This one shot is a collaberation between RussetWolfLuv and Shana. We worked very hard on this, and are both very proud of it. Please leave us a comment telling us how you liked it, and anyway we could improve. Thanks for reading everyone. We love you all!
You were my shining light in my dark life. You stitched together all the pieces of my broken heart, before they could cut me open anymore. You fought away all my fears, wiped away all my tears, and held my hand when I screamed. Every day since the first one has been a struggle to move forward in my obscured life. Everyday I fight to move forward in these ever changing times without you. The reason I do it? The reason is you.
The Reason is You
The quiet tapping of fake nails on the granite desk was enough to make me go crazy. The bleach blonde nurse that laughed into the receiver of the black phone at the desk didn't seem to care. She just kept tapping away like she was the only one here. Which would be true, if I hadn't been sitting in the uncomfortable, green generic chair pressed into the the corner of two of the white walls.
The room was even more depressing and claustrophobic than usual because the normal sounds of phones ringing, people talking, and people crying was washed away with silence. I could only stare at the ticking clock above the nurse's desk while I trembled. One hour, thirty-eight minutes and sixteen seconds had passed since he had died. Since my little brother's life had left his body, leaving an empty shell behind which my parents were continuously sobbing over.
I wasn't sure how long they would be, but I was guessing it would be a while. They just couldn't let go of the body that no longer held his courageous spirit. Me on the other hand; I couldn't stare at his empty body for more than a few seconds. There was nothing left of Sam, nothing left of my favorite person in the world. And it was my fault. Completely my fault.
I dreaded the time when my parents would come out of the stuffy hospital room, their faces tear streaked and puffy, and decided what they were going to do with me. I had caused them the grief and pain of losing their only son because of my own selfish act and stupidity. Whatever they punished me with, I would deserve ten times worse.
“Are you okay?” A sudden angelic voice asked from close to me. I tore my eyes from the sluggish clock and to the stranger next to me. If my heart wasn't already beating fast it would have sped up at the sight of him. He looked about seventeen—my age—and he was gorgeous, in that non obvious way. He had an angular face, with high cheekbones, and wide misty gray eyes. Shaggy hazel hair fell across his super pale face, like a splash of color on white.
“Uh...um..” I stuttered nervously.
“I don't mean to bother you or anything, it's just you were shaking and crying, but you weren't making any noise. I wasn't sure if you were okay.” He explained quickly. I reached up and touched my face, where sure enough there were hot tears. I hadn't even realized I was crying this whole time.
“Yeah, I'm fine.” I lied weakly. He nodded his head slowly and raised a single brown eyebrow to indicate he knew I was lying. He slid into the chair next to me, and leaned back casually. I watched him intently, glad for the distraction.
“You know, death happens everywhere, every single second, of every single day. People do crazy things to try and extend their lives as long as they can, but I see no point. Consciously, every person knows that no matter what they are going to die sometime. Sooner or later, we all leave here. So why waste our lives trying to search for something to keep us here a little longer? Why don't we just make the best of our lives now, and enjoy every second to the fullest? Don't waste a second, don't leave any regrets. Just live a good life, for as long you are granted. It's so simple, but yet so complicated for some.” He spoke, staring hard into my eyes.
His words all drifted into my heart and sunk in effortlessly. It made so much sense what he was saying, more sense than anything any school teacher ever told me. I could tell he was wise for his age, and he had first hand experience with what he was talking about.
“You're right,” I agreed, “life can end at any given second.” My voice cracked, and more tears rolled down my face. He sat up, and leaned towards me.
“It's sad when someone you know and love dies, but don't cry. I believe we all have our time, and once it's over, it's over. I know when I die, I don't want my parents to cry and mope for endless days about it. I would want them to move on, knowing that I lived my life to the fullest, and had a good run. That they did everything they could and that I don't want it to ruin their lives. Don't let whatever happened take over your life.” He said, his face soft and understanding.
“B-But what if i-it was my fault h-h died?” I sobbed, letting my restraint crumble.
