I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.
- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
"Brigette, you were just knocked unconscious while giving a surfing lesson," said the man who had told me where I was. "You were out for quite awhile."
I gasped. "Someone pinch me."
"What?" asked Emma.
"Gladly," Dylan said simultaneously. He came over, pinched my arm, and stepped back.
"Oh my god," I breathed. "This cannot be happening."
"What's wrong?" asked Emma.
My eyes locked with Brendan's.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I said.
I couldn't believe that it had all been a dream. Just a dream.
"Maybe we should get you to a hospital," said Emma. "I think you took more than a blow to the head."
At this point, I was still in shock. One long, lousy dream. A figment of my imagination.
"Maybe you're right," I agreed, feeling dizzy and lightheaded.
Twenty minutes later found me sitting in the all-too-familiar emergency room of the local hospital with Emma and Dylan. Austin had hovered around, but Emma had politely told him it would be better to stay away. BJ had split the moment he heard her tell Austin he wasn't needed, which affirmed that BJ Sanders in reality was just as sleazy and unreliable as BJ in my dream. Brendan, who seemed to be waging an internal war with himself, sounded strained when he asked me if I wanted him to stay.
Did I? I wasn't quite sure. My subconscious had just created a wildly crazy, vivid dream (if you could call it that). And Brendan had been the co-star. While in my dream I'd somehow fallen in love with him, those feelings didn't necessarily have to resurface in reality. I was having a really hard time discerning what had really happened and what hadn't – my dream had been way too real. I could still recall the whirlwind of emotions I'd experienced. I was so incredibly confused, and Brendan seemed to pick up on that because he told us to call him if we needed anything. And when he squeezed my shoulder, looked me directly in the eyes, and said, "I hope you're okay," a jolt went through my body. It was almost as if he knew what had happened. But that was impossible because I was the only person who knew just how rampant my imagination could run.
At the hospital, Emma had delegated the job of getting a doctor to see me to Dylan, while she sat me down and jokingly asked me if I'd had an epiphany while I'd been unconscious.
"I just had the craziest dream," I said slowly.
"How crazy?" she asked, still gazing at me warily. I knew she thought I was crazy. But how do you explain something like my dream to someone who currently thinks you belong in a mental ward?
"Em, you seriously wouldn't believe it, but it was just so real," I said seriously. "It was like…I don't know, what could happen if I make one choice over another."
I let my own words sink in, only having come to this conclusion right now.
"Well, obviously it changes everything else," Emma told me gently. "Seriously Brig, did the surfboard hit you that hard?"
"I know I sound like a loony, but I feel like I was just sent a message from whoever's up there," I said, pointing at the ceiling. "I mean, weeks of my life went by in that dream, and even though some of it doesn't fully make sense, it had to have happened for a reason, right?"
I could tell Emma wasn't wavering, but she decided to humor me anyways. "Why don't you tell me what happened?"
I took a breath. "First I woke up after being knocked out, kind of like how when I woke up earlier. And I was just on the beach and everyone was standing around me. Then I left with BJ to see a lifeguard. And then we went on a date and I found out what a sleaze he is. And Nick found out Kate was pregnant and that Brendan knew and he was mad he didn't tell him so we were going to hold it over Brendan's head. And then Brendan kissed me – several times. And I ran away from him. And we fought a lot. I was teaching Brayden to drive but she got mad and stole my car, crashed, and nearly died but Brendan found her."
Emma raised her eyebrows, but she still didn't say anything.
"It had everything to do with Brendan," I said softly. "In my dream, he went home to Arizona because he had this friend Lucy who was sick and I was incredibly jealous because I thought she was his girlfriend, but she was really only ten-years-old and a sweet kid. And Brianna went with me all the way to friggin' Arizona to tell the boy I like that I like him. A lot. God, even in my dreams Brianna's an awesome sister. The last thing I remember in my dream is falling asleep. And now here I am, trying to make sense of everything."
"I doubt you're going to be able to do that," Emma told me. "But wow. Pretty interesting dream."
I tilted my head at her. "Maybe. But if you think about it, it might make more sense than anything else that has happened so far this summer."
At that moment, Dylan came back, complaining that none of his manly charms would work on the nurses at the desk – probably because they were all male. Emma rolled her eyes at him and went with him to demand that I see a doctor, despite my protests that I could wait. Now that I was left to my own devices, I scanned the waiting room, feeling an eerie sense of déjà vu creeping up on me when I spotted a young girl who couldn't have been more than ten-years-old sitting only a two chairs from me with her head against the wall, while a harried-looking woman whom I presumed to be her mother filled out paperwork. The girl seemed to feel my eyes on her since she looked right at me. And when she did, I nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise. This girl looked exactly like the Lucy from my dream, although the Lucy in my dream probably didn't exist at all. I struggled to regain my composure. No sense in making this girl think I was weird.
"Hi," she said quietly, trying to smile but I could see she was in some pain.
"Hi," I responded. "What are you here for?"
