Xander: Clinging to the Past...
Memories were supposed to fade. I knew they were. So why wasn’t the remembrance of Alessa’s touch disappearing from my mind? Lying awake in bed for the second night in a row, I could still feel her slender fingers on my arm, like ice, unthawed even by the fire that burned so brightly within her.
Eventually I gave up on sleep, throwing back the covers and dragging myself over to my desk. I pushed aside piles of school work and folded notes and discarded scraps. Those were the memories that would fade. But not her. Never her.
Things were quiet in the Facebook universe. Mostly it gave me a way to distract my mind. Eventually Loren came on, and I clicked his name to start up a chat.
Xander: cant sleep either?
Loren: fighting with Melissa…
Not like I was surprised. All those two ever did was fight. Thank goodness for make up sex, or their relationship would have long since been shot to hell. I didn’t understand why it was so easy for some and so goddamn hard for others. Why I had to be so afflicted with this agonizing torment. Why we both couldn’t just swallow our fucking prides. I wanted Alessa, and I knew that somewhere in there with all the ghosts and demons was a spirit that wanted me too.
Xander: sorry… I’m sure it will work out.
Loren: it always does. I think we fight sometimes to remind ourselves we cant ever lose each other. Like we make things bad intentionally so neither of us forget the good.
I stared at the words on the screen for a long time before I shut off the computer and went back to bed.
I passed Alessa in the hallway. She looked as lost as ever. As broken as she had the first time I’d brushed against her. And I walked right by. And I wondered if she would have stopped, had she seen me. and I knew I didn’t want to know the answer.
I didn’t slow until I’d reached the back doors, pushing my way out into the wintery illusion of sun. In spite of the brightness around me the air was only about thirty degrees. The cold was unshakable. Oh, I longed for the passionate heat of summer. When the line between right and wrong seemed to thin until it was very nearly invisible.
Cole was already waiting for me. Wordlessly, he handed me a lit cigarette, which I gladly took, bringing it to my lips to take a lengthy drag. Tendrils of smoke twisted down my throat, teasing me and leaving behind it’s searing touch. Not so very different from Alessa, I thought bitterly.
We walked towards my car in silence. But after about three minutes, Cole let out a dramatic sigh and said, "this is ridiculous. Xander, you’re ridiculous."
I stopped where I was, dropping the butt of the cigarette and using the toe of my Converse to stomp it out. "How?" I demanded. "Please, enlighten me."
Cole repositioned himself so that he was facing me straight on. "Get the fuck over yourself," he spat. "Talk to the girl. Cant you see she fucking adores you?"
I bit my tongue long enough to think before I said something I’d regret. Maybe he was acting like an arrogant asshole, but he was still my best friend.
"Yeah," I said slowly. "Aren’t you the one that told me to get over her?"
"Well, you’re doing a shitty job," he muttered. "Look, Xander. I don’t wanna see you hurting. But I’ve seen the way you look at this girl. You can’t tell me there’s not something there."
"She fucked me over, Cole. Remember that?"
Cole looked at me for a long time, his gray eyes searching my own ice blue ones for something, anything. I wondered what he found there. I wondered what emotions he drew from the vacancy. When at last he spoke, he said, "Do you think we’d still be friends if I didn’t let go of every time you fucked me over?"
To that, I had absolutely no reply.
So he went on. "I know you care about her. Probably a hell of a lot more than you should. And by the way she looks at you, you’re the only star in her darkness. Think about it this way: would you have wanted everyone to walk out on you? You're doing to her what Reina did to you."
I swallowed hard, hating him and hating myself. But I thought that maybe he was right. Maybe I was the one leaving her behind.
Cole only nodded. Without saying a thing he pulled out another cigarette, lighting it and taking a drag before passing it to me. "You’ll be sorry if you let her go again. I can promise you that."
