The dead do not always stay dead. They rise when it is convenient, and they tease and harass the living until the living are so afraid of the dead, they flee in fear for the rest of their lives.
Feuilly knows this fact firsthand. When he was a child, he made friends with the boy hanging from the closet bar by a rope. The boy taught him how to play poker when he was seven and never seemed to age, even when Feuilly was figuring out what was going on and learning about life in general.
“Do you ever age?” Feuilly had asked him when he was twelve. The only answer he got was a shrug and his red eyes motioned him to pick up another card.
“It’s your move” the boy said, and they continued playing cards.
When he was thirteen he had stopped trying to convince people of the boy in his closet, along with the soldier in the bathroom, and the pretty lady hanging by the porch. They all said he was crazy, from his English teacher to his recent foster parents to the psychiatrist who tried to Freud on him some crazy theories.
He kept it silent until he had passed by a curandera and proclaimed him the receiver of a gift from God. He was fourteen then, and he remembered just how scary the old lady had been.
“Tu tiene un regalo de Dios, mijito” she whispered harshly in his ear. Her hand was gnarled and she shook and she smelled like the abuelita perfume he never got the chance to smell. He tried to back away and he decided to say something back.
“No sé a qué te refieres” he had said, shaking as he saw a tentacle of darkness slither on the old woman’s shoulders.
“You know” the old woman thundered in English “you’ve seen the dead, and you speak to them as if you are friends. You have a gift from God, boy.”
He jumped on his bike and rode as fast as he could away. You speak to them as if you are friends. Did that mean the boy in his closet was dead? And the nice soldier and the pretty woman, were they dead too?
And the lady had said “as if you are friends.” Was that to say he wasn’t friends with them? He hadn’t hurt them, and he wasn’t hurt by them. Were they going to hurt him?
He was nineteen now, and weary of the cold touches he had grown accustomed to. Courfeyrac gave him a kiss on his cheek, and the old woman with the handprints around her neck glared. They were in the street of his old neighborhood, and the old friends had gathered to say hello again.
“Something wrong?” Courfeyrac asked. He was warm and red colored air surrounded him. Feuilly smiled at him softly and gave him a kiss.
“No” he murmured in Courfeyrac’s ear “nothing is wrong at all.” The boy with the rope around his neck smiled at him in his mind’s eye and Feuilly tried to focus on the way Courfeyrac smelled, the way he smiled and laughed, and the way that whenever Courfeyrac was in the room that he began to have butterflies like he was meeting him all over again.
They walked down the street to his foster parents’ old home and Feuilly was immediately tackled by a 110 pound of walking Irish Wolfhound sunshine named Lux (middle name Aurumque, Feuilly did not deny that he was in fact an Eric Whitacre fanboy.)
“Sorry” cried Grantaire, his foster brother, carefully wrangling the slobbery baby off of his kin. “She’s been excited today; I think she could tell you were coming home.” Feuilly dusted himself off and embraced Grantaire, feeling glad that he was well ( well why wouldn’t he, dumbass?)
Grantaire hugged Courfeyrac (they had been in a garage band in high school; now Grantaire does art and Courfeyrac sings for real money) and led them into the house. There was the soldier, the pretty lady, and the boy with the rope around his neck, eyes glowing and smiles bright with welcome.
Feuilly eyed them nervously and felt a twinge of anxiety poke at his heart.
Grantaire looked at him, knowing what was happening without a thought and took him by the hand and said “they can’t hurt you if you don’t let them, bro. It’s gonna be alright.” Feuilly looked at Grantaire uneasily. Grantaire and Courfeyrac hovered by, two constant and solid beings of the ephemeral universe. “Okay” he managed to say, and sat down and had a great time besides old friends visiting him again.
When everything was done, he laid next to Courfeyrac and listened to him breathe in and out, like a steady on-the-clock metronome.
Gift from God or curse, Feuilly still was a lucky man.