He liked to cry in the rain. It made his tears look small. Everyone had already moved on, apparently, but he couldn’t do the same. He looked at his watch. It was only 3 pm., and the sky was so dark and the rain so heavy that it appeared to be night-time already. He had to go. He left the jasmines in front of the grave, read the inscription one more time, shed one last tear, turned around, put his hands in the pockets of his coat, and walked away slowly. He was about to get to the exit but he heard a voice call his name. He turned around and there was no one. But, just as he was going to turn around again, he saw a spark in the flowers, and, as he got closer, they started to burn. He figured it had been a lighting strike or something, but as the wind blew the ashes away, he saw that one snow-white petal was still intact. He tried to grab it, but it was attached to something that was buried in the wet ground. He pulled it out. Attached to it, was a hoop as white as the petal.
-That may be the gayest thing I have ever seen you wear, Con.
I knew it isn’t the most masculine thing to wear, but it somehow makes me feel closer to my dad. It had appeared in his grave for a reason. And I was in a good mood, so I decided to be calm and keep talking to Brett. He is my best friend, after all.
-Ugh, shut up. It means something for me, Brett. Flower-petal-rings don’t appear in my father’s grave every day. What if it has something to do with my father?
– Your death father? The one who died three years ago, Con? He rose up from his grave to burn some flowers and give you a ring? Admit it, you saw it in some store for little girls and you love it as much as you love boys.
-You know, if you weren’t my friend, you wouldn’t get away with making fun of my death father and questioning my sexuality in the same sentence. And just because you are gay doesn’t mean I am. Unless you wanna be my boyfriend? Do you loooooove me?
-Ok, now it’s weird. You made it weird.
I love making Brett feel uncomfortable. He always makes fun of me, so every time I manage to either shut him up or show a bit of appreciation for me, I feel as if I won. But I can only feel it, because I’ll never win against Brett. He’s just better than me at everything. If he hasn’t beaten me at something, it’s because we haven’t competed. He starts talking again after about a second of “awkward” silence.
-I’m kidding. You know I’m kidding, right? I’m always kidding. I just find it odd. Like, the whole storm-lighting-burning-flowers-petal-ring stuff. I want to believe you, Connor, and you know I believe in ghosts after what happened last year, but why a ring? And why that ring? Why the jasmine-petal ring that belongs to Forever 21? Or like, Forever 8?
Brett had a special ability to say eighty thousand words per minute, so it took like 0.02 seconds for him to say storm-lighting-burning-flowers-petal-ring stuff. And he also had a special ability to make fun of absolutely everything I ever owned or did. But I knew what he meant. It was a weird ring. It was a girly and weird and childish ring. Forever 8? Maybe not. But it was definitely girly and childish. I just wanted to wear it because I was convinced it had something to do with my father.
And I hadn’t told Brett about the voice. The voice that called me and made me turn. But why would I? He’d make fun of me anyway. I know Brett is kidding and I know he likes me (as a friend, of course) but he has never lost a parent, or anything for that matter, so he wouldn’t understand. That’s the thing about Brett, he may want to help, but he can’t. He’s a great guy, but he is so privileged and his life is so perfect that he just can’t feel pain or something. He has money, he has friends, he has family, he has health. He even has a boyfriend. He has everything anyone could ask for. And I don’t have money, or a girlfriend, or a complete family, and I have like two friends and one of them is he. At least I’m healthy. Great.
I went to the cemetery every day after school for three years. I went and did my homework sitting on the ground in front of his grave, and then stayed there either wandering around or just looking at the name and inscription in his grave. I know it sounds creepy and stupid and weird but that’s what I did because I couldn’t get over it as everyone else had. I couldn’t forget it. I always did the same thing. I got out of school, walked to the flower stand, bought jasmines, took a bus to the cemetery, stayed there all afternoon after about 8 pm., when things started to get creepy, and then took a bus back home. I did that for three years. But today, I don’t really feel like it. I don’t know why, but as I’m waiting for the bus to the cemetery after buying the flowers, I realize that maybe there’s not a real reason for me to go to the cemetery again. So I don’t. I go to a nearby restaurant, order a coffee, sit in a table besides the window, and decide I was going to stay there until they closed. It was nice there in the restaurant. It was warm and it smelled like coffee. My mom wouldn’t be home until about 9 anyway. After a year of me going to the cemetery everyday, she decided to work until later because she didn’t like staying alone at home. I get it. She missed my father just as much as I did and it sucked to be alone at a house that used to be so full of his energy.
