A/N: I imagine that most of you have probably forgotten about this story, and I can't say I blame you as it has been nearly a year or so since my last update. I apologize, as I know I left it in the middle of tension. I guess I was trying to figure out how I felt about this story, whether I wanted to continue. I started this story when I was in junior high, which was quite a while ago. Looking back, I am very unsatisfied with it, as the writing truly does show how young I was. But, I've decided it would be unfair to those who read it to be left without an explanation or ending. SO, I'm going to try very hard to continue and hopefully finish this story. Sorry for the wait, and I hope you enjoy!
We ride home in deafening silence.
I'm so grateful that my mom's old car still works, after not having been used for so long. It simply sat on our driveway; a reminder of so many changes, and of countless things forgotten.
I drive, desperately wishing that I could read his mind, yet also wondering if I would like what I heard. Ty sits in the passenger seat with his head pressed against the window, and his eyes squeezed shut.
His sadness seems to radiate off of him in waves.
It was his father, that much I'm sure of. I desperately want to find out what happened, but I know that he's not ready. Not yet.
Finally, the silence becomes too much, and I turn on the radio. The familiar melody of "Make Believe" by The Burned comes on, and instantly fills me with a sense of warmth.
There are certain songs in your life that for some unexplainable reason, affect you so deeply. As soon as it begins, you feel yourself drawn deep into it's melody; it moves you.
This is one of those songs.
I start humming before I even realize what I'm doing. It's slow, tranquil acoustics seem to seep into my core.
Ty takes my hand, and laces his fingers with mine.
"Sing," he says softly, looking at me. "Please".
I squeeze his land lightly, and sing. My voice wavers slightly during the first line, but I soon find the soft, familiar melody.
"Whose to know my world?
And whose to share my worry?
Mountains rise and fall all the time,
And it doesn't mean a damn think to God,
So make believe in miracles instead"
He leans his head back against the head rest, and closes his eyes.
"Whose to show no fear?
Then cast the first stone at the mirror,
And break the spell you put down yourself,
And crack your shell right open again,
And make believe in miracles, my friends."
Upstairs, I find Ty standing in the dark, with his back towards me gazing out the window.
He doesn't hear me enter; his mind is far, far away.
4:00 am. We returned from the emergency less than half an hour ago.
Sleep has yet to claim either of us.
I watch him for a moment, drinking him in with my eyes. The moonlight pours through the window, blanketing him with it's heavenly glow.
Watching him somehow seems to calm my nerves.
I approach him slowly and cautiously so as not to disturb him, because for the moment, he looks serenely at peace. I can't tell if he is aware of my presence; he seem so far away. If he is, he shows no sign of it.
I stand next to him and feel the moonlight wash over my skin.
Tyler and I are separated by no more than a couple inches of air, and yet our minds are light years apart.
And yet, it is as if we are somehow connected. I'm aware of every twitch of his muscles; from the slight movement of his jaw, to the strain of his forearm muscles as he clenches his hand.
He inhales, and it's as though I can feel the air being drawn into his lungs. I can feel his ribcage moving upwards, and his diaphragm expanding.
I sense the steady movement of his pectoral muscles expanding and collapsing as he breathes.
He turns to me suddenly, breaking my trance. It disorients me for a moment; time seemed to be moving slowly, yet it felt like a year had passed. How long had we been standing there? Seconds? Minutes?
He opens his mouth as if to speak, but instead moves towards the bed. He sits on the edge, then lies back and stares at the ceiling.
I sit next to him, and also lie back.
We lie there, our arms softly brushing as we stare at the ceiling in silence.
Everything feels surreal.
"It's Iliana," He says after a long time, his hushed voice strained and so full of torment.
I seem to be at a loss for words. I hope with all my might that it is not what I think. I pray that my suspicions are incorrect, and that I am merely jumping to the worst conclusions.
"Her cancer." His voice croaks. I feel myself go numb. I squeeze my eyes shut and then turn to him. "It's back."
He's completely stoic for the moment. He stares at the ceiling, unblinking.
Then he sits back up, and rests his head in his hands. I follow, and say the only thing I can manage.
"I'm so sorry, Ty."
I don't know what else to say. If I had the words to make everything better, I would yell at the top of my lungs. But words can't cure cancer.
I wrap my arm around his broad shoulders, and pull him gently towards me.
He's completely silent for a moment, and then a ripple seems to pass through him.
It start's with his breath catching.
And then, suddenly, the wall he had built comes crashing down.
He crumples into me and sobs; a horrible, agonizing sound that shatters my heart into a million tiny fragments.
Thinking of Iliana, it takes every inch of my strength to hold back tears. So young, and so beautiful. The youthful, buoyant girl prancing around the living room in a tutu.
Sitting there, holding Ty, I imagine that it's all a dream.
A dream in which every heart-wrenching sob brings me closer to waking up.
Wake up, I think to myself. And yet we remain.
It feels as though I'm watching from somewhere else in the room. As if my soul has escaped through my pores to join the minuscule particles of dust that hover in the air.
Two hearts so contrasted in likeness, yet seemingly bound together by some infrangible force.
I'm not sure how long I sit there holding him; comforting him. Trying to form the words that would make him feel better.
But eventually his sobs subside into the odd sniffle.
"Everything is just falling apart." He says after a long time. He looks at me with tortured eyes.
I cup my face in his hands and press my forehead against his.
"What happened last night, Ty?" I ask softly.
His gaze drops to the floor as a shadow passes over his face.
His mouth quivers ever so slightly, as if his words are restrained behind his lips, unable to escape.
Somehow, I know without him having to tell me. I can feel how badly he wishes to express what's on his mind, but isn't quite sure how to do so.
