If there was ever a time where I could go back, now would be the moment. I know I’ve caused you so much pain but I wish I could take it all back, make everything better. Somewhere deep inside of me I know it’s not my fault but seeing you so broken I can’t help but blame myself.
Snapping out of my own thoughts I turn to look at Crystal who’s once again at the door with Spencer.
“The doctor says she’ll be awake soon,” Spencer says.
“I probably should go,” I say to them just as Lyrics mother walks in. She offers me a kind smile, but it only seems to further my guilt knowing that I was part of the problem. I was only glad that Spencer and Crystal had kept this quiet to her. I just wanted to be near Lyric, to make sure that she would be okay.
“You don’t have to go it would be good for her to see the people that care about her here,” Her mother says to me.
“Care,” I thought to myself.
The word sounded so foreign to me when it came to Lyric. I hadn’t “cared” for anyone in such a long time, much less her. Things had changed, maybe it was my guilt that was keeping me here. Still, I realized that even if I wanted to stay, which I did. Lyric would never accept me as a friend, much less think of me as someone that cared for her. I had been an asshole to her. Much more than that I had tormented her all along and she had quietly taken my bullshit.
“I’m late,” I managed to say. Sure it wasn’t a great lie, but I knew that if she woke up to find me at her side, she’d only be terrified. I couldn’t deal with it, the pain and terror in her eyes that she directed toward me, not again.
Walking out of the hospital room I tried to walk out, to leave, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The need to make sure she was really okay was something that I could not control. I knew the room next door was empty, so I walked in closing the door behind me. I could hear her heartbeat monitor through the wall. For hours on end, it had been the only thing I had listened to for the past few days. It seemed like the only thing that kept me sane, made me feel relaxed, knowing that she was still here somehow eased that guilt for me. Still, I needed to know she was truly okay for both of our sakes... I had not slept in days and when I finally found sleep calling me I succumbed to it.
The River seemed to flow on for miles like a great pool of nothingness. The sky around me dark and the moon shining out for the night. I found myself sitting in the green grass leaning against a large tree to what felt like a lonely island. Looking at the river floor I saw her. She swam by I could see her clearly. Only this time it was not Lyric, but Angel. She was smiling at me as she swam closer to me ready to emerge out. When she finally did, she was completely dry, and she wore a white frilly summer dress. There was a soft smile on her face and she seemed to be happy.
“Can I sit with you?” She asked and all I could do was nod to her not knowing what to say.
“It’s not so bad here you know. This place is murky but since I’ve met you and her it’s beginning to clear,” She says, offering me a smile.
“You care about her so much. I can see it by the way you look at her,” She spoke, her voice soft if only for a second before her olive green eyes seem to harden.
“You hurt her,” she says. Although her tone is simply stating a fact, more than accusing me, I can’t help the guilt that washes over me because I know it’s true.
“If you broke it, her. Maybe there’s a way to fix it,” she says. For a second I can’t help but look at her. She reminds me of Lyric so much and I wonder if she could ever forgive the people that did this to her.
“It wasn’t them,” She says, and I wonder if I’ve spoken out loud. She seems to revert to that girl I found in the river a few weeks back. Her hair fell to her face, and she tucks her knees closer to herself. It was almost like looking at a broken Lyric.
“I did this to myself. The self-loathe, the mockery. All of that was too much for me. I had tormentors but if I had just, been stronger,” Her voice trailed off unable to finish. There was a long pause, almost as if she were trying to find the right words to describe what was going on in her head throughout her pain. All I could see was her eyes which began to stain with unshed tears pulling at my heartstrings. I wondered if this was what I made Lyric feel too.
“If I’d just....had someone like you with me, Maybe I could have been saved. You don’t understand it yet, maybe for a while, she won’t either. But someday she will, and you’ll realize that all this was just a bad dream,” She whispered, resting her head on her knees.
“Don’t let her break more than she already has. Don’t let her break the way I was broken. Beyond repair.” Tears fall from her eyes before she quickly reaches up to wipe them away. She forces a smile and nods trying her best to sound cheerful.
“Go, She needs you now,” Angel whispers.
“Somebody, please! Somebody!”
Startled I’m woken up by Lyric’s screams of terror. It takes everything I have not to rush to her side. All I can do is stay next door listening in frustration at her screams. I can hear Crystal and Spencer trying to calm her down while nurses rush into her room. The pain of hearing her suffer is excruciating.
