Let it go
I don't know how long I was standing there before I heard the low gentle rumbled of a car engine getting closer. Eventually the headlights dimly shone through the trees in the distance dispersing light onto my surroundings and making sleeping birds flee into the night sky. As the car got closer, rounding a sharp bend and then heading straight towards me I stood rooted to the spot. I couldn't move and the car hadn't noticed me.
The closer it got the more I struggled to move my legs, I was paralysed. I got desperate and waving my arms to alert the car to move out of the way. The driver wasn't paying attention or maybe, still they didn't see me. Just when I thought the car was going to plough straight into me, they slammed on their brakes swerving to the side as my feet came loose allowing me to dart in the opposite direction. I watched in horror as the car lost control, aquaplaning on the flooded road and heading straight into an old oak tree ready to stand its grounds. I watched helplessly as the car smashed into the tree ending the screams of terror coming from the passengers.
This was all my fault. I had to help them, I had to save them.
Smoke was billowing out from under the hood of the car as I ran over to it. One of the headlights was completely smashed whereas the other was flashing furiously as it fought for life. I tried to pull open the passenger door but it was stuck. The door had warped from the impact but eventually after fighting it gave way to let me help my dad. There was blood everywhere, it was clinging to my hands as I tried to unbuckle his seat belt. I was screaming at him to open his eyes, to help me, but it was no use.
A voice called from behind me halting my screams.
I whipped around in search of who was calling my name and saw my Mum walking through the woods towards me. She looked as beautiful as always, her face lightly dusted with makeup and hair curled to perfection. She was wearing her favourite blue dress that my dad had bought her a few years ago. It cinched in at the waist and went down to her knees in loose blue ripples.
'Mum! Help me with dad, I can't get him out!' I rushed but she just shook her head with a sad smile.
She reached up and stroked my cheek with a cold hand.
'Sweetheart you have to let this go.'
'Let what go? Mum we have to help dad he's hurt!'
'Darling!' She took hold of my hand to stop me from turning away and looked at me with urgency.
'You have to let this go!'
'I don't know what you mean. You're not making any sense!'
Tears pooled in her eyes as she pulled me in to her arms.
'Your father and I are so proud of you.'
I melted into the hug feeling comforted but her familiar perfume.
'Let this go.' She whispered. 'Let us go.'
I jolted awake in bed startling Marley who instantly rushed over to comfort me.
'It's ok boy I didn't mean to wake you. It was just a bad dream.'
I sat myself up properly and took a deep breath. I'd been having the same reoccurring nightmare for months but this one was different. It was so vivid. She looked so real, felt so real.
I glanced over and noticed the red photo album lying face down on my bed. After Lindsay got home from work last night, we spent the rest of the evening celebrating my mum's birthday by eating takeout food and watching her favourite films. I couldn't get to sleep last night without having one last look at the photo album again. I must've fallen asleep as I poured over the images, urging myself to remember more of that trip. I guess that could explain why my nightmare has now changed.
I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair as I tried to shake the dream off but I just couldn't help but come back to the words still ringing in my head.
'You need to let go.'
'Bad dream?' Nora plonked down on the bed next to me and started stroking Marley who instantly started to settle down again. If I didn't have so much on my mind, I would've wondered why Marley could see her too.
'As always. This one was different though. It was new.'
'It was..in a different perspective.' I didn't want to go into too much detail so I left it at that.
'I spoke to mum in it. She told me I had to "let it go" whatever that means? Maybe I've seen frozen too many times.'
Nora scoffed and shook her head.
'I always thought you were the clever one out of the two of us but you can really act dumb sometimes.'
'What do you mean?'
'She's telling you to move on.'
'Move on from what?'
'From us. From the crash. From the guilt I know you still feel.'
I turned away as if I'd been slapped but only because I knew she was right. Deep down I'd been trying to fight off the feeling of guilt. The guilt I still feel for being the only one to make it out alive.
