Suggested Audio Candy
Mike & the Mechanics “The Living Years (Instrumental)”
Sometimes in life you just have to let go. Our lives are determined largely by the connections we make; some fleeting and others enduring. Every once in a while our souls are touched by another and everything changes. Cornelius was one such soul. Our time together was woefully brief, a matter of days in fact, but the gap left by his departure is incalculable. He wasn’t what you would call a conversationalist and that suited me fine. I took comfort in his very existence and was happy just watching him go about his daily routine. Ours was an unspoken bond.
Irony played its cruel hand that night as the one person who wished him least harm was responsible for ending his short life. Sadly, I never got the chance to relay to him just how much his attendance meant to me and I just hope that in some way he knew. It has been several days now since he fell foul to the heel of my foot and it is still painfully raw but I’m told that time is a great healer. The best I can do for him now is to remember him fondly, speak about him regularly and allow his memory to live on beyond that of his mortal shell.
He leaves behind his spouse Clarissa and offspring Candice and both have been in regular attendance since that fateful night. I’m not sure they fully understand what has occurred although, as days pass, both appear increasingly downbeat. I suspect that, in their own way, they’re aware that he won’t be coming back and that breaks my heart. I haven’t been able to bring myself to telling them of the events of that night as they just looked so contented. Whether I won’t regret that in the long run I’m not convinced but it currently feels too fresh. Hopefully, over time, they would learn to forgive me for this most foul of indiscretions and come to realize that I only had his best intentions at heart. It was a simple case of wrong place, wrong time.
My office has seemed uncharacteristically quiet the past few days. They have both been present, moping around and checking the clock every five minutes in case he shows his face. I’ve hardly been able to bring myself to so much as look at them as I know the real truth and it eats me up inside to consider that I played the critical role in his demise. In some way I think I have over-compensated although not consciously. I propped their favorite garden instruments against the wall as I know how much fun they have interacting with the broom handle and climbing the rake. But other than that I have just carried on as though nothing ever happened. Problem is, I know better.
Currently I am putting by a little each day to save up for a shrine dedicated to his honor. I have been considering commissioning an oil panting, which I shall hang just above his favorite spot. Nothing extravagant, Cornelius was never one for a fuss. Just a little something to remember him by. He wasn’t the most photogenic of creatures to be fair, hardly what you would call a pin-up. I’m sure there are a thousand slugs out there who would put me to task for such flippancy and the last thing I ever dream of doing is causing offense. To Clarissa he was quite the catch, the slug of her dreams if you will but any attraction on my part was strictly platonic.
There have been a number of new arrivals since he departed. I haven’t advertised his position as I don’t wish to pile more misery on his loved ones but admittedly his death has left a considerable void. I can purge forth for the time being but, at some point, I will need to look at replacing him. No easy feat I can assure y’all. A toad and a shrew keep showing up at the office and both are over-qualified if anything. But they’re not Cornelius. In times of heartbreak such as these it is imperative all other employees pull together, keep the flag hoisted high in memorandum. I don’t get compensated for overtime but feel as though it is my duty. It’s the least I can do after what I am culpable of doing.
Guilt can manifest in a variety of different ways and mine has played out through lurid nightmares. Last night I awoke streaming with sweat and sobbing after one such phantasm. It felt so authentic, I was driving along the interstate with Cornelius perched on the dashboard. We had decided that a shanty was in order to pass the time as traffic had delayed our journey by a number of hours and we weren’t due to arrive at our destination for some time yet. He chose the song, The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics, hardly a jolly anthem but at least one we both knew well. It seemed only fair that, given as he was riding shotgun, he get to choose audio.
We were midway through belting out the second chorus when a colossal obstruction rolled into our path. I swear blind I wasn’t travelling above the 70 mph limit but was undone by shoddy brake-pads and over-sensitive reflexes. I was securely buckled in so a face full of airbag was my inflatable fate but Cornelius wasn’t so fortunate. He exited through the windscreen and hurtled to his doom in slow motion. I tried valiantly to stop it from happening but couldn’t get a grip on him and he slipped through my fingers, sad antennae looking right at me as though to say “it’s not my time yet”. As he landed with an almighty splat on the asphalt I looked up in horror. The obstruction was an oversized tub of pest-deterrent and the words emblazoned across it said it all. Slug Killer. At that point I woke up screaming.
It’s no less than I deserve to be fair. It isn’t so much the fact that he met his end on the ball of my foot although that is still a bitter pill lodged in my throat. It was that I vowed to always protect him, promised him the Earth, built him up and then couldn’t follow through. It’s that which distresses me most. However, life can throw us a curve ball or three from time to time, and it is how we react to this which is imperative. I fully intend on honoring his memory through my work and will always tiptoe with precision as I make my way to the office in the future.
Having said that, last night, I did obliterate a snail and there is no mystery when that occurs. Just a crunch and a shudder. Now I’m a serial killer, the sickest puppy in the litter. Hell, I may as well go and kick a vole. It would only be in keeping with my current form. I shall do no such thing of course. If Cornelius has taught me anything it is that we all deserve our place, regardless of skin pigmentation or vertebrae. Beneath our crust we are all identikit; every last one of us only really desires to be loved and share something beautiful and pure. I achieved that with Cornelius in our fleeting time together and, for that, I will be eternally indebted. I hope that he is watching over me as I write this, if only to know that he touched my life in no small manner. I shall do everything in my power to ensure his legacy lives on, way beyond his living years.