Life After You

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Chapter 11

Vomiting. What a beautiful way to start the day.

I leaned over Tori’s trash can with my hands clutching around it. I took a few steady breaths before sitting up in bed. I looked over at Tori and she had a gross look on her face.

“Please tell me that there was a trash bag inside the can?” She mumbled from under the covers.

“There was a trash bag inside the can.” I repeated, only saying what she wanted me to say.

“You’re such a liar. Clean it out.” She sighed.

“I was going to. Chill.” I got up slowly and stumbled a little. I grabbed the side of Tori’s dresser and tried to steady myself.

“Are you alright?” Tori asked, rolling over and facing me.

“Yeah, peachy.” I grunted.

“This whole, moody Olivia thing is really getting old ya know.” She casually stated while sitting up in bed.

“Gee, thanks. I wish I could turn them off, but for some reason they will not go away. Hm, I wonder why. Oh, that’s right, because I’m PREGNANT.” I rolled my eyes.

Tori glared in my direction and finally got up from bed. “Yeah, yeah. Pregnant, hormones, bitchiness, crazy... the list goes on and on. I get it.” She chuckled while grabbing her toiletry bag.

“I’m going to shower. Catch ya later.” She said lazily while slipping on her sandals and heading for the door.

“Oh, don’t forget... Riley is coming over today so if you don’t want to see him later, find another place to mope.” She smirked before closing the door behind her.

Would it be horrible if I slapped my best friend in the face today? Yeah... it might be. Dammit.

I inwardly sighed and took the trashcan outside and to the bathrooms. I cleaned it out and brought it back to Tori’s dorm room, placing it back in its designated spot on the floor.

It was Saturday, so Tori and I didn’t have any classes today. I have been skipping a lot anyways, which I need to stop doing if I want to pass this semester. I can’t get too far behind or I won’t be able to catch up. Then I will be a college dropout with a baby and no boyfriend or husband. I will be a mess.

I am a mess now.

After the conversation I had with Noah the other day, I have been mentally running through the events of that night in my head trying to come to a realization of some sort as to what actually happened.

All this time I have believed my own story on what happened, but what if that story is not true? What if I did go crazy and come up with something to make myself feel better about the abortion?

I really didn’t want to speak to Riley, but as of now, he was my only option on getting more answers. Other than Landon, he was the only one who saw me that night.

I decided I would wait for him to get here. I mean, I had no other special plans for the day.

Tori told me once she got dressed that she was going out to get her nails done and pick up something to eat before Riley came by. She offered to take me with her, but as usual, I declined the offer.

She tried to scold me for not wanting to go eat with her and I defended myself by showing her the snacks that I had stashed away in her mini-fridge.

“You need to eat real food, Liv. Snacks and ice cream aren’t necessarily healthy for a growing baby.”

“Thanks, dad.” I glared.

After watching Netflix for a few hours, there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was Riley since Tori wouldn’t knock on her own door.

I slowly got up and walked over to answer it.

When I pulled the door open, I was surprised at who stood behind it.

“H-hey Olivia.”

“Hey Macey. What’s up?” Macey is a girl in my English course. We talk occasionally about random topics, but that’s as far as our friendship has sailed. She was also in one of Landon’s classes and I can’t remember which one... however, I know that they were pretty cool friends along with a few other guys from the class.

“Um, wow this is awkward. On your birthday... L-Landon told me and a few other guys how he didn’t get you a real birthday present and well, he bought you something and made me hold it for him. He told me he was going to give it to you Sunday night after your party that was held on Saturday, but he never showed up at my dorm to get it from me. N-now I know why and I feel terrible, but I just thought you should have this.”

She held up a little red box with my name engraved on the front.

“I...I’m really sorry about your loss Olivia. Everyone has been feeling so bad about what you’ve gone through.” I listened to her tell the same story everyone has told me since I returned to school. Everyone is always so sorry and never hesitates to tell me.

“I waited a while to bring it by, because I thought getting it too soon would upset you more. That was probably stupid, anyways, here.”

I took the box and thanked her. Once she left, I closed the door and slowly paced to the middle of the room.

I stared down at the box, hesitant to open it. I had no idea what was inside and the thought of it being something absolutely amazing scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want this present. I didn’t want to see what he would’ve given me, had he not got into that horrible accident.

I placed my right hand over the box, and I bit my lip as I slowly opened it.

As soon as I saw the flash of silver and diamonds, my hands began shaking and suddenly I forgot how to breathe.

He was going to propose.

What little pieces of my heart that I had left, shattered upon realization. The man I love. The man I loved more than anything in this world was going to propose to me.

On the day he was hurt. On the day that caused his death. On the day that I want to forget about.

Suddenly, gravity was my enemy. I collapsed to the floor in one swift motion, clinging the small red box to my chest. The sobs that were escaping my lips sounded like something I have never heard before. They were small, but powerful, and the sadness echoed around me until I couldn’t hear anything but the small veins in my heart collapsing as well.

The air that was supposed to be inside of my lungs was nonexistent. Sweat started to form along my forehead.

The door to Tori’s dorm room suddenly opened and I had no energy to look up and see whom it was. My body shook with each sob and I couldn’t see as I squeezed my eyes shut, temporarily blinding myself from the world.

The arms of the stranger behind me suddenly enclosed around me and I could feel a soft breath of air against my neck.

“L-Landon...” I sobbed out, hoping that if I believed hard enough, the arms around me would somehow belong to him.

“Sh... I’m here sissy. I’m here.”

I turned around and buried myself into the chest of my older brother. I wanted to apologize for everything right there but as I looked up into his eyes and tried to speak, no words came out.

“I know... I’m sorry too.” He softly spoke, running his hand through my hair.

