Requiem

By: Robbie Wethington

But I feel something, when I see you now. I feel something when I see you. The Phoebe Bridger song plays over the radio as Matt pulls into the driveway. Putting the white, 2018 Jeep Wrangler in park, he turns off the ignition, ending the song and the hum of the engine, leaving only silence. He takes a deep breath before opening the driver’s side door and stepping out into the frigid weather, snow crunching beneath his feet on the driveway. Closing the door, he finally exhales and watches as his breath flees from his lips. It has been a harsh winter and it has only served to leave Matt numb.

He follows the path of the driveway up to the stairs, slick with ice. Supporting himself on the black, metal railing, Matt slowly climbs the frozen steps, careful not to slip and hurt himself. He opens the glass storm door and props it open with his left shoulder as he unlocks the front door. Stepping inside, he places his keys on the hook beside him and is greeted with the heavy warmth of the house. He wipes what’s left of the snow on his shoes on the door mat before kicking them off haphazardly in the corner of the entryway, then taking a right into the living room he sheds his gravel colored Carhartt Washed Duck Bartlett jacket and tosses it on the cerulean chesterfield that sits along the back wall. He pauses for just a moment before heading towards the hall stairs.

Matt slowly begins to ascend the steps to the upstairs bedroom, pulling himself up by the bannister, his exhausted body needing every bit of support it could get. He makes it to the landing and takes a left, passing a laundry and guest room, until reaching the solace of his own bedroom at last. Ambling toward the bed positioned in the center of the room, he sits on the edge before allowing himself to fall back, the queen-sized mattress below him ready to take his impact. Matt lays in the darkness of the room and stares at the white ceiling, too afraid of where his mind will take him if he closed his eyes and let it wander.

Matt lifts himself from his resting position and pushes himself off of the bed. Slowly he unbuttons his white dress shirt and tugs the tail from his belted waist, he slips both arms from the sleeves and lets the shirt fall to the floor. Next comes his undershirt, which slips off easily in one fell swoop. He unbuckles his belt and unbuttons his slacks, and with the swoosh of the zipper they easily fall from his hips. He finishes undressing and walks toward the modestly sized on-suite bathroom, turning on the lights as he steps onto the cold, white tiled floor. He opens the glass door of the walk-in shower and twists the handle to turn the water on as hot as he could stand it. As steam comes billowing out, he steps in.

He stands under the shower head, allowing the hot, cascading water to wash away the tension in his shoulders and back. Though it stings at first, he welcomes it. Both hands wipe the water from his face and then run through his hair. He grabs the bottle of bodywash from the niche in the shower’s wall and squeezes the viscous contents directly into his left hand. He lathers the wash over his chest and his arms, eagerly scrubbing the events of the day away from his body, the faint scent of vanilla filling the room and transporting him to another time and place.

He remembered the time four years ago when he and Rachel went to Emma’s, a local bakery, as they often did. It was early spring and still cool out, but once they entered, the heat from the ovens forced Matt to take off his jacket and drape it over his arm. He remembered the smell of dough, cinnamon, and vanilla wafting about the storefront, enticing him and making his mouth water. He knew exactly what Rachel would order, two large chocolate chip cookies, but as usual he hadn’t the slightest idea of what he wanted.

Matt had always suffered from being indecisive, never knowing what to do or choose. It didn’t matter if they were at a restaurant or a bar, or if they were going to the movies, Matt could not be trusted with making a decision on his own. Rachel had already ordered her chocolate chip cookies and found them a small, circular table to sit at the back of the store, so he was left alone to make an impossible decision: what would he order?

“Hi, welcome to Emma’s, how can I help you today?” asked the young man behind the counter. He was new. Matt was there at least once a week, and he hadn’t seen this guy until then.

“About that, I can never decide, so could you just pick something for me?” Matt asked, aware of how odd his request was.

“Uh, sure, I guess. I’m kind of new here, so I haven’t had the chance to try much, but you can never go wrong with a red velvet cupcake, right? Plus, the buttercream frosting is amazing.”

“Actually, that sounds great. I’ll take one.”

“Awesome. That’ll be three dollars,” he’d said to Matt with a smile.

Matt paid the man behind the counter and thanked him for his help before joining Rachel at their table. “That might be the quickest you’ve ever ordered something, and I wasn’t even there to help you. Matty, I’m so proud of you,” Rachel teased him. Matt chuckled, but had taken slight offense.

“Well, you abandoned me, so I asked that guy for help. Luckily for me, he has good taste.”

“You mean the guy that’s staring over here right now?” Matt looked back towards the counter and saw the new guy looking towards their table, though he quickly pretended to be busy once he was caught.

“Yeah him. Guess you’ve got another admirer, Rach. Told you he had good taste.”

“Whatever. Who has time for a boyfriend these days anyway?”

“You do, go ask him for his number,” Matt said as he teasingly poked her arm.

“I’m not going to just go ask some random guy, who’s staring at us by the way, for his number, Matt. Are you crazy?”

“Yes, but he was really nice, you should give him a chance.”

“Matt.”

“Rachel, get your ass over there and ask him out. I mean, seriously, what else do you have going on this weekend?”

“I did start reading this really good …”

Matt cut her off before she could finish, “oh shut up. Go over there and ask him or I’ll ask for you.”

“Fine, but I hate you.” Much to her chagrin, Rachel got up from her seat, walked to the counter, and started talking to the new guy.

Matt watched the exchange between the two. Though he could only see Rachel from behind, he could see the guy smiling, which he assumed meant things were going well. After a couple of minutes, he saw the guy write something down on a business card and slip it across the counter to Rachel, who took it, turned around, and walked back to the table. Her eyes were wide and a there was a smile on her face. “That must have gone well,” Matt said as he grinned.

“For you it did.”

“What do you mean?” Matt had never been more confused.

“This is for you,” Rachel said as she slid the card across the table, “his name is Alex, and he wants you to call him.” The realization of what had happened had sent flames to Matt’s cheeks. As he blushed, he’d looked back at the counter once more to see Alex, who had been eagerly waiting for his response.

And that’s how they met, Matt and Alex. Shortly after their first meeting, they went on their first date, then a second, and a third. They grew close to one another and they fell in love. The easiest decision Matt ever made was to get down on one knee and propose to Alex at the park across the street from Emma’s, the very place they had met just one year prior. A little over a year after that they stood before their closest friends and family and they promised themselves to each other through sickness and health, till death do they part.

The memory fades and Matt reaches for the handle to turn off the water to the shower, which was starting to cool. He pushes open the glass door and grabs a towel from the rack to his right, using it to dry his face and body before stepping out onto the bath math and tying it around his waist. Walking into his bedroom, he turns on the light, leaving a trail of wet footprints in his wake.

He makes his way to the bed and once again takes a seat, this time on the right side, his side of the bed. Several moments pass before Matt releases a heavy sigh and reaches for the photograph sitting on his nightstand, his favorite of him and Alex on their wedding day. He pulls the photo into his chest and embraces it tightly with purpose. Seeing Alex’s face brought everything flooding back, and for the first time since leaving the funeral, Matt allowed himself to feel something, to cry, to grieve.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Robbie Wethington

Full time public relations major at EKU. Part time amateur photographer.