“Of course.” He took my hand in his. “I just wonder why the editor didn’t.”
“I think it had something to do with my age. She found the story pretentious because she didn’t believe someone my age could have lived all those things. She thought I got the idea from some Hollywood movie and then reproduced the material poorly because the experiences lived by my protagonist simply didn’t reflect what she understood about chronic depression. At least that’s what she suggested in the letter.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“I know what it’s like to open yourself to someone and to be completely dismissed. That’s how I felt with Shola. And before you ask, the answer is no, we’re not talking about him today. I’m already tired enough as it is. One of these days, though, I promise.”
“I’m going to hold you to that.”
“I know you are. Also, I don’t think I fully get your pain, but I think I’m starting to.”
“The third time was the charm?”
“The third time was the charm.” He smiled that beautiful smile of his. “Plus you owe me a whole month of lunch.”
“I know, but you owe me too. How is that going to work?”
“Seeing as I’m the one who’s dying, I’d say you owe me.”
“Whatever,” I huffed, smiling back at him. “We’ll see about that.”
“Yes, we will.” With his eyes watering either from the sudden wafting of the breeze or the heaviness of our talk, he slowly nodded, smiled even wider, and said: “You know you’re going to be fine, right? One of these days everything is going to work out. I might not be here to see it, but I know it’s all going to work out.”
“Okay,” I said.
It was nearly time for him to take his medication and for me to go. It made me sad because I realised there was nothing left to say, even if there had been more time. In the end, I explained thrice and he still didn’t get it. He tried, though. But I suppose he just couldn’t grasp how someone could be both dead and staying alive at the same time.