The next week that Chris and Mitchell came back was hell. They were supposed to come back last week but they skipped. But starting Monday they didn’t leave me alone for two seconds. By the end of the day my hair was matted together with different sauces and food. I had stains of everything they had for lunch on my shirt and my nose was bleeding and I had a black eye. Only three more years, I thought. Alice and Seth walked with me every day to my house; I knew they worried about me. “See you two later.” I grumbled. I still wanted to know why Alice acted so weird around me with Seth. They couldn’t have hooked up…could they? Well I guess Seth could get any girl he wanted. He was social, he had good looks, he was nice I guess and he had experience. Seth was also into sports and he always got decent grades. His grades were only a little better than mine too. But besides the good grades I was the complete opposite of him. But I didn’t care if I was like him; I didn’t need to be to get a girlfriend, just maybe a little social. I invited Alice over too so I could tell her sooner or later and let her know about something. It was about dark when she came over and we went walking in the cemetery. “We never hang out likes this. Is something wrong?” Her smiled straightened into a straight line across her face. “No, no. I just need to talk to you.” I wasn’t even sure if I could tell her what I really needed to. “Do you like Seth?” Yeah, that definitely wasn’t it but I needed something else to be the substitute. I looked down at the ground. “No!” She yelled in my ear.
“Looks like you guys hooked up. The way you act around him and when we’re all together too.”
“Sam you’re crazy. See you later.” Before she left she just barely touched my fingers. I ran back to my house and ate a Pop-tart while I waited for the return of my mother. And then I remembered we were supposed to get two weeks off. I guess the board members changed their minds again. My grandma stopped by and acted like she hasn’t seen me in six years or something. “Sam…I have to tell you. You’re mother has been avoiding it for almost two months now. I have lung cancer.” She fell to her knees in front of the couch. I helped her up and put her in a chair. “That’s why I haven’t been here that often. I’ve been at my treatments. I only have another year.” She sobbed. I wrapped my arms around her. We stayed that way for a while and tears flowed easily out of my eyes. “Does Seth know?” My words came out slow and broken. “He had to but he always covers up how hurt he is though. We were keeping it a secret until it was to the point where you had to see me. We knew you’d take it the worse. And I didn’t want to keep this fro you any longer, I love you Sam.” She unlocked my arms and headed for the door. I really couldn’t believe it, like it almost didn’t seem real. “I love you too.” I said as she walked out of the door and drove away. The person I spent most of my life with was dying and there was nothing I could do about it. So for the next two whole months I was mostly drunk and I skipped school most of the time also. I tried to stay sober enough so I could see my grandma and remember it. But the way she was looking I wasn’t sure if I wanted to remember her that way. But I usually was sober enough where I would remember and I could control myself. Seth and Alice tried to get me to stop so we could practice but they didn’t do a very good job at doing that. And my parents were mostly drunk and got into fights at home all the time. My grandma was getting worse and worse with each week that flew by. I always dreamed of playing in my band on a stage with billions of people watching us. My grandma was in the front row and I knew she loved to hear us play. I knew she loved Alice’s singing and Seth’s drumming. I knew she loved when I played guitar, our music was like an angel singing to her. Those dreams occurred frequently whenever I passed out and soon we ran out of liquor so I recovered from my hangover. I started playing again with Seth and Alice and we came up with three new songs. They were all instrumental though so Alice just played bass. But one night when we didn’t practice and it was just a regular night at my house I caught my dad on the phone with my grandma. Thank god he was sober. “Caroline, I don’t want to fight. You only have a matter of weeks…can’t we make peace?” Weeks? I couldn’t believe I only had weeks to see her…maybe even less! And she raised me as if I were her own child not her grandchild. Everything would change. After hearing that horrible news I just decided to go to sleep. I did have a dream but it wasn’t of us playing on a stage with millions of fans cheering for us. It was a black rose, just a black rose. It was weird…I didn’t know why they meant so much to me still. I shook