“I don't believe you have the power to kill someone.” He said, shifting in his chair so he could wrap his arm around my shoulder. I knew I should pulled away from this strange boy, who I didn't know, but his embrace was oddly comforting.
“I-I did. I killed my little b-brother.”
“How?” He questioned. I closed my eyes, and it all came back crystal clear.
“Hurry up Journey! I wanna go to the party!” Sam cries, slamming his little fists against his knees. I roll my eyes at his childlike attitude. At seven years old I guess you couldn't expect much from a little boy.
“I just have to stop and say Hi to Sydney then we'll go to the party.” I negotiated. Sydney, my best friend had just gotten back from her vacation to Spain and I just wanted to see her before I dropped Sam at his friend's birthday party. I park the old Mercer on the curb in front of their house, and climb out steadily.
“I'll be back in one minute.” I say through the window, before walking up the pavement path to the green door. I knock three times on the door, then wait. I hear footsteps running towards the door, and it's wretched open suddenly. I smile immediately when I see Sydney in the door way, grinning widely.
She is tanner, and her green eyes seem wider and more excited then I remembered. “Sydney!” I cry, pulling her into a hug.
“Hey Journey, I missed you!” She breaths, hugging my back tightly. When we pull away I see her examine me.
“It seems like forever since I saw you!” She laughs.
“Only a month.” I say a matter of factually.
“Want to come in?” She asks, pulling the door open and gesturing me in.
“Sorry, I have to take Sam to a party.” I shrug. I turn around to glance at Sam, and my mouth falls open in shock at what I see. Time seems to slow as the events imprint into my mind. Sam is sitting, pouting in the backseat of the car, twiddling his thumbs idly. Behind the car a semi is crossing through the intersection on a red light. It streaming forwards, veering to the sides of the road.
“Sam!” I scream as the semi twists towards the parked car. Sam jerks his head towards me, eyes filled with fear just as the semi collides with the car. The sound of screeching metal, tires skidding, and a child's scream echoes around me as the car is pushed over the curb, and the semi topples on top if it.
I numbly try to run forward, rational thoughts blinded by fear, but I trip and fall to my knees limply. I can't move, or talk. The tumbling of the vehicles stops, and the car is crushed underneath the large semi. The roof is caved in at an unnatural angle, and I know my little brother is as good as dead. I hear pedestrians screaming, and the sounds of sirens coming down the street. But it won't be enough. I have killed my brother.
As I slipped into reality I felt that the tears had not only soaked my face and shirt, but also the boy's. He was holding me in a protective and comforting embrace, stroking my hair softly. I had told him everything, not leaving out any details. I told him the whole story that I didn't even tell my parents. I never told them about the screams, or the look in Sam's eyes as he stared at me. I didn't want to let them know how much I was hurting.
“Shh, it's okay. Just take deep breaths.” The boy crooned, wiping away the tears with his thumb. I looked up with blurry eyes at his calm and pitying face. Then I looked at the nurse, who was staring at me with a concerned and disrupted expression. I ignored her, and returned my gaze to the boy. I took deep and thorough breaths trying to calm my ecstatic nerves.
“I'm sorry.” I apologized, wiping my face with a Kleenex he passed me. “I didn't mean to break down like that.”
“It's understandable. It sounds horrible. I'm sorry you had to go through that. But you have to know it's not your fault.” He said in a hushed tone.
“But it is! If I hadn't stopped at my friends house he wouldn't be dead!” I moaned. He shook his head solemnly.
“You can't think that like. You had no way of knowing that the semi would hit him. You had no way to stop it. It's not your fault. That's just how it played out. You can't go around saying 'what if?' or 'if I had'. What's done is done.” He said in a harsher tone than before.
I saw the sense in his words again, but I couldn't force myself to believe him. I would never forgive myself for what I did. Never.
“Thanks though. I feel better telling someone.” I said honestly.
“No problem. I don't mind taking my mind off some things too.” He sighed. He pulled his arm from my shoulder, but pulled my hand into his. It was warm and soft against mine.
“Why are you in the hospital?” I asked.
