Editorâ€™s note: This is the eighth installment of the fiction story â€œInside the Hollow Sun,â€ which will run in Verve throughout the rest of the semester.
I remember the rest of the trip as a blur. Somewhere between the cemetery and the Boise airport, we left Ketchum. We boarded a plane home and left without seeing anything else in Idaho.
I kept Dr. Evan Wendellâ€™s card in my pocket. Something about him had struck me, and our
encounter occupied my thoughts as we flew on the plane. The card didnâ€™t say much. It had his name and an email address to reach him at. It didnâ€™t indicate the kind of doctor he was.
Officer Burling dropped us off at my apartment after we got back to the city. He kissed Elizabethâ€™s hand good-bye and gave me a gruff â€œGood luck, sonâ€ before he left to his normal life. Elizabeth plopped down on the couch, and I grabbed a bottle of wine from the kitchen.
â€œAll right, whatâ€™s going on?â€ Elizabeth asked.
I popped the cork out and took a long swig from the merlot. â€œWhat?â€ I replied after polishing off a quarter of the bottle.
â€œOne minute, weâ€™re standing around watching you cry in the cemetery. Next thing you know, youâ€™re having a conversation with some random guy who disappears when we come to check on you.â€
â€œSo then youâ€™re completely silent for the rest of the trip. Whatâ€™s going on, Harrison?â€ I drank from the bottle again and watched Elizabeth. She kept her face turned in my direction so that I could see her dull gray eyes clearly.
Finally I sighed. â€œHis name was Dr. Wendell. He gave me his card.â€
â€œAnd?â€ Elizabeth insisted.
â€œAnd thatâ€™s it. Then he left.â€
â€œHe didnâ€™t say anything?â€
â€œNope. Just told me to send him a message.â€
â€œAre you going to?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know yet.â€ Elizabeth stopped asking questions, and I went back to the wine.
â€œHarrison, Iâ€™m tired. Take me home before you get drunk.â€
â€œSure,â€ I said before taking one more chug.
I walked Elizabeth home. She didnâ€™t speak to me, and she slammed her door once she knew she was home. I couldnâ€™t get her to understand I wasnâ€™t lying. People were all over the streets, walking into shops and eating at restaurants. They all seemed to avoid me as I walked back home.
I caught a look of my face in the reflection of a shop mirror: overgrown stubble, unkempt brown hair, and saggy eyes. I couldnâ€™t remember my face having as many wrinkles the last time Iâ€™d studied it.
I moved on and felt the bandage on my left wrist loosen. Instead of tightening it, I pulled it off and examined the rows of scars and scabs. They itched, but I resisted the urge to touch them more. I had a promise to keep with Dr. Clermont. Computers were perched in a coffee shop I was passing, and I decided to go inside. I took out Dr. Evan Wendellâ€™s card and started typing him an email:
My name is Harrison Knapp-Hem. We met at the grave. What did you really want to talk about?
Fiction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at email@example.com.