"I felt awful at soccer practice," was all she said. "Mommy's trying to get a doctor to see me, but I have to wait."
Oh my god. This was getting way too weird. She played soccer too. What was next?
I nodded. "I had a concussion," I told her. "Don't ever try to teach a boy named BJ to surf."
She looked confused, so I changed the subject. "I'm Brigette, by the way," I told her, offering my hand across the seat between us.
When she shook it and said, "Bernadette," I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank god her name wasn't Lucy. If it had been, I'd probably have fainted.
"What happens when you get a cusscon – conshun – con…what did you have?" she asked, genuinely stumped.
"A concussion," I said. "And I assume that generally people lose consciousness and nothing really happens, but I had this crazy dream."
Bernadette's eyes widened. "What was it about?"
I hesitated here. It was one thing to tell my best friend, but it was a completely different thing to tell a complete stranger – even if she was cute and I'd already hypothetically met someone who looked exactly like her – about my dream.
"It's a long story," I told her finally. "But let's just say I think it was supposed to tell me something."
"Well, what did it tell you?" she urged, leaning forward with interest.
"It's kind of obvious really," I said, mostly to myself, "But I didn't really realize until now how one choice affects everything else that happens after. And if I never take any chances, I might never know."
"Never know what?"
"What it's like to fall in love…" I trailed off. "I could really be missing out on something."
Emma and Dylan came back just then, temporarily putting on hold my conversation with Bernadette.
"My dad will see you now," Emma declared, looking triumphant. "Those nurses are tough, but name-dropping pays off."
"I can really wait. I mean, there are people who need immediate attention," I said, motioning to Bernadette. "All I had was a concussion."
"Which is why my dad is going to have some tests run to make sure you really are fine," Emma argued. "Come on, Dylan and I went to all this trouble. It'll go really fast."
Reluctantly, I got up. "Bye, Lu- Bernadette. It was nice meeting you and I hope you feel better."
"I hope you make the right choices," she responded with more maturity than any ten-year-old should have. "Maybe you'll see me again."
I could have sworn she winked after she said that, but I shrugged it off. It all had to be a coincidence. Maybe I'd seen Bernadette somewhere before and somehow she'd ended up in my dream as Lucy, a girl with cancer. But still, the coincidence was unnerving.
I went in to see Dr. Mackenzie, who ran a CAT scan and ordered me not to participate in any physical activities for the next few days. Definitely not. It wasn't like I really wanted to have another epiphany.
It was when we were waiting for the results that my parents and my sisters – minus Brayden – rushed in looking worried. Immediately and without thinking, I jumped up from my seat, fearing the worst.
"Where's Brayden? Is she okay?" I wanted to know.
I received a mixture of confusion and funny looking from my family.
"Brayden's fine," said my mom. "Why wouldn't she be okay?"
Remembering that the accident had been a part of my dream and not reality (as I seemed to have to keep telling myself), I shrugged in an effort to play it cool. "No reason. I just noticed she wasn't with you guys."
"You're the one with a concussion!" proclaimed Brianna. "We came to see you."
I wasn't used to all the attention. My family rarely did anything together. Everyone was always doing their own thing, lost in their own worlds. The fact that they had all (well, all but Brayden, but that just showed nothing really changes) shown up at the hospital just because I'd gotten a concussion meant enough to make me tear up. And that was surprising because Brigette Moore never cries.
"Thanks guys," I said, trying to compose myself. "But it's really just a concussion. It's not like I wrecked my car or anything."
No one seemed to understand what I was saying, although I should have known better than to throw that in. Now everyone thought I was officially crazy.
"We're just waiting for Brigette's test results," Emma broke the silence. "Once my dad clears her, we can all go home."
Home. That sounded good right about now.
Sure enough, the results came back clean and I was free to go. My parents thanked Emma and Dylan for sticking with me and taking care of me.
It wasn't until we were in the car and halfway home that I realized something I hadn't noticed before. "How did you all know to come to the hospital? Did Emma and Dylan call you?"
My dad, who was driving, met my eye through the rearview mirror. "Actually, that young man from across the street – Brendan, right? – came over and told us first."
"Wow, he did?"
"Seemed mighty concerned about you, Brig," he added.
"I thought you didn't like each other," said Brylee.
"I guess we changed our minds," I murmured.
Once we got home, my mom made a huge fuss over me and demanded that I go to my room and rest. But I couldn't. My heart was pounding and something was telling me I should see Brendan. Woman up and take chances.
So finally, after dinner and assuring my parents I was just going across the street and nothing would happen to me, they let me go.
I was halfway across the street when I saw a lone figure sitting on the porch banister, can of soda in hand. It took me all but two seconds to realize it was Brendan, and with that knowledge I stopped right where I was. I had come over with no inhibitions, no plan as to what I was going to say. Why did this always happen to me?
Upon seeing my figure, Brendan put his can down, but he didn't move. "Brigette, is that you?"
"Yeah," I said, still not moving.
