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"But then with horror and self-loathing I realized that I hadn’t said a single thing to him, like “Hi” or “Thank You” or “I Love You."

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02 – Fantasy

I couldn’t remember ever having seen him in a suit. I wouldn’t have thought that there would be any way to improve him, but dressed formally, looking like a model for Armani, right down to the tousled blond hair and perfectly chiseled features, it seemed as if I’d been wrong about that. Seeing his face again after six or more months, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d been wrong about something else: my mom wasn’t the only person left who knew the sound of my voice in sentences.

The first time I saw Grayson Gregory he was splattered with grime, looking tired and cross as he got out of a mud drenched jeep and approached the place that would be home to everyone on the Gregory Geologic Resources project management team (and their guests) for the following five weeks: a huge luxury rental on the outskirts of Reykjavik, Iceland. Accompanying my geology professor grandpa on a consulting job, I was thrilled to have such an exotic and Monica-free adventure for the first time in my life. Somehow he convinced her to let me fly in a plane (something I never expected to do unless it was in secret) and spend half my summer in a foreign country—without her. But the real surprise and adventure was the one that my heart experienced—with Gray as the tour guide.

I saw him the moment he stepped into the crowded funeral home’s main lobby. Looking from face to face, he caught me staring and came right up. When he was a step away Gray paused and looked me over without comment. Next thing I knew, I had been abruptly gathered into a tight hug that lasted for a wonderfully long time. When he finally released me, he examined me some more with that same old inscrutable expression which had confounded me many times over the summer and for months afterwards. Then his hands came up to cradle my face, fingertips pressing lightly behind my ears and thumbs brushing back and forth to wipe away some of my tears. His probing eyes bore into mine for longer than I could stand, and I had to look down. After what seemed like an eternity, as I tried to tell myself to get back to business and stop wasting time being ridiculous, he leaned in and kissed me on the forehead. Very softly, he whispered, “I’m so sorry.”

Then he hugged me one more time, kissed me on the top of my head, and walked away.

Was I having a grief-induced delusion? Some coping strategy my mind had fabricated to make me feel better? Well, it was working. But then with horror and self-loathing I realized that I hadn’t said a single thing to him, like “Hi” or “Thank you” or “I love you.”


I tried to soothe myself with reason and logic. Despite the endless fantasies that I’d engaged in since we’d met, always with him in the starring role, I had been slowly facing up to reality. There were some things that placed me far, far outside his league—things like the fact that I wasn’t gorgeous, or cool, or an adult. Over time, and especially recently, I had come to terms with this reality. I thought I had finally moved past it.

So although this brief encounter at the funeral home had felt sublime—and I’d take an amazing reality over an amazing fantasy any day—it would soon result in a terribly painful mental and emotional setback for me which set in during the car ride home from the funeral with a vengeance.

In the hours, days and weeks to follow my mind seemed to be locked on a channel I couldn’t change or switch off and I imagined it must be exactly how a junkie feels. Like the rush of the most pleasurable high imaginable, from the most illicit drug available, thinking about that hug and especially the way Gray’s hands and lips had felt on my face was completely irresistible. It would start before I could stop myself, taking me by surprise and debilitating me, stringing out into various memories or fantasies, each with their specific appeal. Then just like with an addictive substance, following my high was a hideous torturous crash. It was a constant reminder of the funeral and my holes. It was also a repetitive and depressing confrontation with the truth that Gray had never belonged to me and he never would, and that two of the most important men in my short life were now out of it forever.

Sometimes the confusion and hurt would morph into anger.  Why did he do that to me?  Did he really come all the way over from school in England to hug me and say “sorry?”  Why didn’t he just stay where he was and leave me alone?

Fantasy answer: Our time together in Iceland had bonded us in an eternal way.

Real answer: Gray’s dad made him come to the funeral, and he was sorry for me because my grandpa died—nothing more.

Then I would crash.  Again. 


Musical inspiration for this chapter:

‘I’m Not Over’
by Carolina Liar

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1 Comment (Leave a comment »)

  1. I’m finding that I’m reading faster and faster! Good stuff! :)

    Comment by Cristy — July 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm

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