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by: Xzander McKay

It should be a rainy day. The skies should be pouring down upon the land, the crash of thunder rolling across the world. Heaven itself should be striking down at the injustice below it; at him, for what he’d done. The world should be restless, and weepy, and angry, and- and all the things he felt within himself. All the things he couldn’t tear from his chest, bloodsucking mites biting at his heart, feelings that words couldn’t describe, let alone solve. The world should be a hurricane, washing away the world around him.

At the very least, it should be pattering against the window pane, watering the plants outside. At the bare minimum, it should be overcast. It shouldn’t be this pretty out. Shouldn’t be bright and sunny, but not too warm, with a cool breeze in the air. The world is whole and at peace; composed of everything that he had lost, and was struggling to find. What irony for such beauty to be cursed upon him at a time like this.

He pushed away from the window, and strode the short distance back to his bed. He knew he was being dramatic, but what did it matter? There was nothing left to do but lament his wretched life. His phone was… somewhere. Dead, most likely; he had forgone charging it for a few days now. However long it had been. Not that it mattered, thankfully. Even if anyone wished to speak to him (which they wouldn’t. Not anymore.), he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to respond. He wouldn’t be able to face them, no matter how they felt about what he’d done.

He knew how they would feel though. They would forgive him. They always did. They would look at the mess he’d caused, at all the mistakes he made, and accept them. He’d freak out, caught in memories of the dead, and of those better left buried. He could never remember those breaks well. Episodes, they always insisted on calling them. Made it feel less ‘shameful’, or something. He never saw why they should be anything but.

That was in the past, an ocean away. He should be fine. He shouldn’t be freaking out everytime glass breaks or thunder rolls. After this long, he should be fine. Regardless of what he should be though, they would forgive him all the same. They’d calm him down, soothe the storm in his head. Breathe alongside him, helping him find his centre; bringing him back to the land of the living. It was something he was too grateful to put into words; too thankful to ever pay it back.

He drug his hanging head across the small, stuffy room to the desk across from him. Atop it, a letter sat. The paper was insultingly pale against the black stained wood below it.It seemed to call to him tauntingly, demanding he read it. His neighbour had brought it to him earlier today (yesterday? Tomorrow? He was long past such things, right now.). On the back, in neat and bold handwriting, Evergreen was written. The fact that they had written that dumb nickname on the letter had to mean something, right? His legs felt leaden and fake, unwilling to move; a voice in the back of head telling him to stay on the bed sulking. He wasn’t much one for taking orders sitting down, though.
In one quick motion, he raised himself and grabbed the letter, returning to the window. The sunlight was harsh in it’s brightness, but right now he didn’t deserve gentleness. He ripped the top of the envelope, letting it fall to the dirty floor beneath him. Cleaning it had been so far beyond him it gave him vertigo.

The letter was handwritten, faintly scented with his friend’s preferred cologne. They might have been far more level headed than he was, but that didn’t make them any less one for dramatics. He appreciated it though, the reminder of them quelling the burning shame slightly. He unfolded the letter, reading what was written:

Dear Constantine
I’ve been trying to reach you for day’s, you hermit. We all have, though I’d hope that by now you’d know that much. I bet you ‘forgot’ to charge your phone again, huh? It’s alright all the same though, even if it is a little annoying. I mean, seriously dude, do you even know when the last time I wrote a letter was? It was like 9th grade for an English project. I feel like a freaking bard from the middle ages, writing to their long lost companion.

He let out a snort at that. He felt a little bad about making them resort to snail mail, but he hadn’t yet regretted letting his phone die. It would’ve been far too overwhelming otherwise.

Anyways, we’ve missed you. I know you well enough to know that you’re probably holed up in that dingy apartment of yours, waxing poetic about your woes or something like that. I think you took Apocalypse Now a little to close to heart, dude. I’m joking, but still. You should get outside some. It’ll be good for you to get some sun! And because I know you so well, I know that you’re blaming yourself for what happened.

Well, know-it-all, it’s because it was his fault. He had hurt that poor-

We both know that you didn’t want the waitress, Conie. That’s just not who you are. If you had been able to stop yourself, then you would have. Just so you know, she was fine. A little dazed and bruised, yeah, but fine. You have triggers, and you’re working past them. Just because the road’s not ended doesn’t mean you’ve gotten nowhere. Remember that.
Now, I’m pretty sure you’ll read this kinda soon, so come out for drinks with us soon. We’ve made plans for the 15h, Friday. This is the part where you check the calendar, now. I know you forgot what day it is.

He stood up, as shocked as he was unsurprised at how well his friend knew him. He often felt like that. He stumbled past the laundry on his floor to his dresser, where his phone layed. He went to check the day, before remembering that it was dead. Stupid. He plugged it into the charger, and went to finish the letter while he waited.

‘You’re next line is: ‘Stupid, I forgot my phone was dead.’’! Yes, I know neither of us watch that show, and no, I don’t care. Regardless, don’t beat yourself up. You’re getting better, not perfect. Now go to your neighbour and ask what day it is. They don’t mind.
Love from everyone (except yourself, apparently)

Now that’s spooky. He’d never understand how they knew him so well. It warmed his soul all the same though, so he figured he wouldn’t kick a dead horse in the mouth, or however that expression went. He looked in the mirror, quickly brushing down the bed head that he’d accumulated over the past few days. He smoothed out his shirt, and opened his apartment door for the first time in what felt like forever. He had some neighbours to question.