Part 3

Will things change?

***

Chapter 22

Saturday 11th December

Work's kept me occupied but nothing really stops the pain. I admire Jack for trying to make me feel better at school but there's nothing he can do either. He's the only reason I go to school, I suppose, apart from to seek refuge from the aching hole inside me. I don't really see what else life has to offer me except from misery.

***

"Hey, Rosa," Jack said on Wednesday morning. "How're you feeling?"

"Truthfully? Like there's a massive gaping hole in my chest, like I'll never love again and like I'm incomplete, but apart from that okay."

Jack frowned. "You don't sound okay. Do you want me to come round this evening?"

"No. You have to look after Ross."

"I don't think he wants me to."

"It doesn't matter. I don't want to do anything that might make me happy. I'd feel guilty."

"Guilty?"

"Yeah. I don't expect you to understand but it would sort of be painting over the memory of Ross if I tried to forget about him too quickly. I still love him and I'm just not ready to have any sort of fun."

"But it could help you so much."

"As I said, I don't expect you to understand."

"I'd like to, though."

"Would you try and entertain yourself if you did something terrible to me and I didn't forgive you?"

"Oh, I see. I feel mighty bad for leaving you on your own, though."

"It's okay. I see you at school and that's the highlight of my day. Then I go home and I can think about what I've done. It's the way things are."

"It shouldn't have to be that way."

"But it is. Thanks for all your support, but right now, the best thing you can give me is space when I'm not at school."

Jack looked unhappy but didn't press me on the subject.

***

            So life is pretty bad right now. Half of me is crying over Ross whilst the other half is wondering if my life would have suffered if I'd never met him.

At least Ross hasn't been too bad. Jack's been texting me every evening, on my request, and apparently he's a bit cold but maybe warmer than he would have been before. He's seemingly been getting on well with Mark and Lily, even though he's been ignoring Jack. Jack informs me that he should be completely okay by Monday as he has continued to ‘age' a year a day. I'm thinking of visiting him then, to ask if I can move on. I don't want to worry my friends and even though I'll never be totally happy again, it would be a waste to mope around for the rest of my life.

***

Sunday 12th December

            Is it really thirteen days until Christmas? I didn't notice December arriving, not really. I haven't had an advent calendar this year. I suppose it was time to grow out of that sort of thing anyway.

            I read something that made me cry today (not that I haven't been crying every morning and every night). It was something Ross wrote in my diary without my knowledge on the day after my birthday (the day I got the diary back). He'd written it for me to read ‘when the cruel world decides we can't be together'. It was a message to say he loved me with all his heart and found being my kingfisher marvellous. It made me feel even worse for kissing Jack behind his back.

            What if that wall comes back up? It will be all my fault and all this will have been for nothing. I'm so stupid! Why can't I just get on with life and not need support? I hate myself right now. I really do.

***

Monday 13th December

            Today's the day. I feel hollow and cold inside. Do I want to move on?

I think I should do this before I become indecisive.

***

            I walked resolutely to Jack's house and knocked on the door.

Ross answered. He looked surprised to see me. "Rosa?"

I nodded. "I've ... come to ask something."

"Do you want to come inside?" His face was infuriatingly unreadable.

"No. I can say it here."

"Oh okay then."

"I'd ... I'd like to ask if I can move on."

"Move on?"

"Move on," I repeated.

"From...?"

"From ... letting my mistake ruin the lives of the people around me."

"Pardon?"

"From being depressed about what I did to you and what resulted from what I did to you. It's not fair on my friends if I stay totally miserable."

"You want to get over me?"

"I don't think I'll ever get over you. But, in a sense, yes. I want to stop moping about."

"And you need my permission?" he asked dubiously.

I nodded. "Do you think I should still be punished for my awful mistake?"

Ross frowned. "Surely I'd be cruel to say yes?"

"No, you'd be perfectly justified. I can see why you'd maybe want me to make me suffer more."

"I don't want you to suffer at all."

"You must hate me a little bit. Unless you got over me, which would have been a very good thing to do."

"No. I don't hate you and I didn't get over you." Ross smiled mysteriously.

"You're so detached from your emotions that you feel nothing?"

"Nope, not that either."

"I don't ... I don't understand."

"Isn't there something else I could be?"

I thought about it for a while. "No."

"Sure?"

I nodded.

"No ... positive emotions I could be feeling right now?"

"If you're suggesting that you're feeling understanding or forgiving..."

"I'm more than suggesting it, Rosa, but go on. What if?"

"Then you're totally insane."

Ross laughed. "Am I now?"

