Whisper 1.30

I’ve always loved birthday parties. We mark our years by them.

But this party leaves me shredded to the core.

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In addition to the party crashers, everyone I invited came: the Nixes, Faith and Felicity, Frank, Arkvoodle, and, of course, Chauncey. This is Chauncey’s last party.

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I knew he was getting old. He’s a little older than me, and he’d been complaining lately of feeling tired and not having much energy. But we had no idea that tonight, his time was up.

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Mike Nix, who’s known him even longer than I have, looked like his heart would break.

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Faith and Felicity tried to comfort Marigold, who had never witnessed a passing before, but they were so sad themselves, they hardly knew what to say.

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Poor Mara, with her gentle heart, looked like the world was ending.

Hetal, who never could stand her mom’s boyfriend, was untouched.

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While Annie wept, and Frank and Arkvoodle looked on with remorse, Chauncey smiled. He looked more at peace than I’d ever seen him in life.

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And that’s when I lost it. Chauncey. My oldest friend! My first crush. My first best friend. My first roommate. Chauncey. What will we do without you?

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Was it the grief, the overwhelming emotions? Something touches my friends and transforms them.

Annie looks like she’s been zombified.

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And Frank! I have never seen him like this! If it weren’t for his same golden eyes, I wouldn’t recognize him with what long, pointy ears he has, what long pointy fingernails, what long pointy teeth!

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And the strange robed figure in black curdles my stomach and sends chills up my spine. All the grief is shocked out of me for that brief moment.

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Marigold soldiers on and prepares to make her wish and blow out the candles, and I let out what is meant to be a cheer, but what becomes the longest, saddest, yowling keen. It’s a broken heart keening, a fear-inspired keening, the keen of one who sees her place in the line, with all her closest friends standing before her, knowing that, one by one, there is a single direction in which we head. It’s the keen of a mother who doesn’t want to leave her child. Oh, you in the black robe! Listen well! And give me time! And let my friends linger, too.

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