Life After You

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Chapter 26

It is almost time to land the plane, and I honestly can’t wait to get off.

Three and a half hours may not seem like a long time, but when you are forced to sit next to Tori and Riley, you tend to feel a lot more irritated than you normally do.

“I told you, you can’t drink more than five cokes in two minutes.” Tori sighed while laughing at Riley who clutched his stomach with a frown.

“I think I am going to be sick.” He mumbled.

“Well go be sick in the bathroom!” I sighed.

All of a sudden, Riley straightened in his seat and gave the loudest belch I think I have ever heard him give in his entire existence.

I scrunched my nose in disgust as I held my hand over my nose and mouth.

“Oh my God! You are disgusting!” I shrieked, which caused Riley to laugh as Tori gave him a punch to the shoulder.

You could hear a few of the passengers around us groaning in disgust, but when the old man behind me started laughing, I shook my head in disbelief.

“How could you possibly think that is funny?” I turned around to eye the old man.

“Oh come on! That was brilliant!” He smirked, which caused me to raise an eyebrow.

“Man... you sound just like...” I began, but my face faltered as I slowly turned around in my seat.

Riley noticed and after giving the old man behind me a fist bump, he turned to me with a genuine look on his face. “Don’t you see Liv, he is Landon reincarnated.” Riley smiled.

“Don’t say that.” I mumbled.


“Because,” I leaned closer to Riley to whisper, “I don’t want to imagine Landon as an old weird looking man. It’s creepy.” I shuddered.

“I know what you mean...” Riley chuckled softly. “But hey, at least he found your necklace. He can be Landon for that, right?” He smirked while patting the top of my head playfully.

I swatted his hand away and grinned while leaning back into my seat. “Whatever.”

“I think it’s actually kind of magical. I mean this stranger found your necklace, and his name just so happens to be Landon. It’s like Landon was watching you from up above and knew you were looking for your necklace. He helped you through this man.” Tori smiled over at me.

“Maybe, it’s just weird to think about.” I replied. “Oh well... all I know is, I’m grateful.” I smiled.

“Passengers, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts as we begin to land. Please turn your electronic devices off and remain seated until we have safely landed. I have enjoyed being your pilot this afternoon, and I hope you had an amazing flight experience using Southwest airlines! Please come join us again real soon and take care!” Thomas, the pilot, announced over the intercom.

Everyone began fastening their seatbelts as the plane started to descend.

“Finally! Home sweet home!” Riley cheered while placing a kiss against Tori’s cheek.

“Ew, I can still smell that burp on your breath. You need a mint.” Tori swatted Riley away from her face.

“Don’t hate, appreciate!” Riley huffed while turning around to give the old man sitting behind me a smirk. “Right Landon?”

“Absolutely!” The old man smirked.

Images of Landon kept popping up in my mind. I loved seeing his face, but also hated it because all I have are the memories stored inside my brain, and some pictures to look at whenever I am feeling sad.

I wanted him to be here so badly, that I couldn’t even call the old man sitting behind me by his name because it made me too sad.

Eventually, the plane landed and everyone began standing in preparation to exit the plane. Tori, Riley and I grabbed our carry-on bags and followed the long line out of the plane.

I said thank you again to the old man who found my necklace, and felt strangely calm when we parted ways. Of course, Riley had to say his goodbyes as well, forcing a hug on the poor old man.

I grabbed the ring and locket that hung from my necklace and placed it on the inside of my sweater, so I felt more safe in knowing it wouldn’t fall off again because if it did I would feel it on my stomach.

After we grabbed our bags from the baggage claim, I spotted dad a few feet away holding a dorky sign that read, “THREE ANNOYING TEENAGERS” in big letters.

Tori and I rolled our eyes as Riley actually frowned upon reading it.

“How dare you.” He gasped dramatically. “And to think I was going to give you a coupon to the cheesecake factory for Christmas!” He held his hand over his heart playfully.

“Oh boy, a coupon!” My dad sarcastically cheered, following by a bored look afterward. “Let’s go kiddos.”

“Dad, we aren’t kids anymore!” Riley huffed as we followed our dad through the airport and out to his car. “And by the way, I am not a teenager anymore, I am twenty.” He proudly stated.

“You still act like a teenager though.” I smirked.

“Dang Rie, your sis just burned you.” My dad laughed, which caused Tori and I to join in with him as we doubled over in laughter.

“Dad... that wasn’t a burn.” Riley glared as we all got into the car and buckled our seatbelts.

“Whatever you say son, whatever you say.”

The drive home was a little long, but relaxing. Dad played the radio softly as Tori took a short nap and Riley played on his cellphone. I sat up front with dad and kept my gaze out of the window watching the buildings and trees pass us by.

I held the ring and the locket from my necklace in the palm of my hand as it rested against my chest. I felt so happy to have it, and so relieved that it wasn’t gone forever. This last piece of Landon that I have, I want to keep forever. In fact, when I die, I want to be buried with it.

