Chapter 2

I sat on a swing in a park that was near my house. I studied the park, gently swinging back and forth. The swing set was in a sandy area, while the rest of the park was green grass and cherry blossom trees. It was beautiful. It was like I picked a park out of Japan and stuck it in my heaven version of Phoenix. I loved it.

"Nice park you got here," said a voice. I turned my head and saw Sarah walking towards me, along with a boy that looked no older than me.

"Hey Hayley," Sarah greeted with a smile.

"Hey Sarah," I responded, giving her a small smile.

"Hi. I'm Devon, a friend of Sarah's," the boy said with a smile. He was cute and looked slightly younger than his age. He had wavy light brown hair that came down to his chin and hazel eyes. He looked incredibly sweet.

"Hi," I greeted him too with a smile. Sarah sat down on a swing next to mine, revealing a little girl right behind her.

She was an adorable little girl. She looked about five years old and she was wearing a pretty little white dress. She clutched an old looking teddy bear close to her and was gently sucking on her thumb. Her eyes were a beautiful blue-grey color, they seemed even and balanced. Her hair was a wavy dirty blonde color that came down to her shoulder blades.

It made me wonder why this little girl was even here in the first place.

Devon picked up the little girl and sat on a swing, placing the little girl gently on his lap.

"Nice park you got here," Sarah commented, again.

"Thanks. Um...who is this?" I asked, gesturing towards the little girl.

"Oh. Her? That's Rachel. Rachel Mackenzie," Sarah answered.

My curiosity got the better of me. "Why is she here?"

Devon was now swinging gently on the swing, with Rachel secure in his arms. Sarah sighed.

"It's always sad to find someone this young in heaven isn't it?" Sarah asked me. I nodded.

"Well...she's here because her father beat her to death," Sarah told me quietly.

"What?!" I exclaimed in shock. My eyes widened in horror. This was something I could never understand; how an adult could hurt a little, innocent child.

"I know. He abused her. He abuses her mother too. I imagine her mother will be here soon due to that man," Sarah said, shaking her head.

"He hurts her mother too? Why doesn't she get out of there?" I asked, gripping the chains of the swing.

"She can't. He threatens her and even shows her some examples of what he'd do to her if she ever told or ever tried to leave. They were both abused in every way possible...mentally...emotionally...physically...called every horrible name in the book, beat with his hands, fists, feet, objects, raped..."

"So...this is His way of freeing this girl?" I asked, turning my attention to Devon and Rachel, who were both smiling as they swung.

Sarah nodded. "Basically. That's why I said, her mother should be here soon and her asshat father should be getting his punishment very soon."

"How in the hell could someone...do that to someone so little...so innocent...so...amazing?" I asked.

"He doesn't even know how it's possible. It's just...the way things are. It goes back to the balance again. If there's good people, there's bad people," Sarah replied.

"That man wasn't bad, he was evil. That's terrible," I said, shaking my head. "But she seems like she likes Devon..."

"I know. All of the marks he's done to her, every scar, everything, is gone. Even her fear of men. She of course, fears her father still and those who are close to his age, but she doesn't fear all guys, like Devon here. She looks at him like an older brother," Sarah said smiling. She knew Rachel was better off here. I knew it too.

"So...what's his story?" I asked, curiously.

"Devon's? Oh. He died of leukemia last year," Sarah answered.

"And you?" I asked her.

She blinked at me for a moment. "I died from lupus, when I was sixteen. So about...six years ago?"

"You died...from the disease...that is a running joke on House?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

Sarah nodded. "Yeah."

"How old are you now?"

"Twenty-two."

"So...you can still age here?" I asked.

"Of course you can. You can stop aging whenever you want too. I chose to stop this year at twenty-two. So yeah, Rachel isn't going to always be five. She'll probably stop aging when she hits her teen years," Sarah answered. "Elderly get the option of going back to their youth too."

I nodded. "How cool. Maybe I'll stop at seventeen. I have to think about it."

Sarah laughed. "Take all the time you need. There's no rush."

***************

Cameron slowly wondered through a near by park, hands in her pockets and keeping her eyes on the sidewalk below her. She sighed and shook her head and entertained herself when walking by skipping every crack she saw on the sidewalk. This was a way for her to stay away from her family and just be alone.

