Think of Her Fondly

When She's Said Goodbye

FINALE

By Talyn Gray

~*~

The police eventually found him and asked for a statement. He gave them one, but Andrew didn't return to the hospital the next day, or the next, or the next. Instead he sat in his room, sleeping in and when he would wake up, he'd find his way to the kitchen and drink the beer his father had neglected to hide. There were a few times he got up and showered to go to a party and gawk at loose skin and smell the bitter scent of alcohol on other peoples tongues. His father didn't say anything to him; not even when he found out Andrew had been drinking. Tom Krista was stony silent and never bothered his son, which suited Andrew just fine.

He thought about things, thought of why she'd lied and why she had never told him the truth. Whatever logical reason he came up with it was quickly stomped down by resentment and the muted throbbing in his chest.

At last, on the fifth day of his absence, his father walked in his, finding Andrew shirtless on the bed. He sat down on the bed, which elevated Andrew's already wavering level of annoyance.

"Get up," Tom commanded. From his lying position Andrew lifted his head, saw his father, and then lay completely back down again.

"Leave me alone, old man," he answered back, nonplussed.

"You have to go back to the hospital, Andrew. I got a call. Your community service is almost over with and if you don't go back today, they might do something worse, like send you to jail," he warned.

"Like you give a shit. You don't know anything about me; you know nothing of what's happened. Stop acting like you fucking care," he replied with a sharp edge in his voice. Tom looked completely unfazed and shook his head.

"You think I don't know what's been going on?" he asked his son. Andrew looked up again, sending over one of his long forgotten icy glares. "Whatever happened, you're being a coward."

Andrew shot up, grabbed an old beer bottle and threw it against the wall next to Tom's head.

"What the fuck do you know?!," he yelled. "What the fuck do you know about me?!"

Despite the fact his head was almost hit by a bottle, Andrew's father shook his head. "I don't," he admitted. "But you have to go back."

"Fuck you—!"

Andrew was roughly cut off in mid sentence by his father punching him hard in the face, sending him slamming back onto the bed. It wasn't painfully hard, but enough to stun him into silence.

"Pain does not give you the right to give up on your future!" he yelled. "Get washed up, get ready, and go to school and go to do your community service, or so help me, I will kick you out of this house!"

o-O-o

He glowered at the garden in front of him. Upon returning to the hospital, he requested to do other work other than janitorial, or janitorial work outside of the fourth floor. Janitorial work meant he would run into Mallory, and he didn't want to see her.

After a long talk, they offered him gardening, which surprisingly, was also managed by Mick, who said nothing about what had happened when they'd seen each other last. Mick had just given Andrew a stare that could have melted rock, and then threw him outside

Sighing, Andrew got down on all fours before jerking out a few weeds, grumbling and muttering.

"Hey," came a familiar voice to his left. Andrew looked up and saw Mallory standing there with her arms crossed behind her back. She was wearing a usual pair of loose fitting jeans and a sweatshirt, but they were looser than when he'd last saw them. Over the months he'd unknowingly watched her fade away. Mallory peered at him through her golden eyes and smiled blandly. He felt a pang in his chest and looked back down at the dirt and continued pulling out weeds.

"What?" he asked brusquely, jerking out a stubborn tuft of weeds with more strength than necessary. She sat down next to him and he swiftly stood up and stared down at her. Mallory's smiled disappeared. "What do you want?"

She swallowed and looked up at him. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you," she said finally.

Andrew sighed and went over to another weed five feet away from her. "I know you are," he replied, detached. "It doesn't change anything."

"But… you kind of knew, didn't you?"

Yes.

Andrew had known something had been wrong with her. He'd known for a long time, but always brushed it off because she never confirmed it, because it was so much easier and convenient believing it was drug testing.

"There's a reason… why I didn't tell you," Mallory said when he didn't respond.

"I don't care," he answered, pulling out a few roots. If he had looked up, he would have seen how pained she was.

"I see," she responded with a tight waver in her voice. He didn't like talking to her like this; in fact, he hated it. But he couldn't help it. He had no power to stop himself. "I never meant to hurt you."

That was it. The forces in his life that was pulling him apart snapped. Andrew stopped pulling weeds and sat back on his heels to glare at her. "How could you?" he asked sharply, "You let me believe for months that you were perfectly fine. You lied to me for months! How did you think that lying to me for that long about something like you dying would make me feel? Happy? You used me. You slept—"

He cut himself off, the rage rolling through his body. He was angry at her and at himself. After Anne, he'd sworn he'd never let a girl make him feel like such a moron, and he felt like an idiot for trusting her, like an idiot for sleeping with her and feeling like it meant something. Of course the only girl he ever had feelings for after someone like his ex would be a girl who'd ruin him more than the last.

