Life After You

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Chapter 9

It’s been one week since you passed, two weeks since the accident. A week of me laying here in my own hospital bed. A week of still no eating. A week of nurses telling me that if I don’t start gaining weight soon, the baby could be in danger. A week of me not caring.

I was in complete denial. As far as I was concerned there was no human life growing within me.

There was no happiness inside of me at all and even though I could clearly hear the nurses tell me that I was in fact, pregnant, I still didn’t want to accept it.

The thought of having a child alone again scared the living shit out of me. The thought of this child depending on me for everything was enough to keep me from accepting the inevitable. I couldn’t care for a child, not now. Not after Landon dying. Not alone.

This child would be half his. This child would share Landon’s DNA and would possibly look just like him. How am I supposed to love this baby who reminds me every single day of the one person that I lost? The one person that I will never see again.

When Riley found out, he seemed almost as shocked as I was. He was glad that I wasn’t fifteen anymore, and he was glad that the father wasn’t Noah Lucas. He tried to tell me how great of an uncle he will be, but I ignored him completely. I blocked out any mention of this baby from anyone who dared mutter a word about it.

Tori was extremely happy at the news, much to my dismay. She told me how she was going to be here for me the entire way through this journey of mine. I wanted to be happy that she offered to help me. I wanted to be happy that I was going to be a mother. I wanted to be happy about anything, but my body and mind refused.

I am going to be discharged today. I am going to finally leave this hospital, once and for all. Of course, I’m under strict rules to start eating again and I’ve been threatened by Claire that if I don’t start eating, she will drag me back to this hospital herself. Both Riley and Tori have promised Claire and my doctor that they will personally see to it that I begin taking care of myself, or they will drag me in themselves. I cringe at the thought.

Claire has been amazing other than the threats. She comes in here every few hours to bring me Oreos, chocolate pudding, Gatorade... anything she thinks I may want. I keep telling her to stop, to not worry about me as I’m sure she has far more important patients to wait on hand and foot, but she disregards my pleads everytime.

When my dad heard the news of my soon to be baby, he told me that he had to stay at work for a few weeks but that as soon as he was cleared, he would be on another plane out here.

Barbara and Brian. I feel horrible. I haven’t let them come and visit me once since I was placed into my own room. I couldn’t bear the thought of looking them both in the eyes, of seeing the same hurt and despair that coursed through my own veins. They know that I am pregnant with their son’s child, and they want to see me before they fly back home... but I just can’t do it. I don’t want them to see me like this, this vulnerable. I don’t want their pity, or their words of encouragement that I know they are preparing to tell me.

All I want is to leave this horrible place, and never look back.

I slowly lowered myself onto the wheelchair that Claire was standing patiently behind. Once seated, I looked up at her with weary eyes and she gave me a reassuring smile.

She wheeled me down the elevator and into the main lobby of the hospital where Riley and Tori were both waiting excitedly. They were more than ecstatic that I was leaving this place; you can read it all over their faces.

Once we were outside near the curb, I slowly got up from the wheelchair. The Valet worker got out of my car and handed the keys to Tori, Riley having declined the offer first. I’m pretty certain he isn’t ready to be behind the wheel again, especially with me in the car. I found out that he has been taking cabs everywhere, despite the fact that his car has been ready to drive and out of the shop for a couple days now. Still, I don’t press the issue.

I turned around and looked at Claire one final time, not wanting to actually say goodbye to another person.

“Claire, I...” I started but she held up her hand and shushed me.

“I know, dear... I know.” She smiled brightly and wrapped me up in a tight, but quick hug before releasing me and stepping back so I could get into the car.

“Remember Olivia, you can do this. You are strong and despite everything you are feeling right now, you will be better for it later.”

Her words were like a sweet song, playing repeatedly in my mind the moment after she spoke them.

I nodded my head in her direction as the Valet worker closed my door for me, trapping me inside what I now call the death-mobile. Too soon?

