Full Story! (It’s a short one)
Something told me that things would not stay the same for much longer. Maybe it was the subtle sadness in Millers voice. Maybe it was the fact that nothing had ever changed. Ever since Kindergarten, Miller, Atlas, and I had been best friends. I remember Miller would tell the story of how we met at everyone of our annual bonfires to kick off the start of summer.
“ I really didn’t know how to talk to people, still don’t!”, was how she would always open the story, “So I really didn’t have any friends besides Sevyn, my brother, but that wasn’t too great since he’s a couple years older than me so I only saw him at break time. One day, Sev either got really sick of me, or cared about me just enough to ask Atlas and Malia if they wanted to play family with us. I guess whatever his reason was, it was the right thing to do. Look at us now!”
She would tell the story as if we didn’t know how Sevyn was, as if we hadn’t heard the story hundreds of times, and as if we hadn’t lived through it, as if we weren’t Atlas and Malia, and as if things had changed since then. Even in the year that Sevyn passed away, we stayed in the same little group. We never even addressed the fact that he was gone. I assumed that Miller would bring it up but she never, ever did. It was almost like she was avoiding it. The biggest change there was in Miller was the way she spoke. Her voice had become colorless and monotone, almost as if she had no emotion left inside her. Like her soul had just been snatched up.
The summer that everything did change Miller did not tell the story. For the first time in five years our friendship's origin story was not told under the new summer stars. Instead something very different was shared.
“This year we can finally complete our summer bucket list since we can all drive! We’re not really going to have much time next summer because we’ll be getting prepared for college, ya know? And plus we signed our names on that paper that said we would complete everything before our Senior year, I think we should keep that promise to our younger selves since-”
“Hey”, I cut Atlas off, “ He signed his name too.” and with that she stared at the ground and whispered Sev. Silence followed immediately after. I looked to Miller's face to read some type of emotion so that I could know what to say to comfort her, but she was expressionless. I could see that Atlas saw something though, she always did. I remember that when we were younger, Miller and I used to joke that she could smell feelings.
¨I know you Miller, and I know you´re hurting. I´m sorry if I deepened the wound by mentioning him but if you would just let us-¨ Atlas stopped as soon as she saw Miller open her mouth to speak.
¨I´m leaving guys.¨ When she said this, I knew she wasn't sad about it. She was trying her hardest to sound like she regretted what she had said. And that made me angry. I thought to myself that she can't just leave like that. Leave me and Atlas a mess of tears. Leave us wondering where we went wrong. She can't leave us with a smile.
¨Well where the hell are you gonna go?¨ I could feel my blood simmering. Miller looked straight into my eyes. I mean she really looked at me. I could see the sadness in her voice was also in her eyes and soul. I thought I saw something trapped inside her. I think my heart broke in half that night.
¨Miller,¨ I whispered, ¨where are you going?¨ I saw Miller recollect herself. She looked away. I whipped my head around to Atlas to see if she had seen what I had, but she hadn't. She was just bouncing her leg, staring intently at Miller.
¨So uhm, I'm going to Massatuchits. There´s this boarding school, uh, Phillips Academy. They accepted me, it's a big honor, mom said I definitely shouldn't turn it down. I think I´ll be leaving like maybe mid summer. I´ll be there for a while. I don't think I'm coming back.¨ I didn't believe a word she said. She had never shown any interest in this Phillips Academy before, and I doubted that her mom would let her move across the country. She didn't even let Miller drive the bus! I could tell Atlas didn´t believe it either, and I could tell that she had a plan to figure out what was really going on.
¨Are you sure Miller? That's what you want?¨ Yes! was all I remember thinking. Atlas to the rescue. She always introduced her master plans after using a sickeningly sweet voice.
¨Yes, Atlas. It is.¨
¨Well I mean because I was thinking we could take a little roadtrip in your RV, ya know? Just to take you around the state, maybe going out to explore Cali will convince you to stay here. What do you say, Milly?¨ I thought for sure that Miller would agree to it, I didn't actually believe that she wanted to go (even though I knew she wasn't moving to Massachusetts, I knew she was going somewhere). I thought that she secretly wanted to be convinced. In the end I guess I was sort of right? I´m not sure.
¨Ok, let's do this. I´ll see you guys tomorrow, that's when we'll start planning. Uh,bye.¨ and with that she speed walked to her van and drove away into the night. She didn't even go in the direction of her home. Once Miller was out of earshot, Atlas started full on sobbing, I rushed to her side to comfort her, I remember I wished I was better at doing so.
¨I-I-I-I know she 's not okay Malia! She's not okay, oh my god what do I do Malia? What can I do?¨ My heart broke for the second time. I didn't know the answer.
