she asks, "is it weird to have one day where you really intensely, for no good reason, think of a dead person?"
the intercom was the one to announce that his body had finally given up. i don't remember what i was wearing that day, or how my hair looked, or what noises fell out of my mouth. death has dulled the sharp edges within me. this is what i do know: some people burst into tears and some people sat frozen and pale and some people simply got up and left the room.
"are you okay?" someone asked me, and i found that i was lying on the floor, though i couldn't understand how i'd gotten there. the overhead lights were buzzing and humming, or maybe it was just my heart. confused, i sat up quickly and let the blood rush to my head in one glorious fell swoop.
"are you okay?" they asked again, and i said yes, yes, i am okay. i am alive. i have to be okay. the linoleum is still cold against my cheek and i can still see i am alive i am okay i am okay i am okay.
but sometimes i wish i had told them no.
i keep tally of the dead and i never know whether or not those who are dead to me ought be included. or those who just are done with living.
"i am sad," she says, and i think this is the most apt way to describe it, the most poignant and true and believable words that exist for this.
"it's hard to know what's right anymore," she says, "perhaps you understand."
i do and i don't and i can't and my words catch in my throat and she speaks again. "i just wanna know that at some point in the future it's gonna be okay."
i am reminded forcibly of the announcement, of only being fourteen when he died, of the cool linoleum against my cheek, of all of the possible responses to, "are you okay?"
"it won't be okay," i tell her. "some people weren't meant to be okay."
she pauses and i wonder if she, too, is struck with this enormous truth. "we weren't meant to be okay," i think of telling her, but i don't.
i wasn't meant to be okay, but these days i mostly tally the living.
and i'm okay with that.