He hesitated. “ Check up. I was just wondering around while my parents get theirs when I ran into you.” He smiled. Even in this dire time I couldn't help but smile back. His grin was sloppy and crooked, but relaxing all the same.
“So your name is Journey, right?” He asked. I nodded. “Beautiful name. Fits you.”
“Your on a journey, as we all are. A journey to find your place in the world. Your journey to survive through this rough spot in your life.” He breathed.
“I guess so.” I said, intoxicated by the way he made my name sound exotic and exciting. “Whats your name?”
“Cooper.” He popped. “Nothing special there.” He joked.
“I like it. Very laid back. Like you.”
“Journey, honey.” A familiar voice called from across the room. My mom stepped out of the room where Sam used to be, and her face is red and puffy, like mine probably is. Her eyes looked confused for a second when she sees me holding hands with Cooper. “Come here.” She begged, not asking about him.
“Will you come with me?” I pleaded to Cooper.
“Sure.” He agreed, standing up with me, keeping my hand in his. Then we walked towards the room where my dead brother laid.
Two months later
“Happy Valentines Day!” Cooper yelled grandly, pulling his hand from my eyes. My mouth fell open at the sight I saw. My room was covered in piles of red heart shaped balloons, and blood red roses. In the middle of my bed was a giant stuffed puppy, holding a card in it's oversized mouth.
Smiling, I ran to my bed and plucked the card, and opened it. If I gave you a balloon for every time I told myself that I loved you, your whole house would be covered floor to ceiling with them. So instead I gave you a balloon for every time I kissed you, and a rose for every time I hugged you. I counted all of them. Love you lots. Cooper.
I felt tears stinging in my eyes at the overwhelming feeling it gave me to read his heartfelt words. I turned around, and he was right there, smiling down at me. I encircled my arms around his neck, and pulled him towards me. His hands held my waist as he met his lips with mine. A burst of color and pleasure melted through my body exactly like the first time he had kissed me. He was everything I would ever need, and everything I would ever want. His sweet smell drifted into my nose, and his minty taste was calming.
As I ran out of breath I was forced to pull away. “Your going to have to blow up another balloon.” I grinned. He reached into his jean pocket and produced a handful of balloons.
“I brought extra.” He whispered. I laughed, and hugged him tightly. “I love you Journey. More than anything in the world.”
“I love you too. Forever and Always.” I replied, standing on my tip toes to kiss him again.
A month later
“Holy crow, what did you do to your hair!” I cried, grabbing his head, and pulling it down to get a closer look. All his shaggy and messy hazel hair was gone, and was replaced by short, almost invisible hairs.
“I shaved it.” He rolled his eyes. I ran my hand over it, and it felt so weird. The little stubbly hairs seemed to tickle my skin.
“But why?” I questioned, still appalled.
He hesitated, then shrugged. “I wanted to feel a breeze on my head.” He joked.
“Okay,” I said dis-trustingly “you look really different. I can actually see your face.” I laughed, grabbing his hand in mine. We walked down the street, swinging our hands through the air blissfully. I would never get tired of spending time with Cooper-- he was the my bright light that guided me through the winding path of life.
We walked for a while longer, till suddenly Cooper stopped with a jolt. “What's wrong?” I asked in a worried voice. His face turned unnaturally pale, and his eyes bulged. He dropped my hand and raced forward towards a garbage can on the edge of the park. He gripped the sides with his hands, and stuck his face in it. I could see his back arch up as he puked into the garbage; wrenching noises echoing from inside.
My heart pounded loudly as I drifted towards him. I placed my hand soothingly on his back and rubbed it while he threw up. After a few more seconds of him throwing up he stopped, and breathed heavily. I reached into my purse and pulled out a few napkins. I passed them wordlessly to him, and he wiped his mouth with them.
When he stood up I could see a green tinge to his face, and he looked fragile and sick. “Are you alright?” I whispered.
He nodded. “I think I have the flu. I better go home.”
