The Mask Slips

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Mr. Danya
Joined: June 26th, 2011, 8:09 pm

May 1st, 2013, 5:20 pm #1

[[Garrett Wilde: Pregame Start]]

No one who watched Garrett through the funeral would have known just how much pain the service was causing him. He sat in silence as people recounted memories of his late grandfather for hours, smiling occasionally at the appropriate times but otherwise keeping his face a mask of dispassionate observation. He stared as people he'd never met told stories he'd never heard about the man who had been his hero, and he never so much as twitched. When the opportunity to share his own account of Alexander Wilde came, he simply shook his head and indicated with a wave that the well-wishers should move along to his father. The contrast between Matthew, the distraught father and son who had for so long abandoned his family abroad, and Garrett, the collected son and grandson to whom Alexander had been a life-line, could not be starker. To an outsider, it would look like Garrett simply didn't care.

He knew this, of course. He knew from the moment he'd seen Alexander lying rigid in bed, having been drawn to the room by his mother's strangled cries of surprise and denial. He knew as he'd listened to his mother and father make arrangements for the funeral, and deliver the news to all of Alexander's closest friends. He knew this morning as he dressed in his finest suit, selected and tailored during one of his many father-son excursions with Matthew. All this time, he knew that he would never be able to show how he felt. There was nothing that his sadness could do to make Alexander's death more tolerable, and someone had to help everyone stay grounded. Alexander had been his family's rock, the one thing that always drew them back together no matter how horrible things became. No one else was going to fill that role now that he was gone. Garrett could only hope to imitate his success long enough to give him the ceremony he deserved. So he hid his tears and urged his mother to call the doctor and the coroner, so that Alexander could be preserved quickly and with dignity. He consoled his parents while his own grief went unaddressed purely so that the service could be kept on track. He made dozens of phone calls to men and women he would never see again, repeatedly acknowledging that his truest friend was dead, just so that many of them could regretfully state that they lacked the time to pay last respects to their departed colleague. He swallowed his emotions and refused to air the sorrow and regret he felt at the loss of such a great man, because he knew that if he shed a single tear, if he allowed himself a moment of despair, if even one crack were to appear in his facade of acceptance, he might never stop mourning. So he smiled and nodded and comforted everyone who took the time to share their condolences with him, and he helped bear Alexander to his final resting place with honor. Everything was as it should be.

That was half an hour ago. He had asked his departing family to leave him at the grave, and there he remained, staring at a marble slab surrounded by wreathes and bouquets covering a large patch of freshly-deposited dirt. As the sun began to set on the remnants of their afternoon service, he felt the calm that Alexander had taught him to treasure and cultivate begin to crack and peel away as the unacknowledged anguish he had so carefully hidden away surged forth once more. With no one left to comfort, or protect, or hide from, he began to weep, letting the pain flow out of him and into the cold earth. His cheeks began to sting from a combination of the hot tears running down his face and the immense shame he felt at failing to control himself. With blurry eyes and stuttering lips, he pronounced his last respects.

"I'm so, so sorry, taught me to be strong, and calm, and to never let how I feel control me. You taught me to think things through rationally, and I've tried, I really have, I've done everything I can to make this day right. I don't know where to go from here, though. I don't know how I'm supposed to keep doing this without you..."

Wiping the tears from his eyes, he grasped the bouquet that his father had chosen to leave behind, staring at the attached card, knowing the broken inscription that lay inside.

"Sometimes...sometimes I wonder if you're the only reason Dad came back. Things have been so much better between him and mom, but what if that was just you? What if it's just impossible to fall apart when you're around? You made us all feel like there was a chance that this family could actually work, even after everything we've done to each other, but what if it can't?"

"I mean," he choked out, laughing bitterly, "we're already apart, aren't we? I can't even face them. I can't break down like they did. I tried to say it was just so your funeral would get the respect and care it deserves, but maybe I just can't be honest with them anymore. I can't be honest with anyone. Everyone thinks I'm this carefree, intelligent guy, but right now I feel so terrified and small and ignorant, and you were the only person who ever seemed to understand that."

"What kills me, though, is that I can't stop talking to you like you're here. You're not. I know that, because if you were you'd already be lecturing me about the dangers of letting my sadness turn into anger and paranoia...then you'd hug me and tell me how it's not my fault that my emotions are so out of control sometimes, and that it's good to talk about them so they can be put in perspective."

He sighed, looking down at the gloves Alexander had given him just a few short months ago. "Maybe that's what I'm trying to do, just talk and talk like we always used to until things make sense again. It's not working, though. I don't even know if I can go home. I wonder if Mom and Dad even miss me right now, or if they're already fighting again, or that I might come home and Dad will already be gone, and I...I just can't face them without you, Grandpa. I can't face anything. I've failed you."

Garrett Wilde stood over an ornate grave as the sun descended on September 15th, 2010, and for the first time in his life he felt completely, utterly alone.
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Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things and your Living Things! As of 8/14/2017, the Living Queue is Closed, and the Dead Queue is Open!