I stepped out of a corner store, and there she was, staring at me with those thoughtful eyes, like she always did. Then, my vision flickered, and I realized that wasn't Kelsey. Kelsey was dead. That was just some random blonde girl.
My phone rang later while I was making myself dinner. "Yeah?" I said simply.
"Tony?" It was Odette.
"Listen, I wondered if you wanted to go - wanted to do something - I mean, something with me and the others. I thought we could go on a trip, get away from it all, y'know?"
I hung up and snapped my phone shut. Was she insane?
No, she wasn't insane. She was hurting, probably missing the only other people that felt her pain, and wanted to do something to take our minds off of the agonizing hole that Kelsey Kay Vanderson's death had left in our lives.
I hit redial, and she picked up just before I was going to give up. "Tony?"
"Hey," I said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have hung up like that."
"No, it's fine. I understand. I know it's-"
"Let's not talk about that. Hey, let's get together and do something. I think it'd be good for us - for everybody. What'd you have in mind?"
"I was thinking, and Kelsey always wanted to go to California."
I knew I wouldn't have any fun, but, I figured, what the hell? What harm could come of it?
"Yeah. That sounds great."
"Okay, well... I'll call you later with details."
"Okay." I hung up and had to wipe my eyes. This was the first time I'd cried of happiness and agony at the same time in years.
Later, I dreamed that my grandparents, my mother, and Kelsey were all berating me for letting them die. I'd done nothing to help any of them. I had known that dad and mom weren't getting along. I had known that Grandpa had heart disease. I had known that something was off with Grandma, and I had known that Kelsey was unhappy. I had done nothing to help any of them, and they told me that. I awoke in a cold sweat, tears streaming down my face.