I jolt awake from the nightmare, breathing hard. I run my fingers through my hair as tears crawl down my face. I get off of my bed and go to my bathroom.
As I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, one thought strikes me: I’m not the same person that I used to be.
I close my eyes, trying to calm my breathing. I open my eyes to see if anything’s changed.
The past will always cling to me. It will remind me of what I’ve done. Done...But it will always haunt me.
“I can’t believe we’re already seniors.” Maddie says once I get in her car.
“I know! It’s like we were freshmen only yesterday.” Jasmine pops in.
“Right! But now we hold the fame and glory my ladies!” I say with a smile.
Maddie drives out of my driveway, and on the way to our school. “We’re queens baby!” Maddie says, turning up the radio. Julia Michael’s “Issues” comes on, and we three sing at the top of our lungs, not caring who hears as we pass. We laugh once the song ends, and right as it does, Maddie pulls into our school’s parking lot. Maddie goes to our regular spot, but we’re shocked to find that someone already took it.
“Oh no she didn’t.” Jasmine says.
“She? How do you know?” I ask.
“She’s sitting in the car!”
I look at the driver’s seat, and do see a girl. But I couldn’t exactly see her face. She had long hair that looked black cover her features. I look over at Maddie. She was gripping her steering wheel, but her face showed no emotion.
“Just park beside her Maddie. You don’t wanna be late, right?” I know what I’m doing is dangerous, but I also can’t let her get pissed off at some girl who should know better. But what if she doesn’t know? Maybe she’s new?
“Wait. What if she’s new?” My question causes Maddie to tear her eyes away from the car to me. “You know...We could bring her to our group?”
I look at Jasmine for support. “Yeah. You always said four’s better than nothing.” Jasmine says. I look at Jasmine with a smile. She’s always been the smart one out of us. I’m the one who just-.
“Hmm...Let’s see.” Maddie says, parking beside the girl’s car. “Hey. Are you new here?” Maddie asks right away.
The girl looks up, and I’m instantly taken away. This girl had gray eyes that pierced right through me as she met my eyes. She had high cheekbones with a sharp nose that had small freckles trailing along it. Her lips were full and covered in black lipstick. Her eyes were covered with dark makeup, but that made her seem more beautiful. And her hair, which was black, framed out her face, making her more striking than beautiful. She noticed me staring and gave me a small smile, I feel myself blush as I smile back.
Then she turns to Maddie. “Yeah. I’m new.”
Maddie’s eyes light up. “That’s great! I’m Maddie, this is Jasmine, and that’s Raelynn.”
“Nice to meet you.” Jasmine says with a smile.
“You too.” Amber looks over at me.
Did that really just come out of my mouth?
But Amber didn’t seem to mind, because she smiled, waved, and said, “Ayo to you too.” My heart went head over hills.
Amber walks beside me as Maddie explains our group to her. “We’re accepting. We don’t judge unless we’re judged face-to-face. Comments on the internet don’t matter to us. So we don’t pay attention to them.”
“And we don’t exactly enjoy drama.” Jasmine rolls her eyes.
“Yes, especially drama. It’s like a disease around here. We try to stay away as much as possible.” Maddie says.
“Yeah. I’m not a fan either.” Amber says.
“Is there any rules to this group?”
“Ask Raelynn. She’s the rule-maker.”
I blush, but I tell her the rules that we’ve agreed on over the years. “One: We never keep secrets. Two: We never leave another behind. And three: We never touch the fire unless we all do.”
Amber’s eyes light up. “Those are some deep rules.”
Amber gives me a small smile again. I bite my lip, unsure what to say or do next.
“So may I ask what secrets ya’ll have?”
“That depends.” Maddie says.
“Whether you want to be a part of our group. If not, there are others in this school.” Jasmine says.
Amber looks over at me, then back to Maddie. “I’ll let you know at the end of the day. Meet you at our cars.”
I watch her walk away, her black dress with white stitches swaying ash she does, her black combat boots making a soft thump as her feet take a step.
