Chapter no 86

If He Had Been with Me

It’s late September now. Without talking about it, we all knew I wouldn’t be going away to college this year. I stay in my room most days and tell The Mothers that I am reading. Aunt Angelina still sleeps over here every night, but my mother no longer has to beg her to eat. My father takes me out to lunch once a week; he thinks that he’s distracting me when he talks about taking me with him on his next trip abroad.

I had to go see Dr. Singh again. He asked me a bunch of questions and I told a lot of lies. He upped my prescription and let me go.

I haven’t taken my pills in a month now.

Today is the day halfway between our birthdays and the leaves have begun to change. I lie in bed and look at Finny’s window. This September was so hot and dry that some of the leaves have already turned brown and died, and in this setting, the beginning of autumn is dull brass instead of gold. I can see some of the roses still blooming in my mother’s garden. Brown on the edges and bright in other colors, they open and unfold, their petals drooping downward, dying just as their lives have begun.

They’ve stayed past their time, and I’ve realized that I have too.

In the end, my decision comes down to one thing: I think Finny would forgive me. It wouldn’t be what he wanted for me, but he would forgive me. And if I continue to try to survive without Finny, there are paths I could go down that he would think were much worse than this.

The afternoon passes into evening and then night. I wait until I can no longer hear The Mothers talking together before bed. I step carefully on the stairs, avoiding every creak I can remember. In the kitchen, I leave the note

on the table. It took longer to write than I thought it would. I finally had to accept that I wouldn’t be able to say all of the things I wanted. I go to my mother’s butcher block, and this is the only I time I ever pause, and it is to consider if I should take the biggest knife since it is what I imagined, or if I should be practical and choose the one that would do the best job. But if I am caught with this note, I will have to tell lots of lies for days or maybe weeks until they will leave me alone long enough to try again, and so I decide that if I am determined enough, it won’t matter which knife I take and so I take the big one.

As I sneak out the back door, I spare a moment to glance at the backyards where we played together, at the tree where we never built our tree house. But I hurry across the grass to his yard, and run past the spot where he kissed me first.

Aunt Angelina is always losing her things, so she keeps an extra house key under the empty flowerpot on the front porch. After I unlock the door, I put the key back so that maybe she won’t realize I used it and blame herself. It’s the least I can do; this is already not fair to her. But the temptation to be close to him one last time is too great for me to resist.

The house is quiet, empty, shadowy. The stairs creak as I go up, but there is no one to hear and I relish the sound, remembering how we ran up the stairs together.

The door to Finny’s room is closed. I knew it would be. No one has been in there since he and I walked out of it holding hands.

I use clear tape to hang the sign I made on the door.

Please, do not try to break down the door. It is too late for you to do anything. Call the police and let them handle this part.

And I come into this room and lock the door behind me.

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