“Vital Signs: Aftermath of Ivory Paper” Fiction. Based on a True Death.

“He was the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly… so it was shocking to learn that aspect of him.”

-Dr. Sarah Neudstadter

“Vital Signs: Aftermath of Ivory Paper”

Fiction. Based on a True Death.

By Willow

All journal entries are inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

The coffee shop was not bustling, but calm on a rainy Thursday morning – June 21, 2019. Eyes lift from mugs, computer screens, and books to glance at you. Everyone notices you as you walk in the room, but no one sees you. Smiling at the barista, moving through the motions of ordering with barely a thought, you opt for a ceramic mug instead of the paper cup. There is something different about today, so why not a blueberry scone? Sounds delicious.

You walk to a nearby table, scone, and coffee in your hands and your palazzo pants billowing around you. A few more lingering eyes watch you; they aren’t worth your attention. You take a moment to settle before pulling out your laptop.

The leather case around your laptop gives it the allusion that it is a bound notebook. It hugs the metal all around with a clasp by the mouse-pad to hold the laptop closed. Open, a worn plastic keyboard protects the keys – from what? you don’t know. The pad covering the A is torn and there are worn marks on the S and left shift button.

Opening Scrivener 3, you select a new document; a clean, fresh, white screen.

Without looking, you dive into your bag with your left hand while selecting your font with your right. One second later you place a spiral notebook practically falling apart, on the table next to your laptop. Flipping page after page, a few titles of old entries fly past your eyes: “Ivory Paper”, “Trigger Finger”, “Happy Ending”, and “Drown, Baby, Drown” as a few of them. They’re in the past, you think to yourself a few times over. You were never good at lying at yourself. Finally, you find the most recent date and begin to type:


Thursday, June 13, 2019

I didn’t feel anything at all, at least I don’t think I did. I’m not sure why today was a good day to search the corners of my own head. Not many can honestly explain why memories resurface when they do and rationalize this feeling of discomfort.

He hasn’t visited my dreams in a while. Seeing his face in my mind again felt as though he was sitting on the edge of my bed, for real, a ghost from a lifetime ago. He looked so alive and vibrant like the sun shining on a hot summer’s day. He always reminded me of summer – a blond boy with a mellophone in one hand and a french horn in the other. Blue eyes never looked so innocent.

I can’t remember what happened in the dream. I awoke afraid of something unknown to me. Maybe, just maybe, he saw my letter or read my mind because I prayed to be able to hug him one more time. There are a few dreams of him that I will never forget, but when I try to write them, the words make no sense, bland and insufficient. The images can be called from the depths of my memory effortlessly. I sigh in relief that I remember him.
It drives me crazy but soothes my soul like golden colours. I was convinced his soul was gold. He hid his darkness well from me, while I wear mine on my sleeve. Reflecting on our time together, he and I, our demons may not have complemented each other. Kurt Cobain and Lana Del Rey writing a song feels right, yet sounds wrong.

I can still feel the weight of his head resting on my shoulder. We had that kinda friendship – soulmates of a platonic nature. A touch felt kind. A hug felt friendly. He held me tightly once. I was in a daze from what was happening around us. Finding a friend among the crowd with a golden aura was something I could latch onto.

The golden light is gone now and what replaced it was the darkness I never knew he carried. And I screamed loudly to come back to me, to his friend, to his family, to this world. The fear, pain, and denial hit me hard. In those screams, I felt a part of my soul die and I held too much love to blame him and I didn’t know where to place it.

The numbness and denial seemed to seep into my pores without me noticing, as my favourite time of year descended on me after he was gone. The snow felt cold and clean; the only times I felt at peace. Yet, the denial and emptiness were still lingering in my bones. I treated it as a murder, not self-inflicted; I turned mirrors around to reflect light on anyone who knew him who could have killed him. DNA proves he held the gun, pulled the trigger, not before pressing a knife to my throat. Yet, he begged me to live. I hungered for life because the gold in my heart was gone. I always preferred silver, to be honest. To him, I was the moon. To my old love, K, I was ice. To me, I was unsure if I was alive or dead.

I breathe in deeply. During this summer’s day, I am reminded of how beautiful he was. How can I love the living when I still love the dead? I am saddened that I still love him, but he will never truly know the woman I’ve become. I’ve lost touch with the girl whose shoulder he used as a pillow on the long bus rides while sitting in the stands during football games and on the edge of the auditorium pit.

One night, I pray he will visit me in my dream. I could tell him about the person I’ve become and accept what he did. Possibly, I already have and he is smiling on this gold day. If I could, I’d give him the world, but I know he deserved better.

You stop typing and look at your screen. The coffee mug is empty and there are a few crumbs remaining on the plate from the scone. Somehow, you are still breathing, checking your vital signs.

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