“They know everyone knows.”
It’s only a whisper but I hear her words. I don’t have to think much about what she means because I know what it is she’s talking about. Shutting my eyes tightly I try not to let my guilt and anger get the best of me. How cruel had I been to her? How much fear had I sparked inside her? The last thing I would ever want after all this was to cause her more pain. If there was a way to erase what I had done, I would have gladly done it. I want to be at her side again, even if it’s only for the sake of my own sanity so I do it. Spencer and Crystal are sitting outside her room. The look in Crystal’s eyes tells me how bad Lyrics’ inner condition is. She doesn’t say anything to me as I walk in only rests her head on Spencer’s shoulder. His look is of worry and I don’t know for who it is for Lyric, Crystal, or me. Walking in I simply take her hand once more to try to ease that anxiety I feel when I’m not around her. Was it possible that everything I was doing was out of guilt? Maybe. I couldn’t understand why I cared so much but I knew there had to be more than that.
The hours went by ticking slowly. Watching her sleep gave a different sense to who she was. Sometimes she’d stir so much but once I’d take her hand she’d settle. Other times she seemed to be in a deep comfortable slumber. But just like that, the nightmares would return to her. Reaching for her cheek I caressed her face gently watching that frown on her face as she slept slowly erase. I tried not to look at the gauze on her shoulder. The guilt torturing me. There were so many if’s going on in my head. If I had only been nicer to her. If I had only gotten there faster. If her life had been different. So many if’s but the reality was that there was nothing to do with what was done. The hardest thing to think about was how much loneliness there was in her world. How hard would it be for her to surpass this? Too lost in my own thoughts I don’t notice when Spencer walks in.
“Crystal is with Lyrics’ mom. She’ll be discharged soon and they’re worried about her,” He says. Looking down at her once more I don’t really want to say much but it’s Spencer who speaks.
“You never did know how to handle emotions,” He tells me. I’m not sure I understand what he says, and somehow he must register that too because he continues.
“I never really understood why you were so…” He trails of trying to find the right word.
“I was an asshole,” I say to him, looking down at Lyric and caressing her cheek gently.
“You don’t have to sugarcoat it I know I was,” I tell him.
“But,” He begins once more while he looks at me.
“You care about her,” He says.
“She’ll never trust me,” I tell him.
“Not after everything I’ve done,” I say.
“Lyrics’ a good person Parker. She’s going to get out of this and she’s going to forgive you,” He says.
“I hope so,” I tell myself but deep down I know there’s always more to it than anything anyone ever says or knows.
Have you ever seen someone break? The way they talk. Move. Carry themselves. The look of hopelessness in their eyes. I have… I knew that some part of her was broken. I knew some part of her might not ever recover from what had been done to her. I never thought she might never recover from this until that day. She had been like a porcelain doll who was dropped too many times. Crack after crack until finally, she broke into pieces. After being discharged from the hospital she didn’t come back to school right away. Even after the school board had decided to give Lyric her scholarship back, and honestly, I didn’t want her to come back... ever. Everyone was whispering, talking about her. Not that they truly cared about her. Every single day more rumors spread. More speculation on what had truly happened that day continued to spread around school. She was being abused. She had been kidnapped. She had run away. She tried to commit suicide. I had hurt her.
“Hey man,” I hear Brad say before patting me on the back. I don’t say anything to him only nod my head in his direction as an acknowledgment, my mind only concentrating on Lyric.
“I heard she’s coming back today,” He says. For a second I look up at him trying to figure out if he’s mocking me. Instead, I see the concern in his eyes while he quietly studies my reaction. I don’t understand why. It’s been like this ever since I found Lyric. Spencer, Brad, Crystal, my father, they all seem concerned for me in some way or another. I couldn’t understand why that was when it was she that was hurt, not me.
“Yeah. She’s coming back,” I say to him while I open my locker trying to stuff my books into my bag. As I look up, however, I see her locker and I realize she’ll be standing next to me again. She will be walking down the halls every single day and stopping at this point to gather her books. For a second I want to leave. I want to make this as simple for her as I can because I know she doesn’t want to see me. Still, I can’t help wishing to see her. I’ve stopped myself countless of times from going to her house. There’s nothing more that I want than to talk to her, to apologize. I know an apology might not be much, not after what I did to her, but it was a start.
