In the first panel, Calvin is seated at his bedroom desk. He quietly pores over a mundane school assignment as the stuffed-animal incarnation of Hobbes sits amongst laundry on the bed next to him.
In the second panel, he loses his intentionally narrow focus and turns his attention to the bed. Hobbes is looking at him silently. Calvin sees a flash in his mind of what Hobbes once looked like to him, but it’s fleeting. He concentrates, trying to remember, willing him to life and failing. He speaks:
I know you better than you know yourself. How you react to things, what you’re about to say even before you say it.
Calvin walks over to the bed and embraces Hobbes, then holds him at arms length above the mattress.
I used to love that.
In the next panel, Calvin kneels down to pull a trunk out from under the bed. He undoes the latch and opens it, revealing a treasure of sorts. A baseball glove, a bandit mask, reams of paper detailing planned adventures that’ll never transpire. He places the doll inside and reflects upon the last year of his life.
I can no longer justify spending time with you.
In the final panel, he closes the trunk and slides it back into place. He walks through his bedroom door, down the stairs, and outside. It’s snowing.
Alone now. Below the bed in which he slept with him, wept and laughed with him, across an impassible divide, in a place Calvin will never see again - Hobbes is alive.
In the first panel, Calvin walks into his bedroom and puts down his book bag. He looks into the mirror above his dresser, steeling himself for a moment before opening the top drawer. Hobbes lays inside.
Calvin smiles, despite himself. Hi.
Hobbes shields his eyes against the late-afternoon light filtering in through the window. Oh gosh, hi. I can’t imagine what I look like right now…
In the next panel, Hobbes licks his right paw and tries to smooth the hair between his ears. Calvin watches him the way one watches an infant just learning to sit upright. It’s okay. You look fine.
What day is it? Hobbes leans up to peer over the edge of the drawer that’s been his home for the past few months.
Today is Wednesday. Calvin notices a sketch pad beyond Hobbes’ resting spot within the drawer. Some pages are crumpled in the back right corner, next to a cache of mismatched socks. What are those?
Hobbes follows Calvin’s extended finger to the crumpled pages, where he’s struck with a sudden, hot embarrassment. Those? Nothing. They’re nothing, really. Just something I was doing to pass the time.
Calvin reaches for one of the discarded sheets, but Hobbes stops him. Don’t. I mean, at least… at least not one of those. I’ve gotten better.
Hobbes takes the pad laying beside him and flips forward through the sketches. It’s not perfect. There are details I couldn’t really capture.
He hands Calvin the book.
It’s a portrait. They’re in Calvin’s treehouse, laughing together at a forgotten joke, told in a different time. It’s stunning.
It’s been a long time since I memorized your face.
Calvin studies it for a perceived eternity. The obsessive detail of the shading. The clear-eyed ecstasy of their expressions. The idealized memory of a moment distilled from thousands just like it, concentrated into something impossibly sweet, unpalatable at full strength.
Do you like it?
Calvin nods absently for a few moments, before actually responding Yes. He hadn’t known his answer until speaking it that moment. It’s perfect. He carefully returns the pad to Hobbes’ lap, watching as the sketch recedes back into the shadow of the drawer. Hobbes chooses to watch him. When they make eye contact, the smile Calvin had forgotten he was wearing brightens, becoming genuine.
That’s the hardest part, you know. Your smile. I try… it just never looks right to me.
A shout from downstairs. It will soon be time for dinner.
The one thing I wanted most to get right, and it never looks right to me.
In the final panel, Calvin begins to shut the drawer. Hobbes says a muffled I’m sorry as it closes and Calvin walks away.
In the first panel, Calvin’s Dad sits in his recliner flipping through a catalog. Calvin walks in holding a clipboard. Bad news, Dad. Your poll numbers took a beating in the overnights.
Calvin’s dad doesn’t look away from what he’s reading. Is that so?
Calvin flips a page. Double digit drops across the board, I’m afraid. Household six-year-olds, stay-at-home moms…nobody was pleased with the recent revelations about your personal life.
In the next panel, his Dad takes notice. Which revelations were those?
Calvin ticks the items off on his fingers. Evidence of at least one extramarital affair, spousal abuse, binge drinking…it’s bad.
Calvin’s Dad goes white, then red. Go to your room.
We should really get your chief strategist on the pho…
Inviting no further debate - Go to your room.
In the last panel, Calvin has his ear pressed to the door of his room, clutching the stuffed-animal Hobbes. He can barely make out the now familiar cadence of his parent’s fighting. A loud, angry declaration, followed by a crack and a wail.
In the first panel, Calvin and Hobbes are cramming as much of their bedroom into a suitcase as will fit. Hobbes is beaming. I can’t believe we’re going on a trip together! Just you and me.
Calvin is smiling. You’re pretty excited, huh?
Hobbes sits atop the now shut (but overstuffed) suitcase as Calvin tries to close the latches. Of course I’m excited! I know I see you every day, but we’re never alone together, somewhere fun. This is long overdue, you said so yourself.
In the next panel, Calvin looks up at him. When did I say that?
Hobbes leans forward. Last week. And the week before that. And when we were alone in the bedroom last Saturday after your Dad yelled at you.
And every time you look at me.
Calvin steps away from his packing and turns towards the closet. You give a heavy burden of expectation, do you know that?
Hobbes doesn’t know what that means. I don’t know what that means.