Sounds a bit extreme, but death isn’t so distant after everything I have experienced in my short life. Death can come at any given moment, without warning, so it isn’t wise to act as if you will live forever because you won’t. You truly have to live each day as if it were your last, because you never really know when that last day will come.

“You alright sweetie?” Dad’s familiar voice came from beside me.

I turned to look at him briefly, before he brought his gaze back to the road ahead.

“Yes, fine. Just wishing... Nevermind.” I shrugged.

“Wishing what?” He insisted.

“Just wishing that Landon were here.” I sighed as I leaned my head back against the headrest.

“I know, but he is here spiritually, no?” He smiled.

“I suppose. It just isn’t the same.” I frowned.

“How come you didn’t want to answer me at first?” He questioned.

“I don’t know... I just feel like I am bringing everyone down by talking about him so much. I don’t want to annoy anyone, or make them sad on Christmas.” I confessed.

“You are far from annoying, and no one is going to care if you speak about Landon. Yes, they will be sad, everyone wishes he were here too... but you are allowed to grieve and feel sad all you want. This is the first Christmas you are spending without him. Heck, you have spent every Christmas with that boy since the time you met him.” My dad chuckled at the memories of us as kids running around the Christmas tree playing tag. “I know how hard this must be for you.” He gave me a sad smile before bring his attention back to the road.

My eyes widened a little as I realized that my dad too, has gone through many Christmas’ without my mom and I can only imagine how he felt during the first Christmas without her. In fact, I know exactly how he felt because I feel the exact same way right now.

It is alarming to realize what my dad and I have in common now. Before it was just liking the same TV shows, or enjoying the same kinds of food... but now, we have this in common. The grief of losing a loved one. My heart aches for my father the same way that it aches for myself.

“I love you dad.” I smiled over at him.

“I love you too kiddo.” He smiled while keeping his eyes on the road. “Always.”

“Hey, I still exist you know...” Riley muttered from the back seat.

“We love you too Rie...” I sighed with a smirk. “Most days.” I teased, which caused dad to laugh.

“That’s okay... at least Tori loves me every day.” He proudly stated, nudging Tori awake.

“That’s debatable.” She sleepily mumbled followed by a smirk.

“I hate all of you.” Riley glared while crossing his arms over his chest.

“Now that isn’t very nice son.” Dad said, trying not to let out another laugh.

Riley mumbled a few worse under his breath and then brought his attention back to his phone to drown us out.

I smiled at the three people sitting in this car and I couldn’t be more grateful to have each of them in my life. I honestly wouldn’t know what I would ever do without them.

Today is Christmas Eve and I can’t really explain how I feel. Christmas is my favorite holiday, or it was before I lost Landon. Now, I can’t tell if I feel happy because Christmas will give me the opportunity to see some of my family, or sad because Landon won’t be here with me.

I suppose I will just have to settle on feeling both happy and sad. It’s probably a feeling I am going to feel for the rest of my life.

After we got home yesterday, we decided to hang out for the remainder of the day. Dad ordered pizza and we all watched the new Transformers movie with Mark Wahlberg. Man, he is hot. Sorry Landon.

After that, we all went to bed early because we were all exhausted from the traveling.

Today, we are scheduled to appear at Landon’s parents’ house for a small Christmas Eve dinner. Tomorrow we are staying here at home, but visiting a few family members while Tori goes home to visit with her parents and little sister Veronica. Tori saw them briefly the last time we came home for my baby shower, but they were busy with work and school.

I am officially at six months and two weeks pregnant. I am happy to almost be in my third trimester, I hear it’s when mothers typically feel at their best.

As I get closer to my due date, I feel myself growing more nervous. Since this will be my first time giving birth, I am not too sure what to expect. I mean I have talked with a few girls from school, who have kids, and I spoke briefly with Landon’s mom and Tori’s mom, but I know that each pregnancy is different and so is each delivery.

I suppose I will just have to wait and see what happens on the day.

“Tori get out of the bathroom already!” Riley yelled through the bathroom door. “I need to use the bathroom and take a shower!”

“No way Rie, I’m next!” I shout, walking as fast as I can towards my brother who currently had his head up against the bathroom door.

“As if!” He glared.

I rolled my eyes but smirked soon after. “Fine, you wait here. I will just use dad’s bathroom with the newer shower.” I happily strolled past my brother and laughed when I saw his agape mouth while he glared at me even harder.

“Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?” He shouted towards me.

“Because you aren’t as smart as your sister, son!” Dad yelled from downstairs in the kitchen. I laughed again as I neared my dad’s bedroom door and happily waved at Riley as he watched me shut the bedroom door after stepping inside.

I didn’t have to see Tori to know that she too, were laughing inside the other bathroom.

Finally, everyone gathered into dads car as we drove over to Landon’s parents’ house.

The drive wasn’t far at all, being that Landon only lived a couple of blocks over from Riley and I.

