It’s been a year since the crash. The intersection has been cleaned up, and there remains no trace of that horrific December day. I walk through the graveyard, counting the rows, trying to find the grave. Joey Foster. I get to the right row and start inspecting the stones. He was buried next to a tree I remember. I reach the right spot, and stop dead in my tracks. The ground is bare, with no trace of anyone having been buried there. I look around. Maybe I’m in the wrong spot? I flag down a grounds keeper.
“Excuse me sir? Do you know where I can find a Joey Foster? He was buried under near a tree.”
“Why don’t we just look him up then, shall we?” The man replies. We go towards the funeral home, and type in his name. The results show nothing. No Joey Foster. Odd. I could have sworn he was buried here. I thank the Groundskeeper and head over to Joeys house, hoping that his parents might remember where he was buried. I go up to their front porch and ring the doorbell, hopping up and down to stay warm. His mother answers the door
“Good morning Jonathan, What can I do for you?” She asks sweetly.
“Good morning Mrs. Foster, I was just wondering if you remember where they buried Joey.” Mrs. Foster gets a strange look on her face.
“Joey? Joey who?”
“Joey? Your son?” I prompt, wondering what game she’s trying to pull. She draws back into the door now, clearly rattled.
“Dear, we’ve never had a son, let alone one named Joey. Are you feeling all right?”
“Never had a- Mrs. Foster, I’v lived next to you for ten years! I hung out with him every day! We were best friends!” I plea, questioning if she has memory lose.
“No, I’m sorry dear, I’ve never heard of a Joey. Good bye!” She slams the door, clearly frightened. I stand there, baffled. I know I’m not crazy. I remember everything about him. A geeky little boy, who showed up at my door one day, covered in mud and holding a battered soccer ball. He wanted to play. I loved soccer, but it’s just not the same without him. I run home, and find my mother in the kitchen.
“Hey mom? Do you remember Joey Foster?” I ask, hoping she might be of help. She looks up from her dishes, and stares at me like I’m mad.
“Joey Foster! My best friend! He died in a car accident a year ago, remember? You once chased him out of the house for tracking mud onto the couch.” I cry earnestly. Mom puts her dishes down and stares at me hard. I know my mom, she never forgets anything.
“Now you listen here young man,” She begins, and I groan internally, “I don’t know what kind of game your playing, but it’s not funny. I think I would remember someone like that, especially if he did track mud into my house, but I have never heard of a boy named Joey Foster in this town.” I’m speechless. Could this all be just a hoax? A trick? If it is, it’s not funny. I apologize to my mom and race upstairs before she can check me into a mental facility. I grab the school yearbook of my shelf and rifle through it. The index is empty, and so is the soccer team picture. Instead of Joey, My arm is around a boy I’ve never seen before. I flip to the front, and scan page by page for his name. He’s not there. Freaked out, and more than a little mad, I race to the computer and start searching. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube. All come up empty. I put on my coat and race back outside, my mom screaming at me, wondering where I’m going. I get in my car and speed away, towards the high school. I arrive there, and find a friendly janitor who allows me in. I sprint through the abandoned halls and reach the trophy case. I scan each soccer trophy carefully. None have Joey’s name.
Back at home, I search YouTube, knowing that the video of the crash was saved there. I find the video of the crash, taken from a news station. The impact is fiery and my stomach threatens to lurch. I listen closely, but no mention of Joey is made, only that a seventeen year old boy was killed. I want to scream. The memories are too real, the experiences to plentiful for me to have made this up.
I spent the next year, gleaning over public records, news reports, anything! My mother got worried and placed me in a psychiatric facility. I swear to them all that Joey Foster is real. They even help me look for him in the beginning. Still, nobody seems to remember the boy. I lie awake, on the two year anniversary of the crash. I whisper his name, only to be greeted by the hollowness of the room and my heart. Footsteps approach, and somebody sits on my bed. I’m about to tell them to buzz off, when I get a better look at the man in the pale moonlight. He seems to glow faintly, and he’s dressed in casual cloths, ripped jeans and a filthy soccer jersey. He turns his face towards me, and I recognize his green eyes and iconic hooked nose.
“Joey?” I whisper, “Is this a dream?” He smiles at his name and puts a finger to his lips.
“No brother, it’s not a dream. I just wanted to say, thank you for remembering me. It means a lot.” He stands, and places a hand on my shoulder. It’s solid. I can touch it, feel the callouses, and smell the dirt and grass of a soccer pitch. I know that this is real. I look up to his face, and catch the faintest silhouette of a halo.
“Joey?” I breath, as with a final smile, my best friend fades away, melting into light.
They find me the next morning, having died in my sleep, with a smile on my face.