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Goodbye Jesus

It's Hard Letting You Go


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This is a short story I wrote last month sometime - it's rare that I'm able to sit down and write one, as I need to have enough inspiration and motivation to churn them out. Check it out - leave a little love if you like it.


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It's Hard Letting You Go


The shrill tones of Good Charlotte’s Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous started blasting in my ear, startling me awake. My eyes popped open to see my chemistry textbook lying open on my desk next to my computer’s keyboard; when I had raised my head up and blinked the sleep from my eyes, I was met with a screen full of gibberish – I’d apparently fallen asleep on my keyboard. I scrolled up to the very top of the document in question, only to be met with the title of the essay that I had been working on the night before. An essay that was due in by five o’clock today.


Shit!” I hissed. “Oh this is just great…” I slammed my right index finger down on the backspace key and deleted approximately ten pages of nonsense. By this time my phone had stopped ringing, but I reasoned that if it was important, whoever was calling me would call back. They usually did. Sure enough, not a minute later, my phone rang again. I snatched it up and answered on the second ring. “Hello?”


“Quinn? This…this is Emma Bennett. Taylor’s mother.”


“Oh, hey Mrs. Bennett,” I said, glancing at the taskbar of my computer’s desktop; it read 9:38 am. “What’s up?”


“Nothing good, I’m afraid.” She sighed quietly. “Quinn…Taylor passed away early on Monday morning.”


At that moment, I felt as if the world had stopped. “What?” I whispered in complete disbelief.


“I’m so sorry, Quinn; I know how close the two of you were.”


“Oh man…” I bit my bottom lip hard to hold back the tears that were threatening to escape. “Is…is there anything I or my parents can do?”


“Just be there for Ebony and Aidan; they’re taking it the hardest of all of us.”


“I will,” I promised. Of course I would be. The Bennett triplets were utterly inseparable, or at least they had been. If one was nearby, you could be sure that the other two were in relatively close proximity. This had to be hurting the two of them so badly, not to mention the rest of the Bennett family… “If there’s anything else we can do, let us know.”


“Thank you, Quinn.” There was a short silence. “The funeral is at ten-thirty on Sunday morning, at St. Andrew’s; I know that Ebony especially would appreciate having you there.”


“I’ll be there,” I assured her. “Thanks for letting me know.”


After I had hung up, I immediately dialled the number of my chemistry professor and asked for a week’s extension on the essay, citing a ‘family emergency’ as my reason for not being able to hand it in on time. When that matter was settled, I got up and crossed my room to my bed, lay down and curled up in my blankets, finally allowing my tears to fall and a whirlwind of memories to surround me.


I had only known Taylor for eight and a half short months, though we had gone to the same high school – he, his sister Ebony and his brother Aidan had been in the year below mine – but I felt as if I’d known him my whole life. And as a result, I had gotten to know Ebony and Aidan quite well. I knew Ebony better than I did Aidan, however. And now…he was gone, and he was never coming back. Just another memory, another statistic in the seemingly never-ending battle against cancer.


I still remembered the day we had met, the two of us – it was kind of hard to forget, really.


I walked down the seemingly endless corridor, past closed and partially-opened doors, before coming to one door that was wide open. I stopped and looked inside, then rapped on the doorframe, and the room’s sole occupant – a teenage boy – looked up from poking at his dinner. “Hey there,” I said.


“Hi,” he said uncertainly.


“Mind if I come in? You look like you could use a bit of company; I know how lonely it can be when you’re on your own in a place like this.”


He shrugged. “Sure.”


I walked into the room and pulled a chair up to his bedside. “My name’s Quinn, by the way,” I said. “And yours would be…”


“Jonathon,” he replied. “But everyone calls me Taylor; it’s my middle name.” He shrugged. “I don’t like it much myself.” He shifted in bed, wincing a little.


“Why not? I think it’s a nice name. It’s unusual, granted-”


“There’s your answer right there. A weird name for a weird kid.”


“I didn’t say it was weird, I said it was unusual.”


“Same difference.” He sighed a little. “Sorry. I’m still in shock, that’s all.”


I nodded, understanding completely. “So what’re you in here for?” I asked.


“Leukaemia,” he replied, looking at his hands. “I’ve got about six months left, a year if I’m lucky.”