"Yeah. I was so outrageous!"

"No, you weren't. I was outrageous. Threatening to freeze your heart if Jack didn't let go. That was so immature."

"You... you can't forgive me."

"Why not? Because you haven't forgiven yourself? I can help you do that, you know."

I didn't know what to say. "Ross..., I ... I hurt you."

"You did. And now I'm not hurting anymore."

"I ... I can't do this now."

"What? Move on? Thought you wanted to."

"I was prepared to move on from ... us."

"Oh yes, of course. I still didn't give you your answer." His tone turned gentle. "Ideally, I'd like you to not move on, but if that's what you want, then..." He sighed. "Then I can't stop you."

"What do I do?" I murmured aloud.

"I don't know, Rosa. I can't help you with that decision."

"I... I felt so guilty and terrible..."

"After trying to convince me Jack only had the best intentions at heart," Ross pointed out.

"Yeah, but deep down I always felt it was slightly wrong. Those feelings came out during my contemplation time."

"Do you want to move on?" Ross asked softly.

"I... No," I confessed.

"Do you want to forgive yourself?"

"No."

"No?"

"No."

"Then you have a tough choice. Sorry I can't give you more than my solution to the problem."

"I need time."

"You have it."

"I love you."

"I know."

"But I was ... so out of line."

"You weren't, but if you need time to acknowledge that yourself, this is what I'm giving you."

"You're so wonderful."

"Not really."

"My heart is shouting at me to kiss you and I've missed being in your arms so much. But I can't do it."

"That's fine."

"Will you wait for me?"

Ross smiled. "Of course I will. I'm hardly going to find anyone else. Though... you might."

My brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, you might find another guy if you decide not to go back to Jack or be with your kingfisher."

"Is that possible?"

"Oh yeah, I'd imagine so."

"I wouldn't do that to you."

"I don't care about me, Rosa. Just go out and live your life. If you never visit me again, I'll be mildly satisfied that you're happy."

"I ... I should go."

"If that's what you want to do."

"Bye Ross."

"Bye Rosa."

I walked home, feeling strange. One part of me was screaming at me to go back and ask to be in a relationship with him again, another was crying at his nobility, another was cursing my comparatively poor personality as it meant such a wonderful guy was destined to a lifetime of getting less than he deserved and the final part of me was confused and wondering when the lines between reality and dreams had become blurry.

            What did I do? I'd spent the past 5 days wondering if my life would be better with no memory of what Ross meant to me. I wanted so much to go back to where we were, but could I do that to him? Kiss his best friend behind his back and then ask him to take me back, regardless of whether he'd suggested it first.

***

Confused... How had my simple life become so complex?

  • Do I want a kingfisher? I don't know.
  • Do I want Ross? Yes.
  • Do I want to stop feeling sorry for myself? Definitely.
  • Do I want to get over Ross? I don't know.
  • Do I love Ross? Absolutely.
  • So where do I go with that? No idea.

***

            My reaction begged the question ‘What would I have done if Ross had responded how I'd expected him to?'

If he'd said "Yeah, you can move on, I still haven't forgiven you", where would my life have gone? Certainly I'd be depressed, but would there have been some slight satisfaction? Would I feel as if my punishment was final and that I could just attempt to get over Ross and live my life as normal? Or would I have felt inconsolable and distraught? I played the scene out in my head. Ross looking at me with cold eyes and asking what I was doing there and then telling me I might as well move on because he'd moved on himself. I saw myself in great pain, living the rest of my life incomplete and numb. 

No, it was good that he'd told me he forgave me because the fact of the matter was... I couldn't live without him. How had he described me on the day he'd reverted to a childlike state? As his raison d'être; his soul. He was mine. I couldn't imagine any sort of contentment without Ross somewhere in the picture. I sighed. But that didn't mean I had to be his girlfriend.

I went to sleep that night, still puzzling things over. He made it seem so simple to want to be in a relationship again. Maybe I was wasting precious time not taking advantage of his forgiveness and he was changing his mind.

‘What do I do?' was the last question I thought before I fell asleep.

Tuesday 14th December

            I had the most terrifying nightmare last night. Ross got another girlfriend and he ignored me for the rest of our lives. The hole in my chest got worse and I found that I was constantly depressed and scarily vulnerable. No one could help me, not even Jack, who gradually drifted away from me out of despair at the fact he couldn't help me. I was alone and afraid in the world. My parents chucked me out the house, telling me I was bringing them down. I was so depressed that even Amy suffered. She worried until she was physically sick and had to be hospitalised.

