Graham

Antonia had been daydreaming about her future husband.

“Though I’d like to be the girl for him,

And cross the sea and land for him.”[1]

She interpreted song lyrics to how they could pertain to her life, in this case her future life, went to work, saw a French play, checked her email.

Graham had woken up. He had eaten breakfast. He had watched some TV. Graham had been up all night. He was in too much despair to do eat, or do anything else. Graham had discussed this with somebody. He hadn’t told anyone. He composed a note. He left it a mystery.

Antonia had no idea. Only Graham knew what Graham did before he reached the decision he made.

Every day that week had been completely normal for Antonia. She only happened upon the news by accident. Someone named Graham had passed on. Who was Graham? It surely wasn’t Graham Chapman, he’s been dead nearly her whole life. There were too many Grahams, it wasn’t Graham Greene either.

It had begun in the beginning of the decade. A group of kids who dressed in an alternative manner, and listened to alternative music. Later some extremes would come from these kids, but that hadn’t happened yet. Antonia tried to remember. She had her pictures in front of her, and she was now well aware of which Graham was being discussed. For the life of her, she could not recall the context. Why was Graham, with his tilted head and spiky hair there, and why were they hanging out? What had they been doing? A condom lurked in the back of one photograph. These kids had found it hilarious to buy condoms from the local Latino grocery, un-package them and toss them around.

Antonia went to school. She went to work. She walked down the street while it rained, and let the water run down her face. It was uncomfortable, but she could feel with every inch of her skin, the cold water dripping down, and running into her eyes. She could feel.  Graham would never feel again. He would never feel joy. Never feel sorrow. Never feel the Sun. Never feel the rain. Not even something as trivial as frustration at slow pedestrians.  That, to Antonia, was nearly incomprehensible; however she was still well aware that one day it would happen to her too. Everyone has a time though, and she had difficulty believing it was Graham’s time.

Sweetheart, bitter heart, now I can’t tell you apart.”[2]

Antonia stood in between Graham and another boy. Graham reached over her to hug the other boy. Antonia misinterpreted and hugged Graham. Graham had no reaction.

Somebody had purchased a red thong. Graham wore it to school. Hilarity ensued.

Antonia dyed her hair purple, and refused to hug Graham because he was wearing all white, and she didn’t want to rub off on him.

She could see him reaching out and touching her hair. She could see him at a dance, wearing his white, techno music blasting, moving glow sticks in an incredibly complicated manner known as raving. In her mind she could see all of this, but she could not hear his voice, no matter how hard she tried. She knew how she and her friend Claudia had described him as being Abraham Lincoln, because like Abe he was tall with a squeaky voice. Antonia tried to imagine it, but it was as pointless as trying to imagine the real Abe Lincoln’s voice.

It had probably been different by now anyway. After a certain time, she was no longer with the alternative kids. This was after the more extreme things had happened. Graham presumably had no idea what an impact his wardrobe choice that morning would have. The back his shirt proclaimed “Psych Ward.” That was where he ended up at the end of the day. Antonia, having a bit of a big mouth herself, told a girl who had an even bigger mouth, who told even more people with varying sizes to their mouths. Regardless, word got back to the friends of Graham, that the general population knew where he was. Of course they blamed Antonia, semi-righteously, for this.

Antonia had felt terrible about this naturally, so as soon as she could, she apologized to Graham directly.

“I’m not angry at you. You are my friend and I love you.” She could not recall the exact phrasing, but she would never forget the, “I love you.” For whatever reason she could also see in her mind the font he used, and vaguely remember his instant messaging name. Her auditory skills must be poor, for she could remember all that, yet not be able to hear one word he uttered with his actual voice.

Whatever his voice had sounded like, she ended up never speaking to him again. Or so she thought, her chronological order was a bit fuzzy, and the purple hair event could have occurred after the “I love you,” event. In any case, she had a falling out with the alternative group, including a girl who was one of his best friends, and she moved on to being friends with new people.

Antonia only recalled seeing Graham twice after that happened. She was ordering her drink at a coffee place, and he was the barista. It was unclear what the look he gave her meant, but it was incredibly bizarre. The last time she saw him, he was sitting alone on a bench.

Antonia never spoke to him either time, because she assumed he had a strong dislike of her, for what ever reason. Maybe she was right, maybe she was wrong. It was irrelevant now. She had considered trying to get back in touch with him online, but could not reach a decision. Her decision had now been made for her, she had to accept that things had turned out the way they did, and that was that, no turning back.

Old teenage hopes are alive at your door
Left you with nothing but they want some more.”[3]

His friends had all started a memorial group for him online.

“Graham, you owe me $175, but I still love you man,” one post said.

The one that stuck out the most was one where a girl said that she would miss Graham, but hoped he had made the right decision for himself and was happier now.

In a way that made sense to Antonia. When one was dead they did not feel anymore pain, grief, sorrow, what have you. It’s not as if he would ever be happy either though. Antonia was weird though, she had no beliefs regarding the afterlife. In her mind, once you were dead, you were dead. Maybe a person could live again as another person, but logically she knew that she only held that belief because she could not conceive the finality of death. That could only happen upon one’s death.

What bothered her most about the idea of death, was not knowing what would happen next. How terrible it must be, she thought, to not know how or when the war would end, who would be the next president, who would become what in life. The world will revolve and change, wars will begin and be resolved, people will be married and have children, but Graham will forever be stuck at that one day.

After thinking that, her thoughts took a much more philosophical and existential turns, if those were even the right words. According to Einstein, so she had heard at least, time is an artificial construct to maintain order, in reality everything happens at once. So in a way Graham was still alive, always reliving that day and reliving every other day of his life.

Antonia stepped back from her thoughts. Why was she thinking about this so much? If she had been the one to die, would he have had deep thoughts about life, and death, and wondered why she did it? Perhaps she was merely having these thoughts, because of the bizarre and unresolved status of their former relationship, if a relationship had even existed or not.

Oh I’ll be the one who’ll break my heart
I’ll be the one to hold the gun
,”[4]

were the lyrics to the song that was playing on her iPod. Apparently that was what Graham had felt, but Antonia merely lay awake and wondered,

Did we fight or did we talk?”[5]

If her memory served her correctly, they did to some extent, and he had made an impact on her life. Her mother told her she had talked about him a lot. Her life was not empty without him though. She moved on to another group of friends, developed new interests, graduated and moved to New York City with no plans to ever return home.  What was the use of all this pondering, and deep thoughts. What is the chance that he would have reciprocated had it been her to meet her untimely demise? She had grown up and moved on with her life, just as she switched the song on her iPod.

Sleepless long nights,

That is what my youth was for.”[6]


[1] Feist, “Brandy Alexander”

[2] Feist, “1234”

[3] Feist, “1234”

[4] Feist, “I Feel it All”

[5] Feist, “I Feel it All”

[6] Feist, “1234”

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