Rune County Coroner’s Office Autopsy Report, Case #1
Date of autopsy: 6.9.19
Location of autopsy: our narrator’s car, as our narrator ponders the meaning of goodbye on the way home from a friend’s house
Name of deceased: Dylan Diamante
Length: 5’ 8’’
Weight: 149 pounds
Recorded time of death: 9:26 p.m. — 6.7.19
Marks and wounds: 1) swollen nodes 2) scarring along interior of esophagus 3) cracked lips 4) dehydrated tongue 5) discoloration around mouth, nose, and eyelids
Probable cause of death: silence
Manner of death: natural
The Rune Reporter “Remembering:” section, page C2:
[Dylan Diamante], , peacefully passed away [from our narrator’s life] on [Friday, June 7, 2019] at [Rune County High School] in [Unimportant, USA]. [He] is survived by [a long text chain our narrator is hesitant to delete] and [a drawing on a sticky note tucked away in our narrator’s wallet]. Funeral services will be performed by [a series of private diary entries] at [the bedroom in which our narrator currently resides] on [Saturday, March 6, 2021] at [10:37 pm]. Visitors are welcome but not encouraged.
Parting words for Dylan that our narrator will never speak:
You called my name out softly.
Was it hard for you?
Incredibly, I think.
But you needed to say it anyway.
You’d whispered my name before. Not to me or to anyone else. But to your pillow, and to your phone, and to the keys on your laptop. You’d wanted to try out my name so badly, to see how it fit, to see if you liked how it felt running up your chest, flushing your face with the warmth of being loved by me. But you feared that feeling. You feared me. What if you liked saying my name too much? Then what?
Four years passed in this way, you saying my name only when required. If you were placed in front of me and our superiors asked you to behave civilly, you’d make a dramatic show of complying, but “complying” was using my name as the punctuation of a punchline (you had to rinse your mouth out after). The others always laughed though. So did I. That confused you, that I would laugh. I wasn’t laughing because you were funny. I was laughing because it was funny, funny to hear you say my name.
And yet, you said it out loud just now, and neither of us laughed. In the time it took for the syllables to travel through the air, my name converted into a plea—an earnest request to have my attention, to have me for a moment. I indulged your request because I was soft for you. I’m a human, flesh and blood, after all. How could I resist your smile any better than the others? At the sound of my name, I came to you, but I greeted you with a goodbye.
Then, you didn’t ask to hug me. You just did.
The brush of your jaw over my neck, the ruffling of your graduation robe against my own…it jolted us both with the sudden insight into what the last four years might have looked like had you said my name more. It made us wonder if the next four years could be used to correct that mistake.
But we both knew they wouldn’t be.
And you never said my name out loud again.
Johanna Ziegler is earning her B.A. in creative writing with minors in social media marketing and film studies at the University of South Dakota. She serves as the assistant editor for Hey! Young Writer and is a contributing writer for MJ Canyon Productions, with her latest short film “Church!” currently in production. She has been previously published in The Albion Review, and her short film, “Places That Are Mine,” recently made official selection at the Valkyrie International Film Festival. Her hobbies include curating oddly-specific Spotify playlists and collecting Barbie memorabilia. Follow her on Instagram: @johcecilia22.
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