*Bump, Ba-Bump, Bump, Ba- Bump*
There it was once again. Although my back was turned, I could feel her coming. My racing heart would always indicate whenever she was around. I didn’t have to turn or even glance back to know she was approaching. Not only did the silence in the hall confirm what I already knew but my racing heart only intensified as she walked closer. I wanted to apologize to her but as I turned to look at her, I felt that guilt weighing me down to silence. If it was possible to bear your heart on your sleeve. Then she bore her soul out for everyone to view. Maybe it was just me but I could truly see the damage I had caused and the damage that others had done to her as well.
There was no longer any fight in her. I could see that in those chocolate brown eyes I had longed to see. It was as if she were no longer there. An empty shell of a person was what had been handed back after being tortured for so long. Her walk seemed so slow and her posture rigid, almost as if every move she made however small was hard and painful for her. I could hear everyone around whisper. All of them looking at her with pity. Only those few, Brad, Crystal, Spencer and I seemed to honestly be concerned for her.
*Bump, Ba-Bump, Bump, Ba- Bump*
My heart continued to race wildly. Quickening as she approached. I could see it in her posture because her downcast eyes never seemed to lift of the ground. The closer she got to where I was the slower she seemed to walk. My guilt only increasing at how afraid and broken she looked walking along those halls. I needed to apologize but when she walked past me Spencer simply gave me a look shaking his head. Telling me that it wasn’t time. That she wasn’t ready. That’s when I realized she’d never forgive me for what I did. She was far too afraid of me. Far too scared to be around me.
“Dude you okay?” Brad asked concerned.
“I’m fine. I’m going to class,” I manage to say to him before closing my locker and heading to my first period. Just like that she and I both head in different directions.
I’m sitting in the principals’ office once more. Handcuffed to the chair with two Nova officers each at my side waiting for my father to pick me up. I can hear angry footsteps approaching before the door opens and the Principal stands and bows. One of the officers removes the handcuffs and I simply stand up. My knuckles are bruised and there’s blood on them, though not mine. My father doesn’t say a word instead walks out with me. We don’t say anything but the look in his eyes tell me he’s furious. The drive home is silent. When we arrive home all I can do is follow him to the study, because that’s where we always go when he wants to yell at me.
“What happened?” He says angrily.
Things had been okay for her. I made sure of that. The whispers had stopped, and I was more than okay to hit some sense into anyone who thought bothering her was a good idea. Although people seemed to walk on eggshells around me now, I didn’t care. Not as long as she was safe. I knew she was approaching. Coming closer to me only because of my heart. Nowadays I tried to not look at her. I tried not to cause her more fear, so I kept my distance as much as I could. It was like a bad slow motioned movie hearing her fall, her books falling with her as she took someone down as well. I didn’t want to turn hoping that Spencer and Crystal were at her side to help.
“Watch where the hell you’re going you stupid mute!”
The halls silenced, and I found myself turning to see. My heart racing and my mind reeling. Scott Miller is standing there glaring at her while she kneels on the floor. She doesn’t look up at him feeling lost. Still, he continues his eyes blazing with anger.
“Didn’t you hear me?” He yells at her before grabbing her by the arm harshly pulling her up and throwing her back down. I try to go to her my anger rising but before I can move Brad is holding my arm to stop me. There’s concern in his eyes. I’m not sure if it’s for me or her but I realize that if she sees me like this, I might just scare her more.
“Parker was right! People like you shouldn’t exist,” Scott says and his words ring in my ears like a punch. He spits at her and the entire hall gasps. Brad lets me go and though I want to lunge myself at him I’m unable to do so. Spencer stands in front of me in order to stop me from acting rashly. Crystal is already at Lyric’s side, helping her and trying to take care of her.
“Come on Lyric,” I hear Crystal say to her gently.
“Wait,” Spencer says when I try to push him away and attack Scott.
“Just wait,” He says anger and concern in his eyes.
“He’s right. I shouldn’t exist,” I hear her say, though I know I’m the only one that’s heard it. It breaks my heart to watch her like this. Scott’s already walking away smirking at people and it only increases my anger as I see red.
“Take care of it. Crystal and I will make sure she gets home,” Spencer says before he runs after them.
