When we were kids, Ryan had always loved the month of June. He was your typical 10 year old boy, eager to get away from those long days of school, the bitchy teachers who'd take a gold star away if...
When we were kids, Ryan had always loved the month of June. He was your typical 10 year old boy, eager to get away from those long days of school, the bitchy teachers who'd take a gold star away if you dared talked, and the group of annoying girls who'd pester you until you agree to be the groom in one of their playground weddings, at noon recess.
But, the best thing about June was the town carnival. My dad would drive us to and from, spinning stupid dad jokes in the car. It was a tradition for Ryan and I to spend the entire week at the carnival, every day...day to night. We'd ride every twirling ride to see how long our stomachs could handle our lunch, play the shitty games until we finally won a prize worth half of what we'd paid for the tickets, and eat so much sweets and chocolate that'd you think it was Christmas.
I envied Ryan, though. Thinking about it now, it was the silliest thing, very kid-ish. He'd seemed to always come home with the more stuffed and air balloon lions and elephants. The truth was, he was a thousand times better than me at the games. My darts always landed on the ground... his rather, popped the colorful balloons.
"Here," He'd say holding out his earned prize, "You can have this one. I'll win myself something different at the next stand." Even if it was just a beanie baby, I felt special knowing my best friend could win me these cool prizes. Ryan was generous, never selfish.
After paying, I pushed my way through the packed crowds. The carnival hadn't changed much, unlike most things did in 15 years. It had stayed the same.
My nose caught a sniff of the sweet kettle popcorn being made close by. I smiled to myself, remembering Ryan and I begging my father to buy us a bag. "Fine, just one bag and then no more for a while, boys. Your mothers are already threatening to kill me."
I purchased the bag and made my way to a picnic table. I watched the children, while munching on my snack. They didn't realize how lucky they were. I'd do anything to spend another day at the carnival with Ryan. I sighed sadly, knowing that wasn't possible anymore.
Two young boys come running in my direction. They could've been very old, barely over eight or nine. "Dad!" The taller one shouted to the man at the next table. "Look at what Alex won! Isn't it cool, dad!?" The other boy, Alex was holding up a giant Clifford the Big Red Dog, grinning brightly as he showed the boy's father. "That's great, boys." The dad smiled. "Why don't you two go ride some rides... we have to leave in a hour." The two boys frowned, but nodded as they ran off to enjoy their last minutes at the carnival.
I walked around for the next hour or two. I laughed at myself in the fun house mirrors and I pressed my luck at a few games but ended failing, only winning a few small prizes. I felt like a kid once again. It was something I needed after the last few hard, longs months.
Before I knew it, the crowds started slowing down. I decided I'd leave like the others. Maybe I'd come back again tomorrow.
I parked my car along the metal fence. I grabbed the left over kettle corn and prizes I had amazingly won. I was going to show Ryan. He'd be happy I came.
I pushed the silver gate open slowly, letting myself in. I walked past the creepy old head stones over to the 'R' section. R for Ross.
You've heard the saying 'you never know what you have till it's gone'. I used to laugh when I'd hear it. How could anyone be stupid enough not to realize what good of a thing they had? It sounded silly at the time. But, quickly I fell victim to this saying. It happened so fast.
After getting the news from the doctor the boys and I spent as much time as we could with Ryan in the hospital. Every day Ryan would tell me that same thing. "Don't worry, Spence," He'd say smiling. "I'll be out of here in a few weeks... before you even know it."
I recall a time when it just me and him. It was late when I arrived for my daily visit. The doctors knew his condition was getting worse, so they didn't mind me spending the night with him. I slowly began falling asleep on the chair next to his bed side.
"Spencer?" He said waking me.
"Yeah, Ry?" He's sitting up straight up, focusing on the wall in front of him.
His dark chocolate eyes looked towards me as he asks curiously, "What's death feel like? ... I mean, do you think you think it'll hurt?"
I looked at him, speechless. He had never brought up the subject of death like this before. He looked helpless, waiting for my answer.
"Ryan," I started. "I can't tell you what it's like...but, I do know one thing... I'm going to be here, right by your side, if or when it does happen."
He gave me a small, weak smile. "Thanks, Spencer."
I nod, trying to smile back. But, it's hard. I felt so small, right there.
"You're my best friend... and I love you, Spence. Thank you.. for everything... I just want you to know that." He tells me. As I watch him rest his head on the stiff, white pillow I notice he hasn't changed. He was the kid whose house I spent at every Friday night growing up, my best bud, the boy that came to me when his father had abused him, my band mate, practically my older brother, and the greatest friend anyone could ever want. He was still Ryan Ross, and nothing could change that.
I nodded, slowly feeling my eyes water. "I know, Ry. I know." I was losing him.
Finally, reaching his tomb stone, the one right beside his fathers, I sit down next to Ryan.
"Hey." I whisper softly. "How have you been?" I wait a few seconds for him to answer.
"I've been okay," I tell him.
There are a few moments of silence where we just acknowledge each other's company.
He asks what I have in the bag. I smile, holding up the pop corn. "I went to the carnival today."
I can see Ryan's face. He's smiling. "I saw these two boys there... They reminded me of us when we were younger."
"They were so happy..." I add slowly, looking down. My eyes feel hot as they begin to form tears.
Ryan's smile turns into a frown. He says he doesn't want me to be sad.
"It's hard, though, " I reply. "I miss you so much, Ry."
He doesn't say anything and we sit in silence once again.
"Oh," I began again, showing him the prize I won. "Look, I finally won something."
He smirks at this and teases me about the size of the tiny prize.
I roll my eyes, letting a smile escape. "Okay.. so my aim is still awful... but, I'm getting better. I almost beat a seven year old."
He laughs and we fall silent. "Well, I better go but I just thought I'd stop by and tell ya about the carnival." He nods and thanks me.
"Here," I say taking the prize and resting it by him. "I want you to have this... I owe ya anyways." He smiles.
We say our goodbyes and I get up to head back to the car. He stops me, he wants to tell me something else.
"What is it, Ryan?"
I see a small tear fall down his right cheek. He's saying he misses me too.