Hi everybody! I am here today to share a story with all who are interested. It's actually the Commonwealth Essay our English teacher made us do, except I lenghtened it quite a bit. And also, due to 'English Teacher' reasons, I decided to write it the way it is. Just don't let the teacher kill me 'cause it's 'romance' story. Why are teachers SO particular about this topic?!

Anyway, this story is dedicated to my friends, all who followed my FFN link here, and romance-lovers in general. Enjoy the story!

Sidenote: This story has been submitted for the Renaissance Publishing's Annual Writing Contest 2008.

Around the Corner…
Dragon-Star Aurora

Powdery snow fell steadily onto the streets of a busy city. Metallic cars glided smoothly on the tarmac surface of four-lane roads, with their engines emitting low purrs as they sailed past. Skyscrapers glinted under the wintry gaze of the sun, occasionally sending bright flashes of light into the human eye. People, countless numbers of them, all clothed in warm clothing, flooded the streets, eager to purchase suitable presents a week before Christmas. Amongst the confusion, a young woman stood out from the rest. She was contrary to the others, paying little attention to her surrounding kind. That woman was I.

I stared at the space straight ahead of me, walking around aimlessly, not really noticing the crowds as they flashed by. What was the world coming to? Everybody seemed so distant. Their faces were blank as they hurried to their destinations. They did not slow down to appreciate the world around them. Like how I was two years ago…

I shoved my hands further into my pockets, as deep as they could go. What was I here for? I let my legs take me wherever they wanted to go. Subconsciously, I found myself taking the same path I took every week. No move was made to stop my advance. Above the bobbing heads, the all-too-familiar corner shop came into view. I strolled down the wide sidewalk. The brick wall was nearly brushing against my shoulder. I soon reached the quaint, old store.

Stopping just outside, I looked at myself in the large glass window, using it as a mirror. My eyes shifted to look at the reflection of those behind. Scores of people hurried past, never giving me a second glance, or a first one, for that matter. I reverted my gaze back to myself.

A young, thin woman stared back at me, twenty-one years old, and not a day more, to be exact. I was wearing thin-rimmed spectacles, and my straight, brown hair fell to my shoulders. Dull, black eyes that were smaller and more lifeless than usual, slender, almost faded eyebrows, a small nose which was red with cold, and a set of cracked lips, due to the dryness of the winter. I was not very well dressed, either. From what the mirror gave, I was wrapped in a moss-green coat, with black pants, black boots, and navy-blue mittens. I looked… dull, definitely not the most cheerful person in town. Why should I be happy? I was alone in this world.

The people walking on the sidewalk passed behind – there was too narrow a gap between the glass pane and me. I was staring into to the shop, starting to daydream…

Suddenly… wham! Someone bumped into me, causing me to stumble a little to the left. I felt irritated. Wasn't there enough space on the pavement?

I turned to look at the person indignantly. He was a middle-aged man, square-jawed, slightly balding, and very much taller than me. With a white shirt, teal necktie, black suit, and an expensive black briefcase, he looked like a businessman; and from his expression and rather hassled look, I could tell that he was not very happy with me either.

"Hey, watch where you're going, miss," he growled in a low voice, glaring at me. Then, before I could say anything, he glanced at his watch – which happened to be a branded one – and pushed past me. I stared after him in shock. His retreating figure was quickly hidden out of sight by the pedestrians. A whiff of his cologne still lingered around me. However, it was not those traits that gave me second thoughts about him. It was his somewhat harsh words. True, the way in which he said ' "miss" 'was very demeaning, and it stung me, but what caught me the most was the main phrase in his sentence.

I turned back to the mirror. Watch where you're going. The words rang in my mind, but in a totally different voice. My voice. A cold breeze blew, sweeping my hair to one side. Some of the brown strands were blown onto my face, blocking my view. I did not care. There was a time when… when… someone would brush those wayward threads away for me… That was a long time ago. Two years ago. My eyes started to moisten. Dazed, I treaded to the only back corner of the shop. There was only one corner. The other was joined to the next store.

I paused again when I arrived at the right-angled wall, just before I rounded the corner. I knew that there was no one behind it for me to surprise. Not anymore.

A stream of people jostled to turn down to the adjoining street. They clashed at the corner. I was just standing a little way before the sharp brick edge, half-watching the people win their individual battles and emerge victorious on the other side of the crowd, only to face more resistance coming at them/ This was the corner which held most of my memories, both the best… and the worst. At the back of my mind, a dominant chain of memories emerged and made me relive it.