I don’t think twice before I lunge myself at Scott. In fact, I’m so angry that I don’t shift nor do I give him time to do so. We tumble to the ground and I have him pinned to the floor. Over and over my fist collides with his face. People gasp and some run to get help as blood spurts out his face. No one tries to stop me as I continue hitting him. Somehow he manages to find the strength to push me off him and throws me back. I slide down the hall harshly and he gets up wiping away some of the blood. It’s a feral instinct more than anything as we both stand and growl shifting into our Nova forms. He’s a black panther his green cat-like eyes glare at me in anger.
“This wasn’t your business Parker! Stay out of it!” Scott growls out.
“She is my business!” I say before we lunge at each other one more time.
His paw strikes my right front leg but I can’t seem to feel the pain. I’m far too angry to feel anything other than that at the moment. As we fight people scream running out of the way. He throws me on to the display case the glass breaking while people scream. Shaking it off I lunge at him one more time swiping my paw across his face as he screams in pain. I don’t stop however I keep going throwing him around like the piece of garbage that he is. In the back of my mind, I can register that he’s stopped moving but I can’t seem to stop. It’s only when I feel someone tackle me from the side that I see two large lions settle around me. Ready to attack if I try to struggle free. Brad’s in his bear form as his paws pin me down and I realize it was him that tackled me.
“He’s had enough!” He says though his eyes show concern for me he knows if he lets go of I really will kill Scott.
“Shift back now!” The Principal yells at us. Brad gets off me and shifts back before I do the same. I’m thrown a pair of shorts and before I know it I’m being handcuffed by the two Nova school officers.
“Take him to the infirmary,” The Principal says to one of the officers who nods. I can see everyone gasping at Scott who is unconscious and covered in his own blood but I don’t care. They take me into the office without another word. The Principal doesn’t say anything more to me even after we arrive at his office. Instead, he simply instructs the Nova officer to cuff me on the chair once Brad brings me my extra pair of clothes. With nothing more to say or do I know it’s only a matter of time before my father is called. When he does arrive he doesn’t say anything to me and simply apologizes to the Principal.
“This has to stop! You almost killed that boy!” My father yells.
“He deserved it,” I say to him.
“Regardless if he deserved it or not. You can’t keep doing this Parker! The schools threatened to expel you if this continues!” My father says.
“Then let them! That’s not going to stop me from trying to keep her safe!” I yell. Sighing my father remains quiet for a few seconds before his eyes soften.
“I know you care about her. But you can’t always keep her safe,” He says gently.
“I can try,” I tell him quietly, he looks at me with sadness as he continues.
“You can’t always be there to save her son. It doesn’t work that way,” He says and I can register something else in his voice and I know something’s going on.
“What are you saying?” I ask him.
He looks at me almost unsure of what to say before he speaks.
“She’s not getting any better son. Counselors, psychologists, medication. None of that is working. Everyone’s worried about her.”
“And you,” He adds.
“Neither of you can keep living like this,” He says.
“What are you trying to say?” I ask my heart racing at the bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“She can’t stay here son. It’s not good for her,” He says.
“No! You can’t send her away to some psych ward! She’s not crazy,” I yell at him.
“We’re not sending her to any psych ward,” He clarifies.
“Then why does she have to leave!” I yell at him in anger.
“Son. This place isn’t good for her,” He says gently as if talking to a small child.
“She needs to be somewhere where she can heal from all this. It’s not good for her to stay around all this,” He says.
“No!” I say angrily.
“I know you care about her son. But sometimes we need to think about what’s best for the person we care about. Not what’s best for us, or what we want. She needs this,” My father says. I don’t want to hear the rest. I can’t, so I don’t.
Before I realize what I’m doing, I’m already standing outside her house, looking at her through her window. She’s sitting at her desk her eyes lost and void as she writes.
“Let her go?” I think to myself. Could she take much more of this? Was she already past the point of returning? I could see her walking toward her bed something in her hand as her mother called her for dinner. There was a smile on her lips but somehow it seemed to frighten me. I’d never seen her smile before but I knew something was wrong. Her eyes seemed pitch black and empty as she left the room. I waited until I heard her mother speaking to her downstairs.
Walking across the street I climbed up to her room. Stepping inside I looked around. My father had arranged for them to live here. Her walls were colored in a soft pink and there was a walk-in closet. Her bed was large and across from it to the far right was her desk. There was only a single picture on her nightstand of her and Crystal. I knew I shouldn’t have been in there. But something seemed wrong. Lifting her mattress up just a tad, I found a small neatly folded paper. It was only when I saw the bag of pills to the side that I felt my heart stop and my stomach drop. What was she doing? What was she thinking? Taking the note which was addressed to her mother I opened it.