“Oh wow,” I said softly. “That’s a real kick in the teeth, that is.”


“I think that’s a serious understatement.” He poked at the piece of chicken that sat on his plate, before sighing quietly and pushing the table away. “I’d forgotten how much I hate hospital food.”


“Tell me about it. Tastes like shit, doesn’t it?”


He looked at me without blinking for some time, before letting out a small laugh. “I’d have to agree with you there.”


“Well, how much longer are you in here for?”


He shrugged. “Dunno really; couple more days, maybe a couple of weeks.”


“I usually go down to the canteen to eat; I can’t stand the crap they try to force on us. Maybe you could join me, if you wanted to that is. The food’s much better for one.”


He shook his head. “Can’t.” He nodded toward a pair of crutches that rested against the wall. “If I try and walk without those, I’ll make it probably halfway across the room before I fall over. And I don’t trust myself with them anyway, at least not until I’m back home.”


“Well…okay. But if you ever want to…”


He nodded. “I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.”


“Great.” I stood up and straightened my dressing gown. “Well, I’m going to head back to my room; if you want to talk, I’m a few rooms down the corridor. I don’t really give the best advice in the world, but I’m a pretty good listener. Or so I’ve been told, anyway.”


He nodded again. “I will.”


I offered him a small smile. “It was nice meeting you, Taylor,” I said before leaving the room.


The next memory to surface was my memory of the day I found out that he had landed himself back in hospital, one week before Christmas.


“Ebony?” I asked upon seeing Taylor’s triplet sister sitting in the otherwise deserted hospital waiting area. I could see Aidan standing over near the wall; he was talking on the payphone situated there and twisting his dreadlocks between his fingers. She looked up at me and let out a small sob. Her cheeks were streaked with tears. “What’s going on? Why’re you and Aidan here?”


“Tay’s really sick,” she answered quietly. She pointed toward a set of double doors, her hand shaking a little. “He…he’s in there. So’re Mum and Dad.”


“So why are you sitting out here, then?”


“They wouldn’t let Aidan and I in. It’s been hours, and they won’t tell us what the hell is going on…”


Aidan came over and sat down beside Ebony; he sighed and draped an arm around his sister’s shoulders. She in turn lowered her head onto his nearest shoulder. “What did they say?” she asked quietly. “Aunt Delia and Uncle Will, I mean.”


“They said to call them when we know what’s going on.”


Ebony nodded. “Okay.” She sucked in a breath through her nose. “God, I hope they tell us something soon…”


Almost as soon she spoke, the doors opened, and out walked their parents. And I could tell just by the look on Aidan and Ebony’s mother’s face that whatever news they had, it wasn’t good. Ebony sat up almost immediately, and would have scrambled to her feet if not for Aidan’s arm around her shoulders. “What happened?” she asked. “Is he okay?”


“He’s throwing up…” their father said, trailing off. He didn’t look at Ebony or Aidan once as he said this.


“You’ve seen him throw up before. They never kicked you out,” Aidan said.


Their mother just shook her head. “He’s throwing up blood…” she said quietly.


I heard Aidan and Ebony let out identical gasps at this turn of events. “Blood?” Ebony echoed. “Why?”


“We don’t know,” their father answered. “But it’s not good…”


It was almost two-and-a-half hours before the four of them left the waiting area, walking through the doors to the room beyond. I knew that I should have gone back to my room, having intruded more than I had intended to, but my innate curiosity won out, something that was going to get me in a lot of trouble one of these days. I wanted to find out what was going on. Taylor may not have been my brother, but he was my friend. And friends care about one another.


About fifteen minutes later, I heard someone yelling. “You’re not dying!” It was Ebony. “You’re not!” And barely a minute later, she came flying into the waiting area, heading directly for the corridor that led to the rear courtyard. Aidan wasn’t far behind her. “Ebony!” he yelled.


“Aidan, what’s going on?” I called.


He stopped and just looked at me for a little while. “He’s dying,” he answered, before taking off after his sister.


But the memory I would have preferred to forget was my memory of the last time I ever saw Taylor alive, the afternoon before he had died.


The elevator doors opened, and I stepped out into the corridor. It was quiet, and I could hear the distant squeaking of shoes against the unmarked linoleum floor. I liked it up here – it was peaceful. And I could have stood there in the corridor forever, but I was there for a specific reason.


