The day my best friend came back from the dead was around the time my memories started to blur.
We were in high school and stupid. It was easy to feel you were invincible, like the whole world revolved solely around you. Charlie and I always had the itch for adventure. Every school trip ended in us completely straying from the group, often the result of an abandoned building just begging to be explored. Usually, we were careful – or lucky – and nothing ever happened to make us worry. I never would’ve guessed our adventures would be the death of him.
I wish I could recall the day my classmate threw their birthday party at Disneyland, I really do, but it’s.. It’s all a blur. My memory’s retained just enough to piece together what happened that day.
There was only one thing preventing Disneyland from truly being the happiest place on Earth. Rules. That’s what we thought, anyway. Go over there, stay away from here. The countless warning signs only served to raise our restlessness.
“Hey, Henry! Come check this out!” A chain link fence. A blurry, chain link fence was all that stood between us. Behind it was a wide metal ring, circling all around the park. A wide metal ring that was almost certainly off limits. All it took was one brief exchange of mischievous glances for his fate to be sealed. Before I uttered a single word, Charlie had already managed to shimmy his way up one of the metal poles supporting the ring.
“Wait! You up there!” A park worker took no time in expressing his disapproval. Charlie simply flashed a taunting smirk down at him, refusing to move from his place on the platform. The shouts continued. More and more voices joined in to the point where they all just became a buzzing inside my head.
Then I saw what they were pointing at.
I didn’t manage to scream my best friend’s name before the tram that used the metal ring as a track had dragged his lifeless body 50 feet.
Now’s the time when you’d expect me to say something like “The image of my best friend’s emotionless body haunts me every night”, and that’s not entirely false. It used to, I swear, but now all I can recall from that day is the rhythmic ringing inside my ears.
Everyone has their own tragic backstory. Charlie’s death should’ve been something I easily got over, it really should have. Yet, there’s one perturbing flaw that I can’t shake from my mind.
Over a year after his death, Charlie came back to school.
Nothing was wrong that morning. Absolutely nothing. The same people were chatting in the corner of the barren white-walled classroom, all the furniture was in its appropriate places, and only one thing was truly different. The chair next to mine. I never got a good look at the face of the kid who sat next to me. The only feature I remembered was her wavy black hair, but I could still say with the utmost confidence that my best friend, who had died in a tragic train accident nearly a year prior, was the only person who should be sitting there.
Ringing. The same melodic ringing that shrouded my memory of his death was the only sound I heard while sputtering out a string of unintelligible words. In the end, I didn’t question it. Every eye in the class was already staring at me with a questioning look. Shouting in Charlie’s face “You’re supposed to be dead!” wouldn’t exactly make my situation any better.
As shocked as I was back then, I’ve learned to ignore it. My best friend came back from the dead; it’s better to just be grateful and move on. I’ve also accepted something I call ‘Memory Hopping’.
Sure, the name sounds fancy and all, but in reality it’s only a frivolous title I gave to what’s most likely short-term memory loss. At first, it was small details. I’d be at a picnic, about to eat an apple, when suddenly a sandwich was in my hand instead. It only got worse from there on. It’s gotten to the point where all I have to do is blink and I’ll be transported from a family gathering to my secluded bedroom. Maybe this should bother me more than it does, but I can practically be in two places at once. Nobody in their right mind would ever object to that.
Sometimes I wonder if my family and friends are just playing a trick on me. Recently, my sister seems to have grown a twisted sense of humor. One time, I was laying in my bed, peacefully listening to music, when I heard my sister’s increasingly desperate sobs coming from inside the house. When I went to investigate, there she was, sitting at the kitchen table with a bright smile and cheery eyes. I’d write it up as me simply hearing things, but the same thing’s happened at least five times by now.
The memory hopping, the sobbing, even Charlie doesn’t bother me anymore. It hasn’t for a long while, but there’s something I can’t seem to get my mind off of. Every night I have the same dream.
A street. A blurry street. As I begin walking across the midnight colored asphalt, my vision starts to cloud. Then there’s an earsplitting sound. A blaring horn. The last thing I see before the blur causes my vision to go completely white are the glaring headlights of a car.
As soon as my vision loses color, so does my body’s ability to move. The sound of rustling feet causes my eyes to try and open, but I only catch a glimpse of four simple white walls racked with machines before they fall shut again, and all I can hear is a strange, rhythmic ringing from beside me.