Author's Note: Dedicated to a friend.
The phone rang, and he had to abandon his photographs to answer it. He tore his eyes from the black and white pictures that he was sorting into the 'Good' and 'Bad' piles, and distractedly said a greeting into the mouthpiece while picking up a photo and moving it six inches to the right.
He blinked. No one called him 'Andrew' anymore, except... "Dyana?" That was a voice he hadn't heard in years. And he wasn't particularly happy, either. Dyana was a dork, and she was in the past.
"Uhm. Hi," she said, awkwardly, and he noted that her voice had a slight scratch to it. "I got your number from your parents. I didn't know you moved to LA."
"Uh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot to call," he muttered. Lie. He couldn't tell her the truth, that he wanted nothing to do with her or her family, but he couldn't bring himself to it.
"Oh. Okay," he heard her swallow on the other end, and hesitate. "I thought I should tell you something. Something... bad," her voice choked, and he felt a tiny flicker of curiosity.
"Mmmh," he acknowledged, feeling his attention slip.
"Allie went to the Sahara a few weeks back..." Of course. Allie, Dyana's younger sister, had always talked about going to Africa. Dyana talked on for a few more moments. "... sandstorm... everything... GPS..."
"Sounds fun," he said, distractedly, starting on a new batch of photos. There was silence at the other end.
"Fun? Andrew, I just said they got caught in a major sandstorm... were you even listening?" The last syllable cracked, as if she was about to cry. He stopped doing the photos.
"Um, yeah, I'm just sorta busy..." Take the hint, take the hint, he pleaded.
"Please. Just listen to me? For a few minutes?" she begged. He sighed, then sat back on his chair, turning away from his pictures.
"Yeah. Go ahead. Shoot," he said, boredly.
"The sandstorm destroyed everything, Andrew. They didn't get their cell phones and GPS to work until a week later." At this he frowned. Sure, he didn't want anything to do with them anymore, but they did all use to be like family to eachother. "... She got severely dehydrated. Allie's dead, Andrew."
His stomach dropped, and he felt the hand that held the phone start to shake violently.
"Wh—what? She's... gone?"
He heard full sobs on the other end. "Y—yeah. We - we're holding a funeral in two days. ... You should come. I know... I know she'd like it."
He wiped a hand across his watering eyes. "Yeah. Yeah, of course, I'll be there. I'll just drop by your dad's okay?" he said, and he knew that his voice sounded thick and choked.
He numbly dropped the phone back onto the reciever. Dead... He didn't know that her death would hit him this hard. They hadn't talked in years... he distinctly remembered the last e-mail she sent him, the one he never replied to. That was back in high school...
The growing feelings, the hormones... that scared him to death the last time he saw her. His best friend, his silly, smiling, beautiful best friend. The one he started to ignore. Something that he couldn't reverse, something he talked himself out of. His own teenage naïveté.
He was such an asshole.
Two days later, he drove his old, beat up Honda Civic up the hill where their dad lived. It was sunny outside, and beautiful. The kind of weather they walked dogs in, and sold lemonade in. Their innocence as children.
Dyana was the older sister, taller, more sophisticated and less adventurous. She answered the door to the small house, wearing a modest black dress and pumps. She embraced him. It felt alien. As they pulled apart, he noticed a redness to her eyes that makeup couldn't quite fix, something that probably won't go away for months.
"I'm glad you made it. Dad'll be ready in a few minutes," she said quietly, and started to busy herself with the mirror behind the table, adding small touches of makeup and to her hair. "We'll lead the way to the... to the funeral home. Just follow, okay?" she asked, each word rising to a higher pitch as she wiped a rogue tear from her eye. He nodded stonily, looking around and walking away. He stopped at the first door down the hallway. Allie's room. He stepped confidently (he didn't want to seem weak) into it.
Some things never change. The bedcovers were bright and lively, there was bright green all over the place. He looked at the morror, where she had stuffed some of her favorite photos into it. Many of them were of her pets or of her, smiling, with people he didn't recognize. He gently touched one of them, of her wearing a large straw hat and standing in front of a plane with Arabic-style letters on it.
Probably her most recent photo that exists.
He swallowed back his tears, ambling around. It even smelled like her, and he hadn't caught her scent in years. It was something fruity and sultry at the same time, and he went to her shelf, looking at a her brush, filled with strands of curly brown hair. At this, the shining eyes that were his weren't able to hold back the tears.
Why did it have to happen to her? Allie, of all people. Her death aroused old feelings and memories... now that he looked back, now that she was gone, his teenage naïveté seemed so stupid and foolish and useless and every other bad word that can describe it. He shut out a life that didn't deserve it, he shut out a girl that probably had the best soul that he knew. Because he was a jerk.
It was an open casket. There were tons of people here that he didn't know—after all, he wasn't there when they walked into her life. Her father, the strongest and one of the meanest men he knew, was quietly crying in the front row. He adjusted his coat, then made three steps that seemed to take a lifetime to the casket.
Allie was there, in all of her brunette glory. She had a lot of hair, and it spread out around her head in its soft curls. Her eyes were closed, her rough hands were laid atop one another above her navel, her sun-browned skin looked stiff and dry and cold. He looked at her nose, that rounded at the tip, and knew that he woulcd recognize that nose anywhere.
"Is it true?" whispered a voice to his left, and he turned to see Dyana and the tear trails on her cheeks. It was then that he noticed that he wasn't crying.
"Is what?" he asked, in an equally quiet tone, although he knew what she was getting at.
"Did you ignore her?" she asked, tearing her eyes away from her still sister and turning them to him.
He didn't answer for a while, just turned and looked at her. So long ago, so many phone calls not returned, e-mails deleted, instant messages blocked. They stopped coming after a while, and he could only presume that was because she took the hint and stayed away. He never thought about how she would feel.
Then he nodded.
Please review, I've never really written anything like this before and the muse may make me do it again. How's the emotion? Constructive criticism welcome.