I entered the palliative care ward and started walking down the central corridor, keeping an eye out for room number 3. I couldn’t help but think how utterly wrong it was for someone so young to be in a place like this, dying from a illness that there was no cure for. There was no longer any reprieve from death, for him at least – it was slowly but surely advancing, leaching all semblance of life from him. And it really was quite frightening to witness.


Ebony looked up as I rapped quietly on the doorframe; she managed the smallest of smiles and beckoned me into the room. I walked in, pulled over an extra chair and sat myself down. “How’re you holding up?” I asked quietly.


She shrugged. “As well as anyone can expect, I suppose, for someone who’s losing their best friend.” She gently ran the pad of her right thumb down the back of Taylor’s hand; he stirred a little in his sleep, flexing his fingers slightly. “I still don’t want to believe that he’s dying, but it’s a bit hard not to when the proof’s right in front of me.”


“Could I talk to him?” I asked. “Just so he knows I’m here? I mean, you don’t have to wake him up or anything…”


“He won’t hear you if I don’t wake him,” Ebony said, before reaching out a hand; she gently shook her brother by the shoulder. “Tay, wake up,” she said to him. It took him a little while, but he finally opened his eyes, blinking tiredly. He looked absolutely exhausted. “There’s someone here to see you,” Ebony continued.


I gave him a little wave. “Hey,” I said, smiling; in return, he managed a small smile that disappeared almost immediately.


“Hey Quinn,” he whispered weakly.


“You hang in there, all right?” I said, my voice trembling just a little.


“I’m hangin’,” he replied; he let out a weak laugh and closed his eyes again.


Ebony sighed, looked up at me and nodded toward the open door that led out into the corridor. I followed her out of the room, and she leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. “This is so hard, Quinn,” she whispered. “That room…my brother is going to spend the rest of his life in there. He’s never coming home. And it hurts so much…”


I said nothing in response. Instead, I looked back into the room we’d just exited. And though I had never believed in a higher power, I silently prayed.


The following Sunday, I found myself sitting near the back of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, flanked by my mother and father. The sound of rain drumming on the church’s roof was almost deafening, making it difficult to hear anything else. Even though a microphone and speakers had been rigged up, it was still almost impossible to hear what was to be said. Everyone who went up to speak ended up having to shout just to be heard.


But almost miraculously, the rain came close to stopping just as Ebony stepped forward. She looked down at the lectern for what felt like ages, seemingly in an attempt to compose herself. Finally, she looked up and out toward us, and she began to speak.


“I won’t lie; I didn’t want to come today. For me, churches have only three purposes. You get married in them, you’re christened in them, and you attend funerals in them. Sadly, the reason we’re all here today is for the third purpose.


“Sometimes you think your world will stay the way it is, always and forever. You think your family will always be there, intact, with all its members alive and well, and that nothing will happen to cause a sudden upheaval in your ‘perfect’ little world. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way.


“The past six days have been the roughest that we Bennetts have ever had to endure. We are all slowly having to adjust to life without Taylor. I won’t lie; it is hard. For nine months, we watched Taylor slip slowly but surely away from us, knowing that it would eventually happen, but not knowing when exactly he would be taken from us. On the Friday morning just gone, Aidan and I turned twenty without him. You never expect to have to deal with that.


“When I’ve actually been able to get a decent night’s sleep, I’ve dreamed that Taylor is still alive, and when I wake up I think that he’s downstairs in our house talking to Mum about something that, while seeming almost insignificant to most people, to him would have been one of the most important things in the world. I’ve woken up and raced downstairs…and he hasn’t been there. And the reality of what we’re going through would sink in all over again.


“I miss the way he would inch close to me while we were watching a movie in the living room together, and he’d whisper into my ear something that would make me burst into a fit of the giggles and spit orange juice, chocolate milk or vodka all over my jeans and the carpet. And he’d sit there laughing his head off. I loved hearing him laugh – his laugh was so unique. He’d laugh at the smallest things – that was what I loved so much about him. He could find the good in just about any situation; if anyone was stressed out he’d try to find something to make a joke about. It was one of his most endearing qualities.