'Whether you believe in fate or luck it doesn't matter. You got a second chance and I believe it was for a reason. Please don't waste it by holding yourself back. For being afraid to take risks. Life sucks sometimes but if you continue holding back a part of yourself because you're scared then you're going to miss out on the best moments.'
As much as I didn't want to believe it Nora was right. I was given another chance for a reason and the more I let this hold me back the more time I would waste. Then the guiltier I would feel because Mum, Dad and Nora would've done their second chance better.
'Nora you could be a therapist. You're certainly better than the one I had to go to.'
'I know, I do give the best advice.' Nora always was one for being modest.
'I also have another piece for you. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. It's better to make one than regret taking a chance and wondering what would've happened.'
'Are you talking about Harrison?'
'I'm just saying you know in your heart what you want to do. Stop second guessing yourself.'
I glanced over at my desk where Harrison's letter was still sat. I practically have it memorised now because I've read it so many times. He loves me. He loves me?
I ended up having to move it as far away from me as possible because I think if I read it one more time, I would've driven myself crazy with wondering what I should do.
Beside me Nora groaned and rubbed her stomach.
'Hey a little tip for you. Don't spend all night watching murder documentaries and eating Doritos. I've got the worst indigestion and I'm now too scared of being on my own in the dark.
Ok so not all of her advice hits the mark but I knew she meant well.
'You're not going to try and go back to sleep?' She asked as I turned my bedroom lights on.
'There's no point. I'm awake now so I may as get up and do something. Maybe this is my chance to re-start Ugly Betty again.'
'Or you go for a run?' Nora suggested. 'It looks like it's going to be a beautiful morning.'
Nora was right. I'd forgotten to pull my curtains last night, although normally there's no point as I'd be awake before the sun came up anyway. This morning however I'd woken up just as the first form of light was brightening up the cloudless sky.
'It does look nice doesn't it. Do you want to come too?' I pushed the covers off me and headed over to my chest of draws to pull out my running top and leggings.
'Paha! Yeah right!' Nora laughed as though my question was hysterical. 'I would rather never spy on all the hot guys in this neighbourhood again than go for a run.'
'So that's a no then.' I said sarcastically.
'Definitely! I'm not giving up my spying rights! It's one of the only perks of being dead.' Nora jumped underneath the duvet and snuggled down.
'I'll just keep your place warm whilst your gone.'
I would've rolled my eyes but hers were already closed.
I quickly got changed and then I headed out with Marley in tow. It was a little warmer this morning than it had been in previous weeks which was a nice change. It meant spring was finally on its way.
I remember when I was back in England thinking that places like California were sunny and warm all the time. Little did I know you can find snow here in the winter if you go to the right place.
This morning I ran without music as I liked hearing the calming sounds of the town this early. On the odd occasion I would hear the car engine of an early worker but more often than not bird song was all I could hear.
Half an hour in we reached the incline of the hill and my legs were starting to burn but the gratification of a good view when we reached the top was motivation enough.
I started to slow up when the ground levelled out revealing a small slither of view but Marley took me by surprise by bolting towards something he saw in the distance. I called after him but he was choosing to ignore me.
I suspected he'd seen a squirrel or a bird he wanted to chase which was why I was surprised when I found him jumping up at a hooded figure.
Initially I was scared, was Marley protecting me from someone? But no he wasn't, he was just being playful. I stopped a few yards away as Marley came running back to me making the person turn around. If I hadn't recognised his hoodie a few seconds earlier then I would've worn the same shocked expression he had on his face.
'Hi. I'm sorry I didn't mean to..' he stopped himself and looked at me with a nervous expression.
'I know you come here a lot...not that I've been watching you! It's just I've seen you in the mornings sometimes...'
Even with an embarrassed expression and his hands shoved in his pockets awkwardly I still couldn't help but notice how good-looking Harrison was. He looked rumbled and a little like he hadn't slept but still.
He obviously saw my silence as a bad sign as his cheeks flushed and he carried on with his nervous rambling.
'I know you don't want to talk to me so erm I'll just go.'
He started walking away but he only made it a few steps before I stopped him.
'No, don't go.' I walked over to the spot where he'd been sitting before Marley attacked him and sat down on the grass.
