“Isn’t this a little… I don’t know, disrespectful?” Sam asks as Chris shoves a couple more markers into his pocket. “By most standards? Yeah, probably. But Josh isn't like most.”
“How would the Washingtons feel?”
Chris laughs. Not a happy laughter, Sam could hear sadness behind it. “Like I care what the Washingtons think. I mean, I do to an extent, but me and Josh said we would do this for whichever one of us died first.” He pauses.”He would’ve done the same if it’d been me.”
“Ah, sorry.” Chris changes the subject. “So. Just us, right?” Sam nods. “Yeah. I called everyone else but they either were busy or didn’t even pick up.”
Chris walks to the front door, Sam following behind. “Well, it was worth a shot, I guess.” After getting outside, Chris locks his door and he and Sam start walking to the cemetery. The chilly February air making it so their breath was visible.
The two walk in silence for a little while, then Sam pipes up, “Hey, Chris?” He hums. “Are you okay? Like, with this? With… Josh?”
Chris stares at his feet, not meeting Sam's eyes. “If I said I was fine, would you believe it?”
“Depends.” She said. “Would it be true?”
“It would be if the last two years didn't happen. But,” Chris inhales deeply, still continuing walking. “they did. So, to answer your question, no. I'm so not okay. I haven't been in so long. God, Sam, I miss him.”
Chris's voice is cracking, making him sound on the verge of tears. “I miss him so much. Hannah and Beth, too.”
“I miss them too, Chris. I really do.” She sighs and stops walking, Chris doing the same. “I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better, but I don't. I'm sorry.” Sam's voice is wavering too now.
Chris shakes his head. “No. No, you don't have to be sorry. I wouldn't know what to say either.”
Instead of responding, Sam pulls Chris into a tight hug. He seems taken aback for a moment, before wrapping his arms around Sam. “I'm so sorry, Sam.”
“Don't be. Please.” Sam sniffles, almost full on crying now. Chris seeming so too.
They stay like that a little while longer, their fingertips going numb from the cold.
“Do you think you'll be alright? Should we go back?” Sam asks, still holding Chris close.
“No. I… have to do this.” Sam hums in agreement. "Ok."
Chris is the first to pull away, wiping his eyes with his sleeve. “We're almost there. Are you good to keep walking?”
“I don't think either of us is gonna get any better by just standing here. So, let's go.”
They only have to walk a little farther until they've arrived. They share glances then walk in, immediately knowing where Josh's headstone was.
It wasn't really anything too fancy. Which was surprising, knowing the Washingtons. Just a simple headstone reading with his name, date of birth and death, and a few other words written on it.
His grave was right next to Hannah and Beth's. Josh's in the middle.
Josh wasn't actually buried there. Nor was either of the twins. Their bodies were still lost somewhere up on the mountain. Chris shudders just thinking about it.
Multiple vases of wilted flowers were sat by all three headstones. It looked like they'd been there a while.
Sam coughs, catching Chris's attention right away. “Huh? Sorry. I, uh, must've gotten lost in thought there for a second.” She motioned to her eyes and says, “Chris, if this is too much, we can leave.” That's when Chris realizes he's crying. “Oh. I'm good. It's all good. Everything's a-ok.” Sam gives a skeptical look but doesn't press the matter.
“It's weird,” Chris says. “It's been a year already, two for Hannah and Beth.” He sighs. “It just… hardly feels real, ya know?” He finishes, looking up at Sam and away from the graves that are only a few feet tall, but it feels like they're towering over them.
“Yeah,” Sam replies. “Sometimes I feel like this is all a dream and I'll wake up any second to them still being alive.”
Chris kneels down in front of Josh's headstone and reaches into his pocket, pulling out two markers. He uncaps one and tosses the other to Sam, she barely catches it, fumbling with it and trying to keep it in her hand and off the ground.
“God, Josh would be teasing my ass off right now if he was here.” Chris chuckles. “Wow, Chris, I didn't know you were this much of a sap.” He says, doing a shitty impression of Josh as he writes a little message on the grave. It reads:
I love and miss ya, bro. I'm so sad you're gone. I hope you're in a much better place right now. With Hannah and Beth, hopefully. Miss you.
Chris adds a sad face at the end and a few hearts here and there. He stands up and puts the marker back in his pocket. “Welp, he's all yours.”
Sam bends down and begins writing. While she's scribbling away, Chris reads over the twins gravestones. A feeling of dread finds its way into the pit of his stomach.
Apparently, Sam is a slow writer. So, Chris started wandering around, looking at all the graves. The headstones for children made him feel the worst. The families of these kids lost them almost as soon as they got them. That fact made him feel sick.
It reminded him of the Washington kids. They were older than a lot of the children buried here, but they were still young. They still had full lives ahead of them.
Ok, Chris. Stop it before you start crying again.
He feels a tap on his shoulder. “I'm done. You ready to head out, or do you wanna stay for a bit?” Sam says. Chris shrugs. “I'm ready to leave if you are.”
“Alrighty, I say we go grab a bite to eat. How's that sound?”
“Yeah. That sounds good.”