What the Eyes Can't See


The sun was shining brightly, and the crisp winter air was warm. Hardly any wind was blowing, and there were black birds sitting in the bare trees, chirping happily as though they thought it was spring or something. How much more contrasting could the weather be?

"Stupid birds," I mumbled under my breath.

My throat was tight, and a large lump had lodged itself there as if daring me to cry. My eyes burned with unshed tears, but they would remain unshed. I had promised myself that much. I took a shaky breath and turned back inside.

I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. My thick dishwater blonde hair was frizzed and slightly wavy due to the fact I hadn't bothered straightening it. My dark blue eyes were dull, lifeless, and bloodshot, and dark circles underlined them.

Deciding that it would be best if I tried to look some-what like my normal self, I brushed out my hair and swiped on some mascara. While chewing on my bottom lip, I titled my head to the side and studied myself, preparing for what was soon to come.

Much to my horror, tears began to pool in my eyes, and my lip began to tremble. I immediately squeezed my eyes shut and breathed deeply. When I opened my eyes again, I had the tears under control.

"Roslyn, are you ready to leave?" my mother knocked softly on the bathroom door.

"Yeah," I said after swallowing hard, thankful that my voice didn't crack.

"I'll be waiting in the car."

Reluctantly, I stepped out of the bathroom and made my way slowly down the hall. I stared down at the simple black skirt I was wearing. I hated that skirt. It made me feel like a thirty-year-old secretary, not to mention it was a completely different shade of black than the shirt I had thrown on. But what should I care?

I climbed into the car and buckled my seatbelt. The car ride was completely silent, I didn't even bother turning on the radio. I was thankful for the silence, though. I didn't want to talk, and I didn't want to listen.

My mom pulled into the parking lot of the cemetery and got out. I followed a few seconds behind. There was a part of me that dreaded going to Isabel's funeral. Part of me screamed that this was all a dream and I would soon wake up. Attending the funeral was like admitting that she was gone…forever.

Just thinking those words "gone forever," brought those unwanted tears back to my eyes. My mother placed her arm over my shoulder and hugged me tight. A solitary tear slipped down my cheek, and I angrily wiped it away with the back of my hand.

Isabel York was my best friend ever in the entire world. Ever since Jr. High, we had been nearly inseparable. Isabel was wild, crazy, and fearless. We had the most awesome times together, and we would do stupid daring things that often got us into trouble, but I had never had more fun in my entire life then when I was with her.

Isabel taught me how to come out of my quiet, reserved shell. It was Isabel who taught me how to be myself, and enjoy the wild side of life instead of always wondering what could have been. We were both very stubborn, which was the cause of most of our fights. Neither of us wanted to give in, but, in the end, we always found compromise.

Without having Isabel as my best friend, I know I wouldn't be the same girl that I am today. The friendship that started when we were twelve had only grown stronger over the years, and, now, at seventeen, I had always thought that we would remain best friends for life.

At least, I had thought that up until three days ago, when my best friend was taken from me.

Hit and Run.

I remember when I got the news. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, speechless. I hung up the phone, my body numb, and my mind turning over this news very slowly. A hit and run…how could somebody be so heartless? Isabel didn't deserve this! She was only seventeen! And now her life was gone—just like that, and for what?!?! The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I just couldn't believe this. Isabel couldn't be dead, she just couldn't be! What was I going to do without her? How was I supposed to go through life, living as if she had never been there for me whenever I needed her?

I didn't start crying until a good five hours later. And once I let the tears start to flow freely, I couldn't stop. Curled up on my bed, my face buried in my hands, I cried harder than I had ever cried in my entire life. Huge sobs racked my body over and over until my ribs started aching, but I still couldn't stop.

Even when all of my tears dried up, I still cried. My muscles were cramped from being curled in a ball, my throat was dry and sore, and my lungs ached from lack of oxygen. I took a deep breath to try and calm down, but then the sobs came even harder, and I started to gag.

All of the sudden I felt my stomach convulse, and I rolled over, leaning off the edge of the bed just as I heaved my lunch all over the floor.

Needless to say, I had never been so upset in my entire life.

"Roslyn, you need to walk, or you're going to be late." My mother whispered, bringing me out of my thoughts.