¨Ok so we´re going to Murray falls, and we'll do some hiking and swimming there, we´ll also go to that crazy cool McDonalds that´s got uhhh, an alien theme! Remember we always begged to go there when we were kids!¨ I marked the locations on our map. I was getting stoked for this trip, I almost forgot about the night before and why we were even going on it.
¨Yes! And everybody kept talking and talking about it and we would just tell people that we didn't need to go because ´we had been in a real aliens ship´?¨ I was happy that Atlas was obviously feeling better. She seemed less hopeless.
¨Oh my god yeah and-¨ Miller cut me off.
¨Hey guys can we please focus? We don't have much time and we still need to figure out who's going to drive and- oh sorry I forgot I´m the only one with a license. Uh, anyways can we also go to that one campground? I don't remember what it was called but we used to go there a lot?¨
¨Christine Campgrounds?¨ I couldn't believe she didn't remember. When we all still lived over in Maplewood we would camp out there every from friday-saturday during the summer. And she didn't remember? Her mental state was deteriorating, and I could recognize that, but I had never said anything. I wished I were more like Atlas.
¨Of course we can, of course. Hey if this is too much we don't have to do this. We could just talk this out. What's going on, Milly?¨
¨No. We have to go. I really want to. We´ll leave on saturday, okay? You can pick the rest of the locations out without me, I only really wanted to make sure that we´re going to Christine. Don't tell your parents where your going, my mom already told them. Just, just pack up your stuff okay? Friday at midnight have your things loaded into my RV, I'll already be in there. Then we´ll take off. Don't screw this up, okay?¨ It wasn´t Miller talking. It couldn't have been. There was nothing in her voice. No cheesy jokes thrown in. No random smiles and giggles in the middle of her sentence. No ¨I love you guys¨. That's when I realized that something had changed, and Miller had not been able to talk to us in a long time. Not since Sevyn died.
Atlas and I were too upset by what we'd just heard to continue our planning. We just left our trip as it was and said we'd just have freestyle for most of it.
¨Atlas? Atlas are you here?¨ I whispered as quietly as I could, I didn't want to wake anyone. Something told me that none of our parents knew what was going on. Part of me was okay with that, and part of me was uneasy about the fact that for some reason, Miller didn't want them to know
¨Yeah, right here.¨ Atlas popped her head around from the other side of the RV. I trotted over to her. She was kneeling on the ground, packing her duffel bag into the storage space above the wheels.
¨Here, give me your stuff, I'll put it in for you. Go inside. See how she's doing.¨ If anyone should have been there to comfort Miller, it should have been Atlas. Nevertheless I complied.I slid the door open to see Millers sitting at the steering wheel, writing voraciously in a small journal.
¨Do you even know how he died, Malia?¨ she asked without looking up. Without any emotion. Without remembering that there was never a funeral, and that she never told me.
¨No. No I don't.¨ she didn't look up. She didn't blink. Two minutes passed and we sat in complete continued to sit in complete silence. I got mad. Really mad. It was like she was trying to drive me insane! She was torturing me with the fact that I didn't know how to save my best friend. That I had lost her. I stomped over to her, grabbed her face, and shouted
¨Miller where are you?!¨
¨What's going on?¨ Atlas. ¨I told you to comfort her, try to see what's going on, and you do this?¨ her anger seemed to shake the van, even though I knew Miller had just started it and began pulling out.
¨What´t wrong with you? What is wrong with you?¨
¨I just want Miller back.¨ I felt my soul pressing out of my body. I watched myself sobbing from a bird's eye view, and I never wanted to be pulled back down. If I was given just one second I would´ve flown right away, but as soon as Atlas hugged me I came back down. And I'm glad I did.
¨We´re going to be fine, okay? I'm sorry.¨ I wished Miller would've said something in character. I wish she didn't just say:
¨We´re going to Christine first. We´re about two days away.¨
Christine was so much different than what I remember. What once was a grand park was now a small patch of land across from a convenience store. I don´t think it would be able to fit much more than three tents.
¨Beautiful as always!¨ Atlas said, stepping out of the van. Miller whipped around and glared at her.
¨Don´t lie.¨ I could see Atlas starting to cry so I stepped in
¨Hey Atlas come on! Let's go down to the lake so Miller can get us set up how she wants.¨
We walked along the water, not knowing what to say.
¨Empathy is about your presence. Be with her. Breathe and take in her air.¨ I had absolutely no idea why Atlas said that, or what she meant and the time. But I´m glad she said it. It was at that moment that Miller was saved.
¨Goodnight Atlas, goodnight Miller.¨
¨Night.¨ Atlas replied.Miller just sighed. In retrospect Atlas and I should have gone to sleep way before we did, because we were about to have a crazy day.
¨AHHHHHHHHH¨ I woke up to Atlas shrieking, and It didn't take long to figure out why. Miller was nowhere to be seen.