Watch where you're going.

I recalled back two years ago…

Carrying a stack of papers, I walked along the same, packed sidewalk, hurrying back after work to the small apartment I now called home. I was already three years on my job as a journalist, the very occupation I had dreamed of taking up when I was little. That was what I held on to all these years. I had no parents, no known relatives. I was an orphan from young, and I grew up in an orphanage. More than three quarters of my life so far had been spent in the dark and lonely place. I had few friends there, and I always wanted to meet someone who would truly care about me, and treat me like I was more than just a nobody. When I reached fifteen, the people at the orphanage asked me to leave, saying that they had taught me sufficient things for me to survive in the outside world. I had no choice but to go, alone, to eke a living for myself. It was difficult, but I made do with a small, rented room. After some interviews, I landed a job as a journalist. That gave me hope in view of my future…

Now, after three years of scrimping and saving, I finally bought my ow apartment.

A cold, bitter wind blew. Rain clouds sailed over the town, enveloping the area in gloom and shadow. I could see the surrounding pedestrians pull their coats more tightly around themselves and quicken their paces. I did the same, hitching the stack of papers up, and walking briskly towards the corner. There did not seem to be many people behind it. Nearing the angled surface, I turned sharply around the corner, under the impression that nobody was there at all.

I was very wrong. Wincing as I crashed into somebody, the stack of papers slipped from my hands, scattering onto the pavement. I could not help but snap, "Watch where you're going!" before getting on my knees to scoop the lost documents up lest they got trodden on. An embarrassed "Sorry," reached my ears as the male it belonged to knelt beside me to help. All the papers were returned to my hands in a few minutes. Only then did I stand up to look at the man.

I got a shock.

"Terry! Terry Dustin!" I exclaimed, happy to see my best friend when we were in the orphanage. I had lost touch with him when he was adopted. We were fourteen then.

"How did you-?" The man started to ask. He had short, black hair, which was just of the right length, and sky-blue eyes, and was rather tanned. A head taller than me, he was more handsome than I remembered. Dressed in a woolen, maroon jacket and deep blue track pants, Terry looked very comfortable, and it suggested a degree of financial well-being. He was lucky, and in a way, I envied him.

"I'm Adele Brown, remember? Your friend at the orphanage!"

His eyes widened as it hit him. He smiled at me. "We haven't met for a long time, Adele. Why don't we go somewhere to catch up with each other?"

I happily agreed, of course.

From then on, we became a lot closer, always having that particular corner as our meeting point. It was special to us. I found out that he did not have a girlfriend. I did not consider being that close to him, but one day, it hit me that we were close. Flashes of memories came back to me.

I crept near the angled wall, timing my moves, then, I sprang around the corner.

"Surprise!"

Terry looked up, beaming at me. I felt warm and fuzzy inside.

End flashback Another flashback starts

Under his intense gaze, I held my breath as he used his thumb to softly brush the strands of my hair away from my face. My heartbeat quickened when his skin touched mine.

His cheeks were slightly flushed, compared to my own.

End flashback Another flashback starts

I bumped into him as we rounded the corner from opposite directions. A whiff of his scent told me that it was none other than Terry Dustin. I smiled up at him. He replied with an equally warm grin. Our eyes locked. Was it me, or was his face getting closer to mine…?

The most obvious reason for that flashed into my mind. My heart started to beat faster than usual. Could it be…? I felt a faint blush start to rise in my cheeks.

The seemingly distant sound of an old woman's voice did little to penetrate the closed atmosphere that I felt around the two of us… We were alone in our own little world… Nothing could interrupt the dizzy exhilaration that I felt in my mind. We were becoming closer…

"Excuse me! Excuse me! Cart coming through!"

The mellow, yet harsh voice of the same old woman echoed right at the back of me. A split second later, I felt a bony hand push me hard from behind. The unavoidable happened. I fell forward, right onto Terry.

Our lips met.

I pulled away, excruciatingly embarrassed, although something deeeep in my mind forced me to admit that I enjoyed the experience. Turning away to hide the crimson blush on my cheeks, I saw the aged lady, dragging a laden cart behind her. I did not miss the knowing smile on her lips.

