Please tell me you’re not working tonight
The car hums, the radio is low. Most everyone in the car is asleep. I’m glad for it. As I thumb through messages, hers hits the hardest.
Maybe because it comes closest to home. I didn’t think anything of it at first but when others didn’t know where I was, it suddenly rings a lot more violently in my conscience. And I feel guilty because though I didn’t really know her, the one who so brutally lost her life, I feel the loss ring hollowly through me. And I guiltily wonder if it matters because it could have been me.
I found out about the death during the party when my phone lit up with a flurry of messages as things unfolded. But I said nothing then, only tucked my phone away to look through it and process it all later.
Here in the car on the way back from the party, I read them all again and again. Luckily, it is a long ride home.
The messages keep coming, some checking on me, some extending condolences. And I thumb through them mindlessly. I won’t comprehend them until later, if ever I truly will.
Later tonight, I will lay my head on the pillow and quietly tell him what happened. He won’t know what to say, as if anyone could, and so he’ll just play a song for me. He says it will cheer me up but it’s such a slow, sad song, I will not feel better. I don’t tell him this, I just let him wrap my arms around me and let that be enough. He won’t understand, no one will. I don’t ever fully understand it myself.
But now in the quiet darkness of the car, as the messages slow down and the low murmur of the radio rises, I just lean my head back against the seat and take a deep breath. I know the next few days will be very long for all of us, especially the ones close to her. There will be dark drapes and makeshift memorials and candlelight vigils and an outpouring of support from communities across the country.
That will wait. For now, that all will wait.
I look ahead down the road. A red pallor is cast over the landscape ahead and I look up. Even the moon, almost full, hangs low in the night sky tonight, crystal clear and blood-red.