“I think she’s great.” Maddie says, breaking my stare on her.
“She seems coolio.” Maddie and Jasmine look at me.
Maddie places her hand on my shoulder gently. “Are you falling?” She whispers so that only the three of us can hear.
“Just be careful, okay?” Jasmine says with a small smile.
“I will...Thanks..Ya’ll are the best.”
“We are the best.” Maddie says.
The bell goes off for first period.
“This is it you guys! Seniors!” Jasmine says happily. We laugh, the halls being swarmed by students.
“See ya’ll later.” I say.
“Kisses!” We say together before leaving another’s side.
“Hey Raelynn.” I look up to find Cole beside me. I can feel my heart constrict, making it hard to breathe. But I couldn’t look away. He looks so much like her...The curly blonde hair. The bright blue eyes. The small smile that always seemed to light up my world whenever I caught it.
“Ayo Cole…” I finally break my eyes away from his, reminding myself that he isn’t her. That she’s gone...Gone, but not out of my mind.
“How’re you holding up?”
He’s talking about her... “Still holding...You?” I force myself to look at him. His eyes were sad.
I nod, because I didn’t know what else to do. What are you supposed to do when the only person you ever brought yourself to love, is now dead, and their brother still wants to be in your life? I don’t know...I link my pinkie with his, like we used to when we were little.
When we thought we couldn’t hold on any longer.
Just like all those years ago, we need another now. And for the same reason.
“I miss her too.” I hear myself whisper. Cole only nods, but his pinkie didn’t leave mine until class started.
I thought this day would never end until the final bell goes off. I’m the first one at the car.
“Hey. Where were you at lunch?” Maddie asks.
I look at her, and her face falls. I’m guessing my eyes were still puffy and raw from crying, because she wrapped her arms around me. I let her hold me. But I only lay my head on her shoulder.
“What’s wrong?” I hear Jasmine ask.
I pull away from Maddie and say, “Cole...We talked today…”
“Oh Raelynn…” But she didn’t say anything else. That’s because she didn’t need to.
They know what happened. They understood why I locked myself away. But they never blamed me. Although I wish they would. But then again, they don’t know the whole truth behind what happened. Only one does. And she’s buried six feet under ground.
“Ayo.” I wipe my eyes before facing Amber. But I didn’t see Amber.
I saw her.
Her long, curly blonde hair flowing around her. Her bright blue eyes shining like a star. Her beautiful smile that always made my day, whether I was mad at her or not.
I couldn’t help myself. I burst out crying all over again. This time it wasn’t in the girl’s bathroom, where I had to bury my face in my hoodie so nobody could hear me. But now? There was nowhere to hide.
“What’s wrong?” Her voice...I blink, she disappears, Amber taking her place. That only made me break down more.
“C’mere.” I hear Cole say.
I don’t know where he came from, but I didn’t push him away as he held me close, whispering to me that it’ll be okay. I held onto him, shaking my head violently. Because it won’t be okay. It will never be okay. Not without her. But she’s dead and gone…
Why can’t they see that it was all my fault?
“I’m sorry…” I sob into my hands. “I’m so, so sorry…”
Her body lays in front of me, blood pouring from her head, her blonde hair coated red.
“Please don’t leave...Please.” But my pleading got me nowhere. Her once blue eyes were still opened, staring at nothing.
“Please...Come back.” My hands start to shake. I pick up the gun that she used to kill herself. “I’m coming with you…” I bring the gun to my head, breathe in…
I pull the trigger.
I jolt awake, my body drenched with sweat, my face covered with tears. I run my fingers through my hair, trying to slow my fast beating heart. I tap my phone. It was midnight. I call Maddie.
“You okay?” She asks sleepily but alert.
“Trying to be.” My voice was shaking.
“Did you have another nightmare?” I nod, but she couldn’t see me, so I said nothing.
“Do you want me to come over?”
“I’ll open the window.” I hear myself say.
