AN: Here goes my second attempt at a short story... I really started it over summer, but then left it in my notebook until last week when I decided to finish it. I guess it was one of those things where you get an idea and it never fully leaves you alone until its written down. shrugs Oh, and the quote is not mine, I found it one day when I was looking up friendship quotes so if anyone knows who said it, tell me and I'll give them credit.

Important to know before you read (at least if you don't want to get confused...)

'...' means that it is being thought

"..." means that it is being spoken aloud

Cleaning the Closet

Rated PG-13 for some swearing... I figured better safe than sorry


She was all set to go.

Almost. Taking in the bare surroundings of the bedroom one place stood out as being undisturbed, untouched, as it had remained for the past year. This place she had waited until the last possible opportunity to clear out.

The memories had always been too much, but now she had no choice. It was time to clean out the closet.

Rachel hesitantly grasped the door handle and pulled it wide open to reveal--

Her face. The mirror she had hung on the inside of the door in 7th grade was still there and in it she could clearly see the wreck that her emotions were doing to her right now.

Shoulder length black hair frazzled in a bed-head look that didn't go away. Drawn tight lips set to face the inevitable. Skin paler than she would have thought possible. But what stood out the most were her eyes, and more specifically, what they held. Grief, hesitation, and even fear. Her eyes were the weakness in the facade she had taken to wearing. While the rest of her could remain indifferent, her eyes revealed the truth, and she hated the reminder that you can't abolish emotions. Unnaturally shining, they reminded her that ignoring something wouldn't get rid of it, no matter how hard you tried. And she tried.

Unable to stand seeing herself like that any longer she diverted her eyes and ended up looking at the objects that were the reason of her avoidance.

Looking at them you wouldn't see anything special, only three worn shoeboxes covered in a fine layer of dust, now. Their appearance wasn't spectacular, but if you looked inside... inside were little trinkets and tokens... all her possessions that reminded her of Chris.

Shaking, she sat down on the floor, unable to support her own weight any longer.

'You have to do this.' She reminded herself. 'You're leaving tomorrow- you can't procrastinate any longer.'

So she grabbed the oldest box and removed the lid with a shaky hand, letting the memories take her away.


She definitely shouldn't have eaten that last chili dog. Here she was on her first date with the guy she had liked for the past month and she had to be miserable. In fact, the loud St. Patrick's Day Carnival music was only making her more and more nauseous.

"Are you okay? Do you want to leave now?"

She looked up to find the concerned green eyes of her date staring back at her.

"I'll be fine," 'just as soon as we leave' she thought. But she didn't want to ruin his day anymore than she already had so she was trying to seem as cheerful as possible.

After a searching look at her face he said, "It's alright. Give me five minutes and we can leave. Stay right here." Then he abruptly turned around and walked away.

'That was odd.' But as she watched him walk away she couldn't help think about how kind he had been the entire day. He only went on the rides that she felt up to and when she started feeling sick, showed not even the slightest annoyance that they cut their day short and all she wanted to do was walk around. He actually made her feel slightly better by telling funny stories about his family trips to the state fair. She didn't think she would ever forget the story about his uncle and the chicken coops.

Wrapping her arms around her stomach she closed her eyes and swayed back and forth, willing herself to feel better so that they didn't have to leave.

'Please feel better. Pretty please may I feel better.'

So fervent were her thoughts that she didn't hear someone come up behind her, didn't know anyone was there until two comforting arms wrapped around her from behind and a voice whispered, "Hey. We can leave now."

She smiled gratefully to him and as they started walking she slipped to her side and loosely twined their hands, so if she wanted to she could pull her hand away. Touched by the gesture she only squeezed his hand and glanced over at him with a shy smile.

"Thanks." she said quietly. The rest of the walk to her house was spent in a comfortable silence.

When they reached her porch she turned to say goodbye, but was distracted when she noticed the bulge under his jacket.

'How long had that been there?'

As if reading her thoughts he reached into his jacket and pulled out something so cute she couldn't stop herself from gasping.

In his hand was soft, white teddy-bear holding a clover that read 'I Survived St. Patty's Day'. After she had taken it he offered her a shy grin and the explanation of "What kind of date would I be if I didn't win you a stuffed animal?"

It seemed she had no control over herself as a grin split her face and her cheeks turned the color of the red rose bushes behind her.

