Fighting For Hope

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TWENTY-FIVE

HOPE

I submerged in an ocean of culpability. It is asphyxiating me, robbing me of my ability to inhale air. It is tedious and rough to endure. I am convinced that this is eternal. The lingering images of the gruesome scenes will be the decorations under the ocean that I call my ghastly home. Everything hurts.

I still remember how everything started, how everything was under control before a sudden impact throbbed my head. After a while, when the pain subsided, and I realized what exactly happened, I looked over to my left.

Tyler lied unconscious beside me, in a bizarre position. He had shards from the window agonizingly pierced in his arms and a bloody wound on his head. He had injuries more severe than mine.

I climbed out of the car with much trickiness and scurried to get Tyler out. Discomfort shot up my legs like a bullet with every step I took as I sprinted to his side and got him out of the vehicle.

I was positive someone crashed into us, but no one was in the area. All I could hear was my galloping heartbeat and my brain, pleading Tyler was alright. My hands painted with crimson, but the blood was not mine.

After that, everything became a blur. There was the deafening sound of the ambulance and nosiness surrounding me as I struggled to free Tyler.

Now, I stood solitarily in a room as white as chalk, a small bed in front of me. I had always detested being in a hospital; it feels like a place with a high risk of losing someone forever.

I felt this once in the past when I ran from Josh’s house to escape the fire that I started. Like I had caused a person to be close to death, but this time, it was someone I trusted. The weight in my chest is driving me insane.

Silence hung in the room, and I abhorred it. There was always very little silence around Tyler.

I reached out, hesitantly at first, covering my hand with his. My father did this action when he was on death’s doorstep. I wanted to give him the affection and hope that my father gave me to cling onto.

I disrelished false hope, but I had to believe he is strong enough to get out of this. The doctors said with such feigned sympathy that the substantial impact on his head had caused him to go into a coma. I blamed myself, but I knew I did not lose control of the car. It wasn’t me. I did not see a car coming at all.

Still, I decided to drive. Maybe Tyler will be on his two feet if I did not attend the party.

“I was right. I shouldn’t have dragged you into my mess. You don’t belong in my world, Tyler; it’s too brimmed with loathing and aggression,” I whisper, feeling emotions collapsing onto me at once. It has been so long since I felt the sting in my eyes.

“But thank you for being there for me, you helped make me feel something I missed. I don’t know how to explain this connection I feel with you, and the mere thought of losing you is breaking me,” I told Tyler, assuming all I said was heard.

“You know…I get it.” My vision blurred for a moment before I blink the tears away, “I get why my dad always warned me about how trusting will only hurt me. Right now, I feel nothing but overwhelming pain because I trusted you.”

“I don’t regret it. I don’t. But you’re an amazing person, and you don’t deserve this at all.”

“I know this is reality, not a story where someone would wake in a matter of days after hearing a voice, so I’m pleading you to hold on.”

“Fight this, for everyone, for me. Fight for me.” My voice cracked as I uttered the words. He looked so serene, trapped in a world within his brain.

Just then, the door was pushed open. I found it unusual that Josh did not look apprehensive for his best friend. He reached Tyler’s side and then put on an agitated facade. “What happened after the party?”

I calmed myself before I start to explain. “I was driving and I’m not sure if I crashed into a car, but most of the windows cracked, and Tyler hit his head.” I held back a sob. “Somehow, I end up with pain that barely hurt me while he ends in an unconscious state.” I looked into his hazel eyes, silently appealing for help. I did not know how I could just casually go back to school; knowing the only person I trusted was in a hospital.

He struggled with forming the words before engulfing me in a reassuring hug.

“Have hope…be glad that you’re well. He’s going to be fine,” he promised. “I’ve known him since I was a boy. He’s stronger than you think.”

My lips formed a frown as I pushed away, feeling empty all over again.

“Tyler’s family is coming. They were informed of the accident by the doctors when I gave their contacts from his phone,” I told Josh. “I’m skipping school tomorrow, just giving myself time to think.”