“Sometimes he’d knock on my bedroom door in the middle of the night while I was in the middle of chatting online or getting in my nightly fix of The Late Show with David Letterman, or my weekly fix of Video Hits Uncut, and if I was chatting I’d tell whoever I was talking to that my brother wanted to talk to me, and that I would be back as soon as I could. Sometimes he just wanted to tell me goodnight and that he loved me, giving me a hug before going back to bed. Sometimes we’d stay awake until sunrise, even if I had to work the next day, talking about anything and everything while endlessly dipping into my junk food stash. Sometimes he’d sneak downstairs and nick the jar of crunchy peanut butter out of the kitchen pantry, or a tub of chocolate Betty Crocker frosting out of the fridge, and come back up to my room carrying it and two teaspoons. And we’d sit there and watch TV while spooning peanut butter or frosting into our mouths. In winter we’d curl up under my thick feather quilt and just lie there in each other’s arms, listening to each other breathe or to each other’s heartbeats, falling asleep with the TV and ceiling light still on. We were best friends in every way – we knew one another inside out, knew how to push the other’s buttons, knew what made the other ‘tick’ so to speak. The three of us were the best of friends, and Aidan and Taylor both often got teased for having a girl for a best friend. But Taylor and I…we had something special. I was the only one in our family to earn a special nickname, even though it had stemmed from his distinct inability to say my name when we were much younger. Nobody but him dared to even say it around me.”


She closed her eyes for a short while and let out a quiet, shaky breath, before opening her mouth to speak again. Not one sound left her mouth. She stood there for about thirty seconds or so before shaking her head. “I…I’m sorry…I can’t do this…” She stepped away and quickly walked back to her seat.


“That poor girl,” Mum said, sounding sympathetic. “I can’t even begin to imagine what she’s going through…”


As the church emptied about twenty or so minutes later, I waited near the doors for Ebony to come outside. She came outside with her mother, one of the last people to leave, clutching her mother’s hand as if she were a little girl once more; tears streamed down her face in rivers, dripping off of her chin and soaking into her collar of her pale blue blouse, mingling with the still-falling rain. I reached out and touched her shoulder, and she looked over at me. “Hey,” I said softly. She nodded. “I’m so sorry, Ebony,” I continued.


Another nod. “Thanks,” she said quietly. She sighed shakily. “I can’t believe how hard this is already; it hasn’t even been one week yet.”


I didn’t say anything, because frankly I had nothing to say. I had never had to deal directly with something like this, and I therefore couldn’t even begin to imagine the hell that Ebony, Aidan and their family was going through right now. I was merely a friend, and could do nothing more than offer my support.


“Look, Ebony…” I reached around to the back of my neck and toyed with the knot in my bandanna. “If…you know, you need someone to talk to, or you want to get out of the house for a little while, give me a ring, okay? I don’t really give the best advice in the world, but I’m willing to listen.”


Ebony nodded a third time. “Thank you.”


Later that week, I entered the cemetery next to St. Andrew’s, sensing a chill in the air almost as soon as I had climbed over the iron gates. And I knew instinctively that it had nothing to do with the outside temperature. After taking a few seconds to orient myself, I set off through the cemetery, past what seemed like interminable rows of gravestones, new and old grouped together.


Tucked away in a far corner of the cemetery was the newest gravestone of the group it was placed in – polished black granite, with the words engraved in gold. I just stared at it for what seemed an eternity, registering what was engraved there, before kneeling on the damp ground and taking a closer look.


Jonathon Taylor Bennett

March 14 1983 – March 10 2003

Beloved brother, son and friend


Rest in peace, sweet angel


I may be looking at you from afar

But I’m always by your side


Seeing the inscription finally cemented the reality of what had happened all of ten days ago, and I choked back a sob. It was all too real now. I’d been hoping every night for a week that I was dreaming, and that when I woke up the world would have returned to what I considered normal. But there would be no waking up from this. This was a nightmare brought to life, and the people who had known and loved Taylor were living it, myself included.


I couldn’t stay there any longer. I got up and walked away, back to the gates and to the world outside. I’d never truly considered how much losing someone that you cared about could hurt. And now that I knew what it felt like, I just wanted it to go away. I wanted to forget. But forgetting was not going to happen any time soon. And I knew that learning to let go was going to be the hardest lesson of my life.

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Very well done Fyre.





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Thanks :)

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