"This yours, Sarah?"
Sniffle. "Yeah." She took her handkerchief. "Thank you, James."
James nodded, unsure what to do. This was the first time a friend had lost a parent. He couldn't imagine the pain Sarah was in. The... lacking... she experienced. He wanted to try all the same. For her.
"You know, Mrs. Gentry slipped on an eraser yesterday." Bless him but he tried. "She started yelling at us, but no one could hear her through the commotion. Nobody got detention at the end, even teacher started smiling."
Sarah nodded. "I...wish I was there..." Sniffle.
"No!" James patted her shoulder. "I only meant... Sarah, I -"
"It's ok, James." She patted his hand. "Sorry for being such a nuisance."
"Sarah!" Her mom yelled from the yard. "Sweetie! Can you come down for a second?"
She squeezed James' hand and left. James remained alone on Sarah's roof. Their little hiding spot from the world. They used to think themselves so clever, hiding up here. James remembered Sarah's old man pretending like he didn't know where they were, only to appear with pizza when it got dark. James removed a tear from his cheek. Damn. He would miss him.
He didn't want to impose so he left Sarah and her mom alone. He just sat there, thinking about the futility of life. How fragile someone's happiness was. Sarah's life was never going to be the same. And there was nothing he could do about it. In a way, she was starting a new. That, above everything else, scared him.
He left the roof by Sarah's bedroom window. It felt weird to be in her room without her. So much so that he made for the door straight away. Her father's smiling face stopped him though. Happy father and daughter on a surfing trip. James's throat started to tighten again, You were a good dad, sir.
As he was returning the photograph, the frame slipped from his fingers, broke. Fuck... Small pieces of glass littered the floor as the photo escaped the confines of its frame.
Butterfingers strikes again, James started picking up the pieces, slowly not to get cut - when he saw something under the drawer.
It was a rolled up letter, tucked in an empty whisky bottle. What the... The letter had a note attached: My last wish to my loves.
Eyes widening, James nearly missed the bedroom door opening. "James? What is that?"
"Sarah! This? Don't walk in here! There are shards of glass all over."
Sarah looked at him as if he was insane. She picked up the discarded photo. Turned it. "'The best days of out lives.'" She read, before grabbing her mouth to stifle a sob. "I forgot he wrote this..."
James gulped. Good job jackass, you made it worse again. "Sarah -"
She held up her palm, which then transformed into a finger pointing. "Where did you get that bottle?"
Unknowing what to do, he handed it over. Seeing her father's handwriting Sarah sat down on her bed. Waterworks followed suit. Massive, hearty chunks of liquid. James stood by the door, dumbfounded by his friend's distress. And his own capabilities as a friend.
She pat the bed beside her. James sat.
"H-h-he asked." Sarah tried. "He asked us to be h-happy. He said that - he said that was his last wish. F-for us... to be happy!"
She started whaling on his shoulder and James put his arm around her. "I - I'm sorry, Sarah."
Suffice to say, James felt like the worst friend.
After what seemed like eternity, Sarah lifted her chin... smiling?
"He was wrong." She blurted.
"My dad..." She caressed the letter lovingly. "He was wrong when he called the surfing trip the best days..." Sarah inhaled in a rush. "Of our lives. My... my life is just starting!"
James nodded. Unsure in everything. Except his stupidity, since there was only one thing on his mind.
"Why the whisky bottle, Rah? Your dad was a soldier, I never saw him drinking once."
Sarah didn't look up from the bottle. "He did drink, James. Often. And loud. Just not in front of strangers. He... he promised me, once. He promised that he wouldn't let it kill him. That he wouldn't let it destroy us."
"Judging by his last wish, I'd say he succeeded."
She nodded, sniffling, hugging him. "I wish he never went... stupid war..." She squeezed him fiercely. "Thanks for being here, James."
They sat in the disheveled room... waiting for life to begin a new...
Obligatory shout-out to the 🍕PIZZA🍕 gang, 🤙 gang. 🤙
Its sad. i know. Sorry, ok? Not sure what to tell you. 😇 The keyboard writes what it writes. And this story just came out of me by force you might say.
Again, this is not a real story, it's not based on anyone I know. Yes, I also lost my dad relatively young, but again, this dad ain't anything like my old man was. 🤷♂
Hard times out there these days folks. Stay motivated and on your shit. You got this. 💪
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