Tragic. Cliche. Love.

By: Becca Taylor

Dedicated to: Ashley Marchand because what good is a love story if it isn't cliche and tragic?

Life. That's a mystery I've been pondering for a long time. Why am I here? How am I here? What happens when I'm done here? Why? Why? Why? So far, I've not received any answers worth believing in. No answers worth accepting as the truth. I wish life were easier, but it's not. I'm only eighteen and already I know what pain is. What it is to love and be loved. What it is to lose the one you love. What it is to have your heart torn out and put through a meat grinder. Pain? It is nothing to me now. My heart, mind, and soul are numb. I'm in an eternal winter and darkness from which it seems impossible to wake. One day though, I know that I will wake. It may not come for years though. Years. That's how long it takes to get over a loss such as mine. Years. And as long as I can hold the memory of him, I can make it. Maybe one day I'll even stop hurting and finally realize what life is. One day.

Adam Reed. Adam Staples Reed. Age seventeen. Grey eyes, dusty blonde hair. He was good looking, but not considered to be a hottie. He was a preppy dresser, and always looked clean cut and cute. I liked him right away, though, I'd never admit it to anyone. Everyone else though he was a dork. I though he was adorable. He always had a serious look to his face, but if you looked closely you saw that his eyes sparkled and his mouth had a mischievous tilt to it. For three years, since grade nine, I had watched him from afar, but never spoke to him. How could I? He was a prep, and I hung out with the 'it' girls. How I came to be in their clique was beyond me.

I'm a good girl. I go to church every Sunday, wear appropriate clothing, and get decent grades. I've never touched drugs nor intoxicating drinks, and I love to stay in and read. Somewhere along the line though, they decided that I was worthy of being popular and I became 'one of them'. Not that I minded, I mean, I loved being someone that people looked up to. Little kids got out of my way in the halls, and I was a favourite amongst the fellows. I'm sure that if Kayla and Lisa hadn't deemed me worthy of their friendship, I'd never have had a single date.

It's not that I was completely lacking in the looks department. I was blessed with naturally straight, naturally blonde hair. My eyes were grey also, but also had streaks of blue in them. My main problem was that I was average looking and not beautiful. Oh, and I was, still am, and will always be short. My parents estimate that I'll never get past five foot two. Why did my ancestors have to be so short?

"Oh Jenny," my mum would say, "Good things come in small packages."

Yeah, thanks mum. That makes me feel ever so much better. Whenever she'd say that I'd fake a smile and then back away, usually down to my room to sulk over my lack of height. Anyways, I should probably get back to Adam Reed and why he has caused me to become so utterly down in the dumps.

It was Tuesday. Tuesday May 24, 2005 to be exact. I walked into the school early, intending to park myself on a bench and read a bit of a new novel I bought. A thriller. (It was fantastic by the way.) I was half way through the third chapter, when a male voice spoke to me.

"May I join you?" it asked. I looked up and into the eyes of Adam Reed.

"Of course," I replied. Under normal circumstances, I would have struck up a conversation. However, when this guy sat down next to me, I suddenly lost my abililty to form proper sentences so I remained silent. I could feel the heat coming off of his snappily dressed body, and to be perfectly honest, his presence was making me nervous. Finally, he broke the awkward silence.

"I'm Adam Reed," he said. I couldn't help but smile. We lived in a small town. It would have been impossible for me not to know who he was. However, since he was so cute I decided to introduce myself as well.

"Jennifer Lake." He smiled at me and I fell in love. His teeth were straight and white. His lips spaced perfectly. Eyes shining and seeming to see right through me. Somehow, he made me feel warm inside.

"Jennifer?" he said, waking me out of my temporary trance. "May I ask you something?" Not only was he adorable looking, but he was polite too. The kind of guy you're not ashamed to bring home to the folks.

"Sure Adam," I replied. I put my book down and faced him. I noticed the beginnings of sweat forming at his hair line, and concluded that he must be nervous. "Shoot."

"Well, graduation is coming up and I was wondering if you had a - um - a date yet?" His eyes twitched back and forth and his hands were a fidgeting mes. I had to do my best to contain the smile that played on my lips.

"Nope," I said. My stomach began to turn cartwheels. Adam Reed. The timid, serious, adorable boy whom nobody knew hardly a thing about. Adam Reed was about to ask me to be his date for graduation. My own hands began to fidget and suddenly I felt like I wanted to cry.

"Well um, would you like to, you know, be mine? My date that is, not like, well, you know what I mean. Aw man, I'm messing this up aren't I?" He cast his eyes downwards at the binders in his lap and waited for my answer. To be perfectly honest, that was the most romantic way I'd ever been asked out before. How could I turn him down?