“Kisses.” She says. But I hang up before I could say it back.
I force myself to get up to open the window. Five minutes later, Maddie appears with her school bag. “You know you don’t always have to do this, right?”
“Never leave another behind.” I force myself to smile.
“Was it the same dream, or different?” She asks once we’re under the covers.
“It was the same as the last one, but the end was different this time…” She finds my hand underneath the sheets and gives my hand a small squeeze. I squeeze back weakly and say, “This time, I brought the gun to my head…” I couldn’t say anymore.
“I’m sorry Raelynn.”
“Don’t be. Maybe it’s meant to be that way.”
“Don’t you dare say that again.”
“But it’s true.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Am I going crazy Maddie?”
“No...You’re just upset.”
“You mean depressed.”
Maddie goes silent. Because she knows I’m right. Even through my smiles and my laughter, I’m dying inside. That’s why I’m not as confident as I used to be. I lost my confidence and who I was when she died.
“You look great.”
“You always say that.”
“Because it’s true. Now c’mon. We have to go get Jasmine.”
“Don’t forget your car.” Maddie rolls her eyes with a smile.
We leave my house to hers, silent as we walk side by side. I know she wants to help me, but nothing can really help me anymore. Not even a double scoop of cherry ice-cream. We get into her car. I take my usual spot in the back. She starts her car, and then we’re on our way to pick up Jasmine.
“We have one more stop.” Maddie says.
I wanted to know, but all my energy was drained. Last night really messed me up. It’s been two months since I’ve had a nightmare. I don’t know what triggered it, but I’m back to being depressed and locking myself away.
“Ayo.” I turn my gaze away from the window to find Amber beside me. A smile made its way across my face. I saw Maddie and Jasmine share a smile in the front. They did this for me…
”Ayo.” I say back, my smile getting bigger. The car starts to move, and I could feel my smile fade.
School...Where I broke down to where everyone could see me. Could see the other part of me. And Amber witnessed it. Amber lays her hand on my wrist, making the whole world stop.
“Are you okay?” She looks into my eyes as she asks. Her eyes leave me breathless.
She gives me one of her small smiles before removing her hand. There was a tingling feeling where her hand was. Before I could stop myself, I linked my pinkie with hers. She seemed startled at first, but then she gave me another small smile before looking away from me to the window. Her pinkie stayed linked in mine until Maddie cut the engine off.
I move my hand away first, although I wish I didn’t. I never felt more safe until that moment was over, cutting me out of my fantasy and back into reality.
Cole links his pinkie through mine once he’s beside me.
“I’m okay.” I say before he could ask.
“Okay, good. I, um...I brought you something Raelynn.” His pinkie leaves mine, disappearing into his school bag beside him. “I wanted to give you this.”
I gasp once I see what it is.
“She always told me to give you this if anything, um, happened…” He hands it to me, but I couldn’t bring myself to take it. He sensed my uneasiness, so he placed it on my desk.
It was her journal. The very same journal that she carried around with her everyday. I would always ask who she was writing to, because she always smiled whenever she wrote. She would simply look at me with those bright blue eyes, and say, “You.” I always thought she was joking. But here it is in front of me.
“Thank you Cole…”
Just like yesterday, I hide in the bathroom during lunch. But not to cry. This time, it was to read.
I look at the journal. Nothing’s changed since the last time I saw it. The cover was still a dark blue color with white lines. I open to the first page.
No matter how hard I tried, tears blur my vision. The journal was about medium sized, and on the first page was a picture of me and her.
We were smiling at one another. Love was in our eyes. Anyone could see that, especially the person who took this picture. I look below the picture, and my heart breaks just a tiny bit.
In her small writing, she wrote: Raelynn, I love you. I close the journal.
“I love you too…” I whisper to no one.
By the time the final bell rings, I’m okay. I give Maddie and Jasmine a smile when they approach.
“Hey, hey, hey.” Jasmine says.
“Ayo.” I say.
