BEING DEAD (Chapter 9) Optimist and Realist

“John, do you find it strange that she wasn’t at my funeral?” Said Alan looking up from the page he was working on.

In the corner of Alan’s study John looked up from his newspaper and contorted his mouth quizzically.  “Who?”

“Stella.”

John frowned at him a moment and then turned his eyes toward sympathy.  “Why does it matter?”  I thought you were over her?”

“I am over her.  It’s just that…it’s just that I find it troubling that even in death she didn’t think about me once.”  Said Alan returning to his work.

“You can’t be certain of that, Alan.  Surely she gave you some kind of thought upon your death.”

“No.  I’m quite sure.  She’s one of those people, John, who can delude themselves with other matters and priorities so much that she loses all emotional connections around her.  She probably gave it no thought at all and just went back to her work.”

John was in no mood for a pity party.  “Alan, whatever the hell Estelle does in her life has no effect on you, nor should you allow it to.  She’ll have to deal with that aspect of her personality one day.  And I’ve no doubt that when she does, she will regret what she did to you.”

Alan laughed, “You’re too kind and optimistic.  The universe has no set rules for such things.  There’s no etching in stone that says things have to work out or good must prevail.  It’s all in human choice and circumstance.”

“Now you’re just being a fatalist.”

“That’s what Meagan used to say, but I still hold to it that it’s just realism.  It’s not nihilistic to accept the idea that I could go my entire life without a good thing ever happening.”  Alan put his pen down and folded his hands in front of him.

The newspaper crinkled in John’s hands over the frustration of having to deal with such a cumbersome conversation.  “That sounds awfully nihilistic to me when you don’t consider that you could do exactly the opposite and go without ever having a bad thing happen to you as well.”

‘Ah, but there are rules on that one, John.  Shit happens.  Look at children born with cancer or young ones in Africa dying all the time.  They live a few years with pain and famine and then they die.  Where is the good in that?”

“That alone does not prove that you couldn’t go your whole life without a bad thing ever happening.”

“—but it does prove the opposite.  Meaning that even if you could go your whole life without a bad thing happening, there mustn’t be any rules dictating that either should or should not occur—all happenstance and choice.”

John nodded, “Alright I’ll concede that point.  I can’t beat you at logic, but I still don’t know what this has to do with Estelle.”

“I just find it…difficult knowing that two years spent with a person can be erased so quickly from their mind as if it meant nothing.  And then give no further thought to it.  When I know that there are times I can’t help thinking of her.  Some object or song or TV shows that she liked.  The best I can describe it is an impulsive response.”

“Now THAT I understand.  On her end, I still don’t believe she doesn’t think of you at all.  Two years is a long time.  And she was poised to marry you.  I’d say that you may be so hurt by the situation that you can’t fathom her caring in the slightest.  But I think that’s just you.”

Alan ran his hand through his hair and sat back.  “Maybe you’re right.  I still don’t know why she didn’t show to my funeral.  Hell, even I was there.”

The newspaper folded into John’s lap as he laughed.  “I don’t know why she didn’t show, but it doesn’t matter.  Your family was there and your best friend was there.  And even Meagan made it; and last I heard she was the one that mattered.”

“Why do you have to remind me?”  Asked Alan with an exasperated sigh.  “I’d rather sulk on the last one than remember the one that means the most in my life—especially now that I’m dead and nothing can be done about it.”

John smiled at him.

“Why are you smiling?  What’s that for?”

“As much as your torment amuses me, I will give you some kind of good news.  We have to cancel our Thursday coffee sessions.”

Alan’s expression dripped with sarcastic disbelief.  “Canceling our weekly routine is good news?  John, I’d hate to know what you consider bad news.”

“Instead, I’m having coffee with Meagan.”

Alan’s eyes slowly widened in confusion.   “You’re what?”

“She called me up last night and asked me to meet with her some.  Apparently your death has been particularly hard on her.  Terrible really.  So I offered to meet on Thursdays at the time when you and I USED to meet.  I even said you, somewhere in the afterlife, would be happy to have her take your place.”  Said John still smiling.

“You—but I—What will—John!”  Shouted Alan.  His face was livid.

“What?  I thought you’d be happy to know someone missed you so much!”

“That’s not the point!  You can’t just go gallivanting around with the woman of my dreams while I’m stuck here writing these damn books!  That’s not fair!”

John shrugged, “You probably should have thought of that before you decided to kill yourself.”

Alan shot him a fierce glare.

“Look, I’m just meeting her as a friend to talk to her and help her through this.  If anything I’m doing you a favor by cleaning up after your mess.”

“I’m coming too.”

“What?  You can’t come with us!”

“I can’t.  Dr. Latisde can.”

John laughed loudly, “There’s no way!  She knows you too well, Alan!  She’ll see right through it!”

“No she won’t.  I’ll join you as your psychiatrist friend.  Yes, and then we can help her through it together.”

John’s jaw dropped.  “NO!  There is no way that I’m going to let you pretend to be a doctor and help someone—especially the woman you love who thinks you’re dead!”

“It’ll be fine, John.  I was president of the Drama Club in school.  I’ll sell it.  You just have to keep your mouth shut.”  Said Alan as he sat back down behind his desk.

John stumbled to find words and then sat down in defeat.  “Fine.”

“Fine?”  Asked Alan.

“Yes, Fine.  You need to see her.  I think this would be best for you.”

“I think so too.  And I am a doctor after all.”  Said Alan with a smirk.

“I hate you.”

“Don’t repress it, John.  Let all those feelings out.”

John raised his middle finger to him in response, “She’s going to see right through you, you know?  She’s going to know it’s you and that silly old man disguise isn’t going to work.”

Alan put his feet up on his desk and relaxed in his chair.  “Don’t worry!  I’ve got this.  I’ll put on my best acting and she’ll never recognize me.”

“And if she does?”

“Trust me, John, she won’t.”

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