Thomm Quackenbush, author

I Will Miss You | 2017 | Melissa Dies

02.06.17

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
 

-Pablo Neruda



The Saddest Lines

Early in our friendship, Daniel asked me what message I had for him. In his experience, new people joined his life to give him some pseudo-cryptic information, the closest I believe he came to religion or a belief in predestination. Once they said it, I assume they became less valuable to him and he had more of an excuse to fade away.

Then, I told him that I knew of no message I had for him. I just liked being around him. I wondered then if that was an antidote to his leaving, my inability to give him some sort of missing puzzle piece.

Now, when his leaving has ceased to be my future but my past, I feel an obligation to find a message for him from our collected time together. I will address him directly, though I know from his statements and experience that he does not read things I write about him. He does not, after all, trust writers and is write not to. We remember what we can and assemble what we cannot, just so long as the story still holds together. Still, it would be disingenuous not to put this out in the ether.

Daniel,

You asked once for a message and this is the best I could come up with. I am pretending this was a spontaneous outpouring, but I reworked it starting two weeks before you left for Maryland because I wanted to get it right. I am aware I cannot possibly have done it justice, but I have tried. First drafts of anything are never quite right or they would not be first drafts.

You are one of the finest men I have ever encountered, more my relative than a lot of people who claim that designation through blood, and I love you for it. Kest is, and will continue to be, an unbelievably lucky woman - or pangender elf, since I wouldn't want to pen her in.

You reference your reptilian brain and social meter, memes I have since adopted, to explain how you best move in the world, where you find your supposed limitations. I have always respected you and your process because I found your honesty refreshing. Most people, myself included until recently, soldier on through a load of social nonsense they do not believe because that is how they perceive society perpetuating. You were uncompromising in your vision of yourself, smartly dressed nearly always, a dynamic figure in the light. No one who met you could come close to forgetting they had seen you. You were always easy to describe when I couldn't find you. You were the Hannibal to my Will Graham, a refined gourmand-sociopath discovering an empath who drove himself near to madness imagining himself in monsters' shoes - less the literal murder, cannibalism, manipulation.

How we ever worked out is a mystery on paper. I am more mammal than lizard. I am, as you once put it, aggressively nonthreatening in my gregarious nature. You can be isolated in a crowd if such is your wont. I was, at times and with new company, downright pesky. And I think you loved me the best you could despite and because of that.

Amber and I have not been quite right since you left. We hang off one another conspicuously - and we were never exactly shy about it before. We occasionally and in mockery curse your name because we miss you. Everywhere, pictures of you pop up and we pout. Amber is more vocal about this, which is likely the healthier option. I still look to the horizon as though I will see your car. I have small reveries that, somehow, Kest and you move back here. You are not even a week gone and I am rewriting the ending, trying to fit in a hook for the sequel.

You were so many things to us: a friend, a brother, a confessor, an introducer of new experiences and foods, a social outlet. We don't quite know what to do with ourselves without the promise that you will be around soon and we can sit together and do nothing.

I cannot bring myself to sit in my little workspace beside my bed, because it takes me further from Amber for an hour and I feel she is now the only person in my orbit who comes close to understanding me. I know I will recover from this, that I will feel safe again rather than clinging to the only other person with whom I am close, but that is not today.

I don't say any of this to try to inspire in you guilt, since I am certain that is not an emotion in your repertoire. I say this only to express as clearly as I can that your exodus, as well-intentioned and well-advised as it is, has marked Amber and me in a way that is barely expressible. I can move with normality, but some childish part of me reaches out to you and does not yet understand that you cannot reach back.

This is not a goodbye. I know that for all my literary histrionics. This is just mourning, because all change is loss. I know Kest and you will show up at some point, months away. I know we will end up at museums and picnics in parks. We will make new memories, all the more precious for how rare they are. I know I will at first pretend I am resentful that you showed up again, just before being giddy you are back, even briefly.

My message, in short, is that you are an admirable man and I am satisfied you are taking the next step in your evolution, even as it cleaves us apart. It was my privilege to have known you so well.

And that this sacrifice for love, companionship, and a new stage of your life had damn well better have been worth it.



Soon in Xenology: Faces. New friends.

last watched: The Nice Guys
reading: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
listening: Die Antwoord

I Will Miss You | 2017 | Melissa Dies

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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