'Come and sit with me?'
Harrison looked at me as if I were an unpredictable animal but nodded and came to sit down next to me anyway.
He was close enough to me that I could feel warmth radiating off of him but far enough away as if he were worried of overstepping a boundary.
'This is my favourite place in the whole town.' I started as I looked out at the view. Golden sunshine was rising over the horizon now spreading warmth across my skin. Nora was right, it was a great morning to come up here.
Of course, I suspect there was another reason she wanted me to come up here this morning the scheming cow.
'It's peaceful up here and I feel like I'm watching the world go by. It also reminds me of you.'
I turned to look into the green eyes that had been watching me. 'It was like even whilst we weren't talking, I still had you around me up here.'
Harrison remained silent as if he were transfixed on me.
'In your letter you said I once told a friend if you want to talk to someone badly enough you'll find a way. You spoke to Matt about me?'
He nodded, not breaking eye contact with me for a second.
'Matt and Paige. I asked them for advice.'
So Nora isn't the only one that's been scheming.
'I wanted to find a way of showing you how much I care about you. After what happened yesterday, I wanted to not only apologise but find a way to help make your Mom's birthday easier for you. I don't know, I thought the photo album might be a way of giving you a small piece of your family on a difficult day. I didn't want my stupidity yesterday to ruin her birthday for you.'
He glanced down at his hands as if he were too ashamed to continue looking at me.
'You didn't. Even though I'm still so angry and hurt, you did the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me. And your letter. Did you mean it? Do you really love me?'
'I meant every single word of that letter. I love you with every inch of me. I love your strength, your passion, the way you care for your friends. I love the dimples you get in your cheeks when you smile at something I say and also your ocean blue eyes. I even love that you're still angry with me because anger is a sign that you still care and that's the hope that I've been holding on to.
You're all I've thought about for weeks and I've missed you so much that I've been jealous of anyone that's spent time with you because it's reminded me that I was the one who stupidly threw us away. I wish I could turn back time but I can't, so I pray one day you'll let me make it up to you. I'll do anything for you, you just say the word and I'll do it. Even if you tell me to let you go, I'll do it because I love you so much that I couldn't put you through any more pain. Just say it Evie, tell me what I need to do.' He pleaded sitting up on his knees and closing the small awkward space previously between us.
I looked into his eyes and it felt like I was seeing his soul. I saw regret, I saw pain and most importantly I saw love. It felt like the air was charged around us as he put himself on the line and risked everything. He had given me his heart even though he knew there was a high chance I could break it.
After everything that's happened between us, he was not the only guilty party. I had made mistakes too and if I could turn back time, I wouldn't have held part of myself back.
I couldn't make the same mistake again that I made before. I knew if I closed my heart off now that could be it. I could break my own heart.
'You'll do anything?'
'Anything, just say the word!' He took my hands and rested his forehead on mine. 'Anything.'
'Ok, kiss me.'
There was no hesitation as his lips crashed onto mine. The was an urgency from both of us as we both melted into what we'd been craving. His hands were cupping my face and mine were on his chest feeling his heartbeat going crazy underneath his hoody. We kissed until both of us had to pull away for air and even then, it wasn't long before he was kissing my jaw line down to my neck and back up to my lips where he was slower and softer this time. When we eventually pulled away, he used his thumbs to brush away a few stray tears running down my cheeks, and then he held me against his chest like he was never going to let go again.
I just couldn't give up on him, I knew I'd regret it even if it does end up being a mistake.
'I want to take things slow Harrison.' I said glancing up at him.
'If we give this a go again, I don't want us to make the same mistakes.'
'We won't make the same mistakes, I'd never let that happen. I'll do anything you want me to do Evie. I'm just so happy you're giving me a second chance.' He kissed me on the forehead and wrapped his arms around me.
As we sat there holding onto each other and watching the sunrise I knew I'd made the right decision. I wasn't going to fool myself into thinking our relationship would be perfect but I didn't want perfect. I just wanted someone who loved me for me and he did.