She came upon a swing set and sat on a swing and began to twist on the swing. She didn't like being depressed and didn't want to be. She was going to try everything in her power to not be, even trying to follow suggestions from her therapist to cope. She just wasn't sure if it would help her. She didn't know if anything would.

She drew a heart with her shoe in the sand and drew an "H" inside it. She stared at it for a moment and then kicked the drawing away. She bent over and held her face in her hands and sighed deeply, fighting back tears.

"So you are here. Nicole seems to know you pretty well," said a voice. Cameron looked up and saw Matt, one of her close friend's and Ronan's best friend, sitting on a swing behind her, giving her a kind smile.

Matt has chin length side swept, dark, reddish-brown hair and chocolate brown colored eyes. He wore a black and white long sleeved plaid shirt, a white belt, black jeans, and black converse. Aside from his hair, he wasn't a full blown emo. He was just himself.

Matt pushed himself over to Cameron with his feet and gave her a hug. It took her a moment to reciprocate, but she did.

"How's it going babe? I hear you're taking things very hard," Matt said as he let go and swung from side to side.

"I am...I don't know what to do Matt..." Cam mumbled as she hung her head.

"I can understand that. You lost your girlfriend. Your love of three years, still going strong, is gone. But you're seeing your therapist aren't you?" Matt said gently as he began to kick at the sand.

"I am...but I can't help but wonder if her suggestions on coping are going to work on me. You know me Matt. I'm not right in the head...it may not help me...and I'm worried..." Cam replied as she began to draw in the sand with her foot once more.

"Well, what did she suggest you do?" he asked.

Cameron shrugged. "Talking to someone I trust is one of them."

Matt raised an eyebrow. "Do you trust me?"

Cameron raised her eyebrow in that are-you-that-stupid-to-ask-something-that-stupid way she had. Knowing this look, from having known Cameron for a very long time, smiled.

"Well go for it. Talk to me. How you feel. Cry. Scream. Whatever you need to do," Matt said as he stopped himself from swinging in a small circle.

Cam was silent for awhile. She didn't know where to begin. "She left me. She left me here, all alone, when she promised me...promised me she'd always be here. Always be here for me. Always around. Would never leave me..." she clenched her fingers into fists on her thighs. Tears were welling up in her eyes. "SHE. LEFT. ME!" she screamed as loud as she could as she fell out of the swing, onto her knees.

Matt hopped off his swing and knelt by her, giving her a tight hug. "It'll be ok Cam...it really will. Give it time," he said as he rubbed her back, trying to comfort her.

The scene before me had brought tears to my eyes. I wish I wasn't causing Cam so much pain, but I can't come back to life. If I could, I would be alive again in a heartbeat to be with her and take away her pain.

They stayed this way for the longest time. "Do you have any happy memories?" Matt asked her as he pulled away and they sat in the sand.

"Of course I do. We've been together for three years. Basically since the beginning of high school. How could I not?" Cam asked, as she wiped her tears and tried to steady her breathing.

"Wanna share them with me? Maybe that'll help?" He asked, sitting criss-cross in the sand.

Cameron shrugged again. "My therapist suggested that too."

"Well...I remember, when I asked Hayley out in freshman year. At the beginning basically. When we went to your Christmas party at the roller rink, remember that? Well, while you all were off doing your own thing...Hayley had fallen, due to being terrible at rollerskating, and I was the only one around her, even paying attention. Well, I slid down onto the floor myself and laughed, telling her she was extremely adorable, and we just kind of laughed and then I took both her hands into mine and I said "Hayley...I know I'm going out on a limb here, but, you make me happy, and you give me this feeling I've never had before...would you be my girlfriend?""

"You got together at my party?" Matt asked with a smile.

"Yeah. Why? Didn't you know?" Cam asked.

Matt shook his head. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I don't know. You never asked or the conversation never came up. Though, I figured you would have known when you saw us skating around, holding hands, after we had swapped out the rollerskates for rollerblades," Cam said, giving a small smile, remembering the night.

"Anyway, yeah, it was at your party. She looked at me, her eyes all wide and bugging out like I had just asked her something terrible. Of course I started apologizing, not wanting to ruin our friendship. She blushed and started laughing and said that she would. And we kissed. A little one."
"How the hell did we miss this, when it happened right there on the rink?" Matt asked, amazed at the fact that they all did miss it. They were off chatting at the tables at the time and we were at the back of the rink, and since they were sitting, they couldn't see us, Cameron explained.