Looking reassured by her reaction he pulled her into a hug and whispered in her ear, "I'll see you tomorrow."

Her crush on Christ Hamilton wasn't going away anytime soon.


A tear glided down her cheek as she remembered the day before Chris and her were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Chris had come over the next day to check how she was feeling and had asked her to be his girlfriend right before he left, making it the happiest day of her 15 years of life. If only he could see her now.

'Stop this,' she though, furiously wiping away tears, 'You have to keep going.'

So after taking a deep breath that partially calmed her emotions, she deemed herself ready to move onto box number two, from their second year of dating.


It was late August and they had just spent the entire day together at the beach. Him trying to teach her to surf and her trying to convince him of the impossibility of someone with her coordination level surfing.

Running up the beach she flopped on her towel with a grunt and squeezed her eyes shut as she buried her face into the fabric.

Someone standing nearby was clearly amused, for she heard soft chuckling coming from above her.

"Come on Rach, it wasn't that bad."

Groaning she lifted her head just enough to say, "No. That is absolutely the last time I fall head first into the water. No more. I refuse to humiliate myself anymore because I. Can. Not. Surf!

Still chuckling he kneeled down and started rubbing her back. "But you improved so much, you can't give up now."



Rolling onto her back she looked him in the eye and said, "I will learn to surf on one condition."

"And what's that?" Chris asked, eyes twinkling at her.

"I will learn to surf if..." she stroked her chin in exaggerated thought, "... you take a jewelry class and make me a necklace."

The mirth in his eyes only grew. "And you would like me to do that because?"

Rachel rolled her eyes and with a dramatic sigh stated, "Then I could tell everyone that compliments my wonderful accessories that my boyfriend not only designed it, but made it himself!"

"That's what you really want?" Chris asked with a smile as he leaned over her.

The reply was a solemn "yes" followed by affirmative nodding.

Sighing in defeat he asked, "So when are these classes?"

"Really? Pinky-promise?" Rachel said while sitting up excitedly. "Let's go get ice cream!"

"Ice cream?!" Chris exclaimed with raised eyebrows while standing up.

"Yes, ice cream." Rachel replied as if it were obvious. "In order to celebrate this trading of promises."

"Are you sure it isn't just because you've been craving ice cream all day?"

"Oh, shut up."


Tears were flowing freely now as she clutched the necklace as if it was a life preserver in her flood of tears.

The day she had stood on a surfboard for a minute straight Chris took that jewelry class like promised. He'd even made the necklace out of her favorite shades of blue.

Right now tears were blurring all the blues together and Rachel wasn't sure if she could continue. But she knew she had to, there was only one box left.

The day she lost Chris.


"Perfect." Rachel thought to herself as she looked in the mirror. Today was Chris and her anniversary, the last one before he graduated and she wanted it to be as special as possible.

Glancing at her watch she realized he should be there to pick her up soon, so she grabbed her purse and gift for him (a framed picture from her prom and a scrapbook of pictures from throughout their relationship) and ran downstairs.

As she was putting on her coat her phone rang.

"Hello?" she questioned as she finally got her coat all the way on.

"Hey hun, I may be a little late." she heard Chris say distractedly, followed by mumbled swearing.

Well that was new. Chris never swore, usually it was her who lost her temper and started sounding like a sailor.

"Chris honey, are you okay?" she asked, trying to keep worry out of her voice.

"Don't worry." (Mission failed.) "I'm fine. It's just that I'm stuck behind this drunk guy who must have had a little more to drink than recommended." he said wryly.

Sighing, she thought, 'That is just like Chris.' He was her opposite when it came to temper and seemed to be perpetually calm. 'What can I say, opposites attract.'

Sitting down on the coach she asked, "Okay, so when do you think you're going to get here?"

"Well that depends if - Oh God!" And suddenly all she could hear on the other side was glass shattering, tires screeching, and worst of all, metal crunching.

'Oh shit.' she thought as she started to get panicked. "Chris baby, are you there?!"

All she could hear in response was a moan and sirens. 'Oh shit. Oh shit. Shit. Shit. Oh, Hell!'

"Chris! Chris! Come on, talk to me! Let me know you're okay, or even awake! I'd settle for that. Chris. Chris!..."

After a while of one-sided talking the phone was picked up. "Oh, thank God Chris!"

