Keeping the Promise
He is dying. It’s so sad. We have
been friends for the last thirty years. None of us ever
betrayed our friendship. We went out for coffee, talked
over the phone, discussed movies, gossiped and enjoyed
each other’s company. Boyfriends and girlfriends came
and go, our friendship stayed.
Sitting beside a half-dead body in
hospital is so boring. But I am here with a mission. We
were in our fifties when I gave him my word that I would
do it. Now it’s time for me to keep my promise.
When I met him he was a prosperous,
handsome and strong man. He watched the world with his
sceptical X-raying attitude. He used to say that only
death fascinated him. Death is something undiscovered,
unknown, unexplored and, to his mind, something very
nice. He would always say that life is meaningless. All
the fuss that people do has no sense. The end is always
the same – death.
He hated many things. For example,
cut flowers. He used to say that flowers cut off their
roots in their bloom symbolize death. It is like
murdering a young girl in her late teens.
He hated crowds of people in big
cities, traffic on the roads and lines in movie theatres
and stores. He said the planet was overpopulated.
He has a wonderful painting in his
living room. It shows a beautiful rural site: a river
and a small house. He would always say that there is a
cemetery behind the forest. It is not in the picture,
because people don’t think about it, but he knows for
sure that the graveyard is there waiting for us.
He hated birthdays because stupid
people celebrate they don’t know what. There is nothing
to celebrate. He said birthdays were countdown to the
end of life. He hated birthday presents, but he liked
mine. In three decades I gave him presents twice.
There was an agreement between us: if
he died first, I would put his middle finger up. He
wanted his dead body to demonstrate to all that life is
nothing: death always wins. My present for his 65th
birthday was a miniature sculpture of his posthumous
message to people. He was happy to get it.
For the next twenty years the hand
with the middle finger up was always with him. He put it
on the table when he was having dinner. It was in his
bedroom at night. He hid it in the drawer when his
grandchildren came to sleep over.
The second present was for his 79th
birthday. I made an album with photo collage – me and
him with the bodies of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie,
Jennifer Aniston, Jude Law and other hot Hollywood
stars. I made dozens of funny pictures with comments,
which I borrowed from popular song lyrics. He said it
was the best present ever.
I feel very sad. I am losing my best
friend. I feel responsible for keeping my promise. I go
to the other side of the bed because that hand is free
of needles and tubes and make his fist. Then I put up
the middle finger. His eyes are closed, but he smiles. I
know he wants to tell me that I am a real friend who
remembers. He just cannot talk. I keep his hand in mine.
This is our farewell hug.
I will come to his funeral. I know
they will put make-up on his face and doll him up. They
will undo the fist too. But there is something else I
I will go to his home and steal the
“F… u” sculpture. I will secretly put it into his coffin
and cover it with flowers. I am an eighty-three years
old respectable lady. No one will suspect me, even if
they find it there. Maybe they will not.
I look at him. In a couple of hours
he will cognize the mystery of death. The dream of his
life will come true.