I could tell

Written by Nishi Nandineni
Art by Andrew Neel

I could tell she wanted to die with us that day. 

I would never know why, but I could just… tell. 

I could tell from the way she slowed her car to a roll as she inched passed the graveyard we lay in, her eyes slightly watery as she drove forward. I could tell from the way she never missed any of our birthdays, leaving gifts at our gravestones every year, all carefully wrapped in that blue wrapping paper of hers. The gifts had carefully stacked up as the years went by, and it had somehow joined the entire essence of the yard. I could tell fro=m the way she visited each of our families on the first of every month, hellbent on transferring a small, yet meaningful, amount of her earnings into our parents’ bank accounts. 

I could especially tell from the way she cried every night, cradling the last picture we all took together that day, careful not to let anything but her tears stain the photo she held so dearly. 

I could tell she wanted to die now, if not then. 

She was lost without us. 

I knew it would take nothing more than a sentence, from me, or any one of us, really, to get rid of the undeserving guilt that had seemed to hold her life hostage. But that wasn’t possible– no matter how many times we tried. 

“It’s not your fault,” I wanted to say. 

But I couldn’t. 

All I could do was watch her drown in her own guilt, the same guilt that would one day lead her back to us.