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Can reality ever live up to fantasy?

"How is Jon? He never comes out with us anymore," Chloe says.

"Okay," I said. "The old bastard has been tough on him lately."

"Since he's given up on you?" she says gently.

"Yeah. I think so. I feel bad for him... I don't know how to help," I say. "The old bastard told him that he'd never amount to shit. Like me."

"Sometimes the only thing you can do is survive."

"Yeah, but it shouldn't be like that," I say. "I should be able to make it better."

"I know." Chloe says as she gently touches my cheek.

I sigh. "It looks like rain," I say as as I point to the clouds.

"It feels like rain," Chloe responds as the wind starts to kick up. "Let's go!" she says as a cold rain cuts through the summer day. She points to the church and grabs the vodka bottle. We both scamper for the side door. The front doors are too foreboding.

We sneak in the side door as the first crash of thunder hits. We're in the left side of the nave. Chloe shakes herself dry and squeeze the water out of her hair. Her makeup is starting to run too. I stare at her. She rolls her eyes and grabs my hand. We sit down in a pew.

"I don't understand why she has to be such a bitch. I'm not the reason her life is a disaster," she say quietly.

"Yeah. You don't deserve it," I say.

"Neither do you," she replies.

"Eh", I say.

"No seriously. You don't deserve it either."

"I know," I say quietly. "Is she at it again?"

"Yeah. She was on the floor yesterday when I came home," Chole says. A moment passes.

"Do you think he cares?" She gestures up at the crucified Jesus.

"I don't know. It's been a long time since I've been here. Or since he seemed to give a damn," I say.

"Yeah," she says. "Mom hasn't taken us here in years. Funny being Catholic and never going to church."

"Me too. Church doesn't seem like a place that welcomes people like us," I say.

"We're too different... we don't fit in," she says. The thunder booms. Lightning illuminates the stained glass.

A few minutes pass in quiet.

"Is it okay if I pray?" Rain patters hard against the windows.

"Sure," I say, as Chloe bows her head and quietly mouths a prayer. Another minute. Chloe looks up.

"What'd you pray for?" I ask.

"That everything is okay someday," she says. "And that we're always together like this."

I start and look at her. "You know... I love you," she says. A heartbeat. Two heartbeats. Three. Four. Lightening. Further off. The stained glass illuminates over Chloe's face. Her gray eyes stare intensely at me.

"I know. I love you too." I realized.

"You're always so mushy. Next you're going to rush to protect my honor with a broadsword," Chloe prattles.

I roll my eyes. "A broadsword? Where would I even... Why a broadsword?"

Chloe laughs. "The better to defend my honor."

"Couldn't you come up with something lighter? Say a saber? And besides. I think I'm the one staining your honor," I say.

"Well come on. It's stopped raining. You can find a use for that broadsword in the car," Chloe looks at me suggestively.

"Well then. Let's go." We get up and walk towards the side door.

Chloe turns around. She looks up at the bloody crucified Jesus. "Thank you." Then we walk out into the gray left behind by the thunderstorm. It's still drizzling as we get back into her car.

We got in her car. Chloe always keeps the windows down. Even when it's drizzling. The wind and wet blows through my hair...

***

At the cemetery. It's sunny even though it should rain for funerals.

"We gather her to commend our brother to God our father and commit his body to the earth."

Chloe is standing next to me. Jon and Mom across from me. Dad's coworkers behind them. That's really all he had. Everything else was dust to him. Everything is dust.

Chloe is behind me. The only one standing with me.

The priest continues. Jon is crying. Years of frustration, anger pour out of him. Nobody comforts him. Nobody goes to him. Not mom.

I walk around awkwardly to him and put my arm around him. He's hugging me. I'm so sorry Jon.

The priest contin

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