Chapter Thirty-six

I don’t know how long I stayed there, crying over her lifeless body. It was all so surreal. I put my forehead on hers, wanting to feel her comforting arms wrap around my shoulders. Wanting to feel her lips on mine again. Wanting to feel her warmth and love towards me. Her death kept playing over and over again in my mind, making me relive it every single time it flashed through my head. I heard the rain ease up to a drizzle, and the sun started to peek through the clouds.

A car pulled into her driveway. I heard footsteps, not bothering to see who it was.

“Dan?” It was Chris. I heard him gasp as he approached me. “Hay-” He couldn’t finish, choking on the words. He sank to his knees beside me.

“Her rib…” His voice was thick with grief. I hadn’t noticed that her bottom left rib was sticking out at an awkward angle. I looked away, shutting my eyes. That’s what killed her. Her ribs are supposed to protect her, not… I felt like maybe if I could close my eyes tight enough, the truth would go away. And maybe, just maybe, I could open my eyes again and see Haylee, full of energy and life and love. Not the present Haylee, who was consumed by death.

Chris spoke, holding back tears. “Dan, we need to call 911. They’ll know what to do.” I looked at him, and saw a single tear slide down his cheek. I hadn’t ever seen him cry before.

I felt rage bubble inside me. “And what will they do? Take her away, so that nothing’s left of her?”

I saw Chris’s eyes harden. “Dan, you’ll always remember her, won’t you? You think she’ll disappear, just because her body’s gone? No, I guarantee you that she will haunt all of us the rest of our lives.” His voice softened. “Her family has to know.”

“We were her family.” I said, beginning to cry.

Chris took in a shaky breath, taking out his phone. “And we still are.”

The rest of the week was a complete blur. The police and ambulance came, taking Haylee away and informing her family. They kept pestering me with questions about her death, asking who was in the car, what the car looked like, what the person in the car looked like. I hardly answered any of them. I needed to be alone. I walked back to my house, since the streets were swarming with cars and people. I wouldn’t be able to escape to the clearing without someone noticing. I locked myself in my room, lying down on my bed and staring at the teddy bear that she had gotten me for Valentine’s Day. I glanced over at my desk. I walked over and took a framed picture from it, bringing it over to my bed and lying down on my stomach. I stared at the picture for a long time, engulfed in the memories that it held. It was of me and Haylee, with Haylee hugging me from behind, her arms wrapped around my neck.

We were both happy. Both smiling. That seemed like an eternity away, and not like it happened only a few weeks ago. Funny how so much can change in a heartbeat.

The End

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