( 4 ) The Last Chance
I was in the bathroom fixing my hair, right after we finished gym. As I left the bathroom to head off to my next class, Priscilla and her little air-headed underlings turned up in front of me.
"Oh hey, look, woozy girl's here," Priscilla exclaimed as she mocked me in derisive laughter, having fun at it.
" Wow...'Pass-out' to 'woozy' girl? Well, I guess that's progress... for you that is," I smiled sweetly, yet full of scorn. The next thing I knew, she pushed me down to the floor and I fell down on my butt with a loud thud. I winced at the sharp pain, surrounded by nothing but annoying, high-pitched laughter.
"You think you're so tough, huh? Where's that ugly friend of yours? How come she's not here to save your ass?" Her hands lifted as she made an attempt to push me. I prepared myself for her strike but it never came. I slowly opened my eyes, only to see a familar male's body shielding me from her hit.
"Ian!" That vixen jumped backwards in shock, pretending to be an angel in front of her boyfriend. "I didn't see you ther-"
"Leave." He growled, impatiently.
"Now." He added with a glare and they all scurried off like little mice in fear; their faces were oh-so-priceless.
"Thanks," I dusted myself up after taking his hand, lifting me up from the ground.
"Promise me something in return for this," He requested, looking at me and his eyes bored into mine. It puzzled me how I couldn't look away this time.
"What is it?" I responded normally.
"Promise me that if I'm gone-"
"You're already dead to me, Ian," I laughed, icily. It was supposed to be a joke.
He smiled, chuckling a little even though I could sense the humourless tone in his voice. "Yeah, promise me that if I'm gone for good, you won't forget to smile. Smile for me, at least."
I frowned a little, " What's with the weird request?"
"Just a simple one," He looked down at me as he leaned closer, lifting my chin with his fingers towards him."Promise?"
I didn't dare move his hand away from me so I just nodded.
I was walking home from school when I saw a bunch of people crowded around the house of the Harris Family. Out of a sudden, I saw Ian's brother walking out of the house, more specifically, towards me.
"My brother wants you to have this. These are his last words," He said as he handed me a letter. I furrowed my brows in confusion.
"Last words?" I asked. "What do you mean?"
"You'll find out soon enough." He let out a small smile, his eyes a little puffier than usual. He left me standing there and I ripped the letter open to stop my curiosity from killing me.
I'm sorry that I've been such a jerk to you all this while. I've left you on your own and I wasn't there for you when your dad died. I'm really sorry. I know I've hurt you. I know I don't deserve you but I thought I should let you know the reason why I did it. I've been battling cancer for seven years now. I was diagnosed with cancer in the fifth grade. Why didn't I tell you? Because you were growing attached to me and being your only friend, I was afraid you couldn't live without me if I died. I wanted you to be strong. I wanted to know that if I were to die and leave you all of a sudden, you'd manage. The last thing I wanted was to see you cry. I didn't want see the tears, and you being glum all the time, knowing my life was as fragile as glass.
Ever since I've met you, you were always so cheerful and happy... I just didn't have the courage to tell you. I know that it was very selfish of me. But I make mistakes too. If I had a chance to turn back time and start all over again, you would've been the first person I told, and the last person I would spend my last moments with.
I'm sorry you had to know this way. If you're reading this, I'm probably dead by now. I just want you to know, I'm always gonna watch over you even when I'm not here with you in person. I wish I could spend more time with you. I miss your dimples, your little cheekbones, that smile. I miss you a whole lot.
In fact, I'm in love with you.
I noticed wet patches on the surface of the letter. They were teardrops. They were my tears. I slowly crouched down on the ground, my weak knees failing on me to stand up right. Part of me hated the fact that he left me with a simple note. So much regret rose up in me; so much pain. Gripping tightly to the letter, I made it crinkle. Using my hands, I shielded my face, trying to stop all these tears. Part of me hated how our last conversation went; how our last conversation ended; how I ended it.
For days, I spent thinking; why did it have to end like that?
"You ready? This is the one and only chance you got before we graduate, Lace. The only and one chance to show the world what you've got," Claire said as she fixed my hair and make up right before it was my turn to perform on stage. It had been a year since Ian's passing and graduation day was coming in a few weeks. I decided to sign up for the school's talent show again this year in hopes that I'd overcome that very same fear I had since I was a kid.
As I heard my name being called up, the audience went silent, waiting for my appearance on stage. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, thinking positive and good thoughts. This was it. This was either going to end up a nightmare or it could be a life-changing moment for me.
"You're up, Lace. Knock their socks off and do me proud," She smiled and gave me a hug before I started walking up the flight of stairs that lead to the center of the stage. I walked with my head held high, trying not to look into the audience. Nervousness rose up in me as I turned to face them. I heard whispers and murmurs from the crowd. Some of them good, some of them bad, and some I'd rather not say. I adjusted the microphone to my level and prepared my guitar in place. Goosebumps were all over my body. The hair on my skin stood motionless. My hands were shaking so much as a tremor of fear ran through my body, following the pounding sensation in my heart. My stiff hands clenched trying to suppress the throbbing pain that was starting in my chest.
Oh no, it was back. The feeling felt terribly familiar. Breathe Lace, just breathe. I looked over to the crowd only to see a familiar face. My heart stopped for a while and it seemed like my eyes were drawn on him. Ian.
My breath quickened as I stared at the faint shadows of his facial features at the back of the hall. He was here. He was here to watch me. I could feel his presence surrounding me; the scent of daffodils, it was his favourite. This gave me the strength to begin. I took in a deep breath and smiled.
Strumming my guitar, I opened my mouth and let the music take over me.
"Took a deep breath in the mirror
He didn't like it when I wore high heels
But I do
Turn the lock and put my headphones on
He always said he didn't get this song
But I do, I do."
"And you throw your head back laughing
Like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause
He never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe
I watched it begin again."
Death is sudden thing. It's something that is beyond our control. It will leave you with regrets. There's nothing we can do about it, but to move on. It's a long process one has to go through at different stages in life. It's a difficult process.
But I'm hoping that one day, I'll get to reach the end of that process.
If there was anything that I learned from this, it is that I'm thankful.
Thank you, Ian.
Because of him, I cried.
Because of him, I hit rock bottom.
Because of him, I knew how it was to feel so alone.
But because of him,