The next few days passed by slow and uneventful. I hadn't seen or heard anything from Dinah or Ryder since that time in the cafe and I was beginning to doubt if they really thought of me as their friend. The only person I was really seeing at the minute was Elijah.
It was nice being able to slowly trust him. I hadn't trusted anyone in a very long time and I found myself opening up to him, which could be risky considering I hadn't known him that long but it just felt right.
One evening, sat on a bench in Central Park, he finally asked me why I had moved to New York. I was wondering when this question would arise and I was secretly dreading it but I realised I wanted to tell him when the time came to it.
'My life in England wasn't all that great,' I mumbled.
'Hey,' he spoke in a soft voice, looking at me with earnest blue eyes. 'You don't have to tell me if you don't want to.'
Heaving a sigh, I faced him.
'No. It's okay. My life took a turn for the worse when I was roughly ten years old. I remember coming out of the school, excited because I'd just gotten into the school musical. I couldn't wait to tell my parents, I was bursting with happiness. But when I turned the corner and saw that mum and dad weren't there, I noticed something wasn't right. They always met me, prompt. Never late a day in their life. I waited for roughly half an hour before a car pulled up and this woman emerged, looking puffy eyed but trying to put on a brave smile. She told me gently that my parents had had an accident and that we needed to go to hospital to see them. I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of dread wash over me, but I fought the tears and calmly asked her to take me.'
I paused a little, taking another deep breath. Elijah waited patiently.
'When I arrived at the hospital the woman, who turned out to be one of mum's dearest friends, took me to the emergency ward. Right away I knew it wasn't going to be okay. They had been involved in a car accident, someone driving on the wrong side of the lane hit them head on. Someone told me my father had died instantly, he'd protected my mum and took the worst of it. They'd put mum on life support, keeping her alive with a machine.
I never left her bedside, I would hold her hand throughout the day and curl up next to her at night. My parents friends came and looked after me in turn, but all I wanted was for mum to wake up and to hug me back and we could both hold each other and cry for my dad, supporting each other the entire way. Then the decision came. Doctors said she was brain dead. We'd already lost her. They advised us that the best thing to do was to let her go. My auntie came in, deciding I was too young to know what to do and the decision was made. I was convinced the driver of the other car was a cold blooded killer brutally snatching away my whole world but over time I began to realise he was going through pretty much the same thing I was. He grieved for my parents, the guilt ate him up inside. He committed suicide a few weeks later. It was all in the papers, some even said he had what was coming to him. Of course I don't believe that, it destroyed him just like it destroyed me.'
It was silent for a few minutes and I realised my cheeks were wet from the silent tears that fell. Elijah slipped his hand into mine and squeezed gently.
'I'm so sorry,' he whispered.
'Don't be, it's not your fault.'
'It's nobody's fault. Certainly not yours. Please don't take this the wrong way, but it seems like you blame yourself for their death.'
'Well I guess I do. I mean, they were on their way to pick me up from school. For weeks after I kept thinking What if I'd had the day off school or What if I'd gone around a friends house instead? So many different things could have led to a totally different ending. I ended up living with my auntie and uncle, but that was worse. I think they blamed me for my parents death. I certainly know my cousins did, they constantly told me I was a killer and that I should be locked away. Eventually, I was sick of it. I waited until they were all asleep, grabbed my bags, my guitar, stole some money and I ran away from home, winding up here in New York.'
'You're still scared they'll come after you, aren't you?'
'Yes,' I admitted, wiping my eyes, embarrassed.
Elijah gently pulled me into his arms, stroking my hair.
'There's no need to fear. I'm here for you.'
Editors - The Weight of the World