I didn’t know where to go after I left Willow. I just drove around. The image of the night before kept popping into my mind; that explains why I ended up at the cabin. I couldn’t bring myself to let go. I walked in and went to the bedroom, the pillow still smelled like her.
I lay down on the bed with the pillow to my nose. I couldn’t stop the tears. Yes, I am a guy and shouldn’t cry like this but my heart was just broken. You would cry too. I want to be angry but all I can feel right now is despair and sadness.
I felt empty, numb, and discouraged. I also hoped that after she had time to calm down and process she would come to her senses and come back to me. That was really the only thing holding me together.
I had stayed at the cabin way past dark, my parents had tried calling me and even texting me but I ignored them. I wanted to be left alone to dwell in my own self-pity.
Alone in the last place where Willow and I were happy and together. The place where we truly became one. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing for the past twenty minutes so I decide it’s time to answer it.
“Hello,” I answer.
“Cole, where on God’s green earth have you been all day?” My dad yells.
“Um, I’m at the cabin,” I answer. “I needed to be alone.”
“Thank God!” he sounds relieved. “I thought something had happened to you.” He sounded really stressed and freaked out.
“Something did happen but dad, what’s going on? You sound kind of freaked out.”
“Your mom just got a call from the police. Allan somehow made bail,” he answers. “We’re worried he’s going to be coming after the both of you.”
My heart dropped again. How much crap am I going to have to deal with today? But I need to be there for my mom, and if Allan is out, he could be seeking retribution.
“I’m on my way!” I say as I jump off the bed. I hang up and run out the door, I jump on my bike and speed home.
It took me about thirty minutes to get to my dad’s house. When I get there I see the door is wide open. I can hear my mom shouting and is scared, Bridget is screaming. I quickly get off my bike and run into the house.
When I walk in Allan is standing there with his arm around my mom’s neck, and is holding a gun to her head. My dad is trying to talk Allan down, doing what he does well until the cops get there.
I don’t know what to do but I know I can’t let him take my mom. This has to stop now! My dad sees me walk in and shakes his head. He tells me no and doesn’t want me to come in.
I don’t listen, I walk in and around so Allan can see me. I walk up to where my mom is. I’m not scared of this piece of shit, but I’m worried about my mom. She gives me the all familiar listen to me I’m your mother look, but she is also terrified. She’s telling me to take Bridget and run. She should know by now that I never back down when it comes to Allan.
“Look, Allan, it’s me you want,” I asserted. “I’m the one who turned you in, not her. Let her go and take me instead.”
“NOO Cole!” Mom screams. “It will be okay, just take your sister and run,” she’s begging. My dad, who hasn’t moved yet, moves forward and touches my shoulder.
Dad is an interrogator so it's his job to talk the hostage taker down, and I'm betting that's what he was doing before I showed up. Unfourntley, for dickwads like Allan nothing, will work on them.
“Son, the police are on the way.”
“You and I both know that he can kill her before they show up.” I keep my focus on Allan. “Dad, I’ve been standing up to him for years now. I know how he works,” I plead for him to step back but before he can protest. Allan shouts and starts walking out with my mom in tow. I won’t allow that to happen.
"I've been talking with him and almost have him backing down," Dad replies.
"Dad, you are great at your job but Allan is out of his mind. He will never back down. He would take out Mom and me before anyone was able to take him out. Please just let me try this. I know his every move Dad, I can take him."
"Okay, you get one shot, but then I'm going in. I'm a horrible Father for sending my eighteen-year-old Son to go up against a raging mad man with a with a gun."
"No, you're not, because I would do it even if you tried to stop me." I turn towards Allan, he still has the gun pointed at my Mom's head. His eyes are locked on mine and the smugness was written all over his face. Well, he can keep that for...for a second.
I run at him and kick his leg out from underneath him and he goes flying backward. His arm releases from mom's neck so she runs away and goes to Bridget. I see the gun and kick it out of the way. Allan regains his stance and comes at me but I don’t back down. I just keep walking forward in hopes to corner him.
"We do this the old fashion way Old man!" I demand. "You like to beat on me when you're drunk off your ass, well come and get me, you drunk ass bitch. I'm ready to give you the beat down you deserve!"
He shouts again, “Haven’t you learned, kid, there is never a time where you have ever been able to beat me!”
“You’re right, Allan, I have never been able to beat you.” I pause and then say, “Until Now!”
I barrel into him, the impact forced him to slam into the wall but he pushed himself off and came at me hard and fast. The force pushed me back and now I was the cornered one.
Allan’s big meaty hands wrapped around my neck and I felt the pressure of his hands squeezing the life out of me. I always did say I would fight him until he succeeded in taking the last breath from my body.
I beat at him with my fist, I even got a good blow to his head which caused him to stagger a bit. Yet, he was too high for it to phase him. I kept fighting to get him off of me until my vision started to fade. I knew I was going to die by the hands of this monster. All those times I stood up to him were for nothing, well I guess as long as my Mom was safe then it wasn't all for nothing.
Willow hated me now and didn't want to see me anymore but at least she was able to break free from the hold her parents had on her. She was safe from Tyler and he can't hurt her anymore. So she can be happy at some point in her life. I could die now and everything will be okay, I fulfilled my purpose.
Before I start to see blackness, I hear someone shout, “I’m done with you hurting my family! I will not allow you to hurt him anymore. I will not hesitate to put a bullet in your head!”