myself awake and it was a little after six ‘o clock in the morning. Ugh, it’s only Wednesday. Just two more days to go and it’d be the weekend. When I walked outside it was a little chilly out, I mean it was getting near fall. It was only a little warm now and once winter came there would be no more sunny days until spring. I received a message over the intercom in my last class that same day. “Please send Sam Hardwicke down to the office.” The lady at the office said over the intercom. I pulled my backpack over one of my shoulders and ran to the office. I knew what was coming; I just didn’t want to face it. When I busted through the door I saw Seth standing there with puffy red eyes. It was only he and nobody else. Where was my mother? Where was my father? I hugged Seth for it seemed like hours. “When was it?” His shoulder muffled my voice. “Twenty minutes ago.” He let go of me and we were free to go but we stayed for the last fifteen minutes of class. I stopped myself from crying before I walked into the classroom. I tried to stop looking at the clock because staring at it didn’t make the time go any faster. But finally the hands on the clock struck two-thirty. I was the first one to make it out of class and out of the school. Somehow Alice caught up with me though. “Aw Sam! I’m sorry.” Her arms flew around me and I hugged her back too. I tried to hold back the tears but I’m sure she’d find out as soon as she saw the wet spot on her shoulder. When she pulled away from me she wiped my eye the corner of her sweater sleeve. “You still have me.” She whispered. I tried to smile for her sake and walked the rest of the way to my house. What was Seth to do? Maybe he could convince his parents to move closer to the school. I think they inherited my grandma’s house anyway so it didn’t matter. What was I going to do? I didn’t really have anyone now. I wish that this didn’t happen, I wish that I could have prevented this somehow. I don’t know how I am going to live without her, it’s like I lost more than a family member. It’s like I lost my mother…she acted as if she was my mother. I mean I know that my mom just got knocked up at some concert or at school or possibly even in a car. And she was probably only about sixteen or seventeen. Her age wasn’t any more than eighteen. And I knew she wasn’t ready for a child, not yet. And I know my father wasn’t ready to actually be a father either…I wish I had different parents. My mother was sitting in the living room watching the news when I walked in. “When’s the funeral?” I asked and sat next to her. “Friday. Is Seth and Alice coming?” She looked at me and her eyes were like Seth’s and her nose was red. I nodded and took my stuff to my room. On my last canvas I decided to make this painting the best. I picked up my pencil and started making the outline of two people. I got white, black, and red paint out. It took me three and a half hours to get it all finished. It was of a woman and a man…blood was splattered everywhere on them and their clothes. They were just staring at each other and a black rose surrounded the top with the vines as a border. It looked good and it was a dedication to my grandmother. I hung it up on my wall and stared at it for a long time. I went downstairs to see if we had any liquor. Still, we didn’t. Well I just couldn’t wait until we did because I was going to be so drunk I might get alcohol poisoning. Thursday was an easy day because I just stayed home. I slept about that whole day too. Friday was the day of the funeral. Seth and Alice did come and the rest of my family was there. I hadn’t realized that we had so much family and that my grandparents had so many friends. Even some of my parent’s friends were there. Everyone was dressed nicely too. Seth and I were obviously wearing black suits. But Alice was wearing a black skirt that went to her knees and a long sleeved black coat like a businesswoman. She wore tights and black heels. Her hair was bulled up into a bun and she looked so pretty when she dressed up. Everyone looked nice though so I really couldn’t pick out who looked the nicest. We were at the church my grandma used to go to. She was in a coffin at the front of the church and everyone went to go see her. I didn’t because I didn’t want to see her dead. Seth and Alice did and they cried a little bit too. The funeral lasted about two hours and then they carried the coffin to a car that carried her and buried her. Everyone was going to be at the burial too. She was getting buried at the cemetery right by my house. Seth, Alice, and I rode in the car that took the coffin to the cemetery. Once we got there she was buried right next to my grandpa. The priest said a few words and a prayer and then they slowly put her in the ground and buried her. Her tombstone said,

