String Vests Are The New Black

by Emma J. Lannie

When your boyfriend dies you will lean against the wall, unable to support your own weight. After a while, you will slip to the floor and fold in on yourself, as though letting your body keep a body shape is too much now.

You will be aware of a noise, a low guttural moan that months later you will realise was coming from you, from somewhere inside that never learned to speak.

You will shut out everyone you know except his best friend, and you will ask this friend to tell you, over and over, things your boyfriend said about you, how he felt. Later, you will find yourself in bed with this friend, with the both of you trying desperately to reach inside the other, trying to snatch out fragments of who he was.

You will never talk about this.

At the funeral, all the seats will be taken by people he worked with. You won’t recognise any of them. He didn’t socialize with people from work. They are all strangers. You will stand at the back of the crematorium next to the tape deck. You will be standing with his friends, with people who loved him, wondering why these strangers from his workplace have taken up all the seats.

None of you will be wearing black. As previously agreed. In the seats, the people from the place where he worked will have got it all wrong, they will be cloaked in it. One of his friends will be wearing shorts and a string vest. He will do this out of love for your boyfriend, but none of the people in black will understand this. They will tut and mutter about disrespect.

The man will fumble with the cassette. The song is a song that meant a lot. You will cry uncontrollably for the next hour, even when the funeral is over, even when you’re under a tree in the Peace Garden feeling a lack of everything.

It will pass.

For the first year you will feel as though you are walking through treacle. You will kiss a lot of boys. Some of them will fall in love with your sadness. You will be indifferent.

After a few years, you will meet someone else. You will love him in a way you never could before. You will love him knowing that life goes on, no matter what. And all that fear will be gone.

Emma J. Lannie is a pop-loving librarian who blogs here, although lately, she has been spending a lot of her time at – the interactive library novel.

  1. #1 by Rosie Sandler on May 30, 2008 - 9:52 pm

    I loved this, Emma. I know what you mean about that strange, guttural moan…
    You manage to deal with all those awful feelings without crossing the line into unreadably sentimental – your simplicity of style is great.
    A brave piece. And a lovely ending.

  2. #2 by emma on June 8, 2008 - 2:51 pm

    Thanks for your kind words Rosie. xx

  3. #3 by Biff on June 9, 2008 - 7:55 am

    Beyyooooty. Lovely.
    Just lovely.

  4. #4 by Gordon Christie on June 18, 2008 - 2:06 pm

    I was checking to see if my poor effort had been “published” when I saw yours. Having lost a brother when I was 16 (40 years ago now) and he was 20 it just brought back so many memories. The pain goes for the most part but not the memories. Thank you for bringing some of those good memories of my brother back to me.
    Gordon Christie

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