My car pulled up to the cliff. I was thinking about all the memories we’d had there; the night she ran away and we just stared at the stars; the disastrous double date. Her voice brought me out of my nostalgia.
“You always were sentimental.”
I took a deep breath in and then released it. I thought for a moment before responding. “It has to be here. We had so many memories… It has to be here. Your dad’s going to be pissed when he figures out that you’re with me.”
I was silent for a minute as I contemplated. I wondered what my life will be like without her, or what hers would have been like with me. She sensed my sadness.
“Come on,” she joked, trying to cheer me up. “Remember that time we brought Jimmy here? And he got so….”
“He almost fell down the hill.” I cracked a smile. “You know he was trying to sleep with you right?”
I nod. “He asked me what you like,” I paused to stifle a laugh. “I may have told him that you only like guys who got really drunk and wore muscle shirts.”
“You asshole!” Her anger quickly turned into laughter. “That explains so much. Oh, he was a really nice guy, before he started shotgunning beers and doing pushups all the time.”
“No you’re not.”
“No I’m not. He called me fat in middle school. I couldn’t let you date him.”
“And Karli was that much better?” I winced at her name. “That girl was a terrible person.” She then described in graphic detail how Karli had left me for the quarterback and the various acts they performed on each other.
“I get it. I date hoes. They’re the only ones I can get to love me.”
“I love you.”
“And guess what that makes you.”
“An idiot. But until I act on it, I’m not a hoe.”
I paused and smiled, appreciating what would turn out to be the last of her self-deprecating humor. It took me a minute to respond.
“How come we never acted on it?”
“Because I loved you like a brother. I had my first drink with you, I talked through my first break up with you, I… I didn’t want to chance ruining that with some drunk fling.” We let that hang in the air. She finally spoke up. “Want to listen to some music?”
“Are you trying to seduce me?”
She chuckled as she played the song off her phone. “I always did find personal tragedy sexy.”
I leaned back and closed my eyes as the music played. I felt her move over the console and kiss me, lightly at first, but building to express eighty years that we wouldn’t know each other for. I kept my eyes closed. I realized after a few seconds why I was scared to open them. I finally did. I slowly summoned the strength to turn to the passenger seat. The urn was where I left it, sitting against the bottom seat belt, with the cap sealed with duct tape I put there to make sure it wouldn’t spill. I shut off the car, slid out of my seat and walked around to the other side of the car. I opened her door, undid her seatbelt, and picked her up. I carried her over to the spot where we always had our non dates. I put her down at the base of a tree, took off the tape, removed the cap, and picked her up again. I thought for a minute about what to do with the ashes.
– Shea Dennis, The Haverford School, Class of 2017