¨Where is she?¨
¨I don´t know! I checked in the van and at the lake and near those trees and everywhere! What are we going to do?¨ The panic in Atlas´ voice made me panic even more.
¨Get in the van.¨
¨Get in the van we´re going to look for her.¨
¨We can´t drive Malia!¨
¨Well we can-¨
¨AHHHHHHHH,¨ I was interrupted by Atlas screeching again, ¨CHECK YOUR PHONE!¨ I felt around for it. Three notifications from amber Alert popped up. I didn't even need to read the names.
¨Just get in the van Atlas we can't stay here! Look there's a guy in that convenience store he could rat us out. And we can´t go home until we figure out what's going on with Miller, okay?¨
¨Okay.¨ and with that we ran into the van and attempted to figure out how the heck we were supposed to drive.
¨Maybe we should look this up or something or-¨ I felt bad for not giving her a warning or something because as soon as I hit the gas she got flung to the back of the RV.
¨Are you okay?¨
¨Well, no, but also where are we going-OW!¨ Millers journal fell on top of Atlas. I stopped the breaks as I heard it fall.
¨Atlas pass it up!¨ As soon as I opened it a folded piece of paper fell out. I opened it. Sevyn´s handwriting. I read it. I read it and cried, and cried, and cried. It was his goodbye letter to Miller. It all made sense now.
¨Atlas I know where she is, we have to get there before it's too late.¨
¨Malia I don´t understand-¨
¨Wait,¨ On the inside cover of the book there was an address and a phone number. Both of which I recognized. I scrolled through my contacts and found it, the number was Sevyn´s best friend, Deren. The address was easy, it was the convenience store across from Christine.
¨Ok, I know what we have to do. We're going back to that convenience store.¨
¨Malia what's going on? I don't like this!¨
¨Hey, trust me, okay? Just this once.¨ She nodded her head, and off we went.
¨Hey Deren! It's us! Don´t you remember us? You have to!¨ Atlas had caught on after going through Millers journal and she was getting hysterical.
¨Of course, what brings you guys-¨ I shoved Sevyn´s note in his face.
¨Where did this happen? Did you take her there?¨ Deren swallowed hard. He was holding back tears.
¨Yeah, that's Cliff's Edge. Miller wanted to see where it happened. I think she wanted to kind of sit with him, ya know? So when she asked me last night of course I took her. I had too.¨
¨Deren I think she wants to leave. Deren she's going to do something very bad can you please lead us there.¨ He understood immediately. He sprinted out to his car without thinking twice. We followed close behind him in the van. Everything seemed like it was going ok until the familiar sounds of the police siren came up behind us.
¨Malia they're looking for us! The Amber Alert!¨ Shoot
¨Ok, just stay calm-¨
¨Malia I´m going to jump.¨
¨Unlock the door. If I jump out and get in front of them they'll stop. I can talk to them for a while so you can bring Miller back.¨
¨Atlas I can´t let you do that. What if you get hurt? What if I can't save her alone?¨
¨You can do it Malia, but you need to let me do this. Time for you to trust me, okay?¨ I unlocked the door.
¨ Breathe.¨ and with that she jumped. And I cried.
¨Thank you, Deren!¨ I yelled to his car which was quickly speeding away. I spotted Miller. She was sitting on the edge of the cliff and I ran to join her. There was something different about her now. Different from the Miller she was before Sevyn was gone. Different from the Miller she turned into after he had taken his own life. I began to match her breathing. I knew that I could save her.
¨He didn't think he was worth another day. So why am I? Why am I still here and but he isn´t.¨
¨Because he loved you,¨ she stared at me like she did the night it all started, ¨even when he couldn't love himself. It isn't your fault. People struggle, and sometimes they just don't let us see it.¨ She looked out into the ocean.
¨I just want to be with him again. I want to hear his voice, Malia.¨
¨He's with you right now. His love and spirit never went away,and they never will. Listen for him.¨ I watched her listen to the waves lap and mouth her brother's voice.
¨Will he always be here? With me?¨
¨Always.¨ Miller closed her eyes and whispered thank you. We sat there beside each other like that until the police showed up and put us in separate cop cars to take us home. The officer driving me explained that I wouldn't be allowed to see either of them for the rest of the summer. In the end I never got to see them again.
Miller and her mom ended up moving out of the country to be with the rest of their family. They both agreed it was time to talk about Sevyn with them. Atlas actually ended up applying to Phillips Academy and got in. She left sometime in August. Don’t know where she is now. And me? I ended up going to college and became a psych major. Now I work with kids that are like Miller and Sevyn. I´m happy everything ended the way it did. I miss my friends of course, but I realized we had already done everything we could for each other. Already said every word we needed to. Already shared every secret. It was time for another change. And besides, I know we´ll meet again. I can feel it.
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