Calvin’s voice takes on a cruel edge. He’s trying to hurt him. It means… He constructs this next part carefully It means that when I say something, it doesn’t mean I believe it.
Or even feel it.
Hobbes doesn’t immediately react. They look at each other, in a panel with no dialogue.
Hobbes realizes how hurt he is. He manages to whisper Why did you… and trails off.
Why did I what?
Hobbes looks at him with the most serious eyes he can conjure in that moment. He already wants to forgive him. When we fell asleep together on Saturday. Do you remember?
Calvin remembers. He doesn’t want to. No.
Yes. We were drunk, but you said it. Despite whatever mental gymnastics you’re doing now, you said it. And meant it.
Calvin stops trying to close the suitcase. This trip was a mistake.
Hobbes finally realizes he’s not sad. He’s angry. Fuck you. I would never do this to you.
Calvin can’t deal with the reality of that. Or he chooses not to. Either way, the end result is the same. He leaves the room.
Hobbes looks into a mirror above the dresser. Through clenched teeth:
You said you loved me.
In the first panel, Hobbes sits in bed holding a comic book. He stoically observes the pattern of shadows outside as dusk falls across the neighborhood.
In the next panel, Calvin arrives and tosses his jacket on the floor. Hobbes is elated to see him, but contains his desire to pounce. Hi! You’re back! I missed you.
Calvin smiles. Do anything interesting today?
Hobbes closes the comic book and rolls forward to lean on his elbows. Nope. Just thought about you, really. Wondered where you were, what you were doing.
In the next panel, Calvin stands in front of his closet deciding on a shirt. Listen, can you help me with something?
Hobbes springs up Of course!
Calvin drops a bundle of clothes next to him Can you sit on this pile of dry cleaning so I remember to drop it off in the morning?
Hobbes hoped for more. Okay.
In the penultimate panel, Calvin has changed shirts and prepares to exit. Thanks. I’ll be back late. Hobbes motions as if he’s going to say something, but stops.
In the final panel he’s left alone again, now sitting upon the pile of clothes. Outside the window, dusk has given way to night. He doesn’t turn on a light.
He picks up one of the shirts, holds it to his face, and inhales deeply.
In the first panel, Miss Wormwood points to the door of her classroom with an exasperated look on her face.
The second follows Calvin through the hallway of his school, towards the principal’s office.
The next panel shows Calvin seated opposite an extremely disheveled, sleep-deprived principal. Calvin remains stoic.
The principal opens a drawer near the bottom of his desk and removes a car battery. He places it on the desk. Calvin watches, unmoved.
In the final panel, he also produces a pair of jumper cables. We can now see that Calvin’s feet sit in a shallow tub of water.
Where is she, Calvin?
Calvin and Hobbes are walking through the woods behind their home. The season’s first snow has fallen so recently that their tracks make the only blemish on the terrain.
In the first panel, as Calvin bends down to gather a snowball, Hobbes asks How are you these days? I feel like we’ve stopped talking to one another.
After a pause, Calvin continues to gather snow between his mittens. That’s a silly thing to say. He doesn’t look at Hobbes.
Hobbes adjusts his scarf. I guess it is. A weighty silence hangs between them.
In the next panel he struggles to articulate what he’s feeling. I know I see you every day. You’ve become my best friend - my favorite person in the world, maybe. Calvin feigns disinterest as he massages the powder into an imperfect sphere.
Throwing the snowball shakes a tear free from his eye. He still says nothing, watching the brief, pathetic arc until it’s reincorporated into the ground.
Hobbes can’t contain his displeasure. I hate that you’re going to leave one day. You’re going to meet someone that you want to be with more. That will let you forget about me.
Calvin turns to face him. If I go, would you visit me?
Hobbes wants to say yes. No. I don’t think I could.
They face one another now, each quietly acknowledging the amount being left unsaid. As they start to walk again, Calvin kicks at the ground. I think we love each other.
Hobbes stops. I know. He examines the large oak standing next to them. Are we ever going to do something about it?
With a nearly imperceptible twinge of regret, Calvin stops himself from responding. Eventually, he speaks.
There’s no loss here. You can’t lose what never existed. He walks ahead.
In the final panel, Hobbes extends a claw from his index finger and scratches a letter C into the bark of the tree. He regards it with inscrutable emotion before continuing on.
In the first panel, it’s autumn and Calvin and Hobbes are hurtling down a hill in their wagon. Calvin says I’m starting to realize that I’m much happier when I don’t examine the emotional motivation behind my actions.
Calvin continues in the second panel Sometimes I can delude myself so thoroughly it’s frightening. Recap a month in my life for me, and it almost sounds like those things happened to a stranger.
Hobbes covers his eyes, as the trip down the hill becomes increasingly frantic. Calvin is still lost in thought when he says I think I have a mental problem.
Hobbes breaks his silence Most people do. It’s easy to not worry about the future when you ignore the present, too.
Calvin responds Should I even be worried about the future? What difference will that make?
The wagon goes off the edge of a cliff.
In the first panel, Calvin lies in bed next to Hobbes Are you asleep?
Hobbes doesn’t move. Calvin leans closer Hobbes?
In the next panel, Calvin’s Dad leans into the bedroom Lights out, Calvin. Goodnight. He snaps off the light.
The last panel shows them in bed again, now in silhouette. Calvin says Grandma died a year ago today, that’s all. I thought someone might mention it.