As I did for the last chapter of Salt and Pepper, I would like to apologize for all of the errors in this story. So this is it folks, the LAST CHAPTER. I beg of you, to review. Even if you have never reviewed the previous chapters, please review this one and tell me what you think. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Okay? Also, thanks goes out to Look At The Stars, Lost In My Box, aiur, and Pink Means Love for reviewing. Thank you to everyone who consistently reviewed. Even if you are reading this story two years from now, please review. Also, Pink Means Love wrote a poem inspired by this story called, "A Taste Of Summer". YOU HAVE TO GO AND READ AND REVIEW IT. THAT IS A DIRECT ORDER. Also, I have two other stories on this site, one is called Salt and Pepper and the other is called, Does It Really Matter? I would be forever grateful if you read those too. Anyway, please read, review, and enjoy.

Chapter Fourteen- Transformation

I think it was two weeks later, give or take a day. We had just got finished an interview for YM when I remembered it.

"Today's the thirtieth," I said. We were riding in a van. Charles was next to me, and Jared across from me. Carson and Harland were in the van behind us. We were all going to the hotel that night so we could do a special for MTV the next day.

"Yeah, today's the thirtieth," confirmed Jared. "What's up?" he asked.

I smiled to myself. Big and wide. "It's her birthday."

"Whose birthday?"

I just sat there and grinned and out of the corner of my eye I saw Charles smirking. As the cab pulled up to the hotel, I ran in and pushed the elevator a million times before it opened. As I stepped in and pushed my floor, I had time to think. I knew that I had promised Shian that I wouldn't cal her, but this was different. This was her birthday. Her real birthday. She would be glad I called. I was sure of it.

Once I got to my room I search for the "Simplicity" brochure. I had first received the brochure in some hotel lobby. I kept it in my suitcase for whenever I missed Shian too much. I found it and found the phone number I was looking for at the bottom.

I dialed quickly and sat on my bed as I untied my shoe. A lady answered. "Yes, may I please speak to Mr. Boaden?" I asked. As the lady transferred me, I hummed softly to the familiar tone of the music. I had wondered if you could actually get a job making music for people on hold to listen to.

Just as I took off my other shoe, a voice came on. "Hello?" Even though I knew it was Mr. Boaden, his voice still sounded unfamiliar.

Mr. Boaden? Hi, it's me, Aaron."

There was a pause. I am pretty sure he sighed. "Hello, Aaron. What can I do for you?" he asked.

"Is Shian available? I would like to speak to her please."

There was another pause. "Aaron."

I suppose I should have known right there. I think that maybe I already knew. I froze. literally. I didn't blink or breathe. My body broke into a sweat.

"Oh God. Is she in the hospital?" I asked. My voice sounded like I was scared. And I was.

"Aaron. she's dead."

I didn't even go into the denial stage. There was no denial for me. I came to realize that Mr. Boadenw as still talking. ". two days ago. Her body will be buried here, on the resort, and."
That's when it sunk in. It sunk into my heart and my soul that a wonderful creature of God named Shian Marie Boaden would exist no more. She would never tell another joke, she would never again laugh in a way that made you forget all of your worries. With in a second, she was gone.
"Would you like to come to the funeral?" Mr. Boaden was asking.
I shook my head even though I knew he couldn't see it. "No. I can't. I." I stopped talking.
"That's alright son. I'll send you a tape, alright?"
I just sunk to the floor, where my heart was. My throat was thick. So thick that I couldn't even speak if I wanted to. It was a good thing that I was already on the ground because I knew my legs would have given. Tear burned my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. So much that it was as if my eyes themselves had just burst open leaking water.

My thoughts weren't coherent. Just a whole lot of questions. What was I going to do now? Ho was I supposed to go on without her? Why did she have to die?

So many questions and none of them answered.

Even though I don't remember, Charles told me later that Jared had cam in and saw me and told him to come. I didn't explain anything to Charles and I guess he already knew. He just sat beside me and quietly told Jared to tell our manager that the show we were doing the next day had to be canceled. He just sat there, Indian styled, and was just. there. I was glad. I was crying and sobbing so hard that I could barely breathe. When I fell asleep he put a pillow under my head and a blanket over my body. When I woke up, I cried some more, and Charles got up from his place on the bed next to mine and sat with me then too. I was so grateful.

Time seemed to move slowly. It was always around. Always one step behind me everywhere I went. It was like light and darkness; it surrounded me. It was always there to make sure that I had time to think about what I had loss. I hated that time. I hated that Time didn't let Shian live, or at least liver longer. Who the hell deserved to die at nineteen? How was Time allowed to decide how long an extraordinary person like Shian lived?

The tape of the funeral came sometime later. Don't know how long. When it came Charles asked if I wanted him to watch it with me, but I said no. I had to do this on my own.