That is also why I didn’t go home. My dad used to pick me up at the bus stop everyday and then we’ll talk or just be with each other until I went to sleep, so I was used to being with my father after school. I couldn’t just stop being with him entirely. I may not be able to talk to him, or see him, or hear him. But I could feel his presence, his energy, when I was near his grave. I am not saying that I can feel his spirit or hear his voice or anything like that, but there was something I liked about being there, even if I couldn’t interact with my father. Except of course for the voice I heard The Day of the Ring.
I named the day I found the ring The Day of the Ring, because I figured it would be something important. That day meant something to me, just as the ring. October 25 was The Day of the Ring. So November 1st, or like the night of October 31, was The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring. I like to name important days in my life. Like, September 11 was The Day I Was Born (Birthday is too common), April 24 was Brett’s Day (long story), and July 16 was The Day He Died (And by “He” I obviously mean my father). I celebrate each of these days. If a day has a name, I celebrate it, so I was obviously going to celebrate The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring. I was hoping Brett would celebrate with me. So I tell him while we were having lunch.
-Really? You want me to go after school with you to the cemetery? What do you want to do there, Connor? You can’t do anything there. You want me to stay there with you, staring at your father’s grave? I never met him Con. I don’t even know what he looks like except for that picture you showed me like four months ago. And it’s not a super-important day. Its one week after an important day.
He interrupts me and starts talking faster than he usually does. I know that means he was going to start to talk without thinking. He does this when he is too passionate about something, or when he is over-excited, or when he just wants to fight. So I prepare myself to hear him.
-And really Con, get over it. He died three years ago. THREE YEARS. You can’t cry forever. I understand that it hurts. But it’s so annoying, you keep crying and feeling sorry for yourself, and going to his grave and leaving him flowers and you just have to get over it. GET OVER IT CONNOR. He’s dead, there’s nothing you or I can do. It happens Connor. PEOPLE DIE SOMETIMES. And it sucks but you can’t keep crying forever. And that ring won’t bring him back. I don’t wanna go to the cemetery to look at a grave. It is LITERALLY the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard. It’s not even a special day, its one week after the day. If it was like his birthday, or like the anniversary of that stupid ring day, I’ll consider it. But this is too much, Con. It’s dumb and it won’t help anyone.
And that was when he realizes that he spoke too much. Maybe because he runs out of breath, or maybe because he sees the tear forming in my eye. Either way, he stops talking. The tear runs down my cheek. He stares at it while it falls. And then he tries to fix it.
-I’m sorry. I mean, I’ll do it for you, if you really want me to. I’m sorry. I was talking without thinking. I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry. I’ll go with you. I’m sorry Con.
But if he said it, he meant it. Yes, he was talking without thinking, but when he did that he never lied. He doesn’t want to go with me, and he would hate every second of being alone with me in the cemetery. I just thought he would support me, being my friend and all. But anyway, I just say:
He blinks twice and nods, then stares at nothing. He seems to be in a trance for like three seconds and then looks at me, smiles, and continues eating.
-Really Brett? You choose this moment to finally shut up.
-There’s nothing to talk about. Or like there was nothing to talk about.
And he takes a huge breath and is just about to start talking again, but I interrupt him.
-About the celebration in the cemetery… Nothing to say about that?
He stares at me, as if he was trying to figure out what I was talking about.
-Ummmmm…. No? What celebration? What are you talking about?
So I just (sarcastically) say:
-You’re such a great friend. Forget about all of this.
And then stand up and walk away. I don’t even look at him in the last classes of he day, even though he says I’m sorry like eight hundred times more.
I go out of school directly to the restaurant I had been the day before. I wanted to buy flowers, but I don’t see the point now. When I get to the restaurant I see a girl sitting in the table besides the window. She is holding a bouquet of orange lilies and smiles at me as I walk in. I’ve never seen her before, but she is pretty. I mean, not like prettiest-girl-in-the-world pretty, but like, pretty. She has long brown hair and really blue eyes. I have no idea why but I smile back. And I have no idea why but I sit in the same table, in front of her. With an interesting accent, she says:
-You left your flowers here yesterday. I was going to keep them for you, but I don’t really like jasmines, or the colour white. So I bought you these. They’re less boring. I still have your flowers if you don’t like these. I mean, these are prettier, but whatever.
