Friday, January 9, 2015

My Friend Kyle

It had been three years since I saw Kyle. Although pictures of him were sparse in Facebook, in my memory he was that shy 11-year old boy. We were close, almost like brothers. My mother didn’t like him, and she told me never to go to his place. Yet she tolerated him out of pity--Kyle was the youngest of five children, all raised by a single mother.

I remember one day when he came over at my place with a large sweater that was an old hand-me-down. His sweater had two small holes on the back and one near the collar. When he took it off, the holes on the back stretched and then merged into a larger one. I felt bad and offered one of my sweaters. I even picked my favorite sweater--a plain green sweater with a decal of the Philadelphia Eagles at the front. He turned down the offer, but I insisted, told him it was cold outside and I didn’t want him to get sick. Eventually, he caved and took it.

Last night, in my dream, he was wearing that sweater. There was something odd by the way he stood at the far edge of unreality. I remembered approaching him slowly like a predator mindful of his steps. The scene turned into a green pasture, grass curling beneath my feet and the mountains stretched before the edge of the cliff. Kyle had his back towards me, and the sun blazed around his head like a halo.

He turned just before I called out his name. Kyle’s face was blurred, which was not unusual in the realm of dreams. He reached out his hand and took mine. He pulled me towards the edge, and we fell towards the jagged rocks below. Then we hovered, floated, zipped up through the air and pierced the clouds above. We zoomed through the sky like Superman, a game we used to play back then. And as we ascended higher and higher, Kyle let go of my hand. I saw him fall beneath me while I continued my ascent.

Usually, dreams fade after an hour or so. This, however, persisted in my memory. I went online to find out how Kyle was doing. The last time I had chatted online with him was four months ago. I opened a conversation through Facebook and said “hello.” After waiting for half an hour, he didn’t reply. I figured that one of his brothers might be hogging the only computer they had owned.

And it happened again--a vivid, unforgettable dream. This time Kyle donned a knight’s armor with a sword on one hand and a shield on the other. I wore a wizard’s robe and carried a gnarled cane that stood two inches taller than me. It was one of our games, his favorite roleplays. In this dream, we entered a cave that was devoid of any light. As the wizard of this duo, I held up a fireball, serving as our lantern as we weaved through the tunnels.

We stepped into a large cavern where a dragon slept across a narrow, stone bridge. Beneath the stone bridge was lava, which illuminated the whole cavern, giving it a sense of menace and doom. Kyle led the way, crossing the bridge while I was in tow. Before I could utter a word of caution, Kyle had already flung himself towards the dragon, sword and shield drawn to his side. His sword plunged deep in the dragon’s neck, and Kyle was thrown backwards, falling off the edge. I woke up before I could hear his screams.

It was 3:00 AM. Fortunately, it was a Saturday. I went back online to see if Kyle had replied. Nothing. I went back to bed and forced myself to sleep.

I woke up at 11:00 AM, ate breakfast alone and returned to my room to play videogames. After a two hour binge on World of Warcraft, I quickly checked Facebook--Kyle had replied.

“This is his brother. Im sorry to bring you bad news Kyle died two days ago. are you one of his friends?”

I felt the blood on my face rush down to my legs. I wanted to reply, but my fingers froze above the keyboard. I stepped out of my room and then went back inside again. It had to be a joke, a cruel prank that his brothers would pull on him. I remember that day when Kyle came over, his cheeks damp with tears. I snuck him through our living room, making sure my mother didn’t see him. We hid in my room and sat on the floor. He quaked as he condemned his brothers under his breath, how he wanted all of them dead, including his mother.

I wanted to ask his brother how Kyle died, but the image of my best friend--shaking and crying, his arms wrapped around his legs--prevented me to do so.

I tried to forget, tried to keep him out of my mind by binging on videogames. I was afraid of sleep that night so I brewed two cups of coffee, which I had never drank in my whole life until now. It only took one cup to make me hate it even more. I lasted until 5:00 AM.

Back in dreamland, Kyle was looking out the window of a treehouse. It was the treehouse we had discovered one summer day. I stood next to Kyle and said, “what happened?”

Kyle turned to me and smiled. He reached for my hand, pulled me in closer to hug me tight.

“It’s about to fall apart,” Kyle said, whispering it to my ear. The treehouse crumbled around us, and we were floating in the sky.

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