"just to everyone else. i am completely ignorant of the impressions i make, but i know quite well how i make them," the other responded without eye contact hoping it would emphasize the point.
some rocks skittered down a hill, displaced by a purposeful shoe. they clacked about. some reached the bottom, others did not have the inertia.
"you and the rocks, every time. you're like a kid; it's always the same. it's like this indifferent, pensive stance, and it is totally transparent," said one to the other.
"the intentions of my action are rigorously considered before execution. don't worry, i know what i am doing," said the other sliding rocks into a small pile between his feet smirking slightly.
"i can never tell when you're joking. i think a lot of people have this problem with you," one said to say something. it may or may not have been true, but words don't care.
"just assume i am. joking. it's a lot easier when everything's funny," the other made eye contact. there was no trace of a smirk. deadpan. he thought it'd be pretty funny.
"it was a nice service anyway. everyone kept it together pretty well, didn't have to do many 'there, there's" said one, relieved to be candid. dealing with intense emotions, he always froze his face into pained empathy, and he would quietly hope that would be enough. "and all those chairs. i had no idea he knew so many people. but maybe he didn't. maybe a lot was like Familial Obligation. I swear to god i saw some asshole hitting on his cousin. that was fucked." a few more rocks were urged out of place.
"i had a eulogy planned. i wasn't gonna say what i said. i didn't want to be looking at a piece of paper with him behind me, like the words wouldn't just come and i needed some cheat sheet. so i worked on it for two days, in my head. almost nonstop. i guess that's almost the same thing i was trying to avoid, but no one would know." the other was shifting from his heels to the balls of his feet in the rhythm of his words. "then i got up there and felt like a dick. like i was trying to showcase some prowess in wrenching emotional oratory, like his death served as inspiration. like what i had to say was some great abstract monument to him. so instead i just let that tripe come out; i got anxious, and it just happened."
"you're just some guy to most of those people. i don't think anyone was expecting much, besides you said the things people are supposed to say. you fulfilled, like, the base requirements so some other schlubb wouldn't have to. 'i'm glad so many people made it to honor--" one is interrupted by the other
"i almost said "i'm glad he's dead' to like break the tension."
"he would've gotten a kick out of that."
"i'd've been crucified"
"he would've got a kick out of that too. you were right by the exit though. i think you would have made it out."
"then i would have missed out on the catering. to skip out on that spread would have been a tragedy."
one made a conscious decision not to laugh, despite his fondness for bad jokes, and the fact that, in many ways, that was a bad joke.
"i don't think we're mourning right. i don't think this is what people do, to mourn," one wasn't sure if he believed that. his words revealed no trace of uncertainty.
"mourning the dead is self-pity. I am sure he wouldn't/can't care, and it's supposed to be about him. It was his death." they stared at a horizon side by side, silent for a moment.
"this seems contrived," one said eyes still fixed. "it's like all these things built into my brain about what is and is not right. and this doesn't feel right, but i know there's no 'right' action or i think i do. but, this, on a hill. two people talking about the death of a friend..."
"making sad jokes, staring at the horizon, trying to come to terms with the impotence of the situation..." instead of continuing they both let the issue drop. something profane about that train of thought.
it bounced back
"a string quartet," the other suggested.
"playing something in a minor chord and the sun starts to set."
"oh shut the fuck up."
"and maybe a flock of birds or something migrating, and we turn our heads slowly to watch them go by, turning to specks then to nothing."
"then we walk away in opposite directions. the music gets louder or fades, i dunno."
"sorry." the other shrugged.
a plane passed above insignificantly.
"i forget there are people up there a lot. it's just, like, modern fauna or something," neither took note of that statement that either might have said.
"do you think this will, like, affect our conditioning somehow? one of us gets religious or starts to have, like, night terrors, or thinks he's trying to communicate through dreams, or maybe just, like, a nervous tic?" one nudged the pile of rocks between the other's legs to impel a response. a few more tumbled down stopping where they would. "anything like that?"
"speculating like that is just seeding your imagination," the other restored his small pile of rocks, and scooted them further away from the one. "and you say 'like' too much"
"i never notice saying it. it's filler while i put a sentence together."
"be more aware"
"i don't think it is too detrimental to my social interactions"
"i was just changing the subject."
an animal's screech sounds, echoes, and diffuses.
"peregrine falcon," the other offered.
"this is starting to feel stupid," the one shifted his weight.
"i don't actually know if that was a peregrine falcon."
"i figured, so i ignored it. seriously though, let's go. let's leave these ornithologic hangups behind."
"i don't know if i'm done staring the sky down. maybe when the stars come out i can make him a constellation," the other said drawing the air in front of him with his index finger.
"yeah let's go." he spread the pile of rocks out.
they didn't feel better but they felt different.