"I'm sorry," she heard the caring voice of a nurse offer. "The young man is in no condition to talk right now."

"Oh my God. Where can I reach him?!" Rachel asked while grabbing her car keys and running to the front door.

"May I ask who this is?" the nurse asked patiently.

"His girlfriend." She said starting to tear up. "Tonight was our anniversary."

"Alright sweetheart. He is being taken to the city hospital right now. When you get there you will most likely be able to find him in the Emergency Care Unit."

"Thank you so much." Rachel said, and then she hung up as she dashed out the door.

-------Time passes-------

White, lights, and the perpetual smell of hand sanitizer. Oh, the joys of a hospital.

She had been here for 5 hours so far and still no sign that- "Miss, the patient is awake now," a closed-emotioned doctor told her.

While walking down the hallway relief flooded her body. Chris wasn't in a coma, which meant he couldn't be that bad... Right?

But when she walked into the room, she gasped as she realized just how wrong that thought was and ran to Chris's closest side.

The person in front of her was barely recognizable as Chris. Her Chris. Tubes were everywhere, as were bandages and casts. His face was all cut up and swollen around the wounds. The only features that remained close to normal were his eyes, although even their twinkle was dulled by the medications being pumped into him to keep him alive.

"Chris." she whispered as she grabbed his hand. "Oh God, Chris."

"Hey love." He rasped, eyes lighting up a little more than their previous dull shine. "Not quite how I planned for the evening to go."

"I'm going to kill the driver that did this to you. He was probably too drunk to realize that anyone existed except himself!" And she meant everything she said as tears filled her eyes (although she refused to let them fall).

"No," he replied, surprisingly strong, "The doctors said... said that chances are against me surviving this so please, just, stay here. With me." Hid eyes were begging her with all the love they could hold.

"Oh-okay." She said, tears now streaming freely, since her self-control crumbled with those last statements. All she could do, it seemed, was repeat her "okay."

"Look behind you." He whispered. Turing around, she noticed a small box. "Happy anniversary," He said with a weak smile.

Hands shaking, she picked it up and opened it. A ring.

"A promise ring," he whispered, as if reading her thoughts, "A promise that I will always be looking out for you and that my love for you will never end. That what I feel is eternal and nothing can change that. It's a promise of forever, whether I'm around," and here he looked into her eyes with an ironic smile, "or not."

Sobbing she put it into her coat pocket, where it would remain forgotten until she got home much later. But for now she kissed him.

A slow, sweet, loving kiss that was everything both wanted. A kiss of love and comfort and a promise of eternity.

When it was over, a nurse appeared. "Miss," she said apologetically, "the patient needs his rest."

"That's okay." Rachel replied. Leaning over for one final kiss she whispered, "I won't leave, I promise."


And stay she did. She didn't leave the hospital until his heart monitor stopped, and stalled leaving even longer when she was overcome with denial. She stayed through the wake and the funeral, ignoring those whose pity made her wish to cry. She stayed up countless nights, replaying that evening, and spent weeks with dark circles under her eyes.

Eventually she couldn't take the mess she'd become and took everything that brought back memories and isolated them in her closet. Left there until a time came when she could deal with it.

With college around the corner, that time had been now.

Shaking, she stood herself up from her spot on the floor and brought the bear, the necklace, and her ring and scrapbook from the final box, over to her suitcase.

Locking her suitcase, she was shocked to realize that she felt stronger now than she had for the past year. Maybe she was finally learning how to deal with those memories. After Chris died she would only feel grief and longing after thinking of him, but now her feelings were more bittersweet. Sadness was still there, but now a touch of hope was mixed in with it. Hope, and resolution to make Chris proud of here.

'To make me proud of myself.' Rachel thought as she looked at her face in the mirror. She looked the same as every other time she shifted though memories: dried tear trails, swollen eyes, blotchy skin, but there was something new today.

Strength. Behind her eyes glowed the strength to move on, the strength to live life until she would see him again, and most important, the strength to be who Chris would have wanted her to be.



"If I had never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do and I will."


The End.

AN: Not too bad I hope. This was definitely more time consuming for me to write than the last one was, but it has a different emotional background to it and is slightly longer so that may have to do with it.

Please Review... I know I don't always review when people ask me too but I really want to know what people think of the little writing I do post.

It would make me happy. And a happy dancrchick is like a dancrchick on pixystix... and she's always willing to share P

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