ElevenMature

Xander: The Ghosts Around Me...

I slammed my car door and let out a scream. This could not be happening. I’d been okay. I’d been fine. How dare she just waltz back into my life of shadow with her perfect glow and her tainted smile? How dare she?!

My knuckles were white around the steering wheel. There was only one thing in the world that could make me feel better. It only took me six minutes to cross town, and then I was easing my truck into my signature parking spot at Paul’s.

The bartender greeted me with a friendly smile. I did my best to return it. "Put me on 12," I shouted, disappearing into the locker room. I tried very hard not to think too much as I laced up my bowling shoes. To push away the memory of her damned eyes, sp pitiful, so melancholy. Alessa had put her curse on me once, and it had taken too long to shake it. I didn’t think I would survive another dosage of her poison.

I didn’t understand it. Why was it that humans adored those who scorned them and scorned those that adored them? And why was I still entertaining the notion of Alessa when she’d proved she wanted nothing to do with me? If I’d been so important, she would have held on. Instead she had chosen to push me away, trapped in the vicious cycles of thought that consumed her. And how could I even begin to fathom forgiveness after the harsh words she'd chosen to end it with?

Bowling distracted me, or almost anyway. I forced myself to concentrate, to hit my mark with perfect form and watch the pins crumble. My score rose and my anxiety faded. Damn her, I thought to myself. She lost me once, and I wouldn’t be stupid enough to give her another chance.

XXX

I almost thought I could fall back asleep, which would have made my morning so much nicer. Mu head was down on my usual table in the commons, and in my fit of exhaustion the cadence of the school had softened.

That was right about when Wynter came up and placed a hand upon my shoulder gently. She dropped onto the bench beside me, her slender fingers moving in a small circles over my shoulder, down my back, and up again.

"What’s wrong, Xander?" she asked me gently.

"Didn’t sleep well," I lied. Yes, I told Wynter everything. But with Alessa, I didn’t even know how to begin. How did I explain to the sister of the girl I'd so loved that I was tossing  and turning because of a girl I so wanted to love?

Wynter gave me a quick hug. "Come over tonight," she suggested. "We can watch a movie or something."

"Maybe," I replied. Admittedly, a night with Wynter was probably exactly what I needed. Calm, sympathetic girl behavior. But if the opportunity came to get wasted with Cole, I would be taking it. So long as it wasn’t at Gavin’s house. I didn’t think I could stand to look at him. Call me biased, but I truly believed that Alessa deserved better than Gavin Kings. There was still a part of me that wanted to keep her safe, wanted only the best for her. And I knew Gavin. He would ruin her.

I dragged myself through the school day, doing what I could to ignore Alessa completely in third hour. But every now and then, she would turn around and glance at me, passing it off as looking at the clock. I felt myself burning up in the acidic glow of her eyes. Oh, how I so longed to hate her.

At lunch, Cole mentioned a party, and I assured him I’d be there. Maybe I would even bring Wynter along. She was going to fall into the same path as her sister and I and everyone else we called friends eventually, so I might as well start her off in the right direction now. Was it particularly fair of me to count on her to sew up the heart that Alessa had so carelessly torn open? No. But sometimes the agony of living causes one to forget such things. As far as I was concerned, I would do whatever I had to in order to forget Alessa’s existence entirely.

Alessa: The Ghosts Within Me...

"People at Black Hills are so serious," I muttered. "I never thought I would miss I mean, we all talk about getting out like it’s no big deal. But it is. Leaving will be harder than I ever imagined." Ellie was the only one who truly knew of my unshakeable ache to escape the town that had caused me so much trauma.

"You wish you could stay?" she asked.

I shrugged. "Maybe a little," I admitted. "But that would be even harder. I think once you’re out you have no choice but to stay out. Attempting to push your way back in would probably do more damage."

Ellie nodded, that contemplative look coming over her face. I sighed a little, bringing my own peppermint latte to my lips. Tomorrow, bowling started up again. I was, predictably, less than thrilled. With Ellie, Nick, and Sean all moving on with their lives, I was left to fend for myself. I could have quit. I probably should have, for that matter. But I never did what I should. And by some twist of fate, I’d been placed on Xander and Coles team.

I was just jumping with excitement.

"So… tomorrow... Xander." It wasn’t a question. Not the way Ellie said it.

Still, I nodded. I could so easily write him off as someone I wanted nothing to do with. But inside I knew the truth I'd never fully admit: I still loved him, however much I hated myself for it. I still would have dont anything for him, been there no matter what. And somehow....somehow I would find reconciliation with him. It was the only chance I had to save myself.

XXX

I had a dream that night. I was standing on a pier overlooking the ocean. I was wearing a beautiful gown on purple and silver. Xander was standing behind me. Neither of us spoke, but we stood there in the mists, perfectly content in the silence.

He reached out to take my hand in his own, using it to spin me around so that we were facing. I looked up into his eyes, bluer than both the sky and the sea put together, and equally as infinite. Still, we dared not speak for fear of shattering the moment.

At last he kissed me, long and passionate. And all around us a hurricane began to twist, and still we stayed trapped together in its torrent. And I knew that I was going to die, right then, right there.

But I wasn’t scared, and I wasn’t angry or sad. I had no regret, no remorse. I had Xander’s arms around my waist and his hands tangled in my hair and his lips pressed to mine still. And I knew that somehow everything else would be okay.

The End

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