He was seventeen when he died.
I never went to the funeral
but I walked past it the day of
the service. His mother
was in the backseat of a blue Dodge,
door open, head in her hands.
"My baby," she kept repeating.
"My baby." It would go from sobbing, to
screaming, to a soft whisper that
I could only hear being carried
on the wind.
It was a Wednesday afternoon that they found
his old red pickup truck parked
out front of Slim's, two beer bottles in
the back and the windows cracked to let the stale
I heard that his dad told the police he was
gonna take that old truck and fix it up, because
he had promised his son before—
because it's always in the before—
And in the after, his mother never had dry eyes
and I'm pretty sure my mom told me
that she saw his dad at the bar every night,
drinking his sorrows down because some people can't
handle the stress.
Some people can't figure out why their son would
"Some men just want to watch the world burn?"
he replied to my question.
"You came to watch people die?"
"I came to watch myself die."
I never went to his house, even though he
had told me that one day, he wanted
to take me.
If he was not there, I would not go, I decided.
But, as I did the funeral, I walked by
his house on a windy fall day, when I saw his
father outside, raking the new falling leaves.
When I passed by, he looked up, and waved.
"Hello there," he called, grinning sadly at me.
"Are you doing okay today?"
I waved back and nodded at him, and he leaned
on his rake.
"Be careful," he said, then continued
And I know that it ran through his head that
some kids out there were unhappy,
and I guess he didn't want any kid that was
unhappy to end up like his.
It was hard not to cry on the way home.
It was like we had never even met.
"You shouldn't do that, y'know," a voice
cut through the darkness that was
the forest I was in. My eyes had adjusted but
not to him.
Because he was blacker than the night
around me, his soul did not hold the spark it would
soon in the future.
His brown eyes were so dark, so dark.
"Who the hell you think you are?"
My voice wavered, the shaking of my bones too
strong for my own good.
He shrugged, then walked towards the tracks,
sitting on his heels.
"All's I know is that it would hurt."
He turned back at me and grinned, flashing
his white teeth at me.
"You don't even know why I'm out here."
"Of course I do."
"Because I came for the same reason."
His voice grew soft. Then, he fell back onto
the ground, looking up at the stars.
"Do you think it'd be easier to die?"
I saw galaxies in his eyes that night. His dark
hair falling around his face like some kind
of halo. His clothes were dirty; a basketball jersey
and cargo shorts, but he had boat shoes
with no socks on. He was a mess,
but so was I.
"Yes," I replied.
He was seventeen when he died.
He was too young.
He told me that he wanted to be someone
who changed the lives of others.
When our legs were tangled
underneath my sheets, he told me that
even if it was just his kids one day,
he wanted to change someone's life for the
And no, I did not have the heart to tell him
that he had already changed mine.
On his gravestone is engraved,
"Then God said, "Let there be light";
and there was light."
"Whatever happened to that one guy?"
"Marcus? He did what I couldn't do."
"What do you mean?"
"He saved me and then I couldn't save him."
To this day, when I go to visit him,
I can still see his blood splatters across the