Instead of returning Felice’s freshman affections, Sunny taught her how to prevent catastrophe. She indulged — later tolerated — the routines he claimed shielded them from faulty dorm outlets, Ultimate Frisbee accidents, cheap razor blades, and sidewalks littered with red solo cups. He avoided sidewalk cracks, returned her new black kitten, refused ladders on principle. You have to believe in something, he said. The kitten, she said, is taking this shit too far.
They still spoke every Friday, even though they fled to opposite coasts after graduation. And on this Friday the 13th, Felice expects his usual lecture on the significance of numbers.
Instead, his sister is on the other end and she’s sorry. Sunny’s sister whose name she should remember and just heard again a few seconds ago continues to be so fucking sorry. Felice hurls the phone at the hallway mirror, her new reflection a hundred shards of crumpled woman. Seven years on seven years on seven.
On her way to the funeral, she reviews the five phases of grief. She never gets to acceptance.
The funeral home looks flat and beige and wrong and she hopes it won’t smell like it did in childhood. A back door is not the quiet entrance she aimed for. Instead, she lands smack in the grief stricken spotlight of Sunny’s parents. Oh you came, they wring hankies in their hands. You’ll say something, won’t you? She’s too afraid to say no.
After — somewhere inside the second bottle of Chardonnay — she flips through a fat scrapbook. Polariods and ticket stubs. A pressed four-leaf clover, half a grey wishbone. The wine feels like throwing ice cubes at a house fire.
He’d say it was high time for coffee. She stumbles toward the kitchen, salt dusting her shoulder, crunching beneath her feet.
Camille Griep lives and writes north of Seattle, Washington. Her recent work has been featured in WhiskeyPaper, Cartridge Lit, and Synaesthesia Magazine, among other fine journals. She is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Her first novel, an epistolary fairy tale, will be released July 2015.