On The Outside Looking In
So Long and Goodnight
“We are gathered here today to acknowledge the passing of Edward Gregorio…” The pastor’s words fell on deaf ears.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, blah blah blah
It was the same hollow, empty bullshit you hear at every funeral. My Father’s passing had come unexpectedly, a goddamn aortic aneurysm. Fine one minute; fucking gone the next. If there really were a God, he wouldn’t have allowed this. I was only sixteen fucking years old, and my Father was gone. It was a tragedy I had hoped I would not have to endure until I was at least thirty, maybe fifty if I were lucky.
The family members stepped up one by one to pay their respects, and I zoned out, gazing up at the clear blue sky. Everything looked normal, and the sun still shone. The world went on without him, not a dent made in its grand design. Just one less human to use up its resources, I suppose. What a sick joke.
I watched as they lowered my father’s coffin into the ground, and whilst everyone around me sobbed, I was numb. I refused to mourn, for whatever reason. Maybe I was in shock still, maybe I was in denial.
One thing was for certain, Lodi, New Jersey, had just lost one of its best people…
The reception further established the fact that nothing was affected by my Father’s passing. People talked, they laughed, they shed a few more tears, but these were tears of joy as they recalled their memories with him. Some people die, others live on, the world keeps turning, and the universe doesn’t stop for you. So that was exactly what I had decided I would do. If life was truly unaffected by the absence of Edward Gregorio, then neither would I be.
“Arri, earth to Arri, come in, Arri!” the teasing voice of my best friend, Joey Wheeler, shook me from my daze. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” I answered; my voice monotonous.
“No you’re not.”
“I am.” I said sternly. “Really.”
“How could you possibly be fine?” asked Joey. “Your Father just died.”
“And yet, here we stand.” I said. “I mean, look at this.” I gestured toward the crowd. “Nothing’s changed.”
“Your father, is gone.” He pressed.
“And the world carries on.” I looked at him, his blue eyes shining with sympathy. “I’m okay, don’t worry about me.”
Across the room, my mother wept in the arms of Joey’s father, Bill. She was 36 years young and so full of life, usually. With her choppy black hair, slim figure and delicate features, you’d never guess she and I were related. I was all golden brown hair and rounded face, the spitting image of my father. I had a stocky, curvy, if you will, figure, and a pair of thick rimmed black glasses, which forever slid to the very end of my nose.
And then there was Joey; my best friend since Kindergarten. My only friend, really. Completely obsessed with all things Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, Joey was a lanky boy of average height, with a mop of scruffy blonde hair that always stuck out at weird angles, and baby blues that would make any teenybopper swoon.
Joey oozed with confidence and was always my buffer at social gatherings. A lifetime of being an outcast had left me a nervous wreck with social anxiety. Probably bordering on agoraphobic, as well, since I rarely ever left the house. I assumed that would probably worsen now. For the next few months, whenever someone bumped into me on the streets, they would ask if I was okay, if I was missing my father.
“Everything’s going to change now.” I stated. “I’m not going to be a human being anymore, just a zoo animal everyone gawks at.”
“They’ll get over it, when they move on.” Joey assured me.
“It’s not really me I’m worried about, it’s Mom.”
“Your mother will recover, Dad will watch over her.” He said. “He always has.”
“Maybe they’ll get married, and then we can be Brother and Sister.” I joked.
Joey blushed, but cringed. “No way, I couldn’t deal with you 24/7.”
That made me smile. “Jerk.” I smirked.
“Bitch.” He retaliated, poking his tongue out at me.
He put an arm around my shoulders, and pulled me into his side. I leant against him and smiled. I don’t know what I’d do without Joey, and I was certain I wouldn’t be able to handle my father’s death as well as I was without him…
Annnd away we go! Round two of Jersey Skies! I'm hoping this will gain as much as love as the original tale did several years ago. I know a lot of ya'll loved Jackie's story, but there is so much still to tell. I always loved the idea of Arriana, and wished I'd written more of her. Joey is also a fucking adorable little shit and there was a lot of side-story I never told about him back when. So yeah, loads of surprises in-store! It may be a re-telling, but I promise it's not going to be boring!
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