“Okay.” I said with a sad heart. I gave him a firm and loving hug, before he began to walk a few blocks back to his house. I was left standing in the park all alone, unsure why I got such an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
That night it was hard to sleep. The constant image of Cooper bent over into that garbage can puking his guts out burned my mind. He said he thought he had the flu, but for some reason I couldn't help think that it was more than that. I got up out of my unusually uncomfortable bed and reached for my phone. I had to call Cooper and see if he was okay. I dialed his number and waited impatiently. The ringing of the phone seemed to go on forever.
"Hey, It's Cooper. I'm not really able to take your call right now but I'll do it later, well only if you leave a message! So do it, after the beep!" I smiled. His voice on the answering machine was so alive and happy. But then I sighed. Why didn't he answer his phone? I hung up and called again. Maybe he was just late getting to the phone. This time I waited hopefully while the phone rang.
"Hello?" A hoarse, dead voice answered.
"Cooper?" I whispered in horror. He quickly cleared his throat.
"Oh. Hey Journey." He croaked. He sounded horrible. Was his flu that bad?
"Cooper, are you okay? You don't sound so great. Maybe I should come see you-"
"No!" He said immediately. I sat there confused.
"No? Y-you don't want me to come see you?" I asked, clearly hurt. My boyfriend was supposedly sick and he didn't want me to come see him? That didn't sound right at all.
"No, no. That's not it. It's just..." I heard his draw in a deep breath. "I don't want you to see me like this." He then whispered. His voice was pained. I felt the pain in his voice run straight to my heart. If he hurt, I hurt. That's how it was with us. Love did that to you.
"Like what?" I said. He stayed quiet. I sat anxiously waiting for his answer. If he just had the flu, he wouldn't be in such a bad shape so that I couldn't see him. But this was something more. It had to be. I could just sense it.
"Journey, there's something I have to tell you." He whispered slowly. My heart beat accelerated and I could feel the sweat that was starting to bead on my forehead.
"Tell me what?" I whispered back, afraid that if I said something any louder my voice would break.
"I know this is gonna be hard to take in, but I need you to stay calm, okay?" He said in a shaky voice. My heart pounded louder and faster.
"O-Okay." I breathed. He hesitated and I could hear some hushed voices in the background. It sounded like his mother and another woman.
"Hold on a minute." He said to me in an irritated voice. That's when the conversation in the background was no longer muffled.
"I'm sorry Cooper but you know the rules. You're not allowed to use cell phones in here." The woman said to him. At the sound of her voice a million memories flashed through my mind. Me sitting in that generic green chair. The feeling of the white walls closing in on me. The hot tears flowing down my cheeks. The sound of my parents cries. The sight of Sam's lifeless body laying on that table. The sound of fake nails tapping on the desk. That was the secretaries voice, the one from the hospital.
"Please. I just need to talk to my girlfriend." He begged in a desperate voice. I bit my lip and held back my tears. I hated hearing Cooper in pain or when he was hurt. It sickened me to think someone as amazing as him could ever be put through something like that. The body of my dead little brother flashed in my mind and I tried to push it away. He was another person who didn't deserve to go through what he did.
"Well then you can tel her to come here and then you two can talk." She said rudely. I heard Cooper sigh.
"She doesn't know." He said in a harsh voice. "And I'm trying to tell her so if you wouldn't mind, get the hell out of my room!" I gasped in shock. Never had I ever heard him be so rude to anyone before. Cooper just wasn't that kind of person. He was always nice, never mean.
"Cooper!" His mother said in shock. I heard him let out a small painful whimper.
"I-I...I'm really sorry. I'm just in so much pain right now, and I know that I might not... I just need to talk to her."
"Sorry, I can't bend the rules." She shot at him rudely. Then I heard the click of heals and the slamming of a door.
"Journey?" Cooped whispered into the phone.
"Yea?" I said back just as quietly.
"I need you to come to the hospital. Don't ask why, I'll explain it all when you get here."
Driving was one thing I hated to do ever since Sam died. The last car I drove he was killed in it. So I never drove after that. I always wondered who would die if I drove again. Would it be my mother this time? Or my father? That's why this time I sneaked out. I took the keys of my parents beat up, old Honda off of the key holder and quietly walked out the front door. My hands shook intensely but not from driving. This was about Cooper.
Part 2 Below