Afflictions: Part Ten

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Deven walked with Paul riding on his back. He only cared about finding his way to the court, never back from it. He felt lighter today. Deven wondered if Paul was eating. He supposed it would be hard for Paul to eat. He had to think all the time to save the world, after all. Still, he thought maybe he should tell Arte that Paul wasn’t eating, since he usually listened to her.

Deven thought for a moment. He realized he did need to go to visit Jamal today, and they were pretty close to the subway. He figured Paul could use a break from saving the world anyways.

“Hey, Paul?”

“What’s up, Deven?” He sounded tired.

“Can we go somewhere else today?” He didn’t want to say where, since sometimes people said no if he told them where.

Paul was quiet for a moment, probably thinking. “Sure, where to?

”It’s a secret.”

“Fair enough. Lead the way.”

Deven smiled. Paul was really good with secrets. Paul had a lot of his own secrets, and then he even made some with him. He told Deven he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the basketball court. He also lied and told Vanessa that it was him who ripped Vanessa’s jacket, even though it was actually him. Deven thought it would stretch more that it did. Paul did break a lot of things, so it made sense as a lie.

Eventually Deven reached the subway, where he had to put Paul down. The ceilings were low, and he didn’t want to hurt him. Also the security people looked at him funny when he carried Paul last time. Not that he really cared, since people looked at him like that all the time, but he didn’t want to risk breaking a rule he didn’t know about. He really liked using the subway.

Deven found the map on the wall, and used his finger to trace it. Once he worked out which train he wanted, he stood by the platform and waited. They didn’t have to wait long, and they got on the train. Once they were on, a nice lady offered Paul her seat, and went off to the back of the train. Deven smiled. It was nice to see people being nice.

After about thirty minutes, they finally got to their stop. It was a short walk to the first place he needed to stop. He looked up at the sign to make sure he had the right place. It said something that sounded fancy that he couldn’t pronounce. He had the right place.

He walked into the flower shop, and a bell rang. He looked around, and saw there was one other person in the store, but it wasn’t the clerk. She looked a little scared.

“Deven!” A small lady came out from the back of the store. She looked around the shelf and smiled. “Oh, and a friend!”

“This is Paul.” Deven smiled. “Paul, this is Debbie.”

“Deven and I went to high school together.” She made her way over, shook Paul’s hand, and gave Deven a hug. She looked up to Deven. She looked sad now. “Today’s his birthday, isn’t it?”

“Yup.” Deven smiled. “So I need a few flowers.” He wasn’t sure why she looked sad, since birthdays were supposed to be happy. Then again, people usually get sad about people that aren’t here anymore. Jamal always said that people would get annoyed if every time you think of them you’re sad, so it’s best to remember them and be happy.

“I’ve already got something ready.” She smiled, and went to the back of the store again. She returned after a moment with a bundle of flowers. Deven studied them for a moment, and saw they were larkspurs and water lilies. That was perfect. He reached for his wallet, but Debbie stopped him. “Please, Deven. Consider it a birthday gift for him.”

Deven smiled and took the flowers. “Thanks. I’ll tell him.”

“Oh, Jeremiah said he hopes you’re doing well.” She smiled, and then turned to Paul. “Take care of him, will you?”

Paul smiled and nodded. He seemed to take notice when she said Jeremiah, but didn’t say anything about it. Deven wondered if he remembered who Jeremiah was.

“I’m gonna go. Thanks for the flowers.” Deven smiled and waved. He made a point to smile at the other woman in the store, who smiled back.

Deven picked Paul up on his back again, and made his way to the cemetery. It was only a short walk from the flower shop. Deven wondered if Debbie opened it here on purpose. That would be nice, to open up a flower shop where people need it most. He looked down at the bundle of flowers. He had trouble remembering exactly what they meant, but they were the birth month flowers for July, and he was pretty sure one of them meant dignity. That’s one thing Jamal always had. He made sure nobody ever looked down on him, and he made sure people did the same for him.

After a little bit, the reached the gate. Deven made his way through the graves, being careful not to touch any of them, and to stay on the paved path. He knew the way pretty well by now, so it wasn’t hard to get there. Eventually they reached a small piece of marble engraved with the following.

Jamal Davidson

1994-2018

Deven laid the flowers down in front of it. “Happy birthday, Jamal. Jeremiah and Debbie said happy birthday. The flowers were free, as a birthday present.”

Deven felt Paul’s hand on his shoulder, and looked up. He was crying.

“Sorry I couldn’t save him, Deven.” He shook his head. “I can’t seem to save anyone…”

Deven thought for a moment. “Well, I’m sad that he’s gone, but because of it, now I get to be friends with all of you guys. I’m also a good guy now.” He nodded. “Besides, Jamal wouldn’t want you to be sad about him anyways. He always said the dead would be annoyed if you only thought about them sad.”

Paul nodded and wiped away his tears. “Fair enough. Happy birthday, Jamal. Sorry we gave you such a shitty super name.”

Deven laughed. Jamal did hate being called Electrified.


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Hello traveler! I’m slightly busy these days, but still going. Wish you well!

Photo Credit: Original

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