For Amelia

14 09 2005

“If I Never See You Again”

Life is irrational. No matter what laws science or religion will try to ascribe to it, so much of the world is still unable to be understood by anyone. The closer we get, the more we realize we don’t know.

There was this child. Her name was Amelia. Age seven. Forty seven and a half pounds. She was four foot even, though she would always say four foot two inches. She wore a green dress that morning. And then she walked out into the street and died.

So much of the complete story is missing to us. There are so many chapters. So many pages. Maybe all of life has one author; maybe we’re all the author. Or maybe there is no author, just a bored typist writing stories. There are also a lot of pages. There is no sparknotes edition on any one event. Every single event is flooded with detail. Every single event is an eight-hundred page Russian novel. Most of us just miss the detail.

Amelia suffered. Two weeks ago, she had played in the streets with the boys. They played tackle football. She didn’t care. Amelia was last pick. The captain, resigned to the fate of having Amelia on the team sighed heavily. She just ignored it. Amelia played as an extra wide receiver on that team. The captain, thinking it was the most original thing ever, threw a Hail Mary pass to Amelia. Two eight year old boys tackled her before the ball landed on her stomach. That night, she would remember, was the first night she really cried.

Sometimes we see that side of the story. Sometimes we are allowed to see how a person grows and changes, the events that unfold and how a character is defined by these events. Who you are is how you deal with what happens.

Amelia died two weeks later. She simply walked out her door and died. The entire town had been evacuated by that point. There was no way for her to see the plane fly overhead in the midday sun. She was left alone, left behind, left to die.

Most of the time, stories don’t make sense. There’s no reason, no logic to certain events. They always just happen. Mostly, we just suffer and move along. Sometimes some of us are left behind. We move on anyways. But mostly, stories don’t make sense. We always miss the bigger picture. Some of the most minute details glow for us, like the bright noontime sun. Sometimes we don’t see that girl standing in the doorway about to take her steps and go die.

Amelia was my friend. I could never show that to her of course, but she was. I was the captain that day, two weeks before. I don’t know how I let her get left behind at the orphanage that day. I will never forgive myself. I am now twenty-five, and every time I drive by that city, every time I fly over it, I can’t help but be the boy who told her to stay in the attic and never come out.

Even when we can’t make sense of a story, we can still be struck with pain and remorse. Confusion is a few melancholy and somber moments to yourself where nothing makes sense and everything seems to have been your fault and you just can’t understand how or why and after hours get compressed into twenty three seconds, you just get real quiet. Real quiet.

Ameilia died last Thursday. That was it. It was final. I kept telling myself that it didn’t happen last week, that it happened almost twenty years ago, but I can’t. The memory of stepping into the car, buckling my seatbelt, and waving goodbye to the girl in the attic plays over and over. It is a completely silent dream. There are no voices, no words, no laughter, no sobbing. It plays itself out in black and white. A slow camera trails the car reaching to touch it and perhaps itself escape, but loses out over distance and the car pulls away never to be seen again.

Many people make up stories. Some people are extraordinary at it. Some can create entire worlds with friends, events, professions – that did not exist. Some have lives making up fictional lives. Other people make up stories because they feel they have to in order to suceed. Still more make up stories to get us places we don’t want to go. But I’m telling you a story about something for no reason at all.

Just a life’s story to pass the time.

I just want to be forgiven.

a work of fiction by kevin verbael

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