Chapter 47 - From afar
I held the crumpled letter, still sealed in its envelope, above the flames then pulled it back. I had burned each corner but couldn't commit to letting the entire thing turn into ash. I still couldn't believe I brought it back here with me. It had stayed in its spot in my glove compartment since I first placed it there. But for some reason, I shoved it into my suitcase and brought it to the bonfire with me.
I'd come to terms with Beau always being in the back of my mind. And I was okay with it until I saw him again. It had been two days since I went to the clinic but having him so close to me still messed with my head. And I could still feel the exact spot where his lips grazed my skin but I couldn't tell you where the needle entered my skin.
God, I had issues.
Jackson asked as he slumped down in the chair next to me.
"Don't you do enough of that at school?"
He laughed but I wasn't trying to be funny.
"Can I ask you something?"
I turned to him, wondering if I should even bother with my question.
"You can ask me anything."
"Why did you insist that I went to that clinic? You had to know he would be there."
My brother looked at me and sighed.
"Because I might've made a mistake."
"What do you mean?"
I raised my brows.
Jackson messed with the tear in his jeans and almost looked nervous.
"I told Beau to stay away from you. But I swear since then both of you have been different. You're on autopilot, River. You are just passing through your life and not really experiencing it. And as for Beau, well he's even more of a grouch than usual. I think he's miserable and I can only imagine it's because he's pushed you away, or I've pushed you away from him. I guess that part doesn't really make any difference."
I stared at my brother and tried to muster up some sort of anger toward him but I couldn't. It was all directed toward Beau and I didn't have enough to spread any around.
"You're not mad?"
I shrugged. I should've been but I guess I wasn't.
"You might've told him to stay away but he's the one who decided to do it. And once again, it was a decision that I was left out of. Don't you think I should have a say so? Wouldn't you want one if it were you, Jackson?"
He sighed and waited a minute or so before speaking.
"Yeah, I would."
I flipped the envelope with my fingers and pretended that it wasn't killing me to not read what was inside.
"I'm not entirely sure."
I didn't know if it was Beau's way of letting me down easy, or if it was his way of expressing his feeling of romcom worthy undying love. But I had a strong feeling whichever it was, it was laced in protection and sealed with some type of heartache that I still wasn't willing to experience right now.
"What's it like?"
Jackson asked as he watched me carefully.
"What's what like?"
"Being in love."
I let my head fall back into the chair and closed my eyes.
"Remember when we were kids and we went white water rafting and jumped off of one of the highest rocks? It's similar to that feeling you get in your stomach when your feet leave the solidness of the rock, except this feeling is in your chest. It's somehow heavy and light at the same time. Although right now it's more on the heavy side. But I guess that's kinda the point, it's not always good."
I opened my eyes and looked over at him. He was studying me with his brows furrowed and I laughed at his serious expression that I wasn't used to seeing from him.
He shook his head.
"Because I was wrong."
"Jackson it's not your-"
I started but he interrupted me.
"No, listen. I thought I was doing the right thing but I hate seeing you like this. And even though the thought of him with you makes me nauseous, I don't want him to be unhappy either. You need to read whatever you're babying in your hands. I don't know if it'll help or hurt but if he took the time to write something down, I think it's at least worth reading."
He leaned over and kissed the top of my head before getting up and walking back to the grill.
I looked down at the letter and wondered how long I'd been rubbing my fingers across the faded ink.
Did I want to read it?
What if it was awful and made me feel worse than I already did?
But the slight chance of it being worth it made me slide my finger underneath its seal.
I slipped the paper out and took a deep breath before letting my eyes focus on the words.
I need you to know that I never saw you coming. I didn't plan on you. Your existence never so much as crossed my mind. But from the second I met you, I knew you were for me. Maybe not in the ways that you are now but I knew that in some way we would always be connected.
That's the only reason I can let you go now. Because I know that you can go and do all the things that you're destined to do, and you and I will be alright. I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park but I know it's necessary and it's fair. I had chances and opportunities, so should you. I don't want you to put any part of this stage of your life on hold. Go out, party, date if that's what will make you happy.
Just know that I'm willing to love you from afar while you do it. I won't interfere or persuade you in any way, but I'm also not going anywhere.
I'll be here when you get through and if you still want me, nothing or no one will stop me.
I love you,
I read the letter three more times before folding it up and putting it back in its envelope. I wasn't sure how I felt. But I did know for certain that if I would've read those words six months ago, I would've made sure to hunt him down and slap him across his face.
I didn't want to be loved from afar.
I didn't want to have a normal college experience.
I wanted interference and I wanted persuasion but my opinion wasn't factored in.
Reading his letter didn't make a single difference now. He still slipped through my fingers.
I tossed the letter into the fire and watched the flames as they changed colors.
Then I let the heaviness in my chest weigh me down because not only was it my only option, it was the only decision I could make for myself when it came to my heart.