“It’s impossible that Johnny’s gone.” Maureen shook her head, her voice thick. “I mean, we just left the funeral and I keep expecting him to pop up and yell ‘surprise!’.” Her laugh sounded hollow.
“No shit.” Freddie slumped on the bed and took another drink. “I wonder how many of these people actually knew him.” He gestured to the closed door that muffled the sounds of the people who filled the house he’d shared with Johnny.
Maureen shrugged. “Probably most of them. Johnny was the only person I knew who could go to the corner store for a pack of smokes and come back with three new friends and an invitation to a party.”
“Yeah, good point.”
“They didn’t know him like we did though.” She picked up the framed photo on the bookshelf and held it out to Freddie. “They didn’t know him like this.”
A lump rose in her throat as she smiled at the memory. Maureen, Freddie, and Johnny had all gone to prom together. Freddie and Johnny were already together by then, but no one but Maureen knew. The three of them had been inseparable since elementary school when the boys found her catching tadpoles in the creek and decided she was alright. For a girl. Johnny and Freddie realizing they were gay and into each other should have made Maureen the third wheel, but somehow it had never happened. Maureen’s girlfriends and boyfriends had drifted in and out of the group, but it never shook their trio. They were rock solid.
Her eyes stung as she remembered Johnny’s muffled laugh as he pushed Maureen in the shopping cart. The three of them had been kicked out of prom for wearing giant bear heads they’d found at a flea market. With little else to do in the small town, they’d gone to the grocery store. Freddie had snapped the photo of them and the sight of it never failed to make Maureen smile. Although this time, it hurt. Because there would never be any more grocery store shenanigans. No more getting kicked out of the mall for weird photo shoots. No more drinking until the sun came up or whitewater rafting trips. No more base jumping. No more yelling at Johnny and Freddie to keep it down in their tent because Johnny was a moaner.
No more Johnny.
Her face was wet when she sank on the bed next to Freddie. He put his arm around her as she sobbed into his neck and his tears dripped into her hair.
The three of them had been rock-solid, a three-legged stool that never wobbled. Now that one leg had been ripped away, they were off-balance.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
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I look forward to seeing you next Monday!