When we let the demons in it’s almost impossible to chase them away. 
            It’s written on the piss-ridden wall. I watch the letters bleed from one to the next. For too long apparently. A chick with a bladder the size of a walnut hammers on the door, twists its handle. 
            We’re in a Russian-themed restaurant. The service is surly. The pierogi is luke-warm. The vodka is putrid.
            “Russians don’t do pastel shades,” I say indignantly, pointing to the baby blue tablecloth. “Everything should be smoldering red, the color of bloodshed, of young men named Vladimir who died for an ideology we mock and despise.”
            “You have a bizarre preoccupation with death,” Tom’s girlfriend mutters before a hand flutters to her mouth, her face and neck turning a deep shade of rouge that’s fascinating to watch. “Sorry.” 
            All three of us fall silent. 
            “He was a great man, a role model,” Tom says. 
            He was funny and generous to a fault. He invited strangers over for impromptu barbeques (it drove my mother insane). He patiently coached the local softball team, misfits whose hand–to-eye coordination was laughable. He was polite. He taught me to always hold the door open, to always say please and thank you. He gave bear hugs that squeezed the final breath from my lungs. I reach for my tin box. It rattles. That’s good. When the rattling stops I worry. I wash it down with a gulp of wine, then another.
            “Easy there buddy,” Tom says.  
            “Me? I’m just on high on life!”
            This is a lie. I am barely functioning. The good news is if I pop enough of these, laced with enough alcohol, I’ll see bizarre things, like my father dressed as David Bowie in Labyrinth. I sink a vodka shot and my memory dives behind a duvet of darkness. 
            “What happened to the tap dancing dwarf?” I ask later. Nicole shrieks with laughter. “Really, what happened?” 
            There is no laughter this time, simply a table of blistering stares.
            When I return to the restroom the words aren’t there, nor are the piss stains. I touch the pale wall. Gradually elements of his life will be white washed over, erased entirely. I’ll struggle to recall his mannerisms, the intonation of his voice, the reasons I idolized him.
            It happened quickly, the deterioration of his body as the cancer entered the bloodstream, the hasty goodbyes. The priest asked us not to question the actions of the Lord. Not everything can be explained, he said. Not everything will or should survive, he added. 
            I don’t have the strength to survive him, I decide. I’d prefer to fade away, to wilt like a delicate flower as the harshness of winter approaches. I’d like to melt into this wall, into a milky-white glare of nothing that lasts forever. Please.

Hannah Sloane lives in New York. More of her essays and fiction can be found at: www.hannahsloanewrites.com or say hello @hansloane.