I knew Cole was right, and that made it so much worse. School, work, bowling… none of it mattered. She was there to ruin it all, to corrupt it with the mere though of her. Even if it was only her name. I’d be watching her across the commons, and even though she was in plain view, in shouting distance, I missed her. I missed the Alessa that she’s been when she’d been at my side. Even a few feet was enough distance between us to make us complete strangers.
At night I told myself that I’d fallen one too many times. That I wasn’t sure I had enough strength to pull myself back up. Alessa’s voice was like poison in my veins, and she didn’t care at all. I’d hardly thought of her in the last year.
They say that when you love something you should let it go to see if it comes back. Alessa was here now. And I just wasn’t sure if that made her my demon or my savior.
Alessa: Moving Towards the Future...
Everyone has their weak spot. The one thing that can always bring them to their knees, regardless of how strong they are. Since the moment we’d dragged ourselves into each other’s lives, Xander had been that weakness. But he had also given me so much strength. I thought that once there had been a time that he’d drawn strength from me as well. And maybe we’d said a lot of hurtful words, and caused each other a lot of pain. But at the end of it all I would still have told anyone that he was that boy, the one who took my heart and put it back together.
I knew what had to be done, whether I wanted to admit it or not. But knowing just wasn’t enough. I had to actually act upon it. I had to get up and do it. I’d wasted plenty of time already. There was a whole year Xander and I wouldn’t ever get back. Maybe that was okay. Maybe that was the time we’d needed to be really, really ready. I didn’t know about him, but I was ready. I was ready to jump with him and fall forever. Even if we hit the ground and shattered, I thought, it’d have been be worth it just to feel that rush with him.
Or maybe this was it. Perhaps this was all we’d ever amount to. And if that was so, then so be it. But at least I’d know the truth. Sometimes the truth is all you can ask for.
Breaking up with Gavin was surprisingly easy. Once I’d accepted that fact that no guy deserved to be used as a fall back, it was easy to let him go. Besides, Gavin had his own problems to sort out. And as much as my sympathetic side wanted to, I just couldn’t help him. It wasn’t my job to help him fix himself. Those were the personal battles everyone had to go through. I’d learned for myself that those roads were easier to tread alone.
I didn’t give him a reason, mostly because I had none to give. None that he’d want to hear, anyway. But he understood well enough. Deep down we both knew that we were never truly meant to cross paths. Pinning everything on Fate just wasn’t the way to face life. Sometimes people had to take responsibility for their own actions or choices and not stick it on a non-existent force.
I’d never been a fan of goodbye. So we went through the motions of promising to stay friends, although somewhere within me I knew this was the end. And I supposed that was okay. Maybe it hurt me a little. Maybe it even hurt Gavin, though it was impossible to tell through the mask he hid himself behind. Either way, I was grateful for what we’d had, while we’d had it, and that was that.
On Saturday, Ellie and I arrived to Paul’s just in time. I was sure she knew how grareful I was to have her beside me. I set down my bag by the bar, leaning against it casually. I tried to look as serene as possible, but I was pretty sure a blind man could have seen the panicked frenzy in my eyes. All of my worries were still there, still tearing my confidence to pieces. Ellie was watching me nervously, waiting for me to collapse. While the thought of backing out did tempt me, I had a feeling it was impossible at this point. I was in too far.
Xander and Cole arrived a few minutes later, though of course it felt like an eternity. I watched him saunter in carelessly, like he was well aware he owned the place. But I also saw that there was a shadow across his face, attempting to hide the impossibly magical gleam of his eyes. Their oceanic waves were enough to make me crazy.
Cole looked up and caught my eye. I nodded ever so slightly. He returned the gesture.
Beside me, Ellie offered a miniscule smile. Reassurance, I knew. She wanted me to know that this was my choice while still making it perfectly clear that she was getting exactly what she wanted. Sometimes I didn’t quite know what to make of her. I loved her, that was certain. I made a promise to myself to start working at our relationship more when this whole nightmare was over. It wouldn’t be long now. I could practically hear the clock strike midnight