01 Feb The Note
This is a love story. Please try to remember that as you read this, love. It’s really about Julie.
I knew from the moment I set eyes on her that I’d do anything to have her. Fortunately though, I didn’t have to work very hard. I could see it in her eyes the first time I talked to her and asked her out. She wanted me to and she said yes before I even finished asking. Her eyes sparkle like diamonds, it’s one of my favorite things about her.
We were quick to say “I love you”, only a few dates in, but we were sure.
My place is full of my idiot friends and we’ve started talking about getting a place of our own. My best friend, Greg, doesn’t get along the best with her and isn’t very happy about me moving out but he understands. We all hang out together sometimes, see movies, bowl, normal stuff like that.
Well, I got a call a couple nights ago from Julie’s parents, who live out of state. They said they got a call from the police and that Julie had been in a car accident. Drunk driver crossed the center line, what a cliché right? Anyway, I was panicked out of my mind speeding like crazy to the hospital when Julie called me on my cell. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw her name on the called ID. I answered the phone not quite letting myself get my hopes up just yet. After all, it could have been someone calling me from her phone. Relief washed over me like rain when I heard her voice: “Baby? I’m okay, it wasn’t that bad, just some bumps and bruises. The airbags and seat belt did all the work, are you okay?” I don’t mind admitting, I pulled over and cried for a long time. She said she was checking out of the hospital shortly and I could pick her up there.
When I got to the hospital I had myself pretty well composed. I walked in and was just making my way to the help desk when I heard her call my name. I turned around and saw her, the sparkle was out of her eyes (which wasn’t that surprising, I thought, considering what had happened), but otherwise seemingly none the worse for the wear. I completely lost what composure I thought I had. I broke down again and we held eachother and she slid her hand onto the back of my neck and into my hair like she does when I’m upset, and after a minute or two we made our way to my car.
Julie told me the drunk driver had been killed, and I thought “good, better him than Julie” and I’m not the least bit ashamed of it. I would have killed him myself if I could have. But she was OK and that was all I cared about then.
When we got back to my place no one was home and the house was dark, which was odd since there was almost always someone home and those idiot roommates of mine always forget to kill the lights when they leave.
Julie was feeling a little chilly and she looked a little pale so we cuddled up under some blankets and fell asleep almost immediately. It had been a trying day after all. I remember the last thing she said to me as we were falling asleep: “I’ll love you forever, baby.”
I called into work the next day to stay home with Julie, she was feeling pretty stiff, again not surprising. I had some missed calls from family and friends, no doubt they’d heard what happened and were checking in. I’d get back to them later.
Maybe it was just the accident, or that I hadn’t seen Julie without makeup in… ever, but she didn’t look very good, I mean her color was off and her eyes looked slightly hollow. And the sparkle still wasn’t there. I suggested taking her back to the hospital, but she insisted she was fine, just tired and sore.
Well, a couple more days went by and I told work I was staying home with Julie until she was feeling better. But she wasn’t getting better. Her eyes were the worst of it. More hollow all the time, and her skin was downright cold to the touch. It was getting to the point where I was going to bring her back to the hospital, whether she wanted to go or not, and that was when I got the phone call. It was Julie’s mom. She had been crying and was clearly making an effort to stay composed.
Julie’s service was to be held the day after tomorrow she said. I asked her what she was talking about, service for what? I was confused.
Julie walked up to me as I stood there on the phone. She was looking right into my eyes when her mom said “I know this is hard for you, it’s hard for all of us, but Julie’s gone and we can’t bring her back, we all loved her but she’s gone.”
I still didn’t understand until I saw the look of horror in Julie’s eyes. She knew, this whole time she knew. She didn’t survive the accident yet somehow she was here and suddenly I understood. Her eyes: hollow and sunk in, the sparkle gone. Her skin, cold and discolored. She was dead and I was watching her slowly decay! My stomach dropped and I felt myself fall. Julie caught me, and I felt her cold hands and felt the coldness for what it was, death. I heard her mom on the phone, a tiny voice calling my name over and over. I picked up the phone and told her I was listening, Julie silent the whole time. Her mom repeated that the service was the day after tomorrow and her body would be cremated at noon the next day. Numbly, I told her okay, thanked her, and told her I’d see her then.
I hung up the phone and Julie and I just stared at each other for a long time. There was no doubt now, I was looking at someone who was not alive. Eventually I said one word: How?
She said she didn’t know, and she didn’t care. And you know what? Neither did I.
She came with me to the service, and it wasn’t like what happens in the movies, where people walk through her like she’s not there or anything like that. They couldn’t see her, that much was obvious, but somehow no one bumped into her, and when they made space for me, it seemed they made space for her to, although they didn’t seem to know they were doing it. When I talked to her parents she was with me, silent but strong, for me. When I viewed her body she was with me. Her hand, (cold now, so cold) finding that spot on my neck. She looked exactly as she always had, beautiful, healthy. But I knew it was makeup and artificial. Underneath she would look exactly like the Julie that had her cold hand on my neck. It was a hard thing, looking down at her, but she was so supportive and I knew this was why I loved her and couldn’t be without her.
We left and went back to my place. My roommates were home but stayed out of our way as we went to my room. That night we didn’t sleep, we just held each other and I didn’t care at all how cold she was. We cried, and talked. Laughed at the funny memories and cried more. We didn’t talk about what was happening or what was going to happen.
As darkness began to lose the battle and light filled the sky, a horrifying thought occurred to me, and somehow I knew it would be true. I was seeing Julie as she was. I mean, literally seeing her as her body was. And she was set to be cremated at noon. Do you understand? She was to be burned until nothing would be left but ash and I would have to watch it happen.
I was on the phone immediately to her parents, to the funeral home, to her church. No one would listen. They all thought it was grief. I felt rage and despair building inside me and was about to completely break down when I felt her hand on my neck, in that spot, and she turned my head so I was looking into her eyes, now very hollow and turning grotesque. She told me it was okay, it was okay. She told me she would love me forever and I knew in that moment what I was going to do.
Those last few hours we watched the sun come up and what became a beautiful day. We watched clouds turn into funny shapes. As noon approached I made an excuse to go to my closet and then we waited. When noon hit we were both crying again, but nothing happened. We were just starting to wonder what that meant when I saw the look in her eyes, just as before, she knew. She felt it before I saw it. She told me it didn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt baby. She began to smoke and her hair caught on fire. A cold calm set over me and I took her tight into my arms. The flames began to burn me to. She tried to push me away, to protect me. She fought my hold but her strength was fading. I could feel the flames now burning into me but I didn’t care, I wouldn’t let her go through this alone and I didn’t need to live much longer anyway. We didn’t scream, we just sat there together and burned. Her hair was gone and her face and skin turned black and I held her tighter and to my chest. I told her I’d love her forever and that I’d see her soon. I held her until she was ash in my arms and she fell through my fingers.
I reached for what I had taken out of the closet, and suddenly she was gone, not a trace of her left. No ash remained anywhere, nothing was burned, even my own burns were gone.
Was it grief? Did I imagine the whole thing? Was she ever here? I don’t know. But I wrote this so my family and friends know why I had to do this. I won’t stay here without her. I can’t. I’ll find her somehow and the sparkle will be in her eyes again and everything will be okay and like it was. I’m sorry about this mom, dad. But I hope you understand. I’m going now, I hope I don’t get blood on this