The Last Time We Say Goodbye Page 89

’’I haven\ felt Ty since then,’’ she tells me.

I put my hand over hers.

It has been one crazy day.

The doorbell rings. Mom and I glance at each other.

’’I\ll get it,’’ I say.

I go to the door and open it. On the other side is Steven, the journal in his hand. He looks thrashed, red-eyed and bleary, and his hair in the front is all poufed up like he\s been tugging on it.

Steven\s a fast reader. I\d forgotten that.

’’Hi,’’ I whisper.

He\s crying. He lunges through the door and folds me into his arms, crying.

’’I\m sorry. I\m sorry. I\m sorry,’’ he says, and sobs into my hair.

Something inside me fractures. Breaks.

’’I\m sorry, too,’’ I say, and I\m crying then, finally, like the floodgates have opened, and we\ e clinging to each other, weeping, as the water pours down and down.

37.

IN THE DREAM, THIS LAST DREAM, I\m playing solitaire in a dark room. It\s like an interrogation scene from a movie, a small card table and two chairs, a dim overhanging light. I am comfortable here. I turn the cards over one by one, not making sense of them. Sometimes I see them as little yellow Post-its. I keep turning the cards over: a king of hearts, an ace of spades, and then the note to my mother. Sorry Mom but I was below empty.

I lay this card in the discard pile.

Then Ty is there, on the outside edge of the light.

’’How did you get in here?’’ I ask.

’’I don\ know. It\s your dream. You tell me.’’

He sits in the chair across from me. He doesn\ look like a ghost. He seems real. He even looks taller to me, and older, like he\s aged during the time he\s been gone. He is not quite the Ty I knew.

’’Do you remember how to play war?’’ he asks.

I give him a look like, Oh, please.

’’You always cheated,’’ he says.

’’Did not.’’

’’Did.’’

I hand him the cards. I watch his long fingers shuffle them easily. He divides the deck into two even piles and gives one to me. Then we begin to lay cards down in threes to fight each other. Higher numbers beat lower. Jack of spades beats nine of diamonds. Five of hearts beats two of spades. Aces beat all. The goal to win the entire deck.

’’What do I get if I win?’’ he asks suddenly. He has just taken three of my cards.

’’What do you want?’’

’’I think,’’ he says without emotion, ’’that if I win you have to stop watching me die. It\s a little morbid.’’

He takes three more of my cards.

’’So what do you want?’’ he asks. ’’If you win.’’

I stare into his hazel eyes. I want to answer that text in time, I think. I want to save you. But underneath it all is: ’’I want to have a chance to say goodbye. I never got to say goodbye. You didn\ give me that.’’

He exhales a laugh. ’’Okay. Deal. If you win you can say goodbye.’’

This seems unlikely. He\s winning the game. He has most of the deck. I know it will be over soon, and I am terrified to wake up and never see him again, never be able to talk to him.

’’Ty . . .’’

’’The people we love are never truly gone,’’ he says. ’’Haven\ you learned that?’’

’’Oh, don\ tell me you listen to Dave.’’

He looks at me steadily and takes another set of my cards. ’’You did say goodbye to me, you know. Don\ you remember?’’

’’What?’’

’’That morning. You said come on, I was going to miss the bus. I said one of my friends was going to give me a ride.’’

’’Which was a lie,’’ I add.

’’Yes, it was,’’ he admits. ’’But then you said, \Okay, see you later,\ and I said, \Love you, sis.\ And you said, \Love you, too, bro. Bye.\’’

’’I said that?’’

’’You said that.’’

I remember. I remember.

And as I sit there, remembering that small single moment in time, I\m suddenly flooded with other memories of Ty.

Good memories.

So many good memories. Building my first snowman in that front yard with Ty. Helping Mom in the garden. Ty trying to eat corn on the cob without the benefit of his two front teeth. Raking leaves with Ty. Teaching him how to drive. Clinging to his arm when we secretly rented Jurassic Park when I was twelve. The funny way he laughed. The time he tried to cut his own hair. The male Man. The time when I was four and I dressed him up in my old clothes and put a wig on him and walked him around the neighborhood introducing him as my new sister, Vikki. The way every year on the first day of school Mom had us stand in the same spot on the front porch and she took our picture together, holding hands, year after year after year.

My first day of kindergarten, when he clung to my hand and wouldn\ let go when I tried to go off to school without him.

’’Take me with you,’’ he begged.

’’I can\ . You have to stay,’’ I said. ’’But I promise I\ll come back. And then we\ll play.’’

’’See?’’ he says now.

I say, ’’I miss you. I will always miss you.’’

’’I miss you, too,’’ he says. ’’For what it\s worth.’’

I lay down a king of clubs, which he takes with an ace, and a ten of diamonds, which he beats with his jack of hearts. I only have one card left.

’’Bye, Ty,’’ I whisper.

He smiles and turns his card over.


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