"How are you?" he asked, genuine concern evident in his voice.
"Just fine," I said. And finally, mustering up every ounce of confidence I had, I began to tell him exactly what was on my mind.
"Remember the other day when we were in the parking lot at Albertsons and something almost happened?" I asked.
Clearly this was not what he'd been expecting because Brendan's eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up. Way up. Which meant something because I was still pretty far from him. "So you admit that there's something going on between us," he said.
"I – yes."
When it was obvious I didn't know what to say after that, Brendan asked, "Where are you trying to go with this?"
"I'm trying to say that…we could take a chance and see where this goes. It doesn't have to be love. It doesn't even have to go past this summer. But I know we're going to miss out on something good if we don't do anything about it. About us."
I liked the way the glow of the streetlight was hitting him. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked, jumping of the banister.
"I told you, I'm perfectly fine. Look, when I was unconscious, I had this eerily realistic dream about what life would be like if I tried to deny that there is something between us. Chemistry. A spark. Whatever you want to call it."
"A lot of drama and anger and fighting…just a whole mess," I tried to explain, but failed to do so. "All I know is that I'm pretty sure I don't want to relive that in real life."
"So what are you going to do about it?" he prodded, taking steps toward me.
"I think that maybe we should save ourselves a summer of grief and hurt feelings and just grow up," I said softly enough for him to hear.
By now Brendan McDaniel was standing right in front of me. "Okay, Brigette. Right now I'm going to grow up and tell you that I might be attracted to you, despite your flaws. And say that we might have started out wrong."
I smiled. "And I'm going to tell you that I might like you too. And say that maybe we should start over."
Brendan took my lead and extended his right hand. "Hi, I'm Brendan McDaniel."
"Brigette Moore," I replied, shaking his proffered hand.
He squeezed my hand and gently tugged me toward him. "Pleasure to meet you," he whispered, tilting my chin up.
His lips met mine and what happened next was even better than anything I could ever have dreamt.
It was gentle and sweet – in other words, perfect.
Our foreheads were touching, and I asked, "Wow, so do you kiss all the new girls you meet?"
Brendan grinned. "Do you make confessions of undying love in the middle of the street often?"
We both laughed and simultaneously said, "Only with you."
"Must have been a pretty good dream if I was in it," he remarked with a satisfied smirk when our laughter died down.
"Dreams are good, but they're nowhere near as good or important as what's standing right in front of you."
Everything suddenly came full circle. This is how the story of Brendan and Brigette really begins. Not with him smoking on the porch and me standing in the middle of the road on a really hot summer day. This time, we met halfway. And while this is risky, standing in the middle of the street at night and all, I'm starting to realize it's definitely worth it.
They say that anything worth having is never easy, but I can tell somehow this is how it was always supposed to be. It doesn't matter how we got here – whether it's in a dream or in real life, that's how I know this is meant to be. I may not be sure how long this lasts, but I'm fairly certain that either way, I was bound to get the guy.
Brendan's not perfect, but neither am I. Together, I'd say we're not so bad. I'd say that where we are right now is the middle – somewhere between heaven and hell. And to be honest, I wouldn't mind if we stayed right here forever.
A/N: YES, that is the end of Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell!! I'm incredibly sorry about the reeeeeeally long wait. I realize that the ending of the previous chapter was a huge shocker – which is why I reevaluated the ending I had already written and decided to write something that would give Brendan and Brigette the ending that they truly deserve. I hope this did them justice …
I got a lot of questions about why I would do something like make more than half the story a dream, and the answer is simply because I really wanted to make this story my own. Plus, I love throwing people off. It was quite enjoyable getting your reactions. I hope you all like this ending -- if you didn't, then I send you my deepest apologies and say that you definitely wouldn't have liked what I had originally.
Thank you to everyone who has read this story/kept up with it/reviewed. It means the world to me that people actually want to read what I write and that you guys have supported me for so long. I know I've been terrible at responding to reviews, but I do read every single one and each one makes me smile ) And goodness, I just can't believe I finally finished this story. It feels good to be done, but at the same time, I'm depressed. I'm really going to miss Brigette and Brendan. I feel like what started off as a modernized Jane Austen spinoff turned into something so much different than I anticipated. This has been another learning journey, and I hope that my writing has somewhat improved since writing For the Love of the Game. I'm still working on improving my character/plot development, so hopefully that'll show up in the future.
Sigh. And now that I have another completed story under my belt, I will be focusing on completing Accidentally in Love, which has been on hiatus for WAY too long. I've got ideas for other stories, but this time I'm going to focus on finishing one before I start another. Might write a one-shot or two if I've got the time, but as a college student time is something to be valued, so who knows what the future brings?
Thanks again for everything, my dears! I hope you'll be seeing more of me (or at least my writing) soon!
jaclyn aka i found nemo
P.S. SBHH was Judges' Pick for Most Awkward Moment at Skow. Yay for awkwardness! Thanks to whoever nominated me!