I loved living so close to Landon growing up. We used to sneak out and meet up at the local park some nights, and just talk for hours about anything and everything. I remember the last time we ever went to that park; it was a few nights before we moved to Florida for college.

“I can’t believe we are about to start college!” I exclaimed as Landon and I each sat on a swing.

“I know me either. I didn’t even think I was going to graduate from high school.” He chuckled while pushing himself higher and higher as he swung. I stayed just sitting as I slowly rocked myself back and forth using the tips of my feet.

“Oh please, you were so going to graduate.” I smirked.

“Yeah right. I almost flunked out of math by only a few points. Luckily Mrs. Rogers loved me.” He happily smiled while looking down at me from being so high up while swinging.

“You say that all your teachers loved you, but I know the actual truth... they simply only tolerated you.” I lightly laughed, while beginning to swing higher myself.

“Whatever... hater.” Landon smirked as I began swinging higher and higher.

We were both swinging at the exact same speed; except while I was going down, he was going up.

Eventually, we stopped swinging and I stood up to head over towards the small playground.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Landon suddenly said while following me.

“Anywhere I want.” I smiled, not bothering to wait on him.

“Is that so? And where is it that you want to go?” He smirked while standing at the bottom of the slide I was about to slide down on.

The smile on my face never faltered as I slipped into the slide and braced myself as I slid down. Once I reached the bottom, I stood up to find Landon directly in front of me.

“Anywhere... as long as you’re there.” I happily said while bringing my arms up and closing them around Landon’s neck.

He immediately wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me closer so that the only thing keeping us apart were our clothes.

“That can be arranged.” He said in a low, but raspy voice, causing my insides to turn to mush.

“Are you happy you’re going with me to Florida?” I asked, raising my eyebrows slightly.

“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” He smiled, leaning down slightly to kiss my forehead.

“I can’t believe my dad is actually going to let us live together. What a sucker.” I smirked, which caused Landon to laugh.

“You little rebel you.” He teased, giving me a wink.

“We can thank Riley for it though.” I laughed, picturing the look on Riley’s face when my dad told him he had to basically babysit us while in school. I knew he would agree though, he loves me too much. Besides, he knows that I always end up getting what I want when it comes to dad, he just can’t say no to me more than once.

“Yeah, I knew he would agree to the conditions. You are like his favorite person, after me of course.” Landon smiled wide and I laughed while shaking my head. I love how close Riley and Landon have become over these last few years. To have my older brother and Landon in Florida with me is the best feeling in the world.

I also just found out that my best friend Tori will be joining us as well. I knew she would end up picking Florida just so we could be at the same school together, even if she says otherwise.

“I’m kind of nervous though, to leave home.” I admitted.

Landon and I walked over to the nearest picnic table and sat down.

“That’s understandable. I am too.” He said.

“New state, new school, new people. It’s a little scary.” I stated, while placing my hand on Landon’s upper thigh merely by habit.

Without even thinking about it, Landon placed his hand over mine rubbing soothing circles against my skin. I smiled at the cute gesture.

“I think we will be okay. We are ‘the’ power couple for cryin’ out loud. Nothing can bring us down.” He proudly states while leaning over to kiss my cheek.

“You promise?” I playfully asked.

“Cross my heart and hope to die.” He smirks, drawing a cross over his chest with his index finger.

“Hey, will you come with me to the graveyard tomorrow? I wanna say bye to mom before we leave.” I asked, leaning further into his side.

“Of course, you don’t even need to ask.” He smiles.

“You’re the best, you know that?” I chuckle, getting up only to sit back down on his lap. I wrap my legs around his waist, straddling him, as he wraps his arms around my waist.

“It’s because of you.” He sings, staring intensely into my eyes.

I slowly lean forward and gently press my lips against his. I pull away slightly and say, “I love you,” followed by another kiss.

“I love you too beautiful.” He whispers against my lips.

“We are actually doing this. I can’t believe it.” I smile against his lips.

“I can.” He replies, using his deep and raspy voice that I love so much.

“Yeah? Why’s that?” I smirk, pressing my body closer against his, leaving no space in between.

“Because Liv... it’s you.” He smiles wide, softly running his hand up and down my side.

“It’s you Landon.” I smile back, pressing my lips to his again but this time with more force.

He instantly deepens the kiss and we spend the rest of the night making out and talking by the old playground until the sun starts to rise. We watch the colors in the sky change from purple to pink to orange, until it’s nine in the morning and both of us are starving for breakfast.

“Race you back home?” Landon suddenly says, smiling as he stands up and stretches.

“You don’t stand a chance.” I laugh, standing up as well.

“On your mark...” He starts.

“Get set...” He says again, but this time I speak up.

“Hey, what’s that?” I point to the sky. Of course, Landon instantly looks up to see what I am pointing at.

“GO!” I shout, darting around him and out of the park, causing him to glare as he runs after me.

“The nerve!” He shouts after me, desperately trying to catch up to me.

“You fall for it everytime...” I laugh while running. “Everytime.”

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