If you’re reading this, it means I died. I don’t really have much to say all I can say is that I wanted to. Maybe if I had been remotely happy in my life things could have turned out differently. I think back to how much I’ve missed, the parts of my life I won’t get to experience. All of that doesn’t seem to numb all this pain I feel inside. I don’t want you to feel like you could have done anything to stop me. Because you couldn’t have. I know that I can’t be fixed anymore. So much has happened that I don’t feel like I ever really stood a chance in this world. Don’t blame yourself for this mom. You were like me, a victim of so many others. If there’s one thing I will regret, it’s leaving you behind. Most of all I wish I could have met him. My soulmate. Maybe if I had met him, he could have saved me. I know in my heart that he’ll never accept me. Not the way I am, not with all my shattered bits. I keep thinking of him, how much pain I’ll cause him by doing this. I know that he doesn’t deserve this. But I can’t go on, and I can’t wait for him anymore. The person he deserves is out there that person just isn’t me. Maybe the stars will realign and I’ll be erased from his path so that he can align with someone else. I just hope that one day he can forgive me for this. I’m sorry mom. I love you.
Hearing footsteps approaching the door I felt my heart race.
“I’m not going to let you do this,” I thought to myself. This is what I had caused. This was what I had done to her. Stuffing the pills in my pocket I placed the mattress back the way it should have been. I had no time to do anything other than slip out the window as the door opened. Clutching the note in my hand I stood to the side of the window careful to not be seen by her. I could hear her closing the door and locking it before she goes to her bed and the mattress slides.
“It’s all gone,” I hear her say in disbelief
“No,” She whispers.
I could hear the desperation in her voice as she starts to scream and my heart clenches. It takes everything I have not to rush inside because I know what I am to her. How she sees me and I don’t want to keep causing her more pain.
“Something. Anything!” She cries as footsteps rush to her door and pounding starts.
“Lyric open the door sweetie! Please!” Her mother pleads.
“No!” She continues to yell in tears.
“Lyric! Please open this door!” Her mother cries desperately.
I know I can’t go in there. Not with her like that, not yet. When I hear something break however I freeze. In the back, I can hear her mother pounding on the door harder screaming and pleading for Lyric to open the door. “I have to end it,” I hear her say, and without thinking or caring if I’m seen by her I go back inside. Her back is towards me as she holds a shard of glass in her hands and raises it to her wrist.
“No. Stop,” I want to say, but I know she won’t listen to me.
Walking behind her I simply place my hand on her neck pinching at a small pressure point and she immediately goes limp in my arms. Silently I thank my father who had Spencer and I learn defense techniques from the Nova officers. The door to Lyric’s room bursts open at that point. Her mother is standing behind me in tears while holding a key in one hand and her house phone in the other. Relief clear in her eyes when she realizes Lyric is okay.
“I called an ambulance. They’ll be here in a few minutes,” She manages to say. She looks at Lyric unsure of what to do as she reaches for her. Her shaky hands stop a few centimeters away from Lyrics face. There’s an unreadable expression in her eyes while she sobs helplessly.
“I’ll wait downstairs for them,” The anguish in her eyes is indescribable as she steps out of the room. I can hear her walking toward the stairs before she stops midway and continues to cry.
I look down at Lyric and I can feel myself drowning. It’s hard to breathe now and I realize the full extent of just how broken she truly is. How stupid I have been for believing she would be okay. Thinking about her mate, the person that would have her. I thought about how lonely she felt, how much care she would need.
“Sometimes we need to think about what’s best for the person we care about. Not what’s best for us, or what we want,” I could hear my father’s words ring in my head as I looked down at her.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, as I laid her on the bed. If there was any way I could help her, I would have. But I realized then and there the only way I could be was to let her go. Maybe my guilt was making me feel responsible but because of that guilt, I knew I also had to let her go.
“I’m sorry” I whispered before placing a soft kiss on her lips.
Behind me, I could hear the ambulance sirens blare out as I jumped out the window and ran out. Shifting into my Nova form I headed to Devils Creek. Standing there on my four paws I howled out my pain and hers hoping to relieve some of it though the void only got bigger.