There were tears welled in her eyes and he fought hard to take no notice of them. Mallory's lips parted and she said in a shaky voice, "Andrew—"

Ignoring the few weeds remaining, Andrew stood up, glanced at her, and walked away.

o-O-o

His community service ended in a dull, obscure blur. Mallory didn't talk to him anymore while he had gardened. He didn't even see her anymore. The thought of her no longer being there scared him, and he took solace in beer bottles, filling each bottle with what he felt and filling himself with alcohol.

He went to school and slept in class, went to the old alley where he and Adam used to hang out. Adam had been arrested and charged not only for the day at the hospital, but for older crimes he'd committed when he was younger. Regardless, Sam and Shane still met at the alley and Andrew re-joined them.

They would talk about stupid things, but with the absence of Adam there seemed to be something missing. Two weeks passed by without movement, the days slurred together. When he was sober enough to see straight, he didn't know what he could do to give his being more color. School was gray, home was gray; his entire life had lost color. Part of him was wondering why he didn't go see her. That part screamed at him to visit her because she was dying, to ignore that she'd hurt him and he'd hurt her. He had nightmares and sleepless nights, his brain filled with nothing more than her image, the thought of her smiling, the fact that it would all cease to exist. But the childish part in him was still angry, still believed somehow, she would survive. Mallory was strong; she was a permanent fixture in the world.

But the childish part in him was wrong.

"Hello?" he asked as he picked up the phone. Usually he let it ring until the answering machine picked up, but it had been loud and obnoxious.

"Is this Andrew?" came a feminine voice.

"Yeah," he replied, wondering if it was the school. Because he spent most of his time sleeping off hangovers, his attendance was sporadic. Luckily, he thought, his most recent bout of alcohol induced torment was fading away, so he was thinking clear enough to think up an excuse. "Look, I was—"

"My name is Renee… I'm Mallory's mother?" she said cautiously now. Andrew raised an eyebrow and nodded even though she couldn't see, thoughts of school quickly dissolved and his alertness snapped back into focus. "My daughter is…" she paused and there was a strangled mumble before Renee continued. Fear seeped through his heart, his hands clenched at the phone until his hand was white and Mallory's mother paused. "Mallory is… she wants you and…and she's dying right now—"

He hung up the phone before Renee could say anymore. He didn't want to hear it. If he heard it, it would make it true, it would make the following moments too dire to ignore. But he knew whether or not he heard it from Renee or if he never heard it at all, it wouldn't change the outcome. Mallory was still going to die.

She wants you…

She's dying right now…

"Dammit…" he said, rubbing his face with the palm of his hand. He had waited for this call ever since he left the hospital, not because he wanted it to end, but because he'd known it was inevitable. And now that that call, that moment had come, it was too great for him to handle. He threw the phone against the wall. The plastic cracked and fell to the floor, the dial tone ringing in the air. "Dammit! Dammit, dammit, dammit!"

Andrew was out the door in seconds, but it would take too long to run there or take the bus. He looked wildly around in the crimson dusk and saw his father's car pulling up the driveway. He ran in front of it, making Tom slam on the breaks.

"Andrew!"

He quickly sidestepped and opened the passenger car door. "I need you to take me to the hospital!"

o-O-o

He jumped out of the car and ran towards the familiar double doors, ignoring Tom's questioning yells chasing after him. Andrew ran up the stairs, his delft blue eyes completely focused on the forth floor door sign, hoping Mallory was still alive. She couldn't die. He needed her.

"Mr. Krista!" Abigail cried as he flew past her. He ran towards Mallory's door and saw a few people lingering in the threshold before shoving past them and into the room. He stopped abruptly, breath catching.

The shades were drawn shut and the lights were off except for the small tableside lamp. Three people stood hovering over her bed. One was undoubtedly her mother in a black business suit, mascara running down her cheeks. She held a little boy's hand with the same tawny eyes as Mallory, though they were squinted in confusion and worry. Next to the young boy stood someone Andrew immediately knew was Darren. He felt angry seeing him, remembering Mallory's attitude towards her ex, but also remembered that Andrew had hurt her as well. Maybe more than Darren had.

They looked up when he charged in and Renee bent down and moved her hand as if stroking Mallory's hair back.