“R-Riley... why did this happen to me?” I asked, unaware that neither one of us had the answer.

“I don’t know Olivia. I wish I did, I would give anything to have an answer for you... but I simply don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. Sometimes life is weird and things happen that you never would have expected.”

I took in every word that he said to me and engraved it into my brain. Life is weird sometimes, and very unpredictable.

I leaned back and sat down and slowly lifted my hand so Riley could see the little red box.

“Olivia, I’m flattered... but you’re my sister.” He teased, letting out a chuckle.

I used what energy I had left to roll my eyes as I opened the box up for him to see what was inside.

“L-Landon... he was going to, he was going to...” I couldn’t even finish the sentence out loud. It didn’t seem real. Why was he taken away from me before he was able to ask me? Why was he taken away before we had a chance to create a life together?

“I know...” Riley confessed.

“Y-You knew? This whole time?” The volume of my voice rising.

“Yeah... he called dad up and asked for his blessing. Dad told him he was more than happy to give it, but that he needed to ask my permission as well. So, Saturday after your party he texted me and told me about his plan. I told him that I approved because I’ve always wanted a brother... plus, I knew he was right for you from the very beginning.”

Listening to Riley must have made me delusional, because out of nowhere I began laughing.

I laughed so hard and so loud that my stomach began to hurt and I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to stop. Riley looked at me questioningly while letting small chuckles escape his lips as well... seeming as though he was trying to figure out if I was still all the way there, mentally.

After what seemed like numerous minutes of laughter, I slowly stopped only to begin crying again.

“H-He was going to propose to me, after my birthday. He was going to propose and we were going to be engaged, except instead he died. I’m pregnant, and could be engaged right now... but instead Landon is dead.” I blurted out, more to myself than to Riley.

“Y-Yeah...” Riley replied softly.

I rubbed my eyes with my hand and then took the ring out of the box. I looked at every detail. That is when I noticed that the ring was engraved.

I looked at the three small words hidden inside the band of the ring and I froze. My lower lip trembled as I tried to engrave the same three words into my own brain.

Riley furrowed his eyebrows at my expression and moved closer beside me so he could see what I was looking at.

The three little words, “It’s You, Olivia” were the three little words that I missed hearing from Landon the most. That was our thing. That was our one phrase that we always said to each other whether we were just lounging around the apartment, or even if we were in a heated discussion. That was our phrase and we never went to bed angry with each other.

It wasn’t “I love you” that I missed the most... it was “It’s you”.

Riley took the ring from my hands and grabbed my left ring finger. He slowly slid the ring onto my finger and it fit like a glove. It looked so perfect and I honestly didn’t want to wear it for fear of ruining it or losing it somewhere.

“He’s still yours, Olivia. No matter where his soul resides, he is still yours. Nobody will ever take that away from you. This ring... and your child, they are both a symbol of love and a representation of Landon and how he will always be with you, even when you feel the most alone.”

It was hard hearing these comforting words coming from Riley. He was always one to joke around, never one to be serious. It was as if he knew exactly what I needed to hear and the instinctive older brother came into action just when I needed him the most.

I jumped into his arms again and this time something really strange happened: I smiled. I smiled so wide and so bright that if anyone were to walk through that door right now, they wouldn’t recognize me.

As if on que, Tori walked through the door and her puzzled expression at Riley and I on the floor made me chuckle.

“Hey Tor.” I slowly got up and Riley moved from the floor to the edge of Tori’s bed.

“Hey... everything okay?” She asked, unsure on if she wanted the answer.

“Guess what...” I smiled.

“What?”

I held my left hand out in front of her. “I’m engaged!” I cheered.

She furrowed her eyebrows and glanced over at Riley who only nodded with a grin.

“But...” Before she could finish, Riley gave her a look that said, “Just go with it!” and she placed her purse on her dresser and engulfed me with a hug.

“Oh my god! I am so happy for you Liv! Let me see that ring again!” She pulled my left hand out in front of her face again and she took it off to examine it. Once she saw the engravement on the inside of the ring, her face frowned a little, but she quickly recovered and placed it back on my finger.

“It’s beautiful Liv, really beautiful.” Her eyes looked glossy, but she never let a single tear fall.

“I know... I love it.” I stated while looking at my hand in awe.

“Don’t you see Olivia, you have your ring... you have your baby, you have us.” Tori smiled while taking a seat next to Riley.

“I know... I have a lot.”

It’s true, I did have a lot. I had more than I could have ever imagined except the one thing I didn’t have will be the one thing that haunts me forever. The one person who would make my life perfect again.

You know how the moon only glows because it’s reflecting off the sun? Well that was me with him. He was my sun and I only shined brightest when he was there.

Now, the light within me has diminished and I will always have the fear of never being able to shine as brightly as I once did before. I fear of never becoming the same person I was before the accident.

I fear that I’ll never fully be myself again, because without him here... I’m not myself. Without him here I feel only like a version of myself. I feel like there is never going to be a day again where I wake up and don’t have at least one bad thought or feeling roaming around in my head.

Despite everything I have been through, I told myself something today. I told myself that I will try like hell to move on from this. That I will begin taking care of myself and of my baby. That I will finish college and I will make a career for myself. That I will wear this ring with pride and know that everytime I look at it, I am symbolically looking at Landon. It’s both a terrifying and exhilarating feeling, and I want to feel it for the rest of my life.

But, before I begin that journey... there’s one thing that I still need to figure out.

I need to figure out what happened with Noah, and I need to figure out what that means for me and for my future child. Of course, that means I have to talk to Noah again. I have to get the entire story right and I need to do it fast.

First things first though, I need to talk to Riley about that night. Maybe he will have some information that Noah won’t have.

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