Staring blankly at the ground, I simply nodded and trudged forward, my feet feeling as though they were made of bricks. I was supposed to be saying a eulogy, and I wasn't quite sure if I would be able to go through with it.

I sat down in my chair in the front row. I know how horrible this probably sounds, but I wasn't paying attention to what the funeral director was saying, nor did I pay attention when Isabel's mom went to the front and spoke. I was lost in my own thoughts, yet I wasn't thinking about anything. My mind was completely numb—save for those moments when utter despair would wash over me like a tidal wave, threatening to pull me down and consume me—and I was hoping it would stay that way…I didn't want to cry in front of everybody.

When Isabel's mom introduced me to come speak, I slowly rose and walked to the front.

Keeping my gaze low, I began, "Isabel had…the most awesome personality in the world. She…she always knew how to make me laugh. I could be having the worst day possible, and then she'd come up and do something so uniquely Isabel…and then everything wouldn't be so bad…I…" I let out a long shaky breath, and another tear slid down my cheek. I quickly wiped it away and continued. "I know that all of us here…all of us are going to miss her. There's no way that anybody could take Isabel's place in our hearts…These past few days I haven't been able to stop thinking…what am I doing to do without her?" My voice cracked here, and I stopped, swallowed, and took a deep breath. "I loved her like a sister…Isabel was—" the words stuck in my throat, and a small sob escaped my lips. I clamped my hand over my mouth and blinked furiously, staring hard at the podium as another tear, and then another, slipped out. I circled my arms around my stomach and lifted my eyes to meet Mrs. York's tear-filled gaze. "I'm sorry…I can't…" I whispered, but an explosion of sorrow was surging up in me, and I couldn't break down in front of all of these people.

I took off, running with long bounds down the rows of headstones. The tears came harder as I ran, and I brushed them away with the sleeve of my shirt. I ran fast and hard until my lungs rasped when I breathed, and I had a terrible cramp in my side.

I stumbled over to a cracked stone bench and collapsed down onto it. Hunched over and eyes closed, the tears tumbled down my cheeks in unrelenting waves. I cried quietly, my shoulders shaking lightly.

I don't know how long I had been sitting there, but I heard soft footsteps, and then somebody sat down next to me on the bench. I didn't look up until he offered me a tissue—I hadn't even realized I was sniffling.

I took it and blew my nose. "Thanks," I said, looking at him for a second before looking back at my shoes.

"No problem, I thought maybe you could use a friend right now." Reece Nethercutt had been more of Isabel's friend than mine, but we hung out sometimes, always with Isabel though. His hair was a soft brown shade, and slightly wavy. (It was kind of hard to tell this though because he never let it grow out very long.)

I gave a small, watery smile that lasted only a split second before vanishing completely.

"Did you wanna talk?"

I shook my head no, new tears forming in my eyes.

"I'm so sorry," Reece put his arms around me and I turned into the embrace, burying my face into his shoulder as a fresh wave of tears trickled from my eyes.

TWO MONTHS LATER

It was now March, and I still missed Isabel very much. I had hardly hung out with any of my other friends because it felt like I was betraying Isabel's memory. It was like I would be acting like it could possibly be the same without her even though I knew it never would be…it just didn't seem right.

I was walking along the sidewalk, headed for my locker, when I realized someone was next to me.

"Hey, Roslyn, mind if I walk with you?" Reece asked.

I shook my head.

"How have you been holding up?" he asked softly.

Looking up into his deep brown eyes, I contemplated my answer. But instead of speaking, I just shrugged.

"You haven't talked to hardly anybody,"

"I guess I'm more of the suffer-in-silence type."

"You still miss her a lot?"

I nodded, looking down at my feet.

"You've stopped hanging out with everybody, why?"

I bit my lip and shrugged.

"I'm not sure if my saying this will make it worse, and I'm not trying to tell you that I know how you feel, or that I understand, or that it's been long enough and you need to snap out of it now, because none of that would be true. But I just wanted you to know that I want to be here for you, and hopefully make things a little easier." He smiled lightly, his eyes filled with compassion.

At lunch, Reece sat next me, eating his lunch and talking about the weather as though this was something he did every day. The next day, he was waiting by my locker when I arrived at school.

"Good morning, Roslyn," he greeted with a smile.

I cocked my head in confusion, and just blinked.

