. I was losing it. I was falling apart more and more as each second passed.

I rushed out of his office and leaned my back against the closest wall. Mom apologized to Harold as my hands formed fists and began to slam against the wall behind me. Over and over again, I slammed my fists against the wall. My fingers were turning red, and my heart was turning cold as it all began to set in.

They were gone.

They were gone.

My mom walked out of the room and stood across from me, her eyes filled with tears.

“Did you get the blanket?” I asked, sarcastically.

“Tristan,” she whispered, the heartbreak audible within her soft words.

“If you did, you should’ve gotten Charlie a green one, and Jamie purple. Those were their favorite colors…” I shook my head, not wanting to talk anymore. Not wanting Mom to try to make me feel better. Not wanting to breathe.

It was the first day that their deaths felt real. The first day I came to the realization that in three days I would have to say my final goodbye to my world. My soul was in flames, and every inch of me felt the burn. I shook my head more and more, cupped my hands over my mouth, and howled into my sadness.

They were gone.

They were gone.

Come back to me.

“CHARLIE!” I screamed, sitting up in my bed. It was still pitch black outside, and my sheets were soaked in my own sweat. A slight breeze passed through my window as I tried to shake off the nightmare that was more real than ever before. My nightmares were my past memories that came to haunt me.