She then giggles and her giggle makes me smile. I grab the flowers and stare at them for a second. I can smell their scent. I don’t know why I’ve never bought a different kind of flower. These are really beautiful. She keeps looking at me smiling and I realize I have to say something.
-These are beautiful. Thank you… ummm…
What a nice name. April. It’s the month of Brett’s Day. But I don’t care about Brett anymore. I mean, I do. I just don’t want to think about him at the moment. I smile.
-Thank you, April. I like these. I’m Connor. You can call me Con if you want to.
I have no idea why I just said that. Only my mother and Brett call me Con. For everyone else I am just Connor. Or Thompson, my last name. But I obviously am not going to make her call me Thompson. I regret it for a second but then she says:
-Nice to meet you Con.
I stop regretting saying it as soon as I hear her say it. It sounds so pretty when she says it. I kind of want to make her say it again. So I smile and say:
-Why did you do this April? Like, I appreciate it, but I don’t get why someone would do this.
She smiles. Adorable.
-Well, Con, there’s something interesting about a boy with a petal ring that carries flowers around.
-Oh… the ring… I don’t wear it that much… I… I mean… I found it like yesterday. I mean, like the day before yesterday… and like, the flowers… my father. It was my father’s ring… Like, I don’t know… My… My father died. And… the lighting… the ring… the flowers… and the ring… And I mean…
She laughs and looks at me as if she was looking at a puppy.
-It’s ok, Con. I like it. You don’t have to explain. Unless you want to, of course. But like, if you’re so nervous about it…
-No, I’m sorry. I panicked a bit. Don’t know why.
I obviously knew why. The ring wasn’t the most masculine thing to wear, after all. And like, I have no problem with gay people, but I clearly didn’t wanted April to think I as gay. Anyway, I continue talking.
-I will tell you the story. But I’m going to need a coffee for this. Want something?
-Sure, can you bring me a cupcake and a hot chocolate please?
She begins to take money out of her pocket but I, being a gentleman, tell her I’ll pay and go to buy the stuff. I tell the clerk what I wanted and as he is handing me the order he tells me the price.
-It’ll be $ 5.75
Apparently, April decided to ask for the most expensive things she could. I touch my pocket and realize I only have one bill. A $5 bill.
-I’m sorry, I don’t have enough money. Just forget about coffee.
He blinks twice and nods, then stares at nothing. He seems to be in a trance for like three seconds and then looks at me, smiles, and says:
– A hot chocolate, and a cupcake, It’ll be $4.75.
I pay and go back to the table. April doesn’t seem to notice I bought nothing for myself. I start telling her everything about the ring, and how I found it, and it’s day, and the voice, and Brett, and everything. She pays attention to me and asks questions and seems to be really interested I the story. I finish talking and she realizes I have nothing to eat.
-Weren’t you buying a coffee or something?
-I was but… ummm… I don’t have enough money. This is embarrassing.
-Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it. You want a coffee right?
I am extremely embarrassed, but I nod anyway. She stands up and goes to buy the coffee. She comes back like three minutes later without coffee, but with a lot to say.
-You will not believe what happened, Con. I ordered a coffee and the guy had no idea what that was. He literally didn’t know what coffee meant. He seemed so confused. Like, if you’re going to work in a Café you should at least know what coffee is. Wanna go somewhere else? I mean, somewhere else you can get coffee? I want you to get your coffee, and the guy that magically forgot what coffee is but still works here somehow won’t really help.
I look at my watch. It’s already 8 pm. Time really flies when you’re doing something you like. I apologize and say I have to go.
-Its ok, Con. We can get your coffee tomorrow, if you want too.
I smile at her.
-Sure. Same hour, same place tomorrow.
She kisses me on the cheek and I feel my heart exploding into a million pieces.
-We’ll meet here, but we’ll go somewhere else, where they actually know what coffee is.
I smile. She smiles. She kisses me again. I feel each one of the million pieces of my heart explode into a million more pieces. There are now 1,000,000,000,000 pieces of my heart wandering around my chest.
The next day I only talk to Joshua, my other “friend” in school. I am still not ready to talk to Brett. I don’t tell him anything about the ring, or April. He is really not my friend. He is just a guy that I talk to sometimes. I go directly to Café after school. April is already there, at the door, but not inside. She smiles at me and I can feel my face turning red. I (obviously) smile back. I get closer and she looks excited to see me and starts talking.