"Is something wrong?" Reece asked, copying my head-tilt.

My cheeks heating up, I shook my head and opened my locker.

For the next several days, Reece was my constant companion. He would walk with me to class, sit with me at lunch, and talk to me about anything that he could think of. I hardly said a word, but I was thankful for the company, because it kept my mind off of Isabel.

One day at lunch, after finishing off his chicken sandwich, Reece turned and looked at me with a very perplexed expression.

I cocked my head to the side in question.

"You know, you don't talk very much." He said, cracking a smile.

I looked away. "Yeah, I guess I don't."

"You should talk more, though."

"Why?"

"Because if you don't talk then your voice will wither away and you'll become mute!"

I rolled my eyes. "No, it won't."

"Yeah, probably not, but, hey, it could happen."

"No, I don't think it could."

"Well have you ever heard of it happening?"

"No, but don't monks have to take like a vow of silence or something? And their voices don't wither away." I pointed out.

"Ah, good point, Roslyn. And, you're voice is still in tip-top condition, as well."

"I'm not completely silent, I talk sometimes!" I defended.

"Uh-huh, like when?" Reece asked with a smile.

"Like when…a teacher calls on me in class."

"Whatever, that doesn't count, Roslyn." Reece laughed, nudging me with his elbow.

"Well, I talk other times, too." My eyebrows pulled together and I picked at my sandwich.

"You know this is the most I can remember you talking for, like, two months?"

"Is that a good thing?" I asked, tilting my head to the side.

"I think so," Reece, once again, copied my head tilt, smiling, "I think it means that you'll pull through."

"Pull through?"

"Yeah, that you're gonna eventually get through all your grief over Isabel."

I silently blinked at him, the words taking me by surprise.

The smile disappeared from Reece's face. "Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean—"

"No, it's okay."

"Are you sure?"

I nodded.

The next two weeks were, surprisingly…fun. I started to talk a lot with Reece, and I even hung out with some of my old friends, too. I still missed Isabel a whole bunch, but, as guilty as I sometimes felt about it, I was learning to live without her.

By mid-April, I had fallen into a comfortable school routine. Life was slowly getting better, but it hadn't gone back to completely normal until one, seemingly ordinary day.

Reece wasn't waiting by my locker when I got there, but I didn't think anything of it because I was running late. When I sat down in homeroom, I noticed he wasn't there. Maybe he was sick?

I didn't have time to brood over it, though, because a few of my friends came up and started talking to me.

Sitting in the cafeteria, I finished my lunch rather quickly. I still had about a half-hour before my next class. All of the sudden, the enticing aroma of fresh baked pizza surrounded me. I turned around to see none other than Reece walking towards our table, holding a steaming box of pizza.

A huge smile lit up my face.

Reece set the pizza box on the table and enveloped me in a strong hug. "Roslyn, you smiled." He said with a laugh, then he leaned closer and whispered, "You're first genuine smile in two months was for me…"

I pulled away a little, blush crawling up my cheeks. "What makes you think it wasn't for the pizza?"

"And now you're joking around, too!" Reece's smile broadened as he let me go.

"Hey, so are we gonna get any of this?" Gina, one of my friends, asked, interrupting our little moment.

Reece laughed, "Yeah, dig in,"

Over the rest of that week, I gradually transformed back into my old self. I started paying more attention to my appearance—putting more thought into my outfits, wearing some light make-up, doing my hair—and I was also laughing and making jokes…I was actually having fun again.

I had by no means forgotten Isabel, though. My locker was still covered with pictures of the two of us, and some of us in larger groups. And there were moments when I would think that, if Isabel were here, she would say this, or do that.

Another thing that started to change was my friendship with Reece. We were starting to become closer friends, and I felt the hole from Isabel's absence starting to fill a little bit. For all the times we hung out with each other, I never read into it any further than friendship.

That is, until one day in PE class, when Gina and I were changing back into our school clothes.

"You know something that I just realized?"

I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or not, but I answered anyways. "What?"

"Well, it's kinda random, but it just popped into my head…" Gina paused, and I nodded, waiting for her to finish. "You know who would make a cute couple?"

"No, who?"

"You and Reece," Gina said, a smile playing on the corners of her lips.