I lied. I had enough time for myself, I needed a distraction, something that could appease me, and there was only one thing that comes to mind.

I flashed Josh a forced smile before dismissing myself, instantaneously unlocking my phone and typing a text.

He saved his number in my contacts for future use, which I supposed was this very moment. It said: I’m ready. It’s happening tomorrow. Meet me at my place in the morning.

I left the hospital, which was conveniently a few blocks away from my school and a close distance from home. As I started the quiet saunter, my phone beeped.

He had replied with: I’ve been tolerantly waiting. Remember the plan. We’ll make him pay.

I took a moment to think if this was what I truly wanted. I know that wanting to hurt someone and actually doing it are two very different matters. Then, I kept in mind that I had craved this since I was a child, Calvin ruined my life, and I wanted nothing but to do the same for him. Why was I having second thoughts?

My phone beeped again: I will be a distraction for Woodland.

I left Ian on seen, resuming my walk. I thought the next time I took action, Tyler would be participating. Perhaps going him out would help keep him safe.

Upon reaching home, I prepared myself mentally for the next day—the day of torment for the man I despised with a passion.

That night I struggled to fall asleep because of a disconcerting bugging in my chest. I barely had my rest before the sun rose. Reluctantly, I peeled my droopy eyes open. I was fatigued but unable to fall asleep.

I finished my morning ablutions and was about to climb back onto my bed when three knocks came. I sighed, moving towards the door before three more exasperated beats sounded.

I unlocked and pushed open the door. With a stiffening posture, I realized it was not Ian who knocked. Instead, it was Josh, who seemed to have also skipped a day of school.

“Are you inviting me in?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah…come in,” I said hesitantly. Josh’s father should be making his way over, and I wanted them to avoid meeting, especially since Ian had no clue the son who accuses him of the death of his family is alive. “How do you know where I lived?”

He gave me a sheepish smile. “I might have asked Tyler for your address since you’re a friend I trust and can speak to. He didn’t give it to me right away, though. I had to go under an interrogating session for it.”

“Anyway, I am here to send a message from the Rivera family. They don’t believe it’s your fault. Police are investigating after they saw footage of a car that crashed into Tyler’s. Unfortunately, the position of the camera was unable to shoot the number plate on the car,” he said with an uncertain, sad smile. I nodded at the new information, pondering if it was genuinely an accident.

Suddenly, knocks in groups of three came from outside the door. I panicked, inhaling sharply before assuring myself that this would be an innocuous reunion.

“Are you expecting someone?” Josh asked. Before I could answer, he offered to meet the visitor. Time drastically decelerated as he opened the door, revealing his father.

Ian went rigid as he studied Josh’s features and shock filled both their faces. In the fleeting moment, they only had the capability to stare. The father had a look of both delight and despair, extending his hand, progressively as if Josh would wither with a simple touch. Then, he wrapped his arms around his son, emotions causing his eyes to water.

I knew how he felt from where I was, the heaviness in the stomach, unable to release. If I were ever to see someone I adored and thought I had lost, I would feel the same.

However, Josh did not let the moment last. His hands, which were hanging at either side of his body, pushed Ian away with force.

“Son? How are you here?” I almost felt remorseful for the man. He looked as shattered as I was the day before.

A lone tear escaped his right eye, as he looked at the son, he thought he would never see again. Josh disregarded his father, turning to look me in the eyes.

“Why is he here? What does he want?” he asked indignantly, looking at me for an answer.

I gave him a face that told him that I would reply to his question later, though I had no mood to deal with this. How could I tell him that I was working with his father to hurt my own?

He fluttered his eyes closed before shoving his father out of his way to leave my house.

“How long have you known he was alive?” Ian questioned, still registering the fact that Josh did not die. I shook my head, indicating that it had only been some time since I got to know of him. That was not necessarily true.

He wiped his tears with the back of his hand before clearing his throat.

He appeared to have pushed Josh to the back of his head before staring into my eyes.

“Let’s strike.”

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