Riley sat beside me in the back seat while Tori drove. When we reached my apartment, I froze. Tori and Riley both got out of the car and were about to start walking towards the front door before they realized that I wasn’t moving.

“Olivia... are you coming?” Tori asked.

“I, um, yes.” I replied shakily. My trembling hands reached for the door handle and when I tried to open it, my weakness fought against me and I couldn’t.

Riley hurried to my side of the car and opened the door for me, letting me grab his hand as I got out of the car.

He slowly closed the car door and then guided me to the front door of my apartment.

I took one look at the door and decided right there that I couldn’t go inside. I couldn’t just walk in there again without Landon being sprawled across the bed watching his Netflix. I couldn’t walk in there without hearing his up-beat voice as he says “Babe! I’ve missed you!” I couldn’t walk in there without him period.

Tori gave one sad look over to Riley and they both shared a silent agreeance.

“Hey hun, why don’t you just come spend the night with me? We can watch movies all night, eat ice-cream and I will call out from class tomorrow to spend the day with you.” Tori offered with a smile.

I looked at my best friend for a mere second before sprinting back to the car and sitting inside.

I watched silently as Tori and Riley exchanged some words, then something happened that I thought I would never see in my entire lifetime. My older brother and my best friend were kissing!

I watched stunned. I tried to peel my eyes away but I couldn’t. It was as if a creepy stalker possessed me.

In all the years I’ve known Tori, she has never once confessed any feelings to me about Riley. They always share their playful banter every now and then, but I never would’ve suspected this. While I sit here, glued to my seat, I think about all the encounters I’ve witnessed between the two of them and all of a sudden it hit me. They always fought like they hated each other and I almost cracked a smile at the thought of them acting like kindergartener’s who like each other but use hatefulness to show it.

Not now though. Now they are acting like long-lost lovers who have just found each other again. Riley is gripping the back of Tori’s head with extreme need and Tori is completely dazed by what is taking place.

I want to be happy for them, but all the while, my thoughts instantly go back to that dark place. The dark place where Landon now resides. The place where dreams are shattered and faith is lost. The place where I know I’ll never be comfortable going again. All I want is for Landon to yank me out of this nightmare that I’m in and to kiss me the way Riley is kissing Tori.

All of a sudden, I become angry. Angry that I’ll never get to kiss him again. Angry that I’ll never get to see his smile or touch him again. Angry that my best friend is happy and I’m miserable. Maybe I was even jealous at the fact that Tori wasn’t experiencing the pain that I was experiencing.

I let the anger get the better of me and I jumped forward from the backseat and pressed down on the horn honking it. Both Riley and Tori jumped a good five feet back from each other and then put all their attention on me. Tori’s cheeks instantly turned bright red and Riley gave me a half-smile while waving at me like an idiot.

Since the car was still off, I opened the car door and yelled, “Get a fucking move on it!” Then I slammed it shut again.

They both looked at each other for a moment and then all but sprinted to the car, getting inside.

“Hey baby sis.” Riley hesitantly smiled.

“Don’t. Just drive Tori.” I said while looking out of the window.

I knew they must have thought I was mad about them being together, but to be honest I was anything but mad about that. I had far more important things to be mad over and the emotions began to take control over my actions. It wasn’t my fault, at least that’s what I told myself.

When we got to school, Riley tried to say goodbye but I ignored him and walked towards Tori’s dorm with my bag of clothes slung over my shoulder.

“Just give her time.” I heard Tori say to Riley.

I don’t need time, I need Landon.

After a few minutes, Tori was walking next to me.

“Hey, I’m uh... sorry about earlier.” She confessed.

“You don’t need to apologize.” I stated.

“Clearly I do because you haven’t said a word.” She mumbled.

“I’m not mad at you Tori. Or Riley.” I sighed.

“Then why do you seem like you are?” She pressed.

“Just stop.” I warned as I waited for her to open the door to her room.

“No, not until we talk about this.” She demanded as we walked inside.

