We’re pretty and we’re sick.
We’re young and we’re bored.
”I think everyone can benefit from being an *******.” I say as I tap the end of my cigarette stick with the tips of my fingers. I proceed to take another inhale of bliss and exhale toxin, a veil of white shrouding the spaces in between us.
Leon takes the cigarette from my lips and takes a puff instead, which brings a scowl to my face. I let him keep the last one anyway, because he probably needs it more than I do. Not to mention he can’t just walk into a liquor store and buy a pack for himself, because corpses can’t dawdle back and forth in this city. Or anywhere, for that matter. Mental note: retrieve another pack tomorrow. I’m gonna need it.
"An *******? You’re funny as hell, Derek." Leon scoffs in disbelief and hurls the cigarette stub at my face, immediately causing me to retract. “I see the guilt in your face when you **** the trail of ants at your kitchen counter. *******.”
I make a face and protest instead. “Uh, no **** — those are insects. They didn’t hurt me. I just gotta **** them, because… wait a minute, why the **** am I justifying my actions to you? *******, *******.”
Leon’s laugh is surprisingly rich and full of splendor at that moment, and I can’t help but to laugh along. We’ve always been like this. We met in kindergarten and we both liked Pokemon a whole lot. We used to bring our cards to school, then that switched up to becoming fanboys of Digimon, then Beyblade, all the way to Transformers — so on, so forth. The point is, we were best friends mainly because of these kiddish cartoons (which I still watch, by the way), and we were happy. I mean, yeah, we would occasionally flock over to the girls during lunch break and compete, but it was mostly just about us. You and I, Leon and ‘Rek, Sam and Bumblebee — we were two peas in a pod.
We fought, too. We often got into fist fights by the lake after school when we liked the same girl, and at other times it was based on masculinity and a game of 'who is the real man' — which made absolutely no ******* sense, but it worked. After we duked it out, we bought some ice cream at seven-eleven and everything was okay. I guess you could say he was my best friend. He didn’t get me at all, but at the same time… he did. He understood me better than anyone else, even though we never really talked about sentimental *******. You don’t really need any of that with someone like Leon. He gets it without an explanation. He just knows.
Then he moved to Seoul during sophomore year.
I was a little upset, yeah. Just because I didn’t have anyone else to pick on and argue with over the last burger on the table. We had Kakao and Facebook though, so I wasn’t too sad about it. Said he would come back anyway, and he promised to come back strong. He was taking wrestling over there, so I took boxing. "I’ll beat you one day!" And yeah, that sounds like a threat, but to me, it was just another way of saying, "I’ll see you soon, and you better be strong by the time I come back!" I knew this was good for him.
At least, I thought it was.
When you get a phone call at four in the morning about blahblahblah — he died — blahblahblah, you don’t really know how to react at that moment. I thought it was just a prank call at first, but I kept listening. I didn’t cry that night. I didn’t really cry after it, either. I never did. I was a little angry at him, actually. Wanted to sock the dude in the face and duke it out by the lake again. But I knew that wouldn’t happen, so I just let it go. The thing is though, I can’t let it go. When someone tells you that your own best friend commits suicide, you begin to question a lot of **** going on in this world.
He was the strongest guy I knew, the one person I could fight one-on-one without feeling bad about it. He knew how to take my punches and I sure as hell took his. He was the only one who could eat ten burgers per seating with me, instead of criticizing me. And best of all, we danced. Together.
That same guy was the one who struggled with depression, the one who got bullied every ******* day at his new school in Korea, and the only things he could tell me through messages were ******* along the lines of, "It’s great over here," and “I’m having fun,” which also led to, “I wish you were here with me.”
Maybe he didn’t consider me as much of a best friend, because he did a great job at hiding it from me. Out of everyone I know, I didn’t expect him to take his own life. The fact he did do it… meant something. It meant he really wanted to die. Who am I to determine that for him, though? I don’t know.
I just kind of miss the guy.
I don’t smoke because I want to. I smoke because I think of him with every rainfall that comes. I think of him at the depths of the night when I gaze out at the city lights, because we used to take photos of them all the time. Thinking we were fancy hipsters and ****. Life was fun, and I felt alive — now I feel as if I’ve grown a tad dull.
I thought I would have forgotten by now, but apparently not. I don’t know, bro. I miss you. More than I… ever expected myself to. You’re the older brother I never had.
I step onto the cancer stick on the concrete ground, reducing it to ash and dust. I look out one more time before walking back inside.
"I’ll see you soon, Leon."