“Not knowing the thing that’s chasing you is a lot scarier than seeing it in front of you” – Oren Peli
He didn’t remember pushing Tyler. He didn’t remember hurting Tyler either. But his arms hurt – he couldn’t remember the cuts and bruises on them either. So why was he being punished? He scratched the wound but it didn’t bleed. He looked at it thoughtfully and sat down. Sunday mornings were very busy.
His mother was hurrying everyone else along. She had bags under her eyes now. She looked so tired but didn’t even pause to take a breath. It was almost as if the restless hurry kept her from breaking down. He wanted to reach over and tell her it was fine. But he didn’t want her to get startled. It’s fine mom, he whispered. She didn’t stop.
His sister looked slightly better. He noticed that she wasn’t wearing any make up. She looked less like a raccoon now. He’d forgotten what color her eyes were. She wasn’t eating properly. Again, he sighed. She pretended to stir her bowl of cereal. She even brought the spoon up to her mouth at one point. Then she dropped the spoon and swallowed. It was painful to watch. He turned away.
His father was looking for his watch. He never seemed to be able to find it. It was right there, he’d say pointing towards the chest drawers. His mother and sister would shrug. I left it right there, he would insist. It was like nothing had changed. Except for the date on the calendar. A month had passed by.
He went to his room and pulled the curtains. It was dark now. He looked at all the pictures on the wall. He had such a wonderful life. So many adventures, so much joy. It was almost unfair. No one person could be that happy. His arm tingled, indicating it was still attached to his body. He couldn’t move it without crying out in agony. He tried to go back to sleep but even his bed didn’t feel as soft as it used to be. So he got up and went downstairs.
Once they were all ready, his mother locked the house as his father got the car out. They all got in and drove away. It was a silent ride. Nobody looked at each other. His father had his eyes on the road; his mother and sister were looking out of the window. Please talk, he thought. Why were they punishing him like this? He was so, so sorry. They just kept ignoring him.
He didn’t even look up after the car was parked. He followed them out. They had their heads down. “I miss James,” his mother’s voice broke. Why was she missing him? He was right there.. wasn’t he? He saw the name on the gravestone. And then it all came back.
Bullies. Tyler and him standing up to them. Cuts and bruises. Name calling. More hits. More bruises. More flashes of them fighting. They were always in it together. He remembered falling down. He hadn’t noticed the flowers in his sister’s hand. She placed them on his grave and slowly walked away. There were tears in her eyes. His parents followed her. It was eerily quiet after they left.
He sat down on his grave and looked around. There was another boy doing the same. He waved. James waved back. Tyler yelled across the graveyard, “Howdy partner!”
It wasn’t going to be lonely so after all.