the boxes hold his life, but their kitchen holds his death..
Glancing down at the post card he held in his hands, Bob sighed, memories flooding back into his mind. He remembered the time he and Mikey had locked Frank in his closet as a joke, but had forgotten him for hours, only remembering he was there when Gerard mentioned he hadn't seen him in a while. They had rushed back up to his room, only to find the closet empty, the lock having been carved out of the door from the inside. After searching the room, panic had begun to set in, until a five foot four mass of black clothing had charged them, pushing them back against the wall and proceeded to bundle them into the closet as revenge.
He smiled, wondering if his life would ever return to those happy days before their worlds had been torn.
'God, I miss you, Mikes,' he murmured as he stood, turning to face the door before throwing the now lost memory left on the post card back into it's box.
As he neared the door to the attic steps a cold chill swept over him, making him freeze. He turned slightly-just enough to see the blackened window under the eave of the roof. The night air seeped in through a crack under the lower left pane, forcing a whirl of cold to travel through the room, but still Bob's feet refused to move. He breathed out heavily, reaching forward to pull the light chord, believing that with the brightness of artificial light would come the feeling of safety he longed to feel.
A small yelp left his lips as a hand descended on his shoulder, forcing him to turn sharply, smashing his elbow on the corner of the door as he did. He stretched his hands out in front of him, searching the air for any sign of the being that had been behind him. Nothing. His hands found nothing but the webs of a spiders home tangled into a corner of the wooden roof.
'Ray?' his voice sounded hollow, ringing through the empty air as he spoke. 'Ray, are you there? Dude, if I find out that that's you, I so am not letting this go,'
No reply. He dragged a sharp breath in as the air before him remained silent, reaching a hand behind him to take hold of the light chord. Counting down from three he steadied himself, before pulling the string and flooding the room with the imitation sun light that the lamp above him provided.
He jumped slightly, expecting to see a face before him, possibly floating free of it's body, but instead he was greeted by the sight of an old friend. His hazel eyes, partially shrouded in darkness, no longer glistened the way they once had-instead they appeared lifeless, the reassuring glimmer now replaced with the look of the dead. His once pale skin was now ghost-like, the subtle color it had once held now drained away. The only thing that left Bob sure of who he saw was the air with which he held himself-so sure and confident, while still doubtful, and holding the desire to stand behind others so as not to be seen. This alone brought the tears which fell from his eyes, and the painful breath that stabbed at his chest. This alone made him know that he was home.
'Hey, Bob, long time no see,' Mikey smiled, moving forwards slightly from his perch under the window. He stepped across the floor of the attic, pushing the boxes of memories to the side as he did. He stopped a few paces away and stood messing with his sleeve, before finally looking Bob in the eye.
'Are you real?' Bob murmured, feeling stupid for asking it, but needing to know all the same. He ran his hand over his chin, mussing his fingers in the small beard he had been growing. Mikey smiled slightly, remembering how annoyed Bob had been when they started basic training, and had been forced to cut the beard from his face.
'Yes, I'm real,' he smiled, looking away from his friend's face. He couldn't bare to see the pain he knew was in another of their eyes. He was sure that if he hadn't already been dead, seeing Frank like that would have finished him off. He fidgeted, looking around the room at all the boxes piled against the walls. 'My things,' he said sadly, his voice infused with pain.
'Sorry,' Bob whispered, his face cast down and ashamed. 'We-we couldn't-' his voice grew thicker, making it hard to speak, until finally he stopped as Mikey's icy arms wrapped around his chest, pulling him in for a hug. Bob returned the hug, remembering the last time they had-on the boats the day he died. He shuddered, an overwhelming urge to run from Mikey surging through him. Mikey seemed to sense this, and pulled away, looking him in the eye.
'Sorry,' he said, smiling again. 'It has to be hard hugging me when I'm dead,' Bob flinched at the word, making Mikey frown. 'Hows Ray?' he asked mildly, desperate to change the subject.
'He's uh, he's okay,' Bob mumbled, turning back towards the door and beginning down the steps. 'I think he's in the kitchen. He decided he didn't want to move out again after the war,' he turned his head to check that Mikey was following him, but stopped, surprised to see him still stood at the top of the stairs, his face shrouded in shadow. 'Mikey?'
Mikey swayed, seeming torn between hiding away from the world, and seeing the last of his oldest friends. He took a hesitant step forward before finally descending the steps and stopping just before Bob.
'I-I don't think I should do this,' he whispered, his voice just a breath on the air. 'I don't think I should see Ray. I can't stand seeing anyone else. Gerard he-he had taken these pills, and, I think if I hadn't got there when I did, that he would have died. He was almost gone when I found him. And Frank-he was drinking himself to death in some bar in Jersey. And now you, who doesn't want to be near me,' a fierce flame of regret burned behind Mikey's eyes, making Bob believe for just a moment that he was alive-that none of the war had happened, and they had not been forced to bury their friend. Their brother. Their Mikey. He leaned forwards, embracing him in a tight hug and holding him there.
'Mikey, we loved you, and we still do. Nothing will change that. You're no different to us now than you were before, and trust me, Ray wants to see you. Please,' his voice rippled with pain, but also with strength, which seemed to emanate from the center of his heart. Mikey struggled, breathing deeply in an effort to remember what it felt like to be alive, to have a heart beating in his chest. To have a future before him.
'I know,' he pulled away, passing Bob and continuing to the base of the steps where they met up with the hall. Bob followed him with his eyes until he turned the corner and the darkness swallowed him.
Following Mikey, he turned into the kitchen, where Ray was pressed up against the counter in the far corner of the room, staring wide eyed and afraid at Mikey, who had slid into one of the chairs around the table that had once held all five friends.
'A-are you real?' Ray whispered, echoing Bob's words, only with more fear coloring his voice.
'Yes,' Ray couldn't help but note how sad Mikey seemed to be at that fact, and found himself rushing forward, arms out stretched, to take Mikey in his arms. Their hug lasted longer than Bob's had, as the memories of Mikey's last few moments washed over Ray, making it impossible for him to feel any more fear towards his friend. He had him back-he didn't care how.
'God, I missed you so much,' he hissed, before pulling back to stare him in the eyes. 'How could you leave us? Do you know how broken everyone is? Do you know what your brother has become?' Mikey flinched at Ray's tone, but nodded, casting his eyes away from his friends face.
'I know, Ray, I saw him,' he gulped, feeling the same desire to see his brother again that had ripped it's way through his chest as his last breaths had left. 'And-and I saw Frank,' he looked up as he spoke his youngest friends name, feeling the pain that he saw shoot mercilessly through Rays eyes.
'Where is he?' he gasped, a single tear falling from the corner of his eye. Mikey hugged him again, choosing not to speak. 'Mikey? Where is he?' he pressed, this time staying in the hug-he had no desire to see the pain painted across the youngest Way's face
'He said he found Frank in some bar in Jersey, drinking himself to death,' Ray winced, half wishing Bob had never spoken. Pulling away from Mikey, he turned back towards the counter. He took three mugs from by the sink before filling them with the strong coffee that had been brewed and left on the side. Mikey took one, sitting in the seat closest to the door as Bob and Ray in turn took their own seats.
Sipping his coffee, Bob watched the youngest Way-he didn't drink the coffee in the mug, instead he just sat there, pulling the scent of it in, his alabaster fingers wound tightly round the black china, as if he was trying to draw in the heat from it and bring his skin back to life.
He and Ray sat watching him long after the coffee in their own mugs ran dry, and the steam no longer rose from the dead man's drink.