"Oh. Well damn. Sounds adorable babe," Matt said with a smile.

Cameron smiled too and nodded, tears coming back again. "It was...it really was. It was the most amazing Christmas present of my life."

They were quiet again for a little bit. Finally, getting an idea, Matt got to his feet. "Want to go to Cold Stone with me? We could grab some ice cream. It could help."

Cam contemplated this for a moment; her mind was still on me and the night we got together. She let out a puff of air and looked up at Matt and gave him a small smile. "Sure."

He held at his hand towards her and she took it. He pulled her to her feet and they headed off.

***************

When they arrived at the closest Cold Stone near the park, Cameron and Matt noticed Nicole and Ronan paying the cashier for some ice cream they had bought.

"Hey!" Matt called. Nicole and Ronan turned their heads and saw them. They smiled and walked over to where they stood.

"What are you guys doing here?" Nicole asked with a smile.

"The question is, what are you two doing here?" Cam asked with a smile directed at Nicole, causing Nicole to blush slightly.

"I figured that Cam could go for ice cream. She could use a scoop of happiness during this time," Matt answered Nicole's question.

"Oh. We just wanted to get out and get some ice cream," Ronan said, holding up his bowl of ice cream.

"Well, let us order, and we'll come join you," Matt said as he made his way up to the counter to order, pulling Cam along by her arm gently.
As Cameron and Matt ordered, Nicole and Ronan grabbed a table in front of a window and sat down across from each other. When Cameron and Matt joined them, Cam sat next to her sister and Matt sat next to Ronan. As an outsider watching this, as I stood, not far from them, I could tell that things were pretty awkward between Matt and Ronan, especially since they were sitting right next to each other. The two sisters seemed to notice this too.

"Why are you guys being all awkward?" Nicole asked, as she scooped her ice cream.

"Well, I'm only sitting next to my ex," Matt said, causing Ronan to blush slightly.

"We know this. So? You guys are friends," Cameron said after she swallowed her ice cream.

"Well yes, but...oh never mind. It's not important or anything. You're here with Matt and I'm here with Nicole and we're all friends, just eating ice cream and trying to enjoy the summer," Ronan answered.

"Yes. We got scoops of happiness. Let's enjoy them," Matt said, nodding.

Nicole and Cameron chuckled at Matt calling the ice cream "scoops of happiness". It was true though. Cameron was feeling slightly better with the ice cream, along with being around a couple of her friends and sister.

"Hey. Do you guys wanna catch a movie or anything?" Matt asked after Nicole and Cameron were done chuckling at what Matt had said.

"Oh no you don't. I will answer your question after you answer mine. What's up between you two?" Nicole asked, pointing her spoon at the two boys.

The two looked at each other and then back at the girls. "It's rather stupid..." Matt said.

"So? We wanna know. We're your friends. We wanna know why things seem awkward between you two," Cameron said, now interested too.

"We just...don't know. We're in the state of confusion. Sometimes we'll want to be together, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we make out, sometimes we want to stay away from each other," Ronan said and quickly placed a large scoop of ice cream into his mouth so he'd be unable to say more for the moment.

"So you guys are what...friends with benefits?" Nicole asked, sounding somewhat crushed.

"I wouldn't say that...we're just...two boys who are confused on their relationship," Matt said, correcting Nicole and blushing a little.

"But you still have something for each other?" Cameron asked, finishing her ice cream.

"We have no idea, hence the whole confused thing," Ronan answered after swallowing his ice cream.

"So why don't you guys just date?" Nicole said softly, sounding just as crushed as before. She still had a crush on Ronan. I figured as much.

"It's complicated. I told you. You don't wanna be caught in the middle..." Ronan answered, turning his head away slightly.

"Will you answer the question now? Do you want to go catch a movie?" Matt asked, trying to change the subject.

"Alright. I'll go I suppose. What about you Cam?" Nicole asked, turning her attention to Cameron.

Cam shrugged. "Sure. I"ll go. I have nothing else to do."

"Cool. Let's go see what's playing," Matt said, as he slid out from the table and threw away his empty bowl, and Ronan, Cameron, and Nicole followed suit.