Warning: Presence of grief, loss, suicide, homophobia and death are in this short story. This was not based on any prompt or outside influence.
Recently, I experienced a loss of a brother, a good friend, and someone who I cherished deeply. In the only way I know how to deal with emotions is through writing. I generally don’t share a lot of my own experiences, pain or feelings, but this one I decided should not go into the depths of my archives. I wanted to share this loss for everyone so that if it touches even just one person's heart, they will know they are not alone.
If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out or look for local groups and programs in your area. Don’t suffer alone because you are not. Every life matters and that includes you. We all bleed and we all feel the same pain.
- The Turnip Patch.
Stan stood by the plot of recently dug-up dirt. The headstone was shiny and new, each letter engraved sharp, crisp, and bright. It didn't suit the gloomy graveyard at all. Standing out like a sore thumb against the cloudy dim day. Clenching his fist, he wished it didn't look so cheerful.
All Stan wanted deeply in his heart was to kick the dirt upon it, to smug the filth all over and to dampen the beautiful polished stone. A lump grew in his throat, his chest tightened up, and his eyes clouded over with tears that threatened to spill. He hated every detail of the block that held the name of his beloved.
Anger and rage boiled up under his breath, the fire stroked by every small perfect detail of the grave marker. It was wrong. All wrong. Yet in all his pain and anguish, there was nothing he could do to change the stone's meaning.
It was the only proof that it was true. An honest pillar that could not be manipulated or warped. Stan grit his teeth, holding back his outburst. Why wasn't he allowed to see the funeral? Why couldn't he visit them while they were still alive in the hospital? Why did their family have to be so cold?
They knew very well how much Stan meant to their child and still, they blocked every chance to see each other one last time. Stan knew the reason. He always knew.
Not once did Marcus' family ever approve of their relationship. Not once did they ever allow acceptance that their child was gay. It tore at Stan's heart knowing that the family's narrow-mindedness was the reason Marcus died alone. Had it not been for Marcus' sister, Stan would have never heard the news at all.
Even in all her power, there was nothing she could do to override the territorial parents and brooding grandma to allow Stan one last kiss goodbye.
A small touch on his shoulder brought him out of the painful memories. Tracy offered a tissue, her expression soft and understanding. Stan had her to thank for even showing him where Marcus' grave was located. If only it could have been sooner. The words ‘If only’ seemed to be Stan's constant regret.
"Thank you for bringing me here." Stan's voice was void of any emotion. It was cold and empty. Tracy nodded in understanding.
"I am so sorry I wasn't strong enough to stand up for him. I am equally a coward."
Stan turned numbly, letting a tear roll down his cheek. Quickly he pulled her in for an embrace, shaking while he held back his rage. It took a moment for him to compose himself. Tracy lifted her arms tenderly to hug him back.
"There would have been nothing you could have done to change their mind. Marcus knew what he was getting into. We both knew."
They stood a moment in silence before Stan pulled back from her. He held onto her arms, his tears freely flowing. Tracy sighed heavily, using the sleeve of her hoodie to wipe his tears away.
"Tracy... promise me."
Tracy paused her hand, looking Stan head on as he continued, "Take Val and get out of this fucking town. Leave. Go as far as you can. Marcus and I may have covered you from getting caught with her, but now that he is gone… it won't be long before they notice."
Tracy's jaw dropped. Before she could reply, Stan shoved his hand into his pocket. He pulled out a heavy bag and forced it into her hands. "This was all the money he saved up. We were planning to travel with it before..."
The pain hurt too much to finish his sentence. Tracy's bottom lip quivered. With a nod she understood.
"We'll leave in a few days. I know they will be watching me closely. Even today it was hard to slip out to find you. I knew… once he got sick… it would be a matter of time."
A small tear slipped down her cheek before she pulled Stan in for a greater hug. They cried together before she pulled away, taking a few steps backwards. "What are you going to do now?"
Stan took a breath. It was a slow painful breath. He wasn't even sure now. "I don't know. But now that I am alone without him, there isn't much for me here either. I have nowhere else to go."
Tracy looked at the cash in her hand, then up at him. "Come with us. I am sure this will be enough for-"
"No. Don't worry about me. I'll deal with the bigoted town. You guys have a chance to find happiness."
With a sad nod, Tracy pocketed the money. "You know, he loved you until the very end."
"Goodbye, Stan. I love you."
With a chuckle, Stand offered a sincere smile. "I love you, too. Now go. Tell Val and get home before your parents are suspicious."
Tracy offered one last smile, then turned and ran out of the graveyard. Several moments passed while Stan watched her frame disappear in the distance. Turning back to the grave, Stan sobbed. Collapsing to the ground, he fumbled to pull out the handheld gun from the small of his back.
Coarsely, he spoke to the gravestone. "I'll see you soon, my love."
With a loud crack in the distance, Tracy stopped in her tracks. The trickle of adrenaline flowed down her spine and her face paled. Without turning around, she knew what had occurred. Her heart sank while she closed her eyes tightly.
"God I hate this fucking town."
Without any more time wasted, she sprinted down the street faster than she ever could.