Fiction - Nicole Kline

Cry by Nicole Kline

Every time I see those dinosaur stencils on my desk it brings me to that second-to-last time we saw each other, sitting in the basement of our favorite bar, you still chain smoking your Marlboros even though you were fresh out of chemo and fighting nausea, and in between chugging PBR cans I was telling you I didnít care what other people were saying so long as you understood that what I really wanted was for you to be happy and if you were that was the only thing that mattered, and later, as I was terrified in your hospital room wondering if each arduous breath was going to be followed by the horrible mechanically augmented crashing sound of your heart stopping, I wondered if you remembered it or if you even knew who I was, because you smiled and said you didnít recognize me with my glasses on, but even that recognition faded as I handed you the toy frog I brought you from our bar, and I was glad your girlfriend told me to come and see you and say goodbye because in her words you didnít want anyone who was going to cry and they knew I could take it, but I knew somewhere, deep down, she knew I loved you in that way you love people, that visceral way that makes people feel alive even as I was sobbing outside of my auntís baby shower 68 hours later when I got the phone call and I couldnít go to that bar for a long time, and when I did, your best friend told me your parents had gone bankrupt from your hospital bills and when a tear escaped me he grabbed my arm hard and screamed in my face that you were dead and I needed to deal with that and move on, and on the anniversary of your death, I stopped by your grave and I cried, but I think I cried harder because you wouldnít let me be selfish and cry by your side while you were still alive.