            The dream told me something. I need Ross. Even if I find it hard to believe he can forgive me, even though I still feel guilty, I would be nothing without him. I have to go and see him...

***

I jumped out of bed, got washed and dressed faster than I'd ever done before, sprinted downstairs, grabbed a banana to eat for breakfast and skidded past my bewildered parents in the living room, telling them I was going to Jack's, barely noticed which shoes I was putting on and ran to Jack's house.

I rang the door and bounced on my heels, impatient, though also slightly nervous from the dream. I half-expected Amy to appear with dead eyes and pale skin.

It was Jack who answered the door. "Rosa? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just need to see Ross," I panted.

"Um, okay. Do you want to come in?"

"Yes please."

I paced in the living room as Jack went upstairs to fetch Ross. I wondered what was taking so long before my kingfisher appeared. I have no idea when I made the decision to do so but I ran up to him and threw my arms around him. I kissed his cheek. I pulled him over to the sofa, sat down and tugged him down so he was sitting beside him before I was frantically kissing him.

"Rosa, Rosa, stop!" he chuckled, pushing me away.

I stopped. I was suddenly worried. "You don't want me to?"

"It's not that. It's just we've not even said hi. And you seem so ... scared. What's wrong, darling?"

"Am I your darling, Ross? Really?"

"I think you should answer that question. Would you like to be?"

"More than anything in the whole world. Oh darling, I had such an awful dream and I just realised... I can't live without you. You're the one I'm meant to spend my entire life with."

Ross looked elated. "So you want to go out again?"

"Yes, yes I do." I paused. "Can I kiss you again?"

"No, no you can't! I want to kiss you!"

He grabbed me in his arms and leant in to kiss me. He sent crashing waves of love around our minds. I could feel his euphoria. I felt like I was soaring around with him though I doubted I could fly as high as him. I didn't care that I was drowning in his ecstasy; that I was totally losing myself or that my heart was completely surrendering to him. Everything in that moment was inexorable and wonderful.

‘I love you,' I thought. ‘And I always want to be with you.'

‘I love you too. Thanks so much for bringing my wall down. Can you feel the difference?'

I could. Every wave of love he sent to me was stronger, more powerful. He could probably knock me senseless with the force of his emotion.

I suddenly got a feeling of a mysterious smile and the love returned to his mind. I could feel something building up, just out of reach. It was like being in the centre of a volcano that was about to erupt. I was curious. What was Ross doing?

And suddenly, his emotions exploded. A crashing torrent of pure, unadulterated love which shot through me like a comet. I collapsed in a faint.

            I woke up to find Ross roaring with laughter. It was amazing to see him laugh so hard, I don't think I'd ever seen him so happy before.

"Oh my darling, sweetheart Rosa, that was hilarious! I thought you were joking about me being capable of knocking you senseless."

"What ... what happened?"

"You were quite literally ‘knocked senseless'."

"I was?"

"Yes. Oh, we have to do that again some time."

"You want me unconscious?"

"No, of course not. But you enjoyed it too, so it'll be something for special occasions."

"You are being absurd."

"I know. I'm just so ... so happy. Happy is completely the wrong word. None of its synonyms could sum up the immense pleasure that's coursing through me right now."

I looked into his eyes and smiled.

"I love you," I murmured, as I gazed deep into those cerulean depths, those gateways to a world in which I belonged and could always find happiness.

Ross turned serious. "I love you too."

"I want to be with you."

"I know. Me, too."

"Do you know what I want the most of all?"

"No, but I'd like to." He gently caressed the side of my cheek.

"I want you to promise you'll always be there for me. To completely surrender yourself to me and give me all the love you've ever felt in your whole life. Does that sound selfish?"

"No, because it's what I want from you too."

"You first."

Ross took one of my hands and clasped it between both of his and stared deep into my eyes. I shivered slightly from the intensity of his gaze but calmly allowed him to melt my heart into honey only he could savour and address my soul.

"I promise," he said sincerely, with the deepest, strongest love imaginable saturating his tone, "to always be there for you, to completely surrender myself to you and give you all the love I've ever felt in my whole life." 

He leant down and whispered in my ear. "Can I give you myself now?"

I nodded.

He kissed the part of my jaw beneath my ear before resting his head on my shoulder.

‘Close your eyes,' he thought to me.

I did so. My heart rate doubled as I waited.

And slowly but surely, it came. I felt Ross give himself up to me, letting down all his walls easily as if it were the most natural thing in the world to totally surrender to someone.

