A/N: This was written for my classmate/friend Josh Ward, who passed away in a car accident on June 19th, 2009. We all love and miss you, Josh.
This is also dedicated to Andrew, Josh's best friend. Stay strong. (:
(This story is by no means based on true facts or people; it's just dedicated to them. The only reason I named the boy Josh is because I couldn't think of another name and it seemed weird changing it, you know?)
I don't own Band-Aids or Pixar's Cars.
There are so many bad feelings in this world, but the worst is knowing that you will never see your best friend again.
The last time I would ever speak to Josh was not even an hour before the accident. It was the last day of school. We were talking about how happy we were to finally be upperclassman. How we couldn't wait to get out of this small town and start living our lives. How we couldn't believe graduation was only a year away. It pained me to realize that he would never graduate.
I sat on a swing at the park by myself and thought of all the good times we'd had. The crazy videos we used to make in eighth grade; the inside jokes we'd shared; the secrets we'd kept. I didn't even realize I was crying until someone pointed it out. That someone would change my life.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
I looked up at the voice. The girl was pretty – she had chocolate brown curls, hazel eyes, and fair skin. She was looking at me curiously. That was when I realized that she had asked me a question.
"Oh…" I began. "Not really," I answered truthfully. I wiped the tears from my face.
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that," the girl said somberly. There was a silence for a few seconds before she said, "My name's Violet."
I looked at her again. Why was she even talking to me? I'd never seen her before in my life.
Violet sat down in the swing next to me. "Are you going to tell me your name?" she asked.
I stared at her. Okay, weirdo, why do you care who I am or if I'm okay or not? I thought. But for some reason, what I said was, "…I'm Aaron."
She smiled at me. "Nice to meet you, Aaron."
"…nice to meet you too, Violet."
And thus a beautiful friendship was born.
That day on the swings was when Violet had me won over. She was just so cute. And I don't mean just her looks, I mean her personality, too. She was carefree and sweet and childish to the point of ridiculousness, but I didn't care. I liked her immediately.
I still couldn't believe that she'd talked me into telling her why I was "not-really-okay". But, to my surprise, she'd listened the whole time. Retelling the story, I'd almost begun to cry again, but I stopped myself. I didn't want to cry in front of her (again).
"Sounds like he was a great guy," she said to me afterwards.
"He was. Everyone liked him."
"Well, I'm really sorry…but he's in a better place now. Even if he was young."
I sighed. I didn't want to talk about Josh any longer. I told Violet this, and she nodded. We swung together for another two hours after that, just talking about the most random things. Too soon I realized that I had to get home. We promised to talk again soon.
And we did – Violet and I swung at the park together almost every day of that summer. And every time I saw her, I liked her more and more.
"Don't fall!" she screamed one day from her swing. I was hanging upside down off the monkey bars and making funny faces at her. She was laughing and warning me that I could fall any minute. I told her not a chance. Of course I was wrong.
I fell flat on my face.
"Aaron!" Violet ran over to me, where I lay sprawled in the wood chips. She was laughing but her voice was coated with concern. That made me smile.
I sat up and winced. My arm was cut.
She noticed my pain and pulled out a pack of Band-Aids. "Not to worry. I have Band-Aids!" she said cheerfully.
I looked at the box and raised an eyebrow. "Disney Pixar's Cars?" I laughed. "You have Cars Band-Aids?" I asked her.
"It's my favorite movie, okay?" she answered defensively as she took a Band-Aid out of the box. "You get lightning, because you're tough and cool on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. Just like him," she said.
I couldn't help but smile and blush as she stuck Lightning McQueen the race-car to my arm.
"Thanks," I said.
"No problem. I always carry them with me for emergencies."
I smiled and laughed again. "I meant thanks for the compliment, Violet," I said.
"Oh," she blushed. "Well, you're welcome, Aaron."
My plan was to ask Violet to come to the funeral with me. Not a great first date, but hey – at least I was actually going to ask her out. I grabbed my jacket and started heading to the door so I could meet her at the park, but something caught my eye.
It was a picture of Josh and me, taken only a few days before the accident. I picked it up and examined it. We were sitting in his house, playing videogames. He was smiling brightly and I was looking at him with an annoyed look on my face, undoubtedly telling him to stop cheating. I smiled meekly at the memory.
