"Astrid, wait." I pleaded. "Talk to me."
"You don't understand what you're doing, Ryker. You've never been ditched by your best friend over and over, for someone who just planned to hurt them. You always said that you'd never be that guy. That your friendship with me is stronger than any of your relationships with girls." Astrid turned around, tears falling down her face. "You don't even care, do you?"
"Why would you think I don't care? Astrid, you are my best friend. I just need to be with Emma, and practice with my band.. They're both important to me."
"Emma doesn't love you." She said with a hiccup. "She's using you."
"How many of my girlfriends have you said that about now?" I said through clenched teeth. "Emma and I have been together for almost six months. If she didn't love me, she wouldn't be with me. I trust her. I'm starting to think she was right."
Astrid's eyes widened and she looked away. "I'm a horrible best friend."
I sighed. "It isn't about that. I just.. I'm starting to think you're in love with me. She's mentioned it a couple times now. You know that we're just friends, and that's all we'll ever be. You're like a sister to me. I wish things were different, but they aren't. I'm not good for you. You have to let go. Find someone else."
"You think I chose to fall in love with you?" She blurted out. "You think I like thinking about the fact that of all the guys in the world, I fell for such a douchebag? No. I didn't. I hate myself for loving you, Ryker Lawson." She reached in her pocket, pulling out.. The Jack Skellington pin I gave her in middle school. She really does carry it everywhere. "Take your stupid pin back. And take my stupid heart with you, stomp on it a few times." She grabbed my hand, giving it to me and closing my fingers around it. "I hope you have a good relationship with Emma. Because it's me or her. I'm done with the games."
I blinked several times. "Astrid, don't do this. Don't force me to choose. I know that I hurt you, but I didn't mean to.."
She forced a smile, shaking her head. "I can't do it anymore. I can't take it." And then she walked away.
I stormed into my house, going downstairs and for what seemed like hours, beating the shit out of my old punching bag, bare knuckles, until I bled. For the third time this week, I had to bandage them up. I didn't know I hurt her so much. Is it worse than the pain in my fists?
I know how it feels to be heartbroken. I've went from girl to girl, thinking it was the solution. And as a guy, yes, I'll admit that I cried. But Astrid was always there for me. I could call her at midnight, when I was on the verge of doing something reckless, and she would pick up immediately and soothe me.
Why couldn't I see what I'd done to her?
At 11:32 PM, I received a call. It was from her phone number, but it wasn't her. It was her sister.
"Ryker?" Her voice was shaking.
"Yes? Why are you calling me from Astrid's phone, Anna?"
"Because she's in the fucking hospital."
"Holy shit. Is everything alright?"
"Hmm, I don't know, we only found her unconscious with blood all over her arms and a bottle of pills next to her. What do you think?" For a fourteen year old, this girl has some serious attitude problems. "Whatever you did, I hope you're happy with yourself." She hung up.
Oh, God. What have I done?
Not even caring about the fact that my bandages needed changed, stained with blood, or the fact that I probably could have used a comb, I rushed to the hospital.
Oh, please, just tell me this isn't because of me..
I was quick to rush to the front desk at the ER. "What room is Astrid Sikes in?"
"Excuse me?" The secretary stared at me.
"I'm her- I'm her brother. What room is she in?" I gulped. "I need to see her."
"She's currently getting her stomach pumped. But she's in room forty eight. Turn right at the end of the hall, then to the very last one on the left in the next one. You'll have to wait. Your mother is outside, I believe."
Oh, great. She's probably gonna be worse than Anna was.
"Thanks, ma'am. I just got off work and I didn't know it happened until I was called," I lied.
"No need to thank me. Be careful with your sister. She's um, very weak right now." The secretary turned back to her computer.
You better believe I ran like hell to Astrid's room. Her mother was there, like I was told.
"What are you doing here, you aren't family." She crossed her arms.
"I'm here to see Astrid."
"I think you've done enough damage for today."
"Why is everyone blaming me?" I exclaimed.
"You were in the letter." She reached in her purse and shoved a folded up piece of paper in my hands.
Dear loved ones,
I know that suicide isn't the answer.. But I'm not looking for answers. I'm tired of looking for them. I've been suffering for years. You know I don't want to hurt anyone.. But after my final confrontation with Ryker, I knew that I needed to say goodbye. To everyone, not just him.
Mom, I love you, you're my rock. I'd never have made it seventeen years without you. Take care of Anna and always protect her the way you protected me.
Anna, you're a strong and beautiful young girl. High school is terrible. But don't be afraid. I know you'll do just fine. Don't let mom catch you with boys! She'll pull out baby pictures. And take care of Maxie. Kitties need love too. And if you ever fall in love.. Don't let that guy be your best friend. It's the worst feeling in the world, watching the one you love, love someone else.
And last, Ryker. You meant the world to me. It isn't because I love you that I'm doing this. It's because it's the only way for me to stop loving you. You'll be okay without me, you already pretty much left me anyway. I'm sorry. I'm selfish. I just wanted my best friend to spend time with me. I was tired of thinking you would come over, waiting for you to text me back.. I miss how we used to be.
To anyone else I didn't mention, I'm sorry.
I gulped back tears. "I swear, I didn't know she would do this. We had a fight, she was upset with me about my girlfriend... She gave me the Jack pin back that I gave her years ago.." I fumbled around in my jacket pocket to show her. "I was going to call her tonight.."
"Ryker, your knuckles are covered in blood." Ms. Sikes stared at my hands. "Are you back in MMA training?"
"No, I um.. I was upset, so I beat the hell out of the punching bag in my room. Opened up some wounds on my fists in the process." I looked down at them. "I'm really, really sorry about Astrid.. I didn't know.. I would never want her to do this to herself." More tears spilled from my eyes.
Surprisingly, her mother hugged me. "I know you wouldn't, Ryker. She's in so much pain and she's getting the help she needs.. I don't know if she will want to see you though.."
"I understand." I said softly. "I did tell the secretary lady that I'm her brother though, because I didn't know if I could get in otherwise."
A doctor stepped out, nearly hitting me with the door. "Ms. Sikes, she's okay to see you and one other person now. Family only. Eighteen and up."
Ms. Sikes wiped her eyes, puffy and red with tears. "Her brother and I want to see her."
"She's in a lot of pain, so I'd refrain from touching her. Especially nowhere near her arms, stomach, or throat," he said.
"Okay." We both nodded.
"There's a call button next to her bed if you need anything." He looked at his clipboard. "She will need to stay at least seventy two hours for psychiatric evaluation. Visiting hours ended well over two hours ago, but because she's just now awake and all, you may stay overnight. I wouldn't recommend it, the chairs are uncomfortable. But it's your choice."
"Thanks, Doctor Sanchez." Ms. Sikes sniffed.
He looked at me. "You two don't look much alike. Do you take after your father?"
"Different dads, sir," was my best answer.
"Ah, explains a lot. Well, you guys go on in, and if you do leave, keep quiet. Others are sleeping."
"Of course." Ms. Sikes said before leading me into the room. Astrid looked around and then right at me.