A slightly rough hand cupped my chin, turning my head to face his. Terry was gazing straight at me, his facial features tinted with red. However, there was this somewhat nagging twitch of his lips, which showed that he, too, did not resent the 'cupid' 's extra push.

Oh, boy… I did not bother to find out what else Venus had in store for us when, this time, the man leant in purposefully again…

End flashback Another flashback starts

Pure, white, fluffy clouds dotted the azure-blue sky, and the early-morning sunlight streamed down onto the city. The weather forecast seemed bright enough for the many hours ahead, although there were few birds chirping. I had every reason to hope for these perfect conditions.

It was my nineteenth birthday.

I was waiting at the corner, looking around to see if he had arrived. A slight breeze blew, causing my hair to gently sway to a side. My hand brushed the offending strands away a little too roughly. I did not care. I tiptoed, peering around, trying my best to remind myself that I had decided to come earlier to surprise Terry, instead of letting him do the same to me.

Strangers rushed about, none really seeming to notice me. I shrugged it off. A certain someone cared about me, and I was contented with that. I felt my heart begin to race as I pictured his face in my mind. Terry

I closed my eyes, taking in a deep breath, then releasing it. I opened my eyes, tiptoeing again.

I saw my dark-haired man dash back across the road, to our corner, holding a bouquet of roses. I grinned at him, waving. It was not until much later that I saw the speeding car. From there, everything happened in slow motion. Terry ran towards me. The metallic colours flashed at me, taunting.

"Terry! Watch out!" I shouted. The words travelled so slowly… But they finally got to him…

He stopped, staring at the vehicle in disbelief. There was no time left for him. My heart beat painfully. Eyes moist, I started to pray. The cold, emotionless, surrounding people appeared not to have taken the situation in. The crowd was too thick! I could not move! Somebody save him! Part of me refused to believe that it was really happening. The other part… had accepted the truth with a looming, foreboding hopelessness.

Time sped up. The car flew at him. Once again, the seconds slowed down. Flesh made contact with metal. Brakes screeched. The impact made the man fall onto the car's bonnet, like a lifeless doll losing its balance and collapsing onto a slightly higher shelf. He rolled off, limp.

I rushed forward; pushing others away, salty tears blurring my vision. Kneeling beside him, I cradled him in my arms, sobbing. His warm blood spilt onto me.

"Adele…" he whispered. He was still alive! Call the ambulance! "Be strong… Don't be sad…"

I gave him a shake to try and revive him. He was breathing more slowly now… Was this good or bad…?

"Don't hold on to me when I'm gone, Adele…"

I bent down, placing my lips beside his ear to tell him what I had wanted to since I became his best friend.

"I love you, Terry."

He blinked, painstakingly, replying in a whisper. "Me too…"

I rested my face beside his, holding him close to me, trying to savour our last moments together… He couldn't – mustn't – go… He meant so much to me… I lived for him. Only him. To see him like this –

"Goodbye…"

"TERRY!!" I screamed, reality hitting me hard in the face. We had our future ahead of us, unplanned… I was hoping so hard that we would get married, have children… I had hoped that we could travel the world together, exploring picturesque nooks and crannies… I had hoped that we could carry our very first child together… share romantic nights alone… support each other's dreams… I had hoped… I had… I…

The man took a shuddering breath, shaking, then closed his eyes and fell limp. My hopes shattered into a million pieces, each carrying a precious moment that we shared… They were washed away, like water past fingers… like water soaking into sand… Gone.

Terry Dustin was gone. I was left alone in this world. All alone. Pain shot through my heart, shattering it like my dreams had done. Unhealable pain. Pain that could only grow worse with time as I held onto my precious memories. A hungry pain that could never again be obliterated…

Only then, I realised why I felt so empty these two years. Instead of turning around the corner, I pushed past the crowd and onto the black surface of the road, watching as a black car sped towards me. There was a screech of brakes. I lowered my eyelids, hearing screams of shock. Pain shot through me again. This time, it was physical pain. I welcomed it, dazed, as I slowly flew through the air. My surroundings were becoming white. My head hit the tarmac with a heavy thud. I closed my eyes.

Wait for me, Terry.


Note: Is there such a word as 'unhealable'?

So, anyway, thanks for reading my story! What do you think about it? If there isn't a review button, could you leave your thoughts in an email to me? I will REALLY appreciate it if you do. Just treat it as consolation for me if my English teacher decides to knock me on the head for it. :) Thanks again!!

-- Dragon-Star Aurora