Almost There

Brenner R

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My world was made up of words. Words were the paint, and sentences were the brushstrokes that painted the picture of my reality. Books, poetry, and conversation were digested in my mind like food—being broken down into their linguistic subunits before being released into my bloodstream, giving me vitality and sustenance. For the past 5 years, my universe weaved by the stringing together of letters, syllables, words, and sentences has been reduced to just 2 words: ALMOST THERE. It’s all I hear and see—like a soundtrack from hell that won’t stop playing on repeat. I open A Tale of Two Cities, and it is not “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” but “Al mos tth erea lm ostth, er eal mos tther ea lmost…” When my alarm clock radio wakes me up in the morning, it screams in a voice so loud it could break the sound barrier “ALMOST THERE!” As I walk down streets of the crowded city, people talk in an indistinct chatter more chilling than a horror movie score– “almosttherealmosttherealmosttherealmosttherealmostthere.” I want to yell, cry, scream. I run down the sidewalks, crashing into strangers and rabidly asking them questions. “You there! What day is it today?” “Almost there.” “Sir, where can I find the nearest pharmacy?” “Almost there.” “Can you recite the preamble to the United States Constitution?” “Almost there.” “Please talk to me! Please! Can’t you just say anything to me other than almost there?!” “ALMOST THERE.” My sanity is slipping away, so is my life. Even my own thoughts have been breached, and as I try to think in my head, thoughts won’t come– all I can hear is a ghost whispering “a l m o s t t h e r e.” I know this ghost; he’s been haunting me for 5 years–a skeleton in my closet that is pleading to be liberated. Running out to my car door, my pulse erratic, I start the ignition. I knew what I must do. It’s 20-minute drive to the cemetery, but I made it in 5. I’d always thought about coming back here, but never got around to it. It hurt too much. Upon arriving, I exited the car door. Using my flashlight, I shone my beam in the night air, scanning for a particular headstone. My brain was television static as I made my way amongst grass and cement. Suddenly I was awakened from my trance, my stomach falling out of my mouth as I read the closest grave to my feet. Dylan James Keenan, February 28th 2005-July 7th 2013. Acid rain began to steadily to fall from the polluted clouds of my eyes. A rock fell into the pit of my stomach as the words on the headstone changed to– ALMOST THERE The final strands of glue that had been holding me together for the past 5 years broke. I fell to the ground, convulsing and on the verge of throwing up, screaming “I’M SORRY! I DIDN’T MEAN IT, IT WAS JUST A STUPID TEXT, HOW DID I KNOW HE WAS GOING TO RUN OUT IN FRONT OF ME?!” Sobbing in violent spasms, I clutched the headstone for comfort. My tears soaked into the grass above his casket like a gift for Dylan. I took out my phone, and scrolled through my old messages– I never deleted them. The date of 6/7/2013 appeared on the left of the screen, and I had reached the text message that changed my life and ended Dylan Ride’s, ALMOST THERE before obliterating my phone to smithereens against his headstone.