I watched him walk away, his dad hanging onto him, Cora chatting to his mother, and felt my rage disappear into numbness. The punch, the words; they were effectively the door slamming shut between us. Cora was just the push. No matter what happened between him and her, I could have saved him and I, if I had only kept my temper.
He now had his life set, with Cora, with his parents. His parents socialized again, and there was talk of Freddie and Cora renewing their vows. I personally couldn't understand why; they were only just married the first time around! The day for it came and went, and I remained in precisely the same state I had been in since the graveyard. My head whispered, chastising me, mocking me, while my heart felt as if it was trying to get out of my chest most days. I had nightmares, horrific and bloody, and I awoke every time screaming. It made me almost miss Agrona. Agrona gave me reasons, gave me a face to cling onto in the dark. Someone to blame. I was left now completely alone with only myself to blame for the voices and the dreams.
They escalated over time, until I found myself unable to sleep at all. I walked instead; usually to the graveyard. James' grave was a constant; I would run my fingers over the indented words hard enough to erode the stone. I talked to him, about myself, about Freddie, about Agrona. Dead people are fantastic listeners. The only trouble was, after a while, I envied him. James was dead. Nobody would torment him at night. Love dies with you. Anger dissolves. Regrets cease to exist as soon as you do. Each heartbeat felt like one too many in that cold, dark graveyard. It felt scandalous to sit with the dead with life running through me. I was only excess parts now. Agrona didn't need me, Freddie had found a new love and a new life. James had been rotting for decades.
So, one day, I just stopped pretending. It was easy, really. I just jumped over the edge and forgot to exhale.