"I will," I said after a dramatic pause. "It'd be nice." After I said this he looked up and just beamed. Right then I really did nearly lose myself. How was it possible that a simple thing like graduation could make this fellow so happy?

A strand of my hair fell down into my face. "May I?" he asked, and then with gentle fingers he tucked it back behind my ear. I blushed and he did too. It was so sweet, and I wished that moment could have lasted forever. But it didn't, because really, why should we deserve that moment of happiness? Kayla and Lisa showed up.

"Hey Jennifer," Kayla said, plopping herself down in between Adam and I on the bench. "Hi...uh..."

"Adam," I filled in.

"Yes, Adam." She smiled at him. It was of course fake. "What were you guys talking about?" I noticed that she was looking down her long pointed nose at us ever so slightly. This ticked me off.

"Adam just asked me to graduation, actually," I said. I knew this would make her angry. Over the past month or so, she had been trying to set me up with her brother who was a year younger than us.

"Really?" she said, her voice squeaking a little. I could practically see the smoke coming out of her perfectly pierced ears. She kept her cool though and said, "Jennifer? Could I talk to you over there for a second?" she gestured toward a little secluded hall.

"Sure thing Kayla. I'll be right back Adam." I smiled at him and then follwed my 'friend' to the little hall. "What is it Kay?"

"You can't go to grad with him! Everything was set up for you to go with Daniel! What are you doing Jennifer?"

"I'm going to grad with Adam Reed Kay, I'd think that was fairly obvious by now."

"Jennifer," now she was glaring at me, "if you go to grad with Adam Reed then you can not come to my party."

"Fine," I said. "I don't care!"

Kayla was fuming now. "Really Jennifer? You really don't care? Then you also can't hang out with us anymore. We don't associate with those below us."

"Excuse me? Adam Reed is not below us. Nobody is! We are not all powerful simply because we're popular Kayla, and I can't believe you actually think like that! I always knew that you thought highly of yourself, but I didn't realize that you were a total snob." Right then I basically screwed myself up socially but I didn't care. I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed how hurtful Kayla was until right then. How could I have been so blind? "It's been nice knowing you Kayla."

I walked away.

She gawked.

I love that word: gawked.

I sat myself down next to Adam once more. "Hey," I said.

"Hey," he said. We smiled and then the bell rang.

And that was our first real encounter. Nothing too special, though it was a little on the dramatic side. From that day on, Adam and I hung out at breaks, and in betwen classes. He was so sweet and timid that I couldn't help but melt whenever he appeared at my locker with that adroable smile of his.

I became shunned from popular society. A few of the girls tried to stick by me, but got a severe tongue lashing from Kayla for doing so. I still shake my head in the disbelief that I was ever one of them. How could I have ever been so cruel? Well, I suppose I never actually harmed someone (mentally or physically) but I didn't try to stop it either. I'll probably never forgive myself for giving into the strains of peer pressure. But back to Adam...

June went by quickly and soon graduation was upon us. My mom took me out shopping for a dress. I decided that I wanted something simple, yet pretty. After hours of searching, I found the perfect dress. It was floor length and reminiscent of Christine's nighty in the movie version of 'The Phantom of the Opera', but without the lacey robe over top. It was dark dark red (my favourite colour) and was just perfect. Not too much, not too little, and I knew Adam would love it.

Speaking of whom, as we were paying for the dress my cell phone rang.

"Jennifer here," I said into the little phone.

"Hey there Jennifer, it's Janice." Adam's mother. Really nice lady. I love her to bits. But her voice wasn't as perpetually happy as usual.

"Hey Janice," I said. "What's up?"

"Adam was rushed to the hospital this afternoon." Silence. My heart began to thump in my chest.

"W-why?" my words faltered. What could have happened to him?

"He hasn't told you?"

"Told me what?"

"Don't worry sweetie, I'll tell you when you get here. He wants to see you right away so come quickly." Her voice was breaking.

"Of course Janice, I'll be right there." I flipped the phone shut. "Mom we have to go to the hospital. Something's wrong with Adam."

"Janice didn't say what?"

"No, and I'm really worried." By then tears were spilling out of my eyes. We paid for the dress and hurried off to the hopsital. Millions of questions flooded my mind. What happened? Was he hurt? How? Is he sick? What didn't he tell me? When we finally arrived it wasn't soon enough for me. I ran through the halls and into his room. Room 403. Pale green walls and icky green linoleum. Adam was propped up in the bed with his eyes shut. He looked horribly pale. I sat down on the edge of the bed and whispered, "Adam."

He opened his eyes. "Jennifer," he said hoarsely. "Thanks for coming."

"What's going on Adam?" He looked so pained. So pale. So pathetic.

"I'm sorry Jennifer," he said, "I should have told you sooner."

