June 8, 10:27 am
It’s strange, really.
For those first three days, I thought I would either die or lose my mind. And I came really close, I think. But then… something happened. I don’t know what it was, but somehow, something changed. I started feeling… I don’t know… hopeful, I guess. Like everything would be okay.
I kind of don’t know what to make of it. I thought maybe I was going into denial, but that’s not really it. I’m very aware that Richard is dead, and what that means. If I let myself dive into that fact, it rips at me like a small, wild animal, chewing it’s way through my chest.
But despite that, there is this strange sense of peace. Of calm. It’s new, and I wish I understood it.
On the way home from the funeral parlor yesterday, Pil told Michelle and I that he thought we were both amazing. That was his word: “amazing.” He said that what we both went through was horrifying, and he didn’t know if he could have endured it with our strength and courage.
That was sweet. Pil’s always sweet. But I looked over at Michelle, and we caught each other’s eyes. I’m glad that Pil was in the back seat and couldn’t see the look we exchanged. We both silently agreed that “strong and courageous” does not at all describe how we’re feeling. Just the opposite, really.
Michelle said that she just wished she’d stop having the nightmares.
She told us one she was having, and it sounded really horrible—like a panic-attack kind of dream. She said that she’d forgotten most of the dreams, but that one was really sticking with her. In her dream, she was tied up in a box. She said it wasn’t a coffin, because it was bigger, and I was in there with her. And worst of all, she said that we were both wet and cold. There was a horrible smell in the air, and whatever smell was in the box with us had stolen our breaths, like we were trying to scream, but neither of us could get enough air.
I asked her if the smell was of blood. I thought maybe she was remembering the smell of Richard’s blood that coated us both that night, but she said that wasn’t it. She said it wasn’t an organic smell, but more like something chemical. Something dark and toxic. I asked her how the dream ended, but she just shivered, and said she didn’t remember. But something told me she absolutely remembered, but she just didn’t want to tell us.
I’ll have to press her on it when we’re alone together. Maybe it’s something she can tell me, but she can’t tell Pil.
Anyway, my dreams have been nowhere near that dark, or that frightening. They’ve been strange, and they’ve been sad sometimes. But just as often, they are kind of beautiful.
Like last night.
Last night I dreamed that Richard and I were at Delicate Arch, in southern Utah. We went there a few years back, and we were both amazed that it had become such a tourist attraction. The crowds there made it hard to really enjoy it. But in the dream, we were there alone. And it was night. All the tourists were long gone, and we had the place all to ourselves. We were laying on the rocks together, but they weren’t hard, like sandstone would be. The ground was soft, like a rolling cotton futon. I was amazed that sandstone could feel so soft.
And then (with the kind of logic that only works in dreams) Richard and I were making love. It was all dreamy and surreal, but quite lovely. At least, at first. In the dream we were both naked, and Richard was on top of me, pressing me into the soft sandstone. I had my legs up and around his back, and he was trying to enter me. I was hungry for him to be inside me, and I was begging him to do it. But he looked afraid, like I wouldn’t be able to take him. Or maybe that he was afraid that he was going to hurt me. I kept trying to assure him that there was no way he could ever do that, and he should just do it. He should just force himself inside me. I said that I needed it, and I wanted it. The word I used (which seems odd) was that I was “inviting” him in. But while I watched, he just grew more frightened, more and more panicked. I reached back, thinking that maybe I could guide his cock into me. But instead, I could feel that he’d lost his erection. I squeezed it, hoping that he’d get hard again, but I could already feel him pulling away.
Richard rolled off me, but he didn’t say a word. He seemed so upset. Almost terrified, I think. But I suddenly felt very calm. Very much at peace. It was like I knew it would all happen when the time was right. Richard just held my hand, and we both looked up at the stars.
And oh my God, the stars! They were amazing! It was like I imagine the stars would look if there was no atmosphere on the earth, or if you were on a space walk. I could see and count every point of light, and the milky way stretched over us both like a silver canopy. I could almost imagine it drifting down to cover us both with a soft blanket of stars.
And all at once I was happy.
I could feel Richard’s hand in mine, and I could see forever, and I couldn’t imagine that anything in the world could ever be wrong again. It was like everything was suddenly in balance, and I couldn’t really tell where I left off and Richard began…
I wish I would have woken up then. Because the end of the dream was just… sad.
I felt Richard moving away from me—rising up. I reached for him, but I was stuck to the ground, and in just seconds he was beyond my grasp. And yet, I could still see his outline against the stars. He was this incredibly dark, inky silhouette that blotted out the stars behind him completely. And then he was moving away, getting smaller against the night sky. I was frozen to the earth, and I couldn’t move. But I had my hand outstretched to the sky, where he was receding. And I started yelling for him to come back. To take my hand…
And that’s when I woke up.
Reading back over that, it sounds both wonderful and horrible. And parts of it were definitely sad and melancholy. But it actually wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I was longing for Richard and he was far away, but he wasn’t actually gone. In fact, it was the closest I’d felt to him since the night he died. I wasn’t sad. In fact, I was happy. Really, really happy.
And the happiness stuck with me after I woke up. Lying in bed, awake but with my eyes still closed, I actually felt… peaceful.
At least, for a few minutes.
The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.
For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.
To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.
If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.
Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.