No one would want to see me like this.

You know I once heard there is only one picture in all existence of Isaac Newton. I can’t say whether that’s true but if it is and he was such a famous person I sure do hope it could be true of me one day.

I have got the one in mind, too. In that one I still got the black hair and a young man’s face, a young man’s smile. I think there’s some people still see me like that. I remember I used to go down to the bar by the lake and you know I could still turn the girls in their stools with that smile. Of course I didn’t have the black hair anymore by then but that smile never did seem to lose its charm. Can I even muster a smile. I don’t think I can.

Eva I did not want you to see me like this. I always thought when I saw you again it would be a better version of me, like in the picture. The one I was talking about before. The sun was overhead, you remember, and we were in the driveway in Camp Springs. Can you picture it? That was a good time.

They come and go. Not the good times. I mean the good times they do come and go, but I’m talking about them. Can you hear their voices? It’s mostly Neecy and one or the other of her boys. Neecy is here all the time but her boys they come to visit. One of them held my hand, gripped it firm but didn’t say a word. I think he did it for his mother’s sake.

I wish I would of had more of a relationship with those boys. I always felt like if I could just get my feet under me and get settled I could make time for things like that, but it just hasn’t broken that way yet. I’ve just got to get my feet under me. I feel so goddamn tired these last few days, but you know I always do find a way out of it. Whatever it was, over the years, I always land on my feet somehow. Not to say I’ve had a chance to get my feet under me, so to speak, but I’ll be alright. My time will come.

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They’re moving me again. Christ don’t do that. Feels like tearing. Please don’t do that. Goddammit, don’t do that.

Covering me up again.

Eva I try to tell them don’t move me, I try to yell, I try to tell Neecy don’t do that but it just comes out mushy and drunk, angry-sounding. I don’t know why they have to move me on my side but it hurts like hell when they do. I know Neecy wouldn’t hurt me on purpose but I can’t get her to understand. Christ it hurts. This is a place of pain. Someone is moaning a pitiful sound. It’s all I can hear.

Are you there?

I wish I would of been there for you. Are you there?

I wish I would of been a lot of things. I wish I would of been a genius. I wish I would of made more money. I wish I would of been around for Neecy and her brothers and Neecy’s boys, too. I always felt like if I could just get my feet under me and get settled I could make time for things like that, but it just hasn’t broken that way yet. Not yet. I wish I would of been a baseball player.

Are you still there? I wish you would say something.

If you went away I will use the time to fix up a little. They didn’t even put my teeth in. If I weren’t so goddamn tired I would of shaved and combed, too. You know I still have this head of hair, thick as ever. I wish it could still be black like you remember. I would want everyone who knows me to know me like I was back then. I could of been everything I ever wanted to be back then.

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You know when you know someone, when you first know them, it’s like you also know their whole future self, too. When you knew me you knew what I wanted for myself, every plan. And the more you knew me you knew which were plans and which were dreams and which plans would fail and why and which dreams would fade and why. But you also saw in me every possible path I could take from then and whatever opinion you had of me you had all those possibilities wrapped up in it. A person you know is also a million possibilities, like seeing them in different suits and dresses in different rooms and on different stages, but all at once, all to come but all in them.

Who would of ever guessed I would of taken this particular path? You would never of wanted to know me if you would of seen that.

Maybe Neecy will lose all the boxes, all the albums, maybe they will all burn up in a fire, and leave just the one picture. And everyone who ever finds evidence of me whatever comes after this will look down at that picture and say that’s him. And in that picture maybe they will see all those possibilities laid out before me like a tree with a thousand, a million different branches.

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I suppose that’s a false impression, but I hope not. I was him once, too. Maybe I am still him, inside me as I lay here is everything I ever wanted to be, not just what I did become. You knew me that way. I wish to hell no one ever knew me any different.

When I get my strength I will work my way over to the crawl space and pull out those boxes. I’ll wait until Neecy is at work and I’ll get under there and find that picture of us from that day when I had the black hair and had my old smile and put it in a Ziploc bag and take all the rest out and burn it. I thought I would be him forever. If I could of just got my feet under me maybe I could of done it. Are you there? Christ I hope so. I hurt like hell and I have missed you terribly.

If you’re away I will get my strength and get under the crawl space and burn all of it except the one. No one will have to see me like this. Maybe when you come back it’ll all be gone except the one and no one will have to see me like this. I will be him forever like I always wanted, everything I ever wanted to be still alive inside me, and you’ll hold my hand firm and smile and take me away with you.