I knew that it was going to be a hard thing to watch when I saw the first minute of it. It was the picture that made me cry first. The big picture of Shian that they had next to a closed casket with lots of flowers in a beautiful church I didn't recognize. She was giving a dazzling smile in the picture, even though her eyes weren't on camera. Even though what she was looking at wasn't shown, I knew who it was. It was I.

Mr. Boaden had taken that picture. I was trying to get her to laugh so she could look stupid. She had kept a straight face until I had done my Chewbacca impression. The picture was taken as she cracked up.

The first person to say something about Shian was a lady who was very tall with a round face and brown hair. She stepped to the podium wit her long black dress that almost covered her feet. She cleared her throat. "Hello everyone. My name is Mrs. Sheryl Dubose." She paused. "I first met Shian when she was about twelve or thirteen. I am a dance instructor in Alabama and I own a little studio. I teach young girls tap, ballet, and jazz. She came to me one day, right after I had finished with a class. I had wondered who this girl was, thinking she was younger than she really was." She stopped and smiled. "You know how little she was when she was younger." The crowd laughed and nodded in agreement. "She said that she liked how I was teaching the other girls and that I was the most beautiful dancer she had ever seen." Mrs. Dubose smiled at the memory. "She then asked me for a job. Before I could say that she was too young, she promised to do anything I asked her too, that she would come right after school, Monday through Friday till seven and twelve to five on Saturday." She spoke with the same accent Shian had. "She told me that she was sorry, but she couldn't work on Sunday because she had to go to church." There was another chuckle from the crowd.

"The determination in that girl's eyes. I couldn't say no to her. It was impossible. And so, everyday after school, and all day Saturdays, she came by always ready to work. On Saturday I would pay her- and she certainly earned it. She had a lot of work to do some days, and the amazing thing was, she always seemed happy while doing it. She would hum a song, or just crack up as if she knew a joke the rest of us didn't hear while cleaning the floor or a mirror. She was always happy. well, sometimes.

"I have to admit, some of my girls, the girls that I taught were not so mature and sometimes unkind. Sometimes they teased her about her cleaning, or the clothes she wore, just awful things really. I stopped them most of the time, but the other times I just figured girls would be girls.

One day, a young girl that I taught, I don't even remember her name, tormented Shian so bad that she hit her and Shian fell and started crying. I immediately kicked her out of my class permanently and when I went back to Shian, she was kneeled on the ground, hands folded." A tear had started to fall down the woman's face and she wiped it away with one hand. "I asked her what she doing and she said-" Mrs. Dubose's voice became thick and she swallowed hard. "And she said, 'I'm praying, Mrs. Dubose" and when I asked why she said, "I'm praying for God to forgive her and erase the hate in her heart." She took a deep breath and scanned the audience, her eyes serious. "Thirteen years old and she already knew what a lot of us adults still don't know now." There was nodding and murmuring from the crowd.

"I'm sure all of you here, have been touched by Shian in some way." The crowd nodded and clapped again. "I know that she has taught us all something. And now she is in heaven, where she can teach the angels." She walked away then, and everyone stood up clapping. Through my tears, I clapped too.

There was a giant screen and it began to play pictures of Shian when she was dancing. Maybe sixteen or seventeen. Mr. Boaden was right. She was beautiful when she danced. They showed pictures of her standing next to trophies and having medals around her neck for poetry and short stories. They showed a TV interview with Shian and the reporters talking about how successful she was at "such a young age." Shian looked older and younger in the pictures but she still wore the same carefree expression on her face. The expression that I had fell in love with.

There were several people there, all of them having something to say. I cried right along with the audience and laughed with them too. The person who surprised me most. was Rick.

He looked exactly the same to me from the picture I had seen him in before. Same tall frame. Same dark skin. Same perfect teeth. He adjusted his tie as he made his way to the podium. "Hello," he said. "My name is Rick Thomas. And uh, about two years ago, Shian and I had dated." "He smiled. "I know how lucky I was, so you don't have to tell me. I just came here to tell you about how much she meant to me. I had met her at the "Simplicity" resort and she caught my eye immediately. Not only was she beautiful, but also she had a good heart and soul. She was my angel, my savoir; she opened my eyes to what I couldn't see." I nodded at the TV, knowing exactly what he was talking about. "I owe everything to her." He looked down at the floor. "I wish I could say that I was there for her too. But when she told me about.. I was there at first. I mean, in the beginning. But it was so hard watching someone you loved, someone so precious slip away from you. It's hard knowing that every kiss you share may be your last. Knowing that you have to memorize the color of their eyes because you never know if you will see them again." He looked back up. "When I found out that she. that she. that she died." He swallowed. I knew all too well how hard it was to say it. "I kept hating myself for the fact that I left, the fact that I didn't give her what she had given me." He shook his head. "As most of you know, my mother is slowly losing her battle with cancer. "My face lit up in surprise as the audience made sympathetic noises. "But it's okay though. Because I know that heaven has got to be an amazing place for someone like Shian to be there. She was a wonderful person, too good to be here, so she had to go up there. And I, for one, am happy for her."