“A better day?” Maddie asks.
“I guess it’s getting there.”
“Ayo you guys.”
“Ayo Amber.” But I don’t return her smile. Just seeing that picture today made me realize this: I’m not over her. And moving on to someone else...I don’t think I can do it.
“I was thinking about going shopping.” Maddie says.
“Yeah. That seems coolio right about now.”
“I’m all for it.” Amber says, looking at me.
“Uh...I actually just want to be alone…” I saw Amber’s eyes fade a little.
“Okay. Do you want me to take you home?” Maddie asks.
“No...But thanks.” I give them all a wave before walking away, trying to avoid Amber’s eyes. With every step I take, my school bag feels heavier and heavier. The journal tucked in safely in a secret pocket. Just thinking about it makes it harder to breathe.
I need to read it. I need to read her words, hear her voice…
After arguing with myself for a few minutes, I stop at Starbucks, mine and hers escape place. I order a large latte and find a seat in the far back corner.
I take the journal out, and with my heart pounding, I turn to the second page.
Your eyes are quite beautiful when the sun catches them a certain way. It makes your hazel eyes seem golden. I love seeing them that way from far away. I’ve never seen them up close, but maybe someday I will. And I’ll let you know how beautiful you and your eyes are. It makes me feel beautiful when your eyes land on mine.
I grip the journal tightly, scared to let go. This was way before we met. Way before I even had the guts to talk to her. How could I have never noticed her from afar, unless somebody told me that she was looking?
Because you never turned your head, a voice inside me says. I let out a shaky breath before turning to the third page.
I finally had the confidence to go up to you today. But at first you didn’t notice me. You were listening to music. I reached my hand out and I tapped your shoulder. You turned to me and smiled. How I love your smile. ‘Ayo.’ You said, taking out your earbuds. ‘Hi.’ I said shyly. What happened to my confidence? Oh, yeah, that’s right: Your beautiful eyes looked into mine. We talked for a few minutes, but to me, it felt like hours. The bell went off, and you stood up. I will never forget the way your hair moved to the side when the wind went by us. Before I could back down, I handed you my number. You gave me that amazing smile and said, ‘I’ll text you.’ I walked away feeling like a queen. And you were the only one who gave me that feeling.
I close the journal, feeling better.
“How was school?” She asks, kissing my head.
“It was school. How was work?”
“Busy, busy, busy.”
“How does pizza sound for dinner?”
“Okay. Is Dad coming home?”
“He got stuck at work Honey.”
“I feel the same way.”
I give Mom a hug.
“So. Wanna read together until the pizza comes?”
I would always say yes to her, but today honestly made me want to read more of her words. Her words about me. “Is it okay if I pass on this one? I actually have some things I’d like to do.”
“Sure Honey. I’ll call you when the pizza’s here.”
“Thanks Mom. You’re the best.” I leave her for my room. I grab the journal out of my school bag and set it on my bed. I change into lazy clothes and pull my hair into a low ponytail. I look out my window. Clouds covered the sky, hints of blue peeking out, the sun shining through the clouds. I lay on my bed with the journal to my chest.
I breathe in.
I breathe out.
I open the journal and read.
You honestly made my day better. Whether it’s in person or over the phone, you always seem to make me smile. And it’s a real smile. I’ve never smiled like this before. I’m glad that you’re the one who makes me smile this way.
Small tears made their way down my face. But I smile through them as I turn the page.
You told me that I was beautiful today. Although I’m not, you telling me made it feel true. My feelings for you are slowly getting stronger as each day passes. The only thing I’m hoping for is that you feel the same.
I close the journal as more tears rush down my face. I’ve always felt the same for her. There was no one else that could’ve made me turn my head. She was the one. And I let her go.
After dinner, I take a hot shower. Reading her words was one thing. But hearing her voice as I read them tore me apart. First I saw Amber as her, and now this. Maybe Maddie was wrong. Maybe I am going crazy.
