In Which Dave Strider Dates His Computer
The apartment smells like homemade sugar cookies. John knew how to make them from scratch, due to his absolute resolution to never use Betty Crocker baked goods. Or recipes, for that matter. You remember back when he was still teaching himself, and evenings spent eating mountains on mountains of failed cookies.
The smell of cookies isn't strong. It's mixed with apple juice, cheap beer, and buttered popcorn.
You two didn't need much. The most expensive item you owned was John's grand piano, all glossy black finish and real ivory keys. It must've cost a fortune, but he had inherited it from his nanna when she passed away. She had shared his love for the instrument and it was written to him in her will.
You vaguely remember his nanna, remember visiting his house, nine years old, and there being twice as many snacks to eat and her being there and John proudly introducing you as "My best friend, Dave!". You remember feeling strangely warm inside as she patted your cheek and offered you some apple pie. She had John's blue eyes and was kind of pretty, for an older lady. The wrinkles on her face mapped out years of smiling.
You two had trouble finding a place for the huge piano in your tiny apartment. You finally captchalogued everything in the living room in frustration, pushed the piano on a wall next to your turntables and right below the window, and refurnished accordingly.
Your apartment was never really much. But John had made it perfect. Now, standing alone, you see it's empty, empty, empty of him, empty of meaning.
You aren't crying, though you were earlier. No use in tears. He'd hate it if you were crying.
You have just come back from his funeral service, and him being dead suddenly feels real for the third time.
The first time was holding him, screaming like a lunatic as rust filled your nose and bile rose in your throat and red seeped everywhere. Jade's green eyes were already lifeless, her face pale and bloodless, and you heard your name pass his lips. He inhaled once and never exhaled again, and your screams came back, ripping your throat, a steaming car wreck behind you, you being dragged away.
The second time was seeing Rose lose composure. Your sister came to your apartment, all no nonsense and dressed in a black blouse, took one glance at the piano, at the messy floors, at the posters slapped all over the wall, and her face contorted in sobs as no sound escaped her throat. Two of your best friends, two of her best friends, were completely wiped off the earth. You hugged her, stroked her hair, tried to murmur assurances that neither of you believed. After a heartbeat of silence, you slumped in her arms and started crying yourself. The whole scene was nothing short of pathetic, and you and Rose initiated Strider-Lalonde Rule of Brother/Sister Negotiations; Amendment Sixteen -- If gross sobbing was involved, it is not to be spoken of ever again.
And now, alone after a parade of condolences and flowers and hugs and handshakes, the thoughts he's gone, he's not home, hes gone, hesgone, hesgonehesgonehesgone hits hard again, threatening to choke you and crush your chest and steal away the floor under your feet, hurtling backwards into a pitch black sea.
Instead of letting that happen, you fix yourself a peanut butter sandwich, pop open a can of Pepsi (there wasn't any Coke in stock), and flip open your laptop to plunge yourself in synthesized beats.