“Look, I know it must be a little bit of a shock to you but-” I scoffed and turned around to face her.

“Are you kidding me, Tor? I’m not shocked. Okay, maybe I was a little bit at first... but honestly, it’s really not that big of a surprise.” I lied.

“It isn’t?” She questioned.

“No. I’m not mad that you are with Riley, despite either of you telling me might I add... I’m just, I guess I’m jealous.” I muttered.

“Jealous? Um hate to break it to you but Riley is your brother, that’s a little gross Liv.” She teased.

“Will you shut up? I’m jealous because now you have what I don’t.” I spoke clearly and harshly and the instant the words left my mouth I completely broke down.

I was sitting balled up in the center of my best friend’s college dorm room having a complete and devastating break down. I’ve cried numerous times within the past two weeks, but nothing like this.

My knees were up to my chest and I was rocking back and forth as if I was in a nut house needing immediate medical attention. Tori was by my side in an instant wrapping her arms around my body trying to do anything to stop the pain I was feeling.

“Tori, he’s gone... just like that. I woke up that morning thinking he was going to have a fun day with my brother and he dies. Why did this happen to me? To him?” I begged for answers, but I knew Tori didn’t have what I was looking for.

“I don’t have the answers Olivia. I don’t know why this kind of bad stuff happens to good people. What I do know is, there’s always a reason why. There is always a certain perspective we should have when things like this happen. I’m not sure what that perspective is, and I’ll probably never know... but it’s there, hidden in all the chaos. I know it is.”

Her words were soothing and I was able to regain the strength to stand up again. Tori hugged me for what seemed like an eternity before letting go.

“I’m going to get us some ice-cream, okay? I’ll be right back.”

I nodded and watched her as she grabbed her wallet and left.

I walked over to her futon and pulled it out to make a bed. I placed two pillows down and laid down flat on my back starring up at the ceiling.

What are you doing Olivia? Why are you lashing out like this? You have been through this before, you know what will happen if you keep this up. You are going to end up in another facility. Is that what you want?

I managed to stop talking to myself long enough to fall into a deep sleep. Tori came back half an hour later and lightly shook me awake.

“Do you want to wait on the ice-cream?” She asked with puppy dog eyes, knowing that she wanted to eat it with me and watch movies.

I smiled up at her and slowly sat up.

“How long were you gone?” I asked as I stretched out my arms.

“Only thirty minutes.” She deadpanned.

“Feels like hours.” I sighed.

“Anyways... I got chocolate chip cookie dough swirled with brownie batter and then I got mint chocolate chip. Pick your poison.” She smirked holding up both pints.

“Cookie dough and brownie batter, all the way.” I smirked back happy to not feel nauseous at the thought of eating.

“You’re lucky I love you.” She glared while turning towards her small shelf of movies.

“Am I though?” I teased.

“What movie?” She asked looking back at me.

“You decide.” I replied.

She looked at her collection of DVD’s for a moment before finally picking one up and putting it in the DVD player that sat next to her flat screen.

“What did you pick?” I asked.

“You’ll see.” She smiled, while plopping down next to me and grabbing her pint of ice cream.

She handed me a spoon and I dug into my delicious, cold treat.

Moments later, the sound of pirates singing the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song filled the room and Tori and I began belting out the lyrics with our mouths half-filled with ice cream.

Once we were finished with our horrible karaoke session, I looked over at my best friend and smiled.

She didn’t put in a sappy romance movie, which is normally what I would love to watch and she didn’t put in a scary thriller either, being that I was already living through a real-life nightmare.

She did put in the one movie that we used to watch over and over again in high school, even though everyone said we were too old to still be watching it. That right there is when I realized that Tori was the best friend I could have ever possibly imagined having and I was so thankful that she was by my side during this incredibly devastating time of my life.

She and Riley were all I needed. Then it hit me.

There is one more person here that I desperately needed and I didn’t even know it yet.

My baby.

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