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CHAPTER NINE
Why Can't We Be Friends

Okay, setting: The diner from before. Scene: Len and Bunni had just scampered back to his place for a little you know what, leaving me and Winter starring awkwardly at each other. And, action!

We glanced left and right and over shoulders. Anything to not have to look directly at each other. I guess we were still at that point where we weren’t just friends, but really can you ever be just friends with a woman whom you’ve had intercourse with. I think not. Finally I caught a good glimpse of her, and was once again hooked. She had to have been the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and she fascinated me ever more now that she was dead. I looked at her eyes, and noticed the pupils weren’t such a sharp black anymore. They had grown grey and clouded over, and something about that just turned me right on, which disturbed me a bit, and why shouldn’t it? I was in love with a dead girl. This is the sort of thing you see on late night horror shows, not in real life.

Suddenly, the window behind me exploded and a swarm of terrorists burst in and started shooting the shit out of everybody. They grabbed me and Winter, and drug us back out through the window, then tied us to some cords and pulled us up into their helicopter with them. They were yelling in some kind of language that I couldn’t understand, and my asking them what they wanted didn’t help at all. Winter decided she had enough so she up and bit one of the guy’s noses off, and then tore through another man’s face. The terrorists struggled with her for awhile, and then finally they tossed her off of the machine. She plummeted until I couldn’t make her out against the ground. It was too much for me to bear, so I jumped.

Okay, obviously that didn’t happen. If I was dead, how could I be writing this book? I just thought it sounded interesting, was all. But I guess, since this is suppose to be about my life, I should go the regular, plain Jane, boring route and… Wait a second. My ex-girlfriend is a zombie. Okay, here’s what really happened.

She noticed me starring at her, and asked if something was the matter. I couldn’t hold it anymore. “I miss you,” I said with real emotion, I though. “I’ve missed you since the day you, well… died.”

She smiled, but I couldn’t tell if it was just being polite or if she actually meant it. Either way, I thought she looked better when she wasn’t smiling, so I tried not to make a habit of causing her to do it. I’m shallow that way. She took my hand, which I had been resting on the table in anticipation of such a moment as this, and spoke softly.

“Tim, there’s something you’ve got to understand. I had a lot of time to think when I was dead. More than you’ll ever imagine, and well…” She stopped. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had trouble finding the right words. Unfortunately my job sort of counted on me having the right words, which is why I was eating cereal for every meal. And I know how I said it was Count Chocula, but really it was just some generic stuff that I put in a Count Chocula box I stole from my mother’s house a few years back. “Look, you just can’t date a dead girl anyways. It’s just not done. And I think it’s illegal too.”

“I don’t think dating is. I mean if I went to some dead girl’s grave and brought a romantic supper, or I told everybody that the dead girl was my girlfriend, or I brought a TV down there and we watched movies late into the night, I don’t think that’s illegal. If I dug one up, sure. If I took one out of the morgue, okay. If I kept one in my closet and had sex with her from time to time, yes. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dating.” By the time I was finished my mild rant I noticed she had taken her hand away, and was starring at mine, as though her touch turned it into some kind of evil hell spawn or some such thing. I was a taken aback.

She started again. “Look, I’m just at a really difficult point in my life, okay? I mean I just came back to life. I don’t know how or why, but suddenly I woke up in a coffin and was totally freaked out. And then the lid comes off and there’s some crazy guy standing over me, well I just passed out.”

“Whoa.” I stopped her right there. “Some crazy guy? What exactly happened to you?”

“I don’t know, okay? I just… I don’t know.” She slumped back in her chair and put her face in her hands. I figured she was going to start crying, and it seems I figured right because that’s what happened. This made me feel awkward.

I had never liked it when a woman was crying. It made me feel uncomfortable, and I just never knew what to do. I slid out of my seat and moved over beside her, then wrapped my arm around her. She took to this like a duck to water, and a second later was weeping openly in my arms. This, of course, attracted much unwanted attention from the people around us, so I stood her up and told her we were going out. The waitress wondered about our bill, but I told her to start a tab for our group as we would be sure to stop by time and time again. I led Winter out the doors and down the road. I remembered seeing a large indoor botanical garden, or something of the sort, when I walked from her house to Len’s yesterday, so we headed over there.

By the time we made our wave over, she had stopped outright crying, but you could tell the emotion was still there. She didn’t even try to move from my arms. We entered the doors, and the sweet aroma of flowers floated through the air around us. It was deliciously warm inside, so jackets were shed and I carried them with us, as we strolled around. We didn’t say anything, taking in everything we could from the place. The sights of beautiful plants and steam rising from the hot springs abound. The sounds of rushing water, and chirping birds off in the distance. The fragrance of a million different species of plants colliding on our nasal pallets. It was pretty wondrous in there. I felt like Alice must have, when she fell down the rabbit hole. Not when she went through the looking glass though. That was another story altogether. At last Winter and I came to rest. We stopped by a babbling brook and sat down on a lovely bench that was positioned there. There was an inscription on it which read, “Property of the Royal Museum of Everything” and this was how I came to learn that the gardens were connected to the Museum, albeit by what way I was not sure. We watched the stream for a while, noticing the little fish swim this way and that in a frantic frenzy that really lead to no gain, when finally Winter looked at me with her dead eyes. I caught this, out of the corner of my eye, so I looked back at her. Her mascara ran, giving her that gothic look I sometimes dreamt about after a long day. She was still, as I have mentioned too often, a lovely thing and everything she did made me swell with longing for her to be mine once again, but I figured this was neither the time nor place for me to bring that up. Fortunately, she did it for me.

“Tim,” she began, “we need to talk.” This was obviously, but at least it was a start, and could get the ball rolling. “I know the way you still look at me. I remember from when we were still together. The passion is still there. The fire has not died down.” This was when I felt an urge to speak up. Maybe tell her that she’d always be the only one for me, but she put a finger to my mouth to silence me. “Please, Tim. Let me finish. Now it’s fairly obvious to tell that you are still very much in love with me, but I just don’t know if I’m in love with you anymore. I mean you’re a great guy when you aren’t sulking and talking about how much you want to die, but this whole experience has made me realize something. I love you Tim, but it’s more like the love you have for a brother, than the love you have for the one person you want to be with for the rest of your life.”

Odd choice of words , I thought. Seeing as how the rest of her life is over.

“Now I don’t want our relationship to end, but I don’t think it can be any more than just close friends.” She looked at me in such a way as to make me understand, but how could I ever? Lost in love was what I felt, as the song goes, when I was with her. But I supposed that for the sake of still seeing her, I’d had better keep that on the down low.

“Of course we can still be friends. In fact, I think it’s a great idea.” The words sounded empty and hollow coming from me, but I had hoped she didn’t notice, since all her words sounded a little hollow now that she was among the ranks of the undead. Which still bothered me, by the way, but considering what talking about it did in the restaurant I thought that it would be best not to bring it up.

She appeared to have accepted my answer, and turned around back to the stream. I sighed, and placed my head on her shoulder, which she made no move to remove. This was all right, I figured. I could just be her friend. As long as she was still in my life, things would be okay, I hoped.