This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
From the bottom of my heart, as your narrator, I hope you as the reader, can find something special in Penelope and Wayne’s story. That you allow yourself to be open minded as it transforms and unfolds before you.
As the reader, I hope you find acceptance in their tale and can give it as much of a chance as you would any loved one who needed their voice to be heard.
This is for Penelope and Wayne.
It took 2 years, 4 months, and 5 days after the passing of Penelope’s older brother for her to start picking up the pieces. Penelope sat on the floor of her fairly new apartment, a lukewarm cup of tea to the left of her, and the unpacked box of Wayne’s things to her right.
Penelope sighed to herself... “I don’t know where to put you Wayne” she said to the Home Depot box she was currently in a starring contest with.
The box hadn’t been touched since the move, no one was allowed to touch it. Aside from the words “WAYNE” and “FRAGILE” written in large green letters, not a scratch or mark could be found on the box.
Although she may have been overthinking the condition of Wayne’s box and avoiding the inevitable, Penelope wasn’t stricken with sadness. In fact, Penelope was looking forward to finally acknowledging his death internally.
Wayne was defined as authentic by many at his viewing. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. Wayne and Penelope’s relationship? Nothing short of complicated and dysfunctional, but there was an undeniable bond that not even their separation by heaven and hell could break.
Depending on who you talked to, the brother and sister duo’s story is brutally honest, tragic, inspiring, and unfinished.
Penelope raised the now cold cup of tea to her lips and chugged it down. Cleaning off the back-splash from her glasses lens, she waited for the caffeine to hit her, for some spark of motivation to make its way to her blood stream.
“That’s Life, I need That’s Life!”
Ah yes, the classic up-beat Sinatra tune was one of Penelope’s favorites. She urgently pushed Wayne’s box back out into the living room with the other remaining unpacked items, and made her way to the record player.
Clearly Wayne’s box would have to wait another week.
The record player, along with the many Frank Sinatra albums she received last Christmas from Edward, was by far the best gift she’d ever been given. This new apartment, was meant to be a happy home. The home her and Edward worked so painstakingly for the last 3 years.
Penelope never wanted to find herself depressed when her boyfriend Edward came home. Edward was a hard worker, a kind soul, and the love of her life. Edward had helped Penelope through what seems like a lifetime of tragedies in their short time together.
Knowing it was very 1960’s house wife of her, Penelope just felt after a 12-hour day Edward deserved nothing less than to come home to a safe, clean place. This made turning to the vinyl classics in times of need or darkness pure instinct.
But this isn’t about Penelope and Edward, not yet at least.
“I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king”
Penelope sang as she made her way to the kitchen for more tea and the cleaning supplies.
“I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing”
The louder Penelope sang, the more she felt her sass begin to clear the threatening little gray cloud above her head.
“I can’t deny it, I thought of quitting baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it”
“Yeah that’s life, that’s life”
Penelope felt her own voice trail off as a lump arose in her throat. “What if he’s watching me? What if he thinks he’s better off dead because I don’t care enough to unpack his box?” She thought.
“Wayne” … “Wayne” Penelope called out her brother’s name feeling stupid. What did she expect? A chair to tip over, the music to stop, a ghost? But there was nothing. One thing she clearly never packed away was her guilt.
Penelope went back into the bedroom and opened her computer. When Ole’ Blue Eyes didn’t seem to cure her angst, Penelope would type letters to Wayne, with everything she wished she could say to him in the moment.
In this letter she recalled a memory of Wayne from the summer of 2009.
“I remember the transition from summer to fall that time you stayed with Dad and I. I had just moved in with Dad, and you were home from school in Kentucky.
We walked to the Jewish cemetery across the street from the apartments, wondering about the people that lay in peace beneath the grass. Further down the paved trail was a special spot deep in the headstones, later you said it could be our special spot.
The spot was just two benches on either side of a wind gushed tree, facing each other. You sat across from me, and we said how perfect the weather was. How peaceful we found this spot to be, and how fucked up it was that we found the Jewish cemetery across the street more peaceful than sitting by the pool…
These are the memories I have to hold onto, the memories I have to cherish and analyze over, and over again. My god it’s ironic. It was like the universe was preparing us for what was to come in just 5 short years.
Years I’d kill to get back. Years I spent angry and full of hate, because I thought you were nothing. Well…. not really nothing. I just wanted you to talk to me. I wanted my big brother. Years I didn’t want to look in the mirror because I feared you hated me, and being the type of person whose brother hates her is terrifying.Even as I write now, would you care? Would you believe me when I say ‘I love you, I’m so sorry, I need you to come home’? Would you think I was selfish for feeling this way?
I didn’t come to your grave when I graduated college like I planned. I didn’t come to your grave to say goodbye before I moved nearly 70 miles away like I planned. When I visited Delaware for the first time since leaving…I didn’t visit your grave like I planned.
I always find an excuse not to visit. I know even if I visit I’ll never find what I’m looking for – which is you in solid three-dimensional form. To see you coming around the corner saying you love me, or that you’re OK, that you’re proud of me, that things will keep getting better.
I spent so much time wanting to prove you wrong, that I blinded myself to doing the right thing. I need you Wayne. It hits me in waves that you’re gone.”
Penelope saved the letter under “Additional Projects” on her laptop and closed it shut. Wayne was more than a “project”, but she felt she didn’t deserve to grieve.
Looking at the clock she realized she only had 2 short hours to compose herself before Edward was home.
“It’s always only a matter of time…isn’t it”.
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