I’m holding onto someone who died two months ago. I’m holding onto someone who accepted all of me. I’m holding onto someone who loved me, and I loved back. I loved her...But do I still love her?
Yes, you do, one voice says. There’s Amber, another says. Amber...I call Maddie.
“How’s Amber?” I ask.
“She’s...Well...I mean...I think you should ask her yourself Raelynn.”
“Why? What happened?” “You happened.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“Ask her Raelynn.” Maddie hangs up.
What did I do? Was I harsh in some way without meaning to be? My mind clouds over. So much has happened, that I don’t even remember anything I’ve done.
Then I remembered...I didn’t smile back...I avoided those gray eyes...My phone pings. Maddie sent me her number. I instantly call her.
I close my eyes , trying not to pass out.
“I’m sorry.” I blurt.
“No, it’s not. I’ve been ignoring you, and all I’ve wanted is to be close to you.”
Oh God...Why did I say that? Why, why, why?!
“You have?” Her voice comes out in a whisper.
“Are you okay? Like, honestly?” Amber goes silent on her end. “Amber?”
“I’m...It’s just...It’s complicated.”
“I’m here to listen.” And I meant it. I’m not going to shut her out anymore. It’s time to let her in. To know me…
“I’d rather talk to you about this in person.”
“Oh…” My heart was pounding against my chest. My palms were sweaty, making it hard to hold my phone. “I mean...We could meet up?” I suggest.
“If you want.”
“Um...I mean...Sure...Where at?”
I think. “The Starbucks right down from our school.”
“Okay. I’ll be there once I’m done getting ready.” She’s getting ready just to see me?
“Okay...See you there.” I hang up, body shaking. I change into a pair of jeans, a tank top, I slip a hoodie on. I brush my hair, not caring how it looks. I slip on my converse and grab my phone before leaving.
“I’m going to Starbucks with a friend.” I tell Mom. Friend...Is that what she really is?
“Okay Honey. Don’t be out too late.”
I close the front door, let go of the knob, and I take the first step to a new adventure.
I’m there first. I wait for her outside on the sidewalk.
“Ayo.” I look up to find her wearing black leggings, a black tank top with a band logo on it, and, of course, her black combat boots. Her hair was pulled back, her gray eyes glowing against her dark makeup.
She was so different from her...But it was a good kind of different.
“Ayo.” I say. I open the door for her.
“Why thank you.”
“Well, I am a gentlewoman.”
“I like that.”
My heart jumps to my throat, unsure what to say without sounding like a dork. “Coffee?” I ask.
We order, and I pay.
“A gentlewoman you are.” I blush.
We grab our coffee and find a booth near the window. “So. What’s so complicated?” I ask.
Amber looks at her coffee, silent. “Amber, I-.”
“I have feelings for you.” She mumbles quickly. Her words smack me speechless. “I don’t know...They just came so quickly...Like a little kid falling for a new toy, you know? Or a puppy falling for that new owner...God...I’m sorry…” I just stare at her, still speechless. Amber looks up at me, her eyes pleading me to say something. Anything.
“I, uh…” I clear my throat. “Wow. Um…” I cough. Why am I so nervous? I run my fingers through my hair and stare at my coffee. “I…” I couldn’t find the words to say.
“I understand if you don’t feel the same, since we literally just met two days ago.”
That was two days ago? Wow. I really have been locking myself away. “No...It’s not that…” I force myself to say. I meet her eyes. “There’s just someone else…”
Amber’s eyes lowers from mine. “Oh…”
“But she’s…” Say it. Say it now. “She’s dead…” Just hearing the words leave my own lips broke my heart a little more.
Amber places her hand on mine. “I’m sorry…”
I knew she was curious, so I tried my best to tell her what I caused. “It happened two months ago...She...Killed herself…” I close my eyes, but I keep going. “She used a gun…” Tears fill my eyes. “I was the last one to see her...And I...I blamed myself, you know? I still do...I let her go, not knowing what she had planned…”
There...Now she knows...No. There’s more, a voice says. Tell her. I take in a shaky breath, preparing for her reaction. “I’m the one who gave her the gun…” I whisper.