"Andrew's here," she whispered softly. The blanket shifted and he heard a weak, muffled whisper. Renee nodded and ushered the two other people in the room out of the door. Renee gave him an odd stare and said in a voice rough with resentment, "She made us promise to leave when you came."

Andrew wasn't too sure what to do. He stood there numbly and stupidly, panting as if he hadn't run in years until she called his name.

"Andrew…? Are you there?" It wasn't even a whisper, but it had the strength to force a dart in his chest.

"Yeah." He walked forward. She was lying down, looking paler than ever and her eyes halfway shut as she her chest rose and fell with each precious breath. She was so thin, so gaunt that his breath caught and felt his heart completely collapse.

He sat down on the chair he'd sat on hundreds of times before, knowing he could no longer stand.

Mallory saw him and she smiled sweetly, a smile that echoed the vitality that had once been there. "You came…" she said in a voice slightly above a whisper, hand rising from her side. He nodded; messy hair falling in his eyes. He took her cool hand in both of his and watched her smile broaden.

It suddenly hit him now that Mallory was dying. She was leaving him and never coming back. Her sweet, pure soul would be snuffed out like a candle, without a wick or matches to bring it back. The thought terrified him beyond all reason and he held her small, cold hand tighter in his.

"Mallory," he said her name slowly as if trying to catch it like an eluding butterfly. "Please…"

"I'm sorry…" she replied, her smile bittersweet.

"You can't leave," he urged. He couldn't let her die. Somehow he couldn't let her die. He couldn't let her slip through his fingers like so many things had already. "Please…" Bringing her hand to his face, he kissed her fingers. Mallory stared at him and her perpetual smile finally faded. "I love you," he said at last. He needed her.

Her honey eyes widened slightly and a slow, familiar grin forced a tear from her eyes.

"I'm so happy," she told him, voice still scarily soft. Her hand lifted from his to caress the side of his rough cheek. "I love you too," Mallory replied. Another tear. "So much..."

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry about everything… the way I treated you…how I hurt you…I should have come sooner, but I thought…I'm sorry, god Mallory, I'm so sorry."

She shook her head.

"I understand," she told him. He reached forward and brushed away her tears. She let her arms fall and sat up with what must have taken all of her strength to wrap her arms around him. Andrew paused and returned her tight embrace, closing his eyes and taking in the mellow scent of her hair. He could feel the bones in her chest breathing against him and he took assurance, but both knew it wouldn't last long. Mallory let go slightly, and their arms hung loosely around each other. "Promise me," she began, "that you'll have a future…"

"What?" he asked, voice gruff.

"Promise me you won't…throw your life away," Mallory said, leaning her forehead against his shoulder. "You have a future… I'm so jealous, you know? Just… promise me you won't take it for granted…I know I have no right to say this, but please."

He held her closer to him, eyes closing so he could just feel her. The sunlight he'd always sensed in her had faded.

"I promise," he said, opening his eyes. "I won't throw my life away."

Mallory lifted her head from his shoulder and pecked his lips one last time, her lips painfully soft and still sweet.

She finally let go of him and lay back in bed, her dark hair dappling around the white pillow like swirly tree branches.

"I wish…the sun was out…" she whispered, closing her eyes. "But it's already gone down…hasn't it?"

"Mallory…" Her eyes opened again, unfocused and staring at nothing. They glistened like the golden sun she wanted to see so much with flecks of crimson twilight. "Mallory…?" he called again and panic painfully gripped at his chest when she failed to respond. He took her hand again, hoping for her to react.

"Andrew…" she said as if sighing, squeezing his hand. "You were always so…warm…"

She mumbled something he couldn't hear and moved closer, face inches from hers yet she failed to acknowledge him. Her eyes saw past him. And slowly her sunshine eyes set forever in the dark endless night.

"Mallory?!" he nearly screamed when the pressure of her hand in his melted away. Her eyes closed as he took her shoulders roughly and shook her still body. "Mallory!" Her head lolled from side to side and her pale skin seemed to glow incandescently in the dark room. Andrew attempted to swallow the tears that had sprung in his throat, but to no avail as bitter water fell from his eyes. He stopped shaking her and brought her closer to him, cradling her head and body and quietly felt the warm water of his tears fall from his face as his heart broke.

Mallory was gone.

o-O-o

Andrew idly fingered the small, intricately folded letter in his fingers. He had yet to read it, even though it was nearly three years after her death. He hadn't gone to the funeral because he refused to see her dead. Andrew liked to believe Mallory was still living, even though he knew she wasn't. He preferred to think she was alive somewhere, exploring and experiencing the life she had longed for.