"It was your dad, wasn't it?"
His head moves downwards; the tiniest of nods.
There is no judgement in her eyes, only understanding. Patience. She looks at me, her expression pure and compassionate. I don't have to say anything. Somehow, she just knows. She's always known.
"He got fired." I say through clenched teeth. I try to breathe deeply. "And...he owes the bank money. A lot."
She takes my hand in hers, looking at me patiently. She doesn't push, and doesn't ask questions. She just gives me time to figure out how to explain everything.
"She, um. She needs surgery." I swallow painfully, my throat raw from crying. "Very serious, and expensive surgery. They have to fly in a surgeon from the U.S." I struggle to keep my voice from faltering. "We can't afford it."
She looks at me intently, moisture glistening in her eyes.
"My dad gambled everything away. We're in debt. We can't afford it and she needs it." Tears spill out of my eyes before I can restrain them. "She'll die without it,"
A tear rolls down her cheek, and I can see how hard she's trying to be strong.
She leans her head against my shoulder, squeezing my hand. It's quiet, the only sound being her soft breathing, and my sniffling.
I feel exposed. Like every layer of protection has been peeled away until there's nothing left but a damaged little boy.
I dry my face with the sleeve of my shirt, a sense of calm slowly spreading through me as she leans against me. She kisses my shoulder, my cheek, my lips. With her delicate finger, she wipes away a fallen tear.
"We will figure this out," She says softly. "I promise you. We will figure this out."
My arms find their way around her waist, drawing her closer. And in that moment I know that when everything falls apart, she will be the one pillar of strength that keeps me going.
"Hey Addy, it's me again. So, I've realized that I've been a majorly shitty friend, and I hope to redeem myself. I'll most likely keep calling until you pick up, so if you'd answer my phone call, I'd really appreciate it."
"Addison. Answer your damn phone, you whore. Just kidding. Sorry. You're not a whore. Well, you are for avoiding my calls. But seriously. Pick up. I came by your house the other day, but I guess you were out. And I know you're probably making out with lover boy or whatever, but we need to talk. It's Aiden, by the way. Incase you forgot."
"So, weirdest thing. Your new BFF Claudia West called me, asking about you. Did I miss something here? Anyways, I have some pretty important news to tell you, so maybe you'd like to call me back one of these days."
"I just thought I'd call to inform you that I was bitten by a radioactive spider and I think I'm starting to develop powers. I could really use your nerd expertise so if you'd call me that'd be great, thanks."
"False alarm, it was just a normal spider. Bummer though, hey? I think I'd make a damn good Spiderman. But um, yeah. Call me, or something."
"Addison? It's Claudia. I hope you don't mind, I got your number from Aiden. I know this is pretty random, but I really need to talk to you, it's super important. My number is 555-7573. Okay, talk to you later."
"Hi, I'm calling for Addison. This is Principal Greene, in regards to Addison's expulsion. If you could please return my call during school hours, it is very important. Thank-you."
Click. End of Messages.
"Wow. You really need to check your messages more often," Ty says in between spoonfuls of cereal.
I chuckle, somewhat dismally. With everything that has been going on, it's as though I've completely forgotten about the rest of the world.
"You should call Aiden back," He says softly, looking at me.
Exhausted. That's one word to describe my current state. Worried, scared, unsure, hopeless. All synonymous and fairly accurate.
You have to be strong, I remind myself. For him. I glance at him as he spoons Froot Loops into his mouth. He certainly looks better, that's for sure. The bruises on his face are slowly starting to fade, and his split lip has healed.
The only thing that's worsened are the bags under his eyes. Though, I suppose we both look zombies today. I'm not really sure what time it was when finally fell asleep last night. 5:30 am? 6? I can't be sure; my recollection of last night is a blur.
I wonder what he's feeling right now. Numb, I suppose. And yet, it's almost as though he's calmer, his manner less forced.
"Hey," he takes my hand, locking eyes with mine. "Thank you. For everything."
"Of course," I nod, squeezing his hand in return. I'm still so still unsure of what to say; I have never been typically good with finding the right words to ease a difficult situation.
"I mean it," He fidgets with his cereal, "I guess..I feel relieved. Like I don't have to deal with everything by myself."
"It's an unbearable weight for one person to carry alone."
He nods, and then leans across the table to kiss my cheek.
We sit in silence. But in the silence, I can feel a change.
No unspoken words left hanging, but rather a shared and silent understanding.
* ************ He answers after 4 rings, and it surprises me how much I've missed the sound of his voice.
"Jesus, Addy. I thought I was going to have to file a missing person's report." He chuckles sarcastically.
"I know, I'm sorry. I feel horrible."
"Good. You should. Do you know how many messages I've left for you?"
"Give or take. So." He exhales. It's quiet for a couple moments, as I take in how long it's been since I spoke to him. Really spoke to him. "What the fuck has been going on, Ad?"
I sigh. "I've been a mess, I'm sorry. But I mean, I was busy, you were busy..."
This time it's his turn to sigh, "I'm sorry. I knew you were going through something, but I was so wrapped up in...everything. But we really need to talk," His voice changes, developing a more serious tone.
"You're right, we do. About a lot of things,"
"Claudia's call was very surprising, to say the least. Though, probably not as surprising as the fact that I've been conversing with her on a frequent basis," He says matter-of-factly.
Aiden? Talking to...Claudia? Frequently? My mind tries to process this information.
"You've been talking to her? Like, as friends?"
"I guess you could say that. She's not as bad as we thought," He answers. I remember her visit to my house. Another thing that we have to talk about.
"May I ask why?"
"Oh, I was hoping you would. The reason for our conversations, my dear, is that we've been discussing you."