“Everybody dies. Wait, everybody DESERVES a death. For some of us, we come close but it isn’t the end, shattered and bloody we walk away from the train wreck. But what’s left? What’s the cost? We’re scarred. We move and breathe but I wouldn’t say we survive.” The room was silenced, but Jasper had nothing else to say and he just looked forward in that way he always did that was so soft yet so traumatic and so clearly no longer in the room anymore. I remember so clearly not wanting to say anything back, and being shocked even by myself when I stood up as well in the small circle of people and I heard my chair scrape the stone floor as my knees straightened out and pushed it away.
“Have you been to their graves?” I asked, “I mean, whoever it was that you lost, whatever happened… Have you been?” Jasper took his focus from the wall in front of me and sighed before he spoke, drawing breath in again with the corners of his lips lowering and his eyes darkening to the ground.
“No, I haven’t seen it.”
“I have,” I said, “who I lost, I mean, I’ve seen theirs. And I felt like you did, I felt the same way, like I’d been spending the interim time between what happened and that moment trying to blink the light back. Like I was scarred. But then I stood by my lovers grave, and I felt the peace of it, and then I knew. I was still here for a reason.”
“I don’t know where they buried them, I don’t know”, he spoke slow and annunciated with his left hand moving in front of his chest and mouth agape with emotion as if he was speaking through tears which I believe maybe once he was, now he was pale and gaunt with no more room for the crying he had spent almost a quarter of his life on trying to remove the stain of memory from its place behind his eyes, “I don’t sleep, M, do you think if I knew where they put them I would ever be able to come home again?” He whimpered at the end, the last breath really sounded that way and he looked up this time blinking in a way I recognised completely.
I wanted him to stop. I wanted all of it to stop and I wanted to go home but I had stood up now and I was in the conversation. I said,
“Look, maybe you should see it. It’s beautiful.”
“Beautiful? It’s 22 years old! It had its whole life to live, it’s children it will never have and people it will never become. It’s everything I didn’t want!”
“But it’s everything that happened!” I snapped. The weight of that landing on me just as well as it did him about my own situation as well. I spoke firstly to address myself and whatever benefit was there to be taken. Jasper looked alive. For the first time I’d ever seen him look like that, he gave ground to that feeling and it set his insides alight. Maybe it was cruel. Maybe it was the least cruel. Other people looked at me then looked away. “Stop trying to bring back something that never happened. It never happened.” I said.
There truly was a moment where I felt guilty but it didn’t last long. Because it never happened.