I stood in front of the locker that displayed colorful memories of Shane. Pictures of him and the basketball team, he and his brother, the two of us, him and other students, and solely Shane.
All it took was one night for everything to go wrong.
One night for my life to turn upside down.
Isn’t it funny how one mistake can determine your fate?
What was my mistake you ask... I couldn’t really tell you even if I did know.
Was it was allowing my boyfriend of three years to get into a car when he wasn’t in his right frame of mind?
Becoming pregnant my sophomore year because I was careless?
Was it lying to everyone I know about what really happened that night?
I would be answering all the questions that plagued my mind: If I had been there for him, would Shane still be alive and by my side?
Would I have my daughter today?
Would my reputation be trashed?
Would I still feel like a part of me died that night?
As I stood lost in my own thoughts, I hadn’t heard the footsteps approaching me.
“I still can’t believe he’s gone.” a voice met my ears saying.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” The second girl added.
The two of them gave me sympathetic smiles before going on about their day.
I was once again left alone to my thoughts, but only for a moment before another classmate of mine gave their condolences.
“If it helps, I miss him too.”
I looked to the side and saw Evan, one of the guys on the football team with Shane standing there.
I sighed as he walked away not waiting for a response from me. But, I was honestly used to this by now. The empty ‘Sorry for your loss’ and half hearted cries.
“You know...” Another voice said in place of all the other voices. “Even though, he’s not here... he’s still in here.”
It’s been three years and it still hurts as if it was yesterday.
“It hurts I know. We miss him too.”
They said and I felt them place a hand on my shoulder. I couldn’t help myself as I felt the tears began to pool in my eyes.
This is why I enjoyed the company of Austin Reeves. I could see the genuine concern he held in his eyes as he spoke to me.
That was something most people lacked.
Especially Shane’s teammates. A lot of the support I got from them seemed either rehearsed or robotic.
“It’s been three years since he’s been gone.” I said finally finding my voice. “And I still feel like I’m going through the motions.”
Probably because I am.
You never know what it’s like to lose someone until you have to live starting the new year off with the constant reminder of that loved one’s absence.
Austin just nodded showing that he understood what I was going through, letting out a sigh.
Without words, his arms circled around my waist, pulling me into the warm embrace. I rested my head against his hard chest feeling my chest tighten at the sob that wanted to leave my body.
“Well, if you need anything, I’m always here.” He spoke into my hair.
I nodded slightly, my eyes squeezing shut to keep the tears from falling as I did so.
“Thank you, Austin.” I whispered into his shirt before pulling back.
Just as I did, the bell rung signaling the five minute warning for us to get to our first period class.
Thankfully, I shared that class with my two best friends, so I wouldn’t spend my first block alone. I would rather be in the company of others at the moment just to keep my mind off of Shane.
Sighing, I finally opened my locker, getting out my textbook when I felt a heated glare burning holes through my back.
I turned my head to the side allowing my dark brown eyes to meet the icy blue, cold, piercing stare of Silas Monroe.
My breath caught in my throat as we locked eyes and I swear his eyes became slits as he stared at me.
His once well kept and mannered sandy brown hair now swept over his forehead, falling into his eyes only allowing the icy blue to peer through the strands.
His jaw set in the standard clenching motion that it always appeared to be in and he was adorned in black from head to toe.
In fact, his black hood was pulled over his head really only allowing the tips of his hair to been seen over his eyes.
Hate... pure hatred was all I could see swirling in his eyes.
There was so much hatred behind his stare.
Suddenly, I couldn’t breath. It felt like something was sitting on my chest, smothering me.
Wheezing, I quickly turned in the opposite direction making a beeline for my class so that I wouldn’t have to interact with him.
I knew I couldn’t avoid him forever, but I couldn’t bare to hear what he had to say to me after three years. It would hurt too much.
Upon entering my class, I scanned the room for two dark heads of hair and let out a sigh of relief, spotting my two best friends: Isis Jones and Jaslyn Hernandez.
Isis gave me a warm smile as I placed my stuff on the desk between them, pulling my chair out for me.
“Hey.” I breathed out exhausted.
Our friend, Jaslyn’s face scrunched up at the look on my face.
“Ugh, why do you look like death?” She asked carelessly.
Isis gave her a look that could kill as I stared off blankly into space. Maybe I looked like death because I felt like it.
Catching onto the awkward tension that filled the air, Jaslyn let out a nervous chuckle as her hand ran across the back of her neck.
“Oops, my bad, I forgot.” She admitted. “Poor choice of words.”
I just rolled my eyes brushing off her comment as I responded with a tired yawn.
“Thank you for the compliment. Life at home with an almost three year old is no walk in the park.”
“How is Shane’s mini-me?” Isis asked curiously and I felt my body tense at the reference.
That’s how everyone refers to her.
As Shane’s clone, but in all honesty, the two looked nothing a like.
"Dawn is fine.” I responded placing emphasis on my daughter’s real name, letting it be known that she is not and will honestly never be mini Shane.
“Ha-has she ever asked about...?” She trailed off and I shook my head.
As young as my daughter is, she was exceedingly smart for her age. While, children typically could only formulate a few sentences at two. She could carry a conversation with anyone.
But, she never asked why she didn’t have a dad. That I was grateful for because I would never know how to explain what happened to her. I also wasn’t emotionally stable enough for the conversation.
“No and I pray she never does.”
Sighing Isis placed a comforting hand over mine.
“I know it’s hard for you, Lori, but Dawn won’t be three and naïve forever. She’s gonna start asking questions.” She reasoned.
And thankfully, Jaslyn interjected before the conversation took a turn for the worst dismissing any further topics of discussion.
“And we will be there to help Andrea cross that bridge when it gets here.”
She eyed Isis who let out a sigh in defeat, deflating in her chair.
“Will you at least be speaking today at the assembly?” She asked and I shrugged.
“I wouldn’t get my hopes up.” I said. “It’s been three years and I’ve never been asked to speak before.”
Jaslyn scoffed in annoyance at my response.
“Which is complete bullshit. You were the guy’s girlfriend for Pete’s sake.”
“Maybe they’d figured it’d be too much for you.” Isis suggested and Jasyln snorted.
“Yeah, but it’s been three years now. She should be able to pull through for at least ten minutes to say something.”
Even though, losing Shane still feels as fresh as if it were only yesterday, I still would like to say a few words in his honor. I did date the guy for two years prior to the accident.
Hell, I was in love with him, so imagine how hurt I felt when hearing all these people, some who didn’t even know him personally talk about the ‘memories’ or ‘moments’ they had with Shane.
I can tell you first hand before anybody that we’ve had a lot.
I said nothing in response for a moment, shrugging my shoulders. Only speaking when I saw our first period teacher entering the room.
“Who knows maybe this year will be different.”