Death has always fascinated me. I remember after my great-grandmother died, my mind began to bubble with the thought of death. At first those thoughts scared me, but as I grew older they gave me comfort. Now, I understand that having such fascination of death is alarming, but you've got to understand what death means to me. Whenever things were too much, death was always there in my mind as a reminder that one day I'd feel and be nothing. Not only that, without death my dear mom would have no job. She's a medical examiner, you see. Her job revolves around death. Perhaps that's another reason why I'm so fascinated by it.
Lately, however, my relationship with death has been strained. Ever since Adelaide O'Connor died, my thoughts on death have been conflicting. I've always understood that death was greedy but it only sunk in just how greedy it was. Adelaide wanted to live. I knew this by the way she talked about her future. Whenever she would talk about going to Stanford and learning all she can about psychology, her blue eyes would twinkle and her smile would be so wide it probably hurt her. I only wished the best for her and hoped her life would be long and fulfilling. I despise that my wish was only just that; a wish, not reality.
It has only been three months since her death. And for the first time since those three months, I have finally gained the courage to visit her grave. I have only been here for about four minutes but somehow it feels like I've been here for more.
I look up from Adelaide's grave to see Ty Francis, my closest friend.
"Hey," I reply with a slight smile. I haven't spoken to him since school ended in June.
"Hey? After two months that's all you have to say?" Ty's kind, brown eyes frowned.
"It's been hard, Ty. Talking to you guys would've hurt me," I answer.
He walked closer to my direction. "We would've been there for you, J."
I look down at Adelaide's grave, unable to look Ty in the eyes. Suddenly, I felt a pair of arms wrap around me. My head squished against Ty's chest as I wrapped my arms around his waist.
"I needed this," I sigh, closing my eyes as I let Ty's warmth wash over me.
Ty nuzzled his nose against my black hair. "Want to go to Rosa's? I'm dying for some of those pastelitos."
I smiled, lifting my head from his chest. I looked up into his dark eyes. "Yeah, lets go."
Both Ty and I let go of each other and began to walk towards his white car. A part of me hoped he still had that jazz CD from his dad in the car. Him and I had a lot of fond memories dancing together with Copper, Adelaide, and Naomi to the CD. Even to this day, I had no idea who the artist was but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit obsessed with the sound.
As I sat inside the car, I took in the familiar smell of cinnamon. It still baffles me that some one as messy as Ty could keep his car so tidy.
"Hey, Jaime," said Ty, showing me the familiar CD case. I let out a smile as I recognized the case.
"You still have it, huh?"
"You bet I do, Vasquez." He winked as he placed the CD inside the slot and pressed play. The soothing instruments caressed my ears as I glance at the graveyard once more. Soon enough, Ty was driving away and the graveyard slowly left my sight.
"I miss her," I spoke, still looking out the window.
"Who wouldn't? She was incredible, y'know? She was always there for everyone, even those she didn't really know well. Like, remember the time when some of the jocks told Damien no girl would wanna go to prom with him because he was trans? She legit walked up to Damien and asked him to prom after that. I swear I've never seen Damien blush so hard in my life." Ty laughed at the memory. I glanced at him and noticed his dark hands were tense around the steering wheel. Part of me wanted to hold his hand and tell him it's all going to be alright. But I couldn't because I didn't know if it was going to be alright in the end.
"Poor Damien. He lost his first girlfriend due to murder. I can't even imagine what is going through his mind," I stated.
"I talked to him a couple days ago. He's going to attend UF, y'know? He's doing okay. Well, okay in the sense that he has finally stopped blaming himself for her death."
I look out the window once again, Rosa's Bakery coming into sight. The familiar setting making my heart swell with joy, a feeling I haven't felt in months.
"Do you think Rosa's working out front today?" I asked Ty as he parked the car in front of the bakery.
He let out a chuckle. "Probably, y'know how much she loves to socialize with customers."
We both get out of the car and walk into the bakery, the smell of warm croquetas and Cuban coffee hitting our noses as soon as we open the door. Our ears were hit with Spanish pop music blaring through the bakery. Both Ty and I walk to the counter where a teenage girl stood, according to her name tag, her name was Violetta.
"Hi, welcome to Rosa's Bakery. May I take your order?" Violetta spoke, her green eyes glancing between both Ty and I.
"Yeah, can I have two pastelitos of guayaba and a slice of flan? Oh, and two orders of freshly-squeezed orange juice, please," Ty ordered.
"Alright, that'll be $8.99 in total, sir."
Ty quickly took out his wallet and gave Violetta a ten dollar bill. Before we left to grab our seats however, Ty spoke: "Hey, you don't happen to go to Faywater High, do you?"
Violetta looked at Ty with a questionable look in her face. "Uh, yeah, I do go there."
