I still think about him, he says, the ash of his cigarette flaking off near my shoe.
As we all do, I shrug, tired of the runaround. We all think of him. Every day probably.
I shrug again – but it feels forced. Well however much then; we all do.
I mean, I know, he pauses. I’m not saying you don’t.
Ash lands again on the toe of my shoe.
It’s just that I saw it, he says. Jordan and me – we watched.
We know, I say. It’s worse for you- we got it. We know.
He makes a face. I wasn’t saying that.
But you are. You always do.
He lowers his eyes. He died in my arms Lindsey.
I know how he died.
He fucking died in my arms.
I know that, I snap. Don’t you think I know that? I shake my head. That I don’t play that scene in my head every anniversary? Every god damn birthday, I pause. I know what you went through – where do you think I’ve been all these years? Watching you destroy yourself is what.
He looks away.
I’m your best friend too, I say. And I lost Bradley the same night you did. The same time. Everywhere I go, I pause. Some piece of that night is there- reminding me.
We sit in silence now – he bites the bottom of his lip.
The heaviness unyielding.
We think that years dissipate pain – but sometimes, all they do is encapsulate it.
Later, when the bottle of wine lays on its side:
I wonder if he ever even saw New York, I whisper. When I walk down the street- I wonder if what I’m seeing is something he can relate to- or if he’s some part of me, looking through everything with new eyes.
Chase shakes his head. I don’t think so. I think he went to D.C. once- but not New York.
But that’s the point: you don’t know, I say- rolling my eyes. ‘Cause we always do this. Pretend we know his whole history when we don’t.
He smiles. Maybe that’s true.
It is, I smile back knowingly. I cant even remember if his eyes were blue or green at this point.
Blue, he says.
But are you sure? I persist, leaning towards him.
He licks his lips, and I watch his brain rapid-fire.
We smile again.
No, I repeat.
No, he says.
We can’t really remember anything anymore.
No, he says. Maybe we can’t.
And maybe that’s the way it is.