Wyoming is far from an interesting place on a road trip. Flat plains adorned with the occasional tumble-weed and a wind-blown cow or two. The sky was gray and the atmosphere in our car was tense from hours of cramped travel. Plus, my brother desperately needed to pee. We found one of the few Sinclair’s left in the country in a podunk town that I cannot possibly remember the name of. Kyle parked in front of the building next to a worn dinosaur resting on a patch of gravel, adorned with a saddle that had quite clearly been the entertainment of many tourists who were forced to stop in the middle of nowhere. My brother ran, or rather wiggled, to the restroom while my mother and I got out of the car to stretch. Kyle sat comfortably in the driver’s seat, watching us circle the dinosaur and look towards him expectantly. He sighed and got out of the vehicle to speak with us.
“Please ride it! Just one picture…” my mother begged the moment he was in earshot.
“Ugh….I’ll look ridiculous.” He groaned.
“That’s the point!” I chirped.
After quite a bit of persuading and cajoling, he agreed. Delighted, we both jumped for a hug, afterwards pushing him towards the shabby saddle. It was incredibly amusing to see him turn from a middle aged man to a child as he became more and more enthusiastic about the impromptu photo shoot. He waved his arms, whooping and yelling like a little boy playing “Cowboys and Indians”. His laugh resonated across the parking lot as my mother and I hooted and hollered hard enough to bring tears to our eyes. We piled into the car in far better spirits than we left it, waiting for Cai to return to the car.
He ducked out of the gas station and sprinted into the car, hurling himself into the backseat and slamming the door. He sunk down until only his head was visible from the outside of the car.
“Drive!” he mumbled under his breath.
My mother looked at him, worried. “What’s wrong?”
“The people in the store saw everything! It was so embarrassing!!!! We have to leave!”
There was a small pause, and then Kyle began to laugh. His booming voice shook the car, acting as a bright spot on the dull landscape.
“Well, I’m glad I was able to give them a show.”
I miss Kyle’s advice. I miss his thoughtful speculation on world issues and his deep understanding of the challenges that I was facing at the time. But I miss his laugh most of all. I can still hear it, just before I fall asleep, in between dreams and full consciousness. Sometimes it’s so strong that I am jolted back into reality, urgently searching for the man behind the voice. He’s never there. I don’t know why he did it. I’ve been told that people who have failed at their attempts at suicide often remember a moment just before committing the act where they desperately want to live. I hope that, for Kyle’s sake that moment never occurred. I hope that the only sensation he had as he jumped was sweet relief that his pain was about to end. I hope he felt happy once more. I hope he laughed.