"Oh my God, I came right over. I just heard. Are you alright? No, that's a stupid question, of course you're not alright. What can I do, can I get you something?"
"No, I don't need anything. But thanks for coming. I could use a little company."
"So what happened? I mean, if you want to talk about it, 'cause if you don't want to talk about it, that's okay, we can talk about something else. Or we don't have to talk about anything at all. Whatever."
"Shelly, please sit down and stop talking so fast. Just sit down. Do you want something to drink?"
"No, no, I'm fine. Do you want something to drink?"
"No, and if I did, I would get it. I live here, remember?"
"Of course you do, of course you live here. I am really not any good at this consoling thing, if you want to know the truth. But I came over because you are like, my best friend, and I would do anything for you."
"I appreciate that. For right now, just sit down, and stop talking so fast. My head is buzzing and whirring, and the talking fast only makes it worse."
"Okay, okay, sitting and slowing down. The talking."
"So do you want to talk about it? I mean, like I said, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. I just wondered if you wanted to talk about it."
"Shell, it's clear that you want me to talk about it."
"Well, not if you don't want to, Jules. Honey, it is entirely up to you."
"I guess I am still just stunned. No matter how much run-up there is to something like this, no matter how long it has been coming, you are never prepared. Never. I wasn't prepared. I can't imagine being prepared. No one is ever prepared for this. It doesn't matter how much you think about it, talk about it, you are never prepared. Never."
"I know. It is a hard thing to accept. I've never lost anyone really close, but I have friends who have, I mean, besides you. And I can't imagine what anyone could do to prepare themselves for something like this. Something so . . . , so final."
"It had been coming for a long time, and I knew it. And, of course, he knew it. We both knew it, knew it as rationally and intellectually as it could be known, as it could be understood. If it can be understood. I don't know if it can. It makes me question my whole life. It makes me question ever living at all. It makes me wonder if I should have had kids. I mean, I love my kids, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I wonder if it is really right to bring children into a world that will just end one day. I just wonder what the point really is. It's made me question my faith, and I thought my faith was pretty strong. But now I wonder, I really wonder. Because he promised me that when he left, he would contact me from the other side. And he hasn't. And I know one thing: that man never made a promise that he didn't keep. Never. And so now, it makes me wonder. Is it that there is no afterlife? If there was, he would have contacted me, because he promised that he would, and he never made a promise that he didn't keep. So I just have been sitting here wondering."
"Well, maybe it's too soon for him to contact you. Or maybe there are rules that say that you can't contact anyone. Or maybe he's tried to contact you, and you didn't realize that it was him trying to contact you. Or maybe . . . ."
"Shelly, please, slow down the talking. It's like you've had too much caffeine or something."
"Sorry, I did have an extra cup this afternoon. Maybe that's it. Yeah, that's probably it, just one too many. Sorry, Jules."
"Well, just chill. Do you want a glass of wine to level off a little? 'Cause I'm thinking I might have one, just to loosen up a little. You want one too?"
"Well sure, but let me get it for you. I'll get it."
"Michelle, dear, I am capable of getting us two glasses of wine. I am not that much of a basket case right now. Do you think that I am too much of a basket case to get us a couple of glasses of wine? Do I seem that bad?"
"Um, no, you seem okay. Except that you never call me Michelle, Julianna. What's with calling me Michelle? Julianna."
"Oh I don't know, maybe because Michelle is your name. That's a definite possibility. Just like Julianna is my name."
"Well, yeah, but you always called me Shelly or Shell, and I always call you Jules or . . . , well, I guess that's all I ever call you."
"I suppose it is just the teacher in me. I never call students by anything but their given names. I don't know. Red or white?"
"Red or white?"
"The wine, silly. Do you want red or white?"
"Um, well, if it's white, it needs to be chilled, but if it's red, then room temperature is okay. But if it's a Beaujolais, then a little chill is nice. I like merlot the best, if you have any of that."
"I'll see what I have. Chilled if it's white, . . . hey, Shell, you get the wine, all that is too confusing to me. Just pour me a glass of whatever you find, chilled, not chilled, red, white . . . , hell, mix 'em together."
"Okay, you just sit right here. I'll handle it. Where's the wine?"
"Over there, on the sideboard. Glasses on the shelf right above it. I can't believe that he's gone, Shell. I sit here, and I think, and I sit, and I just cannot believe it. It is beyond my ability to comprehend. It's like it can't be true, this can't be real. This can't really be happening. And I wish that I was asleep, and that I wake up, and none of this is real."
"Oh, I know what you mean, Jules. These kinds of things never are easy to accept. Nobody accepts things like this easily; this kind of thing is hard to believe, no matter what."
[to be continued]
January 22, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.