"Told me what?" my voice rose. What was he not telling me!?

"Jennifer," he said, "I'm dying."

My fears had been confirmed. Tears welled up in my eyes and fell down on to the white sheets. A stain was created by the salty drops of water. "What are you talking about Adam? You're not dying!"

He grimaced. "I am dying Jennifer. I have terminal brain cancer. There's no cure. We had," he gave an agonizing groan, "hoped that this pain wouldn't start for a few years yet. I'm sorry I didn't tell you."

"How could you keep this from me!?" Despite the fact that my boyfriend, the love of my life, was dying, I was really ticked off. How could he not have told me?

"I'm sorry Jennifer. I had hoped I could have waited until after grad. I'm sorry." His eyes were downcast and filled with tears. For a few minutes neither of us said anything.

I was mad. "I have to go," I said in a rushed voice. The I picked up my purse and ran all the way home.

As in any devastating romance, it was pouring rain. It beat against me almost painfully, but I didn't care. I just needed to get home, go to sleep, wake up, and discover that I was dreaming.

"Jennifer!" my mom called to me as I raced through the house. I didn't even bother to take my shoes off, leaving dark footprints down the carpeted halls.

I ignored her and slammed my bedroom door shut behind me. Childish, I know, but I was in shock. My boyfriend just told me he's dying, what was I supposed to do? Yeah, I know: Stay there with him and offer some comfort. However, I was kind of in shock and kind of an idiot.

The next morning I awoke to find out it wasn't a dream. In fact, everything had gotten worse. I picked up some roses on the way to the hopsital. When I got there Adam looked horrible. I placed the flowers next to him in a vase and then sat down. "I'm sorry," I said finally.

He didn't answer.

"Adam," I said. "I know, I was a total jerk. I should have understood. If I was dying I probably wouldn't really want to tell me either. I'm sorry."

Still, no answer.

"Adam?" My heart began to race at an unnatural pace. I could hear its dull thud within my ears. Quickly, I pushed the button that calls the nurse and began to pace the room. There was no way he could be dead. No. Way. Never.

The nurse rushed in and pushed several buttons. Then she performed several life saving techniques. She told me to leave the room.

I left the room.

I walked down the hall and sat in an uncomfortable orange chair.

And then...

I waited.

Waited for my beloved to be revived.

Waited for my chance to apologize for being such an idiot.

Waited for something that I knew was impossible.

Dead people didn't just wake up.

They stayed dead.

Forever.

"Are you Jennifer?" the nurse poked her head out of Adam's room.

"Yeah that's me."

"He wants to see you."

My heart skipped a beat and I ran. When I entered the room he was sitting up and his beautiful grey eyes were open. I had never noticed the flecks of blue and gold in them before. His lips formed a half smile. A smile of knowing. A smile of love. He shakily reached a thin hand out to me. I grabbed it and sat down on the edge of the bed. And then, we both wept. He leaned forward and rested his head upon my shoulder. Our sobs were in unison. (It was kinda weird actually.) For nearly ten minutes we just sat in the comfort of each other's arms. Then, he pulled away and fell back on to the surprisingly plump hospital pillows.

"I love you Jennifer," he said.

"I love you too Adam." Pause. "What are we going to do?"

"After you left, the doctor said that in a few days I'll be able to go home. However, I won't be up to doing much. I'll probably miss grad. I'm really sorry." He looked so regretful. So sorrowful. But he loved me.

"That's alright Adam. All I care about is that you're alright."

"Thanks," he whispered.

Grad came. Grad went. Adam and I spent it in his basement watching classic 80's movies. He was still skeletal looking and horribly pale. But, who cares about stuff like that when you're madly in love? We sure didn't. We even dressed up. He wore a tux, and I wore the dress I bought. It was the happiest evening of my life.

Then tragedy struck.

It was four fifty-nine in the morning. Janice called and said that Adam needed me. That it was 'time'. Tears streamed down my face and as I ran to their house. Of course, as cliche love stories go, it was once again pouring rain. I made it to their house in record time and was given a mug of hot chocolate. With marshmallows. I followed Janice up to Adam's room.

"Jen!" he gasped when I came in. He looked far worse than even at the hospital. I sat down on the chair next to his bed and clasped his fragile hand. Once more, we wept. And then, for the next five hours, we simply sat there and prayed. Prayed for life. Prayed for death. Prayed for happiness within this dark time.

And then...

around ten o'clock...

Adam died.

The funereal was a nice enough one. I gave the eulogy.

And now, I sit in my bedroom writing my short but tragic love story.

Life. What is it for? Love. When I'm done here? Life with Adam. Why am I here? Love. Why? To find happiness, love, and friends. To learn patience and understanding. To go through different experiences that will make me a better person. But above all...

Love.

The End.