He laid everything bare for me to see: his memories, his deeper emotions, an echo of the pain that had been the monster behind the biggest wall he'd ever put up and a glowing orb of beautiful colours.

‘What's that?' I gasped in my mind.

‘My soul, Rosa.'

I felt a tear travel down my cheek.

‘Don't cry. I'll be in unbearable pain if you're in the slightest bit upset.'

‘Oh no, I'm not upset. It's just that this is such a beautiful moment. I can't believe what we're experiencing.'

‘Your turn now, Rosa.'

Ross raised his head and I opened my eyes to stare into those gorgeous eyes, hoping to convey my sincerity as well as he had. "I promise to always be there for you, to completely surrender myself to you, and to give you all the love I've ever felt in my whole life."

I then closed my eyes and imagined every single wall in my mind sliding down. It happened surprisingly easily. Maybe it was because I was so willing to give myself to him, to try and give back in return for the incalculable amount he had given me. After that, it was natural to allow my thoughts to flow into his mind. I found that across the wide expanse our thoughts mingled to become Rosa-Ross or Ross-Rosa as our personalities combined. Even our souls seemed to float in towards each other, though they helped more by casting rainbow lights around the plain.

‘So...' I tried to find a word but there wasn't one. ‘Magical?'

‘So rose-dove-kingfisher-destiny-like.'

I smiled at Ross's description. ‘That's still not enough.'

‘No words would ever be enough.'

I heard footsteps. I was extremely annoyed. ‘Who would disturb us?'

‘No idea. They're a fool, whoever they are.'

I heard a polite cough. I opened my eyes, but maintained the physical contact with Ross. I turned to see Jack. He was smiling but it was a sad smile.

"Yes?" I asked, slightly shortly.

"I... wanted to ... wish you the best relationship possible."

"Thanks," I said, slightly puzzled by such a random comment.

"You're... kind of conveying your thoughts to the whole household... Even Dad's getting a sense of it [Mark was a human and therefore not psychic]."

"Oh. Sorry. We didn't realise."

"No, that's fine. We're just ignoring you." Jack grinned. He still looked sad though.

"What's wrong, Jack?" I asked.

"It's just... and this is going to sound really self-centred so I apologise in advance... It's just that ... I realised something."

"Go on."

"You... don't love me anymore."

I frowned. "Er... I, um, don't get you. Are you saying you want me to love you? Or are you asking if I still love you?"

"Neither. I ... was just ... saying goodbye."

"We... weren't in a relationship, Jack."

"I know. I can't say what I mean properly."

"Try again."

"I wanted to say thank you for all the times we had together. And to formally acknowledge the end of the mutual nature of love in our friendship."

"Oh, you still love me, don't you? Jack, I'm sorry, but you probably felt it when I gave all my love to Ross."

"Oh, yeah, that's fine. I'm happy for you. I'm just coming to terms with it."

I nodded. "Of course."

"We had a good year and a bit, didn't we?" Jack sounded slightly choked.

I greatly respected Ross for saying nothing and was grateful that he was sending me waves of calm.

"It was so much longer than that."

"I should have asked you out as soon as I knew I loved you, should have asked if you felt the same and started it then. Not have left it ..."

"Stop. Don't regret anything," I said gently.

"We could have had so much longer..."

"Jack."

"Yeah, I'm sorry."

"We'll still be great friends. And I reckon Ross and I only gave each other romantic love, so we'll still be like brother and sister."

"But never anything more." Jack nodded, accepting this. "I can deal with it. I know I can deal with it."

"I know you can too. You're strong."

"Can I ask you one last thing?"

"Anything."

"What... will you do with the memories of ... us?"

He meant would I forget we ever were a couple. "I will cherish those memories every single day of my life. I'll tuck them away in a corner devoted to the best of the past and whenever I have a spare moment, I'll live through them again."

Jack smiled. "Thanks. And, thanks for enduring my little selfish spell."

"You could never be selfish. You were just wondering. And I respect you for coming to speak your mind so that we're never awkward and know exactly where we stand with each other."

"Is this the wrong time to tell you you're amazing?"

"Not at all."

"You're amazing," he said sincerely. "And I'll love you for my whole life unless I find I have a rose-dove. Even then, I'll still regard you as a little sister."

"Bye Jack," I said gently.

"Bye, Rosa. I'll miss you."

"See you tonight."

His smile widened. "Until then"

            When he'd gone, I wrapped my arms around Ross as he did the same to me. I murmured, "Thank you," in his ear before closing my eyes and returning to our world where we reigned as king and queen and love was Gravity.

The End

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