“They’re out there,” he told me. “Fields and fields of them. As far as the eye can see.” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. He pointed to the horizon, and I looked, but all I could see was the wilted stalks of wheat, the result of the weeks of the neglect the farm had suffered ever since Jimmy’s dad died. I remembered just a few weeks ago all Jimmy had seemed to care about was the farm. He would water the crops, till the soil, and take care of the pests. I’m sure there were a thousand other things Jimmy did that I didn’t know about but, hey, I’m no farmer.
Ever since his dad’s death though, it was like Jimmy was different. He’d been surrounded by family these past few weeks, but none of them had cared enough to stick around long after the funeral. So there I was, and there I had been for two weeks. I made sure Jimmy took care of himself, if not the farm. I know they say that grief takes many forms, but I started to worry. Jimmy started talking to himself, mentioning things that no one else sees.
Jimmy and I continued wandering around the fields, reminiscing about the times when we were younger. We’d used to wander around the fields, climbing the sparse trees the lined the edges of the farm, looking at the animals and laughing at how silly they were sometimes. Jimmy stared out at the cliff and I mimicked him instinctively. I saw the clear blue water and the pristine sky. It had a always been a perfect view, one that you only appreciated the older you got. That view became especially precious to me when I finally moved to the city.
Suddenly, as if he’d been struck by a cattle prod, Jimmy took off running into the field. “C’mon Joseph!” he said. “Let’s go catch ‘em!” reluctantly I chased after him, following him on this wild goose chase. As we weaved through the wilted wheat, hordes of disturbed locusts shot into the sky like stray bullets; flying every direction and ricocheting off each other. Could this be the “they” Jimmy was talking about? But Jimmy didn’t stop, no, in fact he seemed to be running faster, as if whatever he was chasing was getting away. Jimmy, wearing his bright blue overalls, seemed to get further and further away from me as I struggled to keep up. Soon Jimmy was gone. And I was out of breath, unable to tell my legs to push forward, to keep chasing him. I should’ve known better. I’d been chasing Jimmy my whole life and could never seem to catch him, though a few other people had.
I took a deep breath and put myself together. “Jimmy!” I yelled. “Jimmy! Where are you?” No answer. Something deep in my gut began to turn. “Jimmy!” I proclaimed to an empty sky. Still no answer. I began to run once more. Quickly I found myself on the edge of a cliff. The cliff that overlooked Teardrop Lake. The most horrific of thoughts crossed my mind. No. This accident doesn’t just happen. This is unreal.
Calm. That’s what I needed right now. Calm. It’s probably me just fearing the worst. Jimmy knows this place. This can’t have happened. To calm my nerves, I slowly looked over the edge, hoping to see only the jagged rocks below that led to the clear blue water. But below I saw my most horrible nightmare made real. There lay Jimmy, mangled and broken like a rag doll forgotten by an angry child. Jimmy’s blood was splattered across the rocks and dyeing the water a horrific shade of pink.
Tears began to stream down my face. How could I have let this happen? I should have stopped him. I forced my eyes open for the briefest of moments and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a note, slightly crumpled and strewn near the edge of the cliff. I opened it as tears slowly dripped on the few words scrawled on the thick brown paper. It simply said: “Joseph, thank you for loving me.”
My biggest regret? Not telling him that I did.