"Cool. So do we," Ty smiled. I glance down at my shoes, suddenly wanting to leave the bakery. There's always a part of me that would rather be physically tortured than encounter someone from school.
"Hey, are you guys going to Dylan Bluemont's party tomorrow? It's supposed to be a end-of-the-summer type of thing, you get me?" I heard Violetta say.
"Oh, yeah I'm definitely going! His parties are always amazing. Last year I danced so hard that my legs were sore for two days straight," Ty laughed.
I look at Ty. "Seriously, Ty? No one needs to know that."
Ty shrugged. "Just saying."
Violetta laughed. "Well, see you guys there. Now, if you don't mind, I need to get back to work so."
"No, yeah, yeah, we'll get going," Ty replied. I then grabbed Ty's arm and dragged him towards the side as we wait for our food to be prepared.
A couple moments later, Rosa pops out with two cups of orange juice, a small plate with a slice of flan, and another plate with two pastelitos de guayaba. As soon as Rosa saw us, her brown eyes widened along with her smile.
"Jaime! Tyrell! I knew I recognized the order! How are you angelitos doing today?" Rosa greeted handing us our food.
"We're doing well, Rosa. How about you? Business going well as always, I assume?" Ty spoke, grabbing the plates as I grab the two cups of orange juice.
Rosa laughed. "Pero of course, hijo! Y que tu piensas?"
I smile at Rosa. "Yeah, Ty, Rosa is obviously the best cook in America."
"Oh my God, you're right about that," Ty said, "Bless you Rosa for this food."
"Don't worry, chico."
Soon enough, Ty and I were talking about whatever pops into mind while we eat our delicious desert.
"...it's insane how good Wilson looks now, Jaime. I swear I would drop Naomi in a second if he asked me too."
"Watch it, that's my friend you're talking about. Hurt her and I'll break your ankles. I know you're my best friend and all but so is she," I reply, sipping some orange juice after.
"Relax, I'm only joking. I love her and no matter how hot any guy or girl is, I'd still want to be with her."
I smile at Ty. Sometimes it leaves me at awe how much he loves her. I remember during the middle of 7th grade when Ty told me he had a crush on Naomi and wanted her to be his girlfriend. Mind you, this was around the time he told me he was bisexual and had a thing for a tall 8th grade guy. Two years and awkward flirting later, Naomi decided to take a risk and ask Ty to be her date to homecoming. You wouldn't believe how euphoric Ty was that day.
"You two are so adorable, I swear. How's she doing, by the way?" I ask. The last time I saw her she looked tired and broken. Her cute afro was unkept and her usual makeup was no where to be seen.
"Better. A whole lot better than the last time you saw her. She has dreads now, y'know? They're grey and really pretty."
Now this was a bit of a shock. I remember Naomi telling me several times that she would never dye her hair. "Huh, guess we both changed our hair," I commented, referring to the fact that my hair was shorter and just reaching my collar bones.
Ty finished off his last pastelito. "Yeah, looks good though. The short hair, I mean. Also your clothes are a lot more black now."
I look down at my outfit. Black turtleneck, black jeans, and black combat boots. Now that he's mentioned it, my clothes now are a total contrast from my clothes a couple months ago. Back then most of my clothes consisted of bright colors and now most of the clothes I wear are monochromatic.
"I think we should go. I need to check up on Edwin, he's currently having a depressive episode and I just wanna make sure he's eaten," I said, having had finished my flan and orange juice a while ago.
"Depressive episode? Is he okay?" Ty looked at me with a face of concern.
I had forgotten I hadn't told Ty what had happened with my older brother during the summer. "He'll be okay. I just hate how dead he looks during his episodes, Ty. It's like there's no light in there, you know? Just plain, old darkness."
Ty nodded. "I'll drop you off then."
As soon as I arrived home, the first thing I did was fill a cup with water and grab a fruit cup. I wanted to make sure Edwin didn't starve himself or dehydrate himself during his episode. I out of all people understand what it's like to have a depressive episode and lose track of time. However, my episodes were never as severe as Edwin's.
I walked into Edwin's room, where the lights were off and I could only see the outline of his body underneath the covers. "Edwin? You awake?" I asked softly, placing the fruit cup and glass of water on the bed side table.
Edwin replied with a weak groan. He flipped his body the other side, now facing me. His eyes were devoid of light and his lips were shaped in a deep frown.
"I brought some water and a fruit cup. You don't have to eat it now, though. I just don't want you to starve cause I'd very much like to keep my brother."
I sat in the corner of his bed. "Do you want me to call Vincent over? I know he's one of the only people who can make you feel better during times like these."
"No," Edwin let out softly, "Maybe tomorrow, J."
I ran my fingers through his brown curls. "Okay, tomorrow."
I swear for a slight moment, while I was running my fingers through Edwin's hair, life felt okay.
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