I hear Amber gasp, but her hand doesn’t leave mine.
“I was drunk, you see...We just got back from a party. My mind was all fuzzy. I’m guessing that was the right moment, because she pleaded and begged until I did. I should’ve said no...I should’ve ignored her. But I loved her...What else was I supposed to do?...I trusted her…”
“Did she ever show any signs of depression?” “No...Never. Which only made me feel more blame. I was the one she always came to. But I never saw it…” Because you never looked hard enough, the voice says. “I let her go, not even thinking the worst of what could happen. She always seemed happy. She was filled with joy. She dreamed the impossible, that they eventually became possible.” I wipe my eyes with my free hand. “Sorry...You probably didn’t come here to hear me babble.”
“No, no. I’m glad you told me. And it’ll stay with me.”
I give her a smile, thankful. “So...about that crush of yours.” I say, breaking the tension.
Amber laughs, her eyes bouncing.
“I’ll give it a try.” I hear myself say “But it’ll take time, okay?”
“I understand.” Amber moves out of her side to me. She holds me close, her perfume engulfing me.
I hold her back, burying my head in her neck. “Thanks for listening.” I whisper.
“Always Raelynn. Always.”
I wake up before my alarm goes off. I turn it off, and I sit up. I grab the journal off of my bedside table. I open it.
We’re finally together. It took us a while, but here we are. I could never be more happy. You held my hand all throughout the day whenever we were close. I felt complete. Safe.
I turn the page.
Our first kiss was today. It was amazing. We were under the stars on your front porch steps. You pulled me close. I already knew what was happening, because our lips met instantly. ‘I love you.’ You said. ‘I love you too.’ And I do.
I close the journal, chewing on my lip. How could she ever be sad? Better yet, depressed? She was all smiles when she saw me. What went wrong?
I look over at my clock. I still had ten minutes left. I open the journal again.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad. I’m not hiding anything. I promise. Just please stop being mad at me. It hurts to see this side of you.
Did I find something out that day? Did I find signs of depression? I try to think back, but the memory never appeared. I sigh and turn the page.
I’m sad. I hate this feeling. How could such a feeling exist? You’re probably wondering why I’m sad. Well...It’s because of you.”
I stop reading. I made her sad?...How?...I continue.
It’s not something you said, or something you did. It’s just the fact that I took you away from the world. And that makes me sad.
“What?” I ask out loud. “No, no, no, no. You never did…” But as the words leave my mouth, I know it’s a lie.
Because she was right. She did take me away...I gave my all to her, and to no one else. I gave up everything for her. And when she died...I crashed and burned back into reality. And I hated it with a growing passion. A part of me still wants to.
I close the journal, feeling weak.
I read the journal on the way to pick up Amber. I tune Maddie and Jasmine out.
The sadness is slowly growing. I try to smile without you there, but I can’t do it. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. You don’t know a thing. I keep pretending to be happy. I fake a smile for you, and I know that sounds wrong. I just don’t have the energy anymore. My strength is fading away.
I close the journal and put it back in the pocket of my school bag, where it belongs.
I wish I could turn back time. I wish I could take her in my arms and hold her close. I wish I could have told her that she is strong, that she needed to hold on just a little while longer. But this is the real world. You can’t rewind and make things better.
“Ayo!” Amber says, getting in the car. Even through all those entries that I’ve read, I can’t help but smile when her eyes meet mine.
“So. Whos’ the man of the relationship?” Maddie asks.
I burst out laughing from Amber’s reaction.
Her face goes red. “Uh...I guess Raelynn? She is a gentlewoman.” I laugh again.
“Okay, okay. Fair enough.” Jasmine says with a twinkle in her eyes.
As the car starts forward, I link my pinkie with Amber’s. This time she gives me a smile. “You look beautiful.” I whisper into her ear.