Allan refuses to let me go but within minutes I hear the gun go off and I drop to the ground. The pressure from my throat is released and I cough as I gasp for air. It takes me a moment to gather my thoughts and to figure out what happened.
When I'm finally able to comprehend what had happened, I look over and see Allan laying on the floor in a pool of blood. A huge gaping hole sits in his chest, my mom is crying and trying to console a trembling two-year-old. I look over to see my dad staring at Allan’s body with the gun in his hand.
“I had to!” he says over and over again. “He was going to kill you! I had too!”
"I know Dad and it's going to be okay."
I heard the sirens and then police barging in the house. A couple of officers walk over to my dad, take the gun, and places it in an evidence bag. The paramedics come over and check me over but I push them off. I run over to my mom and sister, they are both trembling and their faces are stained with dried tears but mostly okay.
After our statements were taken and Allan’s body was taken out, the yellow crime scene paper was wrapped around the house. My dad was still in shock but he pulled himself together enough to help us get a few things packed since we were going to a hotel. I don’t know what will happen from here but all that mattered at the moment was that Allan was gone and he was not a danger for us anymore.
I hadn’t been to school since that night. The school was aware of what had happened and sent all my homework with Chris, which also means I haven’t talked to or seen Willow. I did try calling and texting her a few times.
I talk to Erin who says Willow is a mess and having a hard time. Just knowing that I couldn’t be there for her was breaking me, but this is what she wanted and I need to give her space.
I was doing my homework in our hotel room when I get a text. I look to see who it’s from. My heart filled with joy when I saw it was Willow but then it filled with sadness again because I had something to tell her.
Willow: Can you meet me at our spot? We need to talk.
Me: Yes, I’ll be there in an hour. Are you okay?
Willow: Not really, but I’m hoping to be okay after we talk. I need to explain why I broke up with you.
Me: Okay, I will see you soon.
I tell my parents I’m leaving and drive out to the cabin. The last time I was there was the night my world fell apart. When I get to the cabin Willow’s car is already there, she’s sitting on the porch, and she looks beautiful. She sees me walk up to her. The sadness in her eyes is crushing.
“Hey,” she says. “Thanks for meeting me.”
“Hey,” I say back. “Anything for you.” We walk into the cabin and I turn on the lights. I gestured for her to sit on the couch so she does. Then she begins to talk.
“I heard about what happened with Allan. How is your family? How is your dad holding up? How are you?”
“We are all doing as good as can be. Dad has had to talk to the police a few times but the case was closed since it was self-defense. Mom is still shaken up but she’s holding it together for Bridget. But I don’t want to talk about that right now. What did you want to talk about? “
“That’s understandable.” She smiles but it’s weak. “I want to explain why I broke up with you. It’s taken me a while to figure it out but you were right. I thought I was protecting you and figured if you weren’t in my life I wouldn’t be dragging you down with me."
" I’m also not in a healthy place right now and I used our relationship as a crutch and an escape. You came in and wanted to make everything better and you did. You brought me back to life and gave me a purpose to keep going."
"You taught me how to love fall in love. I do love you Cole, and I have been in love with you for a while now. When Tyler showed me that picture, I knew it wasn’t true but I wouldn’t allow myself to believe it. I used that as justification to push you away. I’m sorry for hurting you and for not trusting you.”
I moved from where I had been sitting. Since she was being honest with me, it was time for me to be honest with her.
“Willow, I’m the one to blame. I pushed you when you told me to back off but I do not regret the time we have had together. I will always treasure the moments we’ve had, and there will not be a day that goes by where my heart will not ache for you. I will never stop loving you. I really don’t know what our future holds but I’m grateful for the present.”
She’s started crying and looks confused. “You’re acting like we are never going to see each other again,” she says sadly.
I take her hand in mine and look at her. “Willow, we are moving to California at the end of the week.” I had to just come out and say it.
“What? No! Why?” she sobs.
“My dad was offered a job and we all need a fresh start after everything with Allan. I don’t want to leave you but they need me right now.”
“I understand, but I will miss you.” She climbs into my lap and straddles me. She kisses me fervently. “We still have tonight, right?” She asks when she finally pulls away.
“Yes,” I say softly, “We still have tonight.” Leaving her is going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
“Good!” she says. I stand up with her wrapped around my waist. I take her into the bedroom and lay her down on the bed. This will be the last time I will be able to hold my Willow. My life will never be the same without her and that thought scared me.
My future looks so far away but yet so close. I have no idea if she will be in my future but I know that no matter what happens she will always hold my heart. I will never be able to give it to someone else. There is no one who would ever fill her place.
That night I showed her just how much I loved her. I had no idea what would happen after tonight, but whatever happened, my life was changed forever because of her. She swooped into my life and taught me how to breathe again.
Willow was the one who taught me the true meaning of sacrifice because she is the pure definition. She taught me how to live and to be happy with the life I've been given. Willow has had a rough life but yet she still chooses to be happy, she rarely let the path chosen for her get in the way.
Yet, she was still lonely and together we filled up each other loneliness. Most of all Willow taught me how to love. I will love her for the rest of my days because who she was to me and for what she brought to my life.
Because of her, I have been able to let go of my anger towards Allan and I have been able to look forward to my future. By the end of the night, we were both wet with tears because after tonight we would have to release fate from it following its course.