I was about to put the photo down when I noticed his knee. There was a Band-Aid on it. And on that Band-Aid: Mater from Cars.
I froze. It was just a coincidence, right? He couldn't have known Violet. She would've said something, wouldn't she have? Yeah, she definitely would've.
I shook the crazy thought from my mind and went to the park where she was waiting.
When she saw me, her eyes lit up. "Aaron!" she called.
"Hey," I said, trying to forget all about the picture by focusing on how absolutely gorgeous she looked. It only kind of worked.
"What's up?" she asked cheerfully from her swing.
What's up is that I think you've been lying to me, I thought. "Not much," I said.
"Cool." She gestured for me to sit on the swing beside her. I obliged.
"Hey…I was wondering. Want to go to his funeral with me?" I blurted out. But as soon as I had asked, I wished I could take it back. I mean, seriously, who wants to go to a funeral of a person they didn't even know?
This thought reminded me of the picture, and how maybe she had known him after all.
I waited for her answer, but she was silent. Her head was down and she was staring at her feet. Not a good sign.
"Violet? Sorry, you don't have to if you don't want to…I mean I know you didn't know him…" I said, more to convince my self than to console her.
She was still silent.
"Vi?" I tried again.
"I did," she finally whispered. I stared at her. She looked up at me, and I noticed her eyes were red. Had she been crying? "I did know him," she continued. "I'm sorry Aaron, I should have told you."
I couldn't think of what to say. "Err…no, it's-"
"Forget it," she stood. "I'll see you at the service."
And then she ran off, the tears in her eyes sparkling like brilliant crystals.
The funeral was the next day. I was still pretty upset with Violet, but not as much as I should have been. If anything, I was more jealous than angry. I knew Violet hadn't just known Josh; she'd been a close friend. She told e once that she only gave her Band-Aids to her favorite people.
But if he was one of her favorite people, then why hadn't I ever heard about her? It just didn't make sense.
I put it out of my mind and took my seat in one of the church pews near the front that was reserved for family and best friends. I didn't see Violet anywhere; not that I was looking. For a while I thought that maybe I'd imagined the whole thing, and she actually didn't know him at all, and she wasn't coming.
But that hope disappeared about thirty minutes into the service, when she walked onto the stage and took the microphone from Josh's mother, who had just finished speaking.
Oh, so now she's close enough to hi to actually speak at his funeral? This is crazy! I thought.
"Um, hi," Violet began. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Violet Ward," she said.
I froze. Ward? That's Josh's last name. They're related?!
"Josh's cousin," she finished.
Cousin, I thought. She's his cousin.
…Well that explains a lot.
"You know, I had this long speech written out. But…" her eyes were searching the crowd for something. Or rather, someone. Who is she looking for? I wondered.
My question was almost immediately answered when her hazel eyes locked with my own blue ones.
She continued speaking without taking her eyes off mine. "Josh was like the older brother I never had. I could tell you stories from our childhood, or share with you his most embarrassing moments – but I know someone who could do a better job of all that." She was still staring straight at me. "And that person is Aaron, Josh's best friend. I think he deserves the right to come up here and talk to you more than I do."
And with that, she stepped down from the stage and walked towards me, the mic still in her hand.
"Violet…I don't have anything prepared," I said to her when she approached me.
"Doesn't matter," she said, thrusting the microphone into my hands. And then, softer, she muttered, "I'm sorry."
Her apologetic eyes looked sincere, and that's when I knew what I had to do. I nodded at her, stood up, and took center stage.
"Thank you, Violet."
To any other person at the funeral, I was thanking Violet for letting me speak. But she and I both knew that I was thanking her fro so much more than that.
And so I lunged into my unplanned speech about Josh, my eyes locked with hers the entire time.
"You were great, Lightning," Violet said as she wiped her wet eyes on her sleeve.
"Yeah? Well, so were you." I grinned at her use of the nickname.
"Thanks," she smiled meekly and gave me a hug. "For everything," she added.
As we stood there in each other's arms, it occurred to me that I never actually told Violet my feelings for her. But it turned out I didn't have to, because she read my mind.
"Yes," she said out of the blue.
"…yes what?" I asked.
"Yes, I will be your girlfriend."
And I'm positive that somewhere, up in Heaven or wherever you go when you die, Josh grinned too. Because none of this would've happened if he hadn't wanted it to. Right?