Like he'd promised her, he didn't throw his future away. He managed to complete high school, he applied to a community college and then transferred to a four year. He was a year away from his degree.

He found out what the music was she'd been listening to when he used to walk into her room. It had been the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, and the song she'd listened to all the time had been aptly titled, "Think of Me." He listened to it from time to time, remembering her. The song was a request from her, he thought, and playing it at all seemed to fulfill that request over and over again.

Every day he would walk into the dorm room he shared with Shane and take out the small piece of folded hospital paper to reminisce. Shane called it heartbreak, Andrew called it living.

He hadn't opened it because once he did; he knew it would be the end of her. There would be nothing left of Mallory for him to discover, for him to know. If he opened it, he was saying goodbye.

But on this particular day when the sun shone through white billowing clouds, his curiosity piqued its highest since Renee had given him her daughter's last written words. Slowly and carefully he pulled a small segment of the paper and unfolded pictures from the photo booth fell out and Andrew had to swallow hard when he saw her smiling face, saw the accidental kiss and clown faces they'd made. Taped to the note was a pressed flower, and Andrew recognized it as the dying daisy she had plucked from the hospital gardens. It was now preserved, the delicate petals less than paper thin.


Dear Andrew,

I love you. I don't know if I'll see you again, so I have to write it in case I never get to say it. I love you. A lot.

There are so many things I need to tell you, to apologize for. I have a feeling this will be a long letter. Heh.

I didn't want to tell you about my tumor. I knew if I did, it would change things. It had already changed things with the other people in my life. When I told Darren, he left me. My friends left me. I didn't want you to leave me too. It was selfish. The reality of it is that I'll never know what you would have done because I pushed you away by lying about it. It's my fault.

I tried so hard not to fall in love with you. You aren't usually the kind of guy that I like, the kind of guy that I would fall for. When I asked you to be my companion, that was all I was really looking for in you. I used to be really reserved. But in the end, because I was dying, because I didn't care about being safe anymore, I let myself see who you were beyond the exterior and fell in love. It was hard. I fought with myself constantly over it. After all, how could I possibly love you if I'd only known you for a few months?

After awhile, I thought it was okay to feel what I was feeling as long as you didn't feel the same way. Because I didn't normally have friends like you, I didn't know how to gauge the way you were with me. I thought you were just friendly with me, so I thought it was alright for me to selfishly steal kisses from you as long as you thought it wasn't anything serious, even though it was the world to me.

But…that day a few months ago when I went to see your house, right before you fell asleep, you told me you loved me. I don't think you remember. I was so, so happy that I cried. But…knowing I was going to die, I knew I had to lie to you. I had wished the whole time we were together that you would feel the same way about me, but at the same time, I didn't want you to feel the same because I would hurt you by not being able to do something as basic as live.

I wanted to tell you after that, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I knew it was too late.

I took advantage of you in the worst possible way. I used you without meaning to. We were the same age, yet you'd experienced so much more than I ever had. I was going to die at age eighteen with nothing more than a 4.0 on my report card to speak for me. My life had always been filled with tests and paperwork for school; I didn't really learn to live until I met you. Even though you didn't let me drink at your house or try drugs, I… you're going to laugh at this, I liked to think that there would be a time after the hospital when you and I would be together and just…live. Even though I'm dying, you made me feel alive. You were my freedom, my light. Thank you. I'm sorry.

The way I felt with you was so different from anything else. I can't describe it, but you made me smile again. I've never had someone kiss me like you have, never had someone make me feel the way you do.

I don't know how you feel about me anymore, but I hope you can forgive me. I'm sorry. I love you, I always will.


And whether you like it or not, I'll always be with you. I hope you don't mind :)

Love,

Mallory 3

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Fin.

A/N: It's done! It's been so long since I've finished a story, I don't really remember what to put here. One thing I do remember though, is THANK YOU FOR READING. Y'all make my day with your reviews!

THANK YOU Mystery, Shikaido Yuki, Latindancer4ever, dust and glitter, silver of silver 101, miss-life, and Forbidden Smiles!! Also thank you to those who read and didn't review (I see you o.o)

Recently, I started writing a few scenes from Mallory's point of view. I think that since this story is so short, especially with only Andrew's POV, you don't get to know Mallory outside of his perception. I may post them here, but I'm not sure yet. :\

And of course, after I finish and upload this story, I get more ideas for Andrew and Mallory. So I'll say…that while this is the revised version of "Tipping Andrew," it's most likely not the finalfinalFINAL version.

Thank you so much for reading!

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t a l y n g r a y