Caroline Jane Hardwicke
October 3, 1941-August 17, 2009

It was hard to look at that tombstone. “You going to be okay?” Alice asked quietly. “Yeah.” I walked to my house and my two friends followed. We all got dressed into our normal clothes and we all wrote a song about all the good times and the things that Seth and I did with my grandmother and about what she liked and everything like that. And of course we named it Caroline. “It sounds good guys.” I told them and they both smiled at me. “Please don’t be so down on yourself.” Seth pleaded. I know he worried about me the most, he knew what I was capable of. I didn’t feel like bringing everyone down and worrying about me so Seth and I just stole some liquor from the gas station. Alice was waiting at my house for us. Seth had to go with his parents for a while so Alice and I just took a walked and talked about everything. I knew so much about her now and she knew a lot about me. I made her laugh and she made me laugh. We walked in the cemetery again, our usual place we walked. “So are you alright now?” She asked me. “Yeah. I miss her but I know she wouldn’t want me to be this upset, you know.” I looked at her. She had the brightest green eyes that I ever seen. “I think your cousin likes me…I mean it doesn’t seem like it sometimes but other times it seems like he wants me, as his girlfriend.” She explained. I know Seth didn’t like her…he told me once before. “Ah…” I looked forward; we were almost to my grandmother’s burial site. “Who do you like?” I kept my head down and kicked rocks with every step I took. “Why?” I could see her smiling at the corner of my eye. “I was just asking.” She was being so stubborn about this subject. Next thing I know we were standing right in front of my grandma and grandpa. “Did you ever know your grandpa like your grandma?” Alice touched my fingers like she had the time we were here before. “No. He died when I was just a little kid.” I stared at both of their headstones. I’m glad that they were buried next to each other. We kept walking along and I kept trying to get her to tell me whom she liked. It was bothering me and I knew it was Seth. “I know its Seth.” I whispered. “What?” She stopped and had a disgusted look on her face. “No, no, no! I don’t think so…” She stated. She thought she won but I wasn’t finished. We started walking again and I knew I was going to get it out of her, no matter what. “Yeah, you just keep saying that.” I looked at her and her head turned slowly towards me. “Sam…. I. Do. Not. Like. Your cousin.” She spaced the words out. “Yes you do!” And I took off running and I jumped the fence and ran to my yard. She hopped the fence too and tackled me to the ground. I was so close to my house. When she tackled me she landed right on top of me, we were face-to-face…inches away. “This is awkward.” I told her slowly.
“I know, sorry.” She got up immediately and helped me up. We brushed off our clothing because I know there had to be dirt on us.
“I’m not telling you who I like, alright.”
“If I guess will you tell me?”
“And why not?”
“Because…” I can’t believe she was being so stubborn. I was practically her best friend and she wouldn’t even tell me. “Doesn’t Tyler know?” I knew he did and everyone else probably knew but me. “Yes.” She sat down on a lawn chair and I sat in the one next to her. Alice got up and leaned over me, her face close to mine. “Do you really want to know?” Her voice was low, soft. “Uh, yeah.” I was sort of speechless. I mean it was weird. “Too bad!” She smiled and ran off. I smiled too and ran after her, I didn’t even know where she was. Probably hiding. I gave up after five minutes and went inside my house and decided to see what was on TV. I left it on some rock music videos; there were a lot of songs I liked on here. Some of them were even my favorite songs. Alice came in and jumped on the couch with me, I didn’t even care and plus nobody was here anyway. “Okay, this time I’ll tell you.” She turned down the TV and as right as she was about to tell me Seth came in. “Oh, am I…?” She put his hand on the handle. “No, no. Come in.” Alice motioned for him to come to come and sit down to watch TV I was guessing. Dammit, Seth! I so close to finding out whom she liked and then he had to interrupt. Oh, well…I’ll make her tell me later. So until my parents got home we all sat there and got drunk and mostly stayed downstairs. We all passed out down there too. I don’t know what we were up to tomorrow but Seth was moving everything out of his old house and to my grandma’s house; they ended up inheriting the house. So he’d be busy all day tomorrow and Alice can tell me whom she likes.

I woke up around noon and Seth wasn’t there but Alice was still passed out on the floor. “Alice, wake up.” I shook and eventually she woke up. The bottle was still halfway full and she chugged the rest of it. “Seth…?” She asked and I could tell she was still drunk. I mean she especially was after she just chugged some strong alcohol. “Who are you?” She got up but stumbled. I looked at the clock and it was two in the morning. No wonder why it was so dark. I could hear everyone partying upstairs. Alice came towards me and got on top of me like when she tackled me. “Alice, I don’t think we should do this. Please, go back to sleep. You need it.” I pushed her away but she just kept on trying to come back. “Sam, you know I love you.” It was so difficult to understand her. I carried her to the couch that and she slept downstairs that night while I slept on the recliner. About ten and a half hours later Alice woke me up. She probably had a bad headache. I heard her puking in the bathroom but she only threw up twice. “Yeah, it was weird last night. You told me you loved me and you tried to do…things.” We both sat down in my basement. “What things?” Alice’s head snapped in my direction almost immediately. “Uh…” I raised my eyebrows. “Oh. Oh.” She paused for a moment. “I’m sorry.” I loved how she apologized for things that weren’t her fault. “It’s alright. I stopped you and put you on the couch.” I explained. I didn’t want her worrying. “Thank you.” She whispered and we both sat there for a while. “Since you took care of me for a bit you deserve to know who I like.” Maybe she could tell me without any interruptions. “Okay. Who?” I rested my head in my hand. She hesitated, thinking about if she should tell me. “I hope this doesn’t change anything…but, uh…you.” She said with a straight face. My heart was beating faster than anything right now. “Uh…what?” I had to hear that a second time. Maybe I heard that wrong. “You.” She emphasized the whole word, like I was mentally challenged. “Are you surprised?” She asked and smiled. I nodded. “Well…do you like me?” She sat up and looked at me. “Alice, I don’t want the band being torn apart if this ends badly, if it ends badly. Who know, we might not end up together.” I spoke quickly, trying to think of the right words. She came over to me. “Okay...?” Alice was confused. I knew she was. She leaned over me again and kissed me on the lips, parting them and kissed me with experience. I mean I wasn’t really sure if Alice had any other past boyfriends since she was shy like me. But all I knew was I think I had fallen for Alice.

The End

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