His speech was met with a thunderous applause.

-

I brainstormed ways of how to "move on". Months had gone by and I still didn't know what to do with myself. So I used Charles advice. I wrote a song. A song about how I felt when I had experienced my first week with Shian. I called it, "Craving".

I thought my life was hard

When in reality, I just didn't understand

You said your beautiful words

You let me touch your beautiful hand

I had my world

And you of course had yours

Things didn't seem so complicated

When you opened up your doors.

I told you everything

But you already seemed to know

I just want to hold you tight

And never let you go

I'm craving for you love

Because I can taste your smile

I'm craving for your thoughts

Those seem to run thousands of miles

I am craving for your face

With beauty I thought was unknown

I never want to leave you place

Because now I am not alone

It seems as though we have met before

Even though it is untrue

Just hearing you say my name

Tells me that I am in love with you

It's hard to imagine that this is real

If it's not, please God, don't let me wake up

This is even better than a dream

Like drinking happiness from a cup

How you hold such power

I will never know

Even the softness of a flower

Your voice just seems to flow

I'm craving for you love

Because I can taste your smile

I'm craving for your thoughts

Those seem to run thousands of miles

I am craving for your face

With beauty I thought was unknown

I never want to leave you place

Because now I am not alone

Right and wrong is sometimes complicated

But believe me, this is right

I don't even question it

When I hold you in the night

I just thank God for his blessing

Which of course is you

I'm never letting you go

Baby, I'm stuck to you like glue

I'm craving for you love

Because I can taste your smile

I'm craving for your thoughts

Those seem to run thousands of miles

I am craving for your face

With beauty I thought was unknown

I never want to leave you place

Because now I am not alone

-

That song hit number one.

-

One day I sat on my bed, thinking of Shian, as I often did. And I whispered three words.

"Shian, I need you."

And suddenly she was there. Around me. Inside me. Holding me. Watching me.

She was everywhere.

I could feel her. It was warm, and happy, the kind of feeling that makes you laugh. I cried again that night, but not of sorrow, it was because Shian had kept her promise. She was in fact, everywhere.

-

About two months later, I got a delivery at my house. And what was it? Books. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

With a letter.

From Shian.

Dearest Aaron, ( Ha ha, I've always wanted to being a letter with "dearest")

By the time you get this, I will be with you and watching over you. As sad as it may seem for my life to come to an end, I'm actually glad that it will because now I can live without pain.

So today is September 28th, and I'm not expected to make it past my birthday, so everyone is giving me my presents now. It has been a really nice birthday, (even though the one you gave me was the best) I got a whole bunch of stuff (even a concert of FLAVOR on DVD) and some nice books and stuff that I probably won't get a chance to read, but it's the thought that counts. Doctor came in and said already told me that I was going to die soon. I believe it, Uncle Matt believes it, but my friends and father don't, I wish they would.

I'm watching the DVD now, actually listening to it mostly because my eyes hurt. But every time I seem to glance at it, you seem to be shaking your butt. Do you realize how many times you do that? Do you get that horny on stage? (Ha ha)

I know I have told you before Aaron, but your voice is really beautiful.

Oh, I am sending you all the books I have. Do what you want with them. There so you can learn to love what I love. Too bad I never got to finish the books in the Simplicity library.

I'm thinking of you right now. How lucky I was that I had you. Do you know how wonderful you are, Aaron? I don't think you even realize it. I am honored to be able to say that I was your girlfriend. Aaron, you gave me some of the best moments of my life, and I want to thank you for that. I'm thinking of what your future holds. I wish I knew. I know you've always wanted a whole bunch of kids, and I know whoever your wife is has to be a deep sleeper because you snore a lot more and louder than you think! I'm serious! There were times when I was glad I was taking medication, otherwise, I think you would have kept me up all night.

I have to go now, Aaron. It has taken all of my strength to write this letter, and I don't have any left. Don't be sad baby, just know that I died thinking of you and loving you.

Always remember to things:

Always taste the world.

You can never have too much sugar.

Always and forever love loving you,

-Shian Hendricks(

PS- The clothes that you guys wear on stage sometimes boggles my mind.

-

-

-

So here I am, sitting on the beach of the Simplicity resort ten years later with my wife, Linda, and my kids- Shian, David, and Rebecca.

I sit here and think about how much Shian gave me. She gave me the knowledge of what life taste like. What that summer tasted like. It's a lifelong lesson, and I'll never forget it. I glance at the green Lucky Charms ring that I still wear on my pinky.

"You miss her, don't you?" Linda asks, her beautiful long blond hair blowing in the breeze. I nod and she holds my hand.

And there's the sunset. Still breathtakingly beautiful.

It's then that I realize what life taste like. It taste like Shian.

And there is no sweeter flavor.