Griffin’s words filled my head, reached out and touched every essence of my being. His lips were soft against mine. And then the sound of his tears mixed with the words in my mind, and as touched as I was, I knew that it was hopeless. It must have been hopeless. Griffin had prayed for me. Surely that was about as close to a last resort as he could get. Just the sound of his tears confirmed that there was not a chance in the world that my eternal night would ever see the dawn.
Griffin, I thought. I love you. I love you with every ounce of my heart. Foolishly, I hoped that perhaps, if I thought the words hard enough, there was a way that he would hear them. Because I couldn’t just let him give up too. It may have been over for me, but I could not allow it to be over for him as well. He would go on, he would make it without me. He was strong enough for that. He didn’t need to throw I all away just because of me.
I was going to die.
I found that I could hardly summon any fear. All I felt was remorse that I would never see the light again. That I would never see the look of determination on my mother’s face when she was arguing a point she knew she was right about. That I would never get to tell my father that I forgave him for everything, and that he was the best dad I could have asked for. That I would never see Cordelia or Mr. Narson or anyone ever again.
And Griffin. Never again would I feel the press of his lips to mine, hear his velvety voice as he whispered to me, have him take in his arms and hold me to his chest.
I’d never get to tell him that I loved him.
“It’s almost time to go, Arielle,” Griffin whispered. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen to you, but whatever does happen, you have to promise that you won’t let me go. I’m gonna be holding onto you forever, and you have to swear to me, Arielle, that you’ll hold on to me too.”
His words brought a lump to my throat, and the feeling that words or tears or both were about to burst forth was stronger than ever. For a split second, I almost thought that I would speak. But of course I remained silent and unmoving as ever.
Griffin took hold of my hand, brought it up to his face, and used it to wipe the tears out from under his eyes. “I guess I’ll see you in Heaven, then, if I make it that far.”
I half-expected him to drop my hand and leave, but he didn’t. He stayed there beside me, silently. He held onto my hand tightly.
So this was how it ended. Trapped in a constant sleep, and alone in my black sea.
No, I thought. Not alone. And it was true. I had Griffin at my side, as I always had. Silently, I told him goodbye. I told him again and again that I loved him.
And, though I never spoke a word, I promised him over and over that I wouldn’t forget him, and I wouldn’t let go.
When the doctors came into her room, I was still on the ground beside her bed, holding her hand. I’d given up on crying long ago- really, what good would it do me? Instead, I stared off into space with large, vacant eyes.
“Mr. Barrett,” Dr. Landry said evenly. “It’s time.”
I stood up slowly- buying her time- and brushed off my knees. “I promised her mother I’d stay with her,” I said in the same cool tone.
Dr. Landry, to my surprise, did not argue with me. I sat down cautiously on the edge of her bed, retaking her hand and holding it gently in both of my own.
This was it. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly, blocking out the light. No more tears fell; I’d cried them all out of my system. Besides, I was past the depression part of it all. I was past the denial and the anguish and the regret. All that was left now was the emptiness. The hollow feeling that was left behind where Arielle had been. I had already come to terms with the fact that once she was gone, I would be gone too. Maybe not in quite the same context of the word- not at first, anyway- but I certainly wouldn’t be there anymore. Why would I want to be? A life without Arielle was hardly a life at all.
Whatever I’d been expecting, it was something a lot more dramatic. I opened my eyes, just enough to see the dim-lit room around me, and saw Dr. Landry, standing beside the life support machine, his finger resting lightly on the power switch.
I honestly considered, for the briefest second, lunging at him or something of the sort to stop him from pressing the button. But once my senses returned, I merely gave Arielle’s hand a half-hearted squeeze. For the umpteenth time I reminded myself wasn’t my choice to make.
Dr. Landry pressed the button. Despite myself, I held my breath, waiting for the big bang, the flashing lights, anything to let me know that it was really over.
The closest thing I got was the steady beeping of the heart monitor gradually slowing, the persistent sounds fading, until there was nothing but the continuous screech, which drowned out my last goodbye.
All at once, an ice cold shiver ran up my spine. My breathing faltered as the chill settled upon my body. The only warmth left was that of Griffin’s hands, wrapped tightly around my own.
It was measured at first, but soon the changes became more and more obvious. Each breath I drew in was labored and short, and it was much, much harder to hold it in. I could feel my heart in my chest, struggling to beat, yet still trying to hold on with everything it had left.
The slowing beeps of the heart monitor filled my head, drowning out all thoughts. I tried desperately to focus only on Griffin’s touch, but it became so much harder to focus on anything at all. All I really wanted to do was stop thinking, drift off into the darkness.
But I had to keep on fighting. I had to keep my promise to Griffin. It took everything I had to ignore the pain of each breath, but I forced myself to do it. I had no choice but to do it.
Regardless of my efforts, I felt the darkness take hold of me, its icy fingers wrap themselves around my heart and my mind. Let go, it whispered. Let go. It pulled at me harder, and for a moment, I considered obeying it. What did I have to lose?
My heart gave one last kick; I took one last shuddering breath. The darkness clouded my mind fully, blocked out all thoughts and logic. I thought my final goodbye to Griffin, wishing that he could hear me. Wishing that I could still feel him.
I plunged into the icy black sea, sinking deeper and deeper into the blackness, wondering just how long I would have to fall until I hit the bottom.
In that final second, when I saw every moment I’d ever spent with Griffin flashing before my eyes, when every memory I had of him came flooding into me and took hold of me, a warmth that I’d never known washed over me as well. It filled me up completely, and I could practically feel his arms around me, holding me to his chest.
I clung to that last feeling with all I had left. That warmth was all I had left, and I let it become me. The memory of Griffin became me.
And as the chilling grip of the shadows was loosened, replaced by the peaceful feeling Griffin’s memory provided me, I opened my eyes and I saw light.
And He shall
wipe away all the tears from their eyes
And there will no longer be any death