“Why?” a gentle voice asked from behind me. I knew what was coming, but turned anyway. There was no point in fighting it. If I didn’t turn, the voice would only start sounding like it was everywhere, ringing in my ears, clanging through my head. So I turned. Everything around us is blacker than black, nothing exists but us. Her skin looked like it was glowing, her green eyes burning me where I stood. She looked at me, waiting for an answer. She stood so still, it couldn’t be natural. Her face was still the one I loved, but different— more angular, even more beautiful, knowing, dangerous. Dead. She was dead. But here she was in front of me.
Sometimes she looks like herself. Other times she looks so cold and cruel, and I can’t see anything of the girl I love within her. Today she looked at me with eyes full of sadness and pain. And blame. I’d never once seen blame in those eyes in life. Yet there was simmering anger and resentment looking at me now. Beyond that hate, that blame, I could’ve fallen to my knees with the amount of Cassie I saw in her face. Besides the accusations I saw in her eyes, I saw her.
“Why?” she asked again. My breathing was ragged, my breaths unsteady. I’d never seen her look so much like my Cassie. Except the blame. That was not Cassie. I tried to focus on that alone, tried to make myself blind to everything else, everything Cassie. She even smelled like her, the smell of coconut rolling off her. Eyes. I looked back at her eyes. But that hurt. Seeing her unrelenting pain and sadness made me feel like my very essence was being torn to shreds. And that anger was so un-Cassie it filled me with rage and hurt. And acceptance.
“‘Why’ what, Cass?” The words barely made it past my lips. I shouldn’t say anything. It didn’t help. It didn’t bring her back. But I would do anything to see her, hold her, talk to her again. And even though the girl in front of me wasn’t my Cassie, she was as close as I could get.
“Why did you let them kill me?”
“You did,” she said, cold and cruel. Her eyes flashed with pure hatred before the endless pool of sorrow settled back over her. She looked at me with those cold eyes, sad, pained eyes. A shiver ran down my spine at the other worldliness I saw there. I could feel her accusation settle in my gut; it felt like a ball of lead. That pain, that anger, made my knees shake.
“You were in a coma, Cass,” I started. I knew it didn’t matter, that this wasn’t Cassie as I knew her, that this Cassie wouldn’t care about anything I said.
“And you let them unplug me. You were there. You let them do it. You let them kill me. You let me die.” Her voice broke on the last word, the last sentence almost whispered. Blow after blow. Her words,every last one, felt like a blow to my gut. My throat burtned with rising tears, my head spinning, knees trembling.
“I’m sorry.” The words were barely a whisper. It hurt so badly because every word she said was true. I wasn’t able to stop the doctor from stopping her oxygen. I was there. I was there every single day, every night, for those eight months. I practically lived in that hospital room with her all those months. I stopped going to class for the last two months before summer break and never registered to go back for the following fall semester. Towards the end, I was there more than her parents were. I spent my days at her side, reading her some of her favorite books, books I thought she’d love, telling her stories of us, telling her about her little brother, how he was doing, how much he missed her, how much we both miss her.