“So do you.” Her lips tickle my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.
“Okay. But you look more beautiful.”
And it was true. She was wearing a blue shirt with a teddy bear on it, safety pins stabbed through its body. And she was wearing dark blue skinny jeans with rips and stitches in them.
“No combat boots today?” I ask, nudging her spiked flat with my dirty, worn out converse.
“I’m going through a spike phase.” She says with a smile.
“That’s hot.” I say.
She blushes underneath her makeup. Instead of black, her makeup was a pool of blues. Her lipstick was dark blue with a hint of glitter. Her hair was piled on her head in a messy, but hot, bun.
She looks beautiful. One of a kind.
When I walk into first period, and I see Cole, my heart drops. He was the only one who honestly knew how I felt about his sister. And here I am, almost three months into her death, slowly moving on to someone new. I wonder if he knows. I sit beside him.
“Ayo Cole.” I say, my voice soft.
“Does she make you happy?” Cole asks without looking at me.
“You mean Amber?” He only nods. My heart sinks deeper. “Yes...But not as much as she did.”
“How could you even try getting over her?” He asks, lifting his head, his eyes looking into mine. Those eyes that I thought would understand.
“Chloe loved you Raelynn. How could you do this to her?”
“She’s gone Cole…” I regretted the words as soon as they came out. But there was no turning back.
“Gone...Just like Cleo? Just gone?” His words send me to cry, my heart sinking faster.
“It’s not your fault that they’re gone.” I whisper through my tears.
“You’re right.” His eyes look straight into mine. “It’s your’s.” He gets up, grabs his stuff, and chooses a seat away from me. I look at my desk, my heart dangling by a thread.
He brought up Cleo...I didn’t mean for her to drown. I should’ve been the one that got swallowed by the ocean. Cleo only came out there, her worst fear, into the ocean to save me, me, who was only ten. Who wasn’t strong enough to fight the waves.
I do deserve to take the blame on both Cleo and Chloe. I’m the one who took both his sisters away. Something that I could never forgive myself for. But Cole’s right: I shouldn’t be doing this to Chloe. But what else am I supposed to do?
Once again, I hide myself in the bathroom. I open the journal before I could stop myself.
This is it. This is my last note to you. I just came from your house. It took a lot of me not to cry in front of you. I should’ve told you what I’m going to do. But you were drunk...Your mind wouldn’t have processed it. I gave you a kiss goodbye that sent me home crying. But here I am. I’m sorry that it has to be this way, but my sadness has consumed me. Now you can finally have the world back into your hands. I know you’ll take care of it. I love you Raelynn Lee.
A sob escaped from my throat, echoing around me. I go to close the journal, but a flash of a picture captures my attention. I turn to the very last page.
I was staring at myself.
My hair was everywhere, but my eyes and smile were the only thing that mattered. I was wearing the same hoodie that I’m wearing now, an old pair of jeans, and my dirty, worn out converse. In my hands was a piece of paper with my big writing that said, ‘Stay Strong, Keep Moving’. One of my favorite lyrics from my favorite band.
I look below the picture, and my heart splits.
Stay strong for me, okay? If you can’t, keep moving until you reach tomorrow. Tomorrow is always a better day.
Tomorrow is always a better day...She always said that to me whenever I couldn’t hold on any longer. I close the journal.
And this time, it’s staying closed.
“We all have had days where we could no longer hold on. We all have had days where we couldn’t fight back. But we all eventually did. Whether it be through death, fears, nightmares, we stayed strong. And we kept moving towards tomorrow. Tomorrow is always a better day...But right now there is today. Let’s live it like there was no yesterday.”
The whole senior class applauds and cheers, teachers wipe their tears away, parents, siblings, and friends throw smiles. I walk off the stage, and come face to face with Cole.
His blonde curly hair was poking out beneath his cap. His bright blue eyes were shining from the sun’s rays. His black vans poked out from beneath his gown.
Cole gives me that amazing smile of his and links his pinkie with mine.