When he found the headstone he was looking for, the path to which he had memorized years prior, Morde sunk down to his knees, dew from the grass seeping through the fabric of his favorite jeans like the beer Luke had spilled on them so long ago. He didn't mind. It was the only greeting he could ever receive from his deceased friend, buried six feet beneath him, incapable of contributing anything to the world except residual energy, which — for all Morde knew — was still encased in the coffin he'd been laid to rest in. Someone had told him once that it could take up to fifty years for a body to decompose if it was buried in a sturdy enough coffin, which meant that Luke had — in all likelihood — not yet touched the grass at all. It was just something Morde liked to believe. Like funerals and cemeteries, senseless metaphors were for the living.

Letting out a shaky breath, Morde sat back on his heels, fishing in his pocket for a new cigarette and a lighter. He couldn't bring himself to look at Luke's headstone, his name, his epitaph, until he had a fresh toke of nicotine to calm him down, still his trembling limbs, shave a few years off of the life he was forced to live without him. Holding the cigarette between his teeth, Morde cupped his left hand around it and brought the lighter up with his right, flicking the wheel, taking comfort in the familiar sizzle of smoldering tobacco and rolling paper. After he pocketed the lighter and took a drag, he looked up and read the inscription, trying to imagine what the other boy would say, had he been there to see him.

Abel, you're a mess.

Yeah, I know.

When did you start smoking?

Long time ago.

Why didn't you share?

Because you're dead.

Exhaling, Morde closed his eyes, as though it would prevent him from indulging the tears he inevitably cried on the rare occasions he visited that spot. "I'm sorry I haven't been here in a while," he found himself saying, before he could stop himself. He knew Luke wasn't listening — not because he was unwilling, but because he was dead, because he couldn't anymore. But for some reason, while he sat there, as close to Luke as he could possibly get, that didn't seem to matter. "It's just— it's hard."

Hey, don't sweat it. Cemeteries are fucking creepy.

"I miss being able to talk to you."

I miss talking to you, too. Being dead sucks.

"I feel so—" Morde stopped, bringing his free hand up to his eyes, squeezing his tear ducts, while the cigarette burned down in the other. "I wish you were here."

I'd say the same, but . . . y'know.

"It's dark."

Everything's going to be fine, okay?


When Morde opened his eyes, he squinted in the sunlight creeping in through the blinds on his bedroom window. He couldn't remember what he'd been dreaming about, but there was something ethereal about the feeling that hung around him, like he was waking up from a deep sleep, coming out of hibernation, despite having been in bed for less than eight hours. Getting out of bed, he was just as unshowered and unshaven as he had been the night before, but as he crossed the room to open up the blinds, trading the warmth of his sheets for the warmth of the sun, he realized he felt better. He felt fine. It was morning.