That Summer: Twenty-FourMature

Riley

I'd come to realize that tears were not enough to wash away pain. A week went by. Soon I was out of tears to shed. That was when the apathy got to me.

Sometimes there's nothing to say. No words to ease the suffering, to erase the past. Sometimes silence is better, because silence cant hurt anyone.

I stayed awake for three days straight, smoked two packs of cigarettes and drank a bottle of vodka. I stared at the street beyond my house, waiting to see her pale, ghostly figure hurrying down the sidewalk, eager to feel my body against hers.

Harper. Always so ghostly, now just a ghost.

The insanity sunk in on the third night, when I paused to ask myself if she had ever been there at all. I was trying so desperately to cling to her memory, but already she seemed to be fading away.

"I want you to forget," I imagined her telling me. And I was quick to tell her to leave me alone, even though all I wanted was for her to stay. At long last I closed my eyes, fell into a restless sleep. In my dreams, angel wings might caress me still. Her farewell kiss might burn my lips once more.

...

"Riley." Someone was calling my name, though all I saw was darkness. I reached out into the ether. So close, but still she was so out of reach. "Hey, wake up."

My eyelids fluttered open, bringing me back to reality, the place I so desperately wished to leave behind. My room was dark, lights off and curtains drawn. Still I could make out the shadow of the man perched at the edge of my bed.

Trevor placed his hand gently upon my shoulder. "Hey, Kiddo. How're you feeling?" While part of me wanted to pull myself away from him, most of me just wanted to curl up in his lap. Anything to feel someone wrap their arms around me. To tell me everything would be okay, even though it so clearly would not.

I couldnt bring myself to do more than shrug. Trevor's expression was filled with deep compassion. "I, uh...I'd understand if you didnt want to go," he said slowly.

I felt myself shaking my head, but it seemed more as though I was watching myself instead of actually doing it. I felt so removed from my body. Floating. Drifting away. "I have to be there," I whispered.

Trevor smiled a little. It was cold and fake and so unlike him. "Okay, get dressed then. I'll be waiting downstairs." His words made me wonder if my parents were home. I realized I didnt much care either way. They barely existed in my world.

As soon as the door shut, I forced myself from my bed and started to change. The world sort of blurred, then, as I made myself look presentable. It barely helped, so dark were the bags under my eyes. Exhaustion was etched into my face. I couldnt bring myself to care. The only person I wished to impress couldnt see me anyway.

Downstairs, Trevor was waiting at the kitchen table, sipping coffee from a styro-foam cup. It was nice to see him out in the light filtering through the bay window instead of sulking in the shadows. "Ready to go?"

"Can we walk?" I asked him. Maybe the air would do me good. Or maybe not, but it was worth a shot.

"Of course," Trevor replied. He didnt seem tense or nervous. Sad, mostly. I thought about asking him how his date had gone, but couldnt bear to hear of his happiness when my lover was sleeping forever in a box.

The walk didnt take long. Neither of us spoke, but that was alright. The silence offered more comfort than empty words ever could. At last we stood before the funeral home, and my brother's hand was on my shoulder.

"You coming?" I asked him. I wasnt sure I could make it without the support he provided. Trevor was my sinew now, nevermind all the fighting an anger of the past. Now more than ever, I needed him.

"I suppose I could stop in," he said eventually. "I mean, you loved her, didnt you?"

"I still love her," I murmured. "I dont think I'll ever stop. I just wish I'd have told her when I had the chance."

Trevor's smile was wistful as he put his arm around my shoulders. "I think she probably knew."

I pulled away just enough to look up at him. Standing there now, he seemed so much my elder, instead of just three short years. "Then why would she do this?"

My brother let out a deep sigh, pushing back his dark brown hair. "Probably because she didnt know how to say goodbye."

I nodded, although his words had left me with more questions than answers. And then we made our way into the house of death. I had never felt more at home.

The End

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