-Hello Con! I have something to tell you.
She then kisses my cheek again. I can help but smile.
-I… Ummm… About what?
-About your ring. I was pretty engaged in your story, and I decided to do some research on jasmines and stuff.
It seems weird to me that she would do that for a boy that she just met. But it makes me happy because that means she cared about me for some reason. So I let her continue.
-Well it turns out white jasmines are related to sensuality…
-Sensuality? My father gave my a sensuality ring?
-Let me finish. Sensuality and attachment. Attachment, Con. He gave you an attachment ring.
-Wait… you actually believe my father gave me the ring?
-Well that’s what you said. And I believe you.
-But why would he give an attachment ring? Why not an un-attachment ring?
-I don’t know. But I know I promised you coffee yesterday. And we’re gonna go get coffee at the place where the make the best coffee: my house.
-Your house? You want me to go to your house? You met me yesterday, what if I was some kind of sick rapist that wanted to steal everything you own?
-Sick rapists don’t carry flowers around. And sick rapists don’t blush when I kiss them.
She kisses me again and giggles. Her kiss makes me smile and her giggle makes me laugh.
I get to her house. It is really beautiful. It smells like a bakery. It appears that there is no one else in there. She guides me to her room and I am amazed by how pretty and organized it is. She says she’ll go for the promised coffee. But I don’t really want coffee right now. So I tell her.
-Forget about the coffee.
She blinks twice and nods, then stares at nothing. She seems to be in a trance for like three seconds and then looks at me, smiles, and says she’ll go to the bathroom and leaves the room.
I start looking around her room. I like the vase with white jasmines in her table, but I don’t really know why. Its like I’ve seen them before, but I can’t identify when or why. I look at my hand and I have a ring. The ring has a petal of a white jasmine. That’s where I’ve seen it before. I don’t even know why I have such a girly ring on. I take it off and suddenly I remember. I found this ring after the flowers burned in my father’s grave three days ago. This Sunday was The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring. I had to celebrate.
April comes back and says:
-Sorry I forgot about your coffee, it’ll be done in a second.
-Forget about the coffee.
-No, I promised you coffee and I’m gonna give you coffee.
She leaves before I can say anything else. And in that moment, my phone starts ringing. It’s Brett. I don’t answer, but I kinda hope he’ll leave a voice message. I check my phone and discovered he actually left a message.
April comes back with the coffee and I tell her what just happened. I tell her the ring is actually an un-attachment ring. It makes you forget. She believes me. And I also tell her about The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring. She says she’ll celebrate with me. I then tell her about Brett. She says I should hear the message. So I press play and we both start listening.
-Connor. Con. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. I am a horrible person. I shouldn’t have done that. But I just realized what I did until now. I don’t know what happened to me, Con. Stress or something, I don’t know. Just forgive me please. I’ll go to The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring, even if you don’t want me to. I’m sorry. Can we please talk in person? I love you Connor I’ll never hurt you that way. I am honestly so confused about what happened. Please forgive me. And please call me or meet me or something.
We hear the entire message in like 2 seconds. He was talking so much faster than usual, and faster than two days ago. He was telling the truth. And it was me who made him forget. It was me and then I got mad about it. I kinda hate myself at this moment. But, luckily, April is there.
-It isn’t your fault, Con. You didn’t know. It’s ok. Just explain him and it’ll be ok. He is you friend. He’ll forgive you.
A tear starts to form in my eye. She wipes it with her hand, smiles at me, and kisses me. Not my cheek. She kisses me and I kiss her and we are kissing and it is wonderful. I still want to cry but she just made me so much happier. In three days, April had become prettiest-girl-in-the-world pretty. I hug her and we basically spend the whole day cuddled together. I had never been so happy. I don’t notice I don’t have the ring in my hand when I leave.
After three days of waiting, The Day One Week After The Day of the Ring is finally here. And I couldn’t be more excited. I put on special clothes and all. But I don’t have my ring. I figure April will take it to the celebration. I go to the cemetery and April is already there, with Brett. They are apparently bonding. We start talking and I notice the ring in April’s finger.
-You can give me my ring now, April.
I don’t want to sound to aggressive but I end up sounding aggressive. She smiles and says:
-No. Forget about it. Forget about your dad. Forget about Brett. Forget about me.
The blue-eyed girl in front of me pauses for a second and finally says:
Copyright 2015 by Nicolas Pulido. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.