I opened my mouth to respond, and then closed it, my brow furrowing a little. I cocked my head to the side and bit my lip. "Ummm…"

"Do you like him?"

"I've never really thought about it…"

"Well, I think he likes you."

"What makes you say that?" I asked.

"Hello, Roslyn, if you haven't noticed, he is always hanging out with you, poking you, looking at you, walking close to you, running into you—a guy doesn't normally do that unless he has feelings for a girl." Gina stated matter-of-factly.

"Are you sure? I just thought he was being friendly…"

"Well, if that's all it is—just friendliness—then why isn't he that 'friendly' with anybody else?"

I was about to reply, but then the bell rang and Gina had to hurry up and leave. (Her next class was all the way across campus.)

When I went home that day, I was still thinking about what Gina had said about Reece. I had to admit, he was pretty adorable. With his sparkling brown eyes, toned muscles, flat stomach, charming smile, good taste in style—he was swoon-worthy.

But could it be possible that he would like…me? I mean I wasn't anything special. He was simply being friendly because my best friend had just been murdered. He was sweet, sympathetic, that's part of what made him such a great friend.

But with every little sweet gesture—and there were many—I started to fall a little bit more, and a little bit harder, for Reece. When he would smile at me, when he would joke around with me and make me laugh, when he would run to catch up to me in between classes, and a whole grip of other things he did made me feel so special, like he really did care for me as more than a friend.

It was around the end of May when I had, without a doubt, fallen head over heels for him, and I decided to tell Gina.

"You should tell him," she said, a huge smile on her face.

"Wait, what?" I was completely taken aback.

"Tell him, girl! Trust me, if you tell him, he's not gonna hurt you, he's too sweet to do that."

"Well…"

"Think of it this way, if you don't tell him, you're gonna constantly be thinking of what might have been." Gina pointed out.

This sounded logical, so I agreed. "Okay…I think I will…"

"Good luck, girly." Gina smiled and gave me a hug.

I smiled, too, nervous anticipation causing my stomach to twist into knots.

I decided to tell him right after school ended. There was a basketball game that day, and I was pretty sure he was going. I made sure to check that my eye make-up wasn't smeared, and that every hair was perfectly in place. I swiped on some lip gloss, just for good measure. Taking a deep breath and summoning up all the courage I had in me, I headed off in search of Reece.

I couldn't see him in the bleachers, so I asked one of his friends if they knew where he was. They told me he had gone over to get something from his locker.

I sighed with relief. It would be much easier to admit my feelings when he wasn't with his friends.

Rounding the corner to the main building, my hands started to shake. I stopped when I heard Reece's voice.

"Hey," okay, maybe someone was just walking down the hall, and he was being polite and saying hi.

"Hey, cutie," My heart dropped into my stomach when I heard the sultry female voice.

Completely confused, I took a cautious, quiet step forward.

"It's been forever since we've hung out." Reece said—more like groaned.

"I thought you were ignoring me. You're always hanging out with that other chick now," I could hear the pout in the girl's voice.

My heartbeat sped up. What was going on?

"Oh, her, she's nothing…"

As much as I didn't want to believe it, I knew that he was talking about me. My heart shattered when I heard him say those words, and tears sprung to my eyes.

"You know you're the only girl I have eyes for." Reece said in a husky whisper.

I clamped my hand over my mouth and leaned heavily against the wall. I squeezed my eyes shut just as a tear slid down my cheek.

"How do I know you really mean that?"

"Would I do this if I was lying?"

I was completely devastated. Actually, no, that was an understatement. I felt like crap! I slid to the ground and the tears began to flow freely. How could I have let myself get hurt like this? I was so stupid! I was such an idiot! I was a complete loser for letting myself think I ever had a chance with him! How many times had I reprimanded Isabel for giving her heart away to a boy? And now I had let it happen to myself! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Over the mental bashing I was giving myself, I heard a soft thud, a quiet giggle, and sounds that suggested a rather heated make-out session was taking place.

Broken-hearted and completely grossed out, I pushed myself up off the ground and started running. Blinded by my tears, I couldn't see, nor did I care, where I was going.

It would have been better if I had died instead of Isabel! I tripped over something and fell to the ground, twisting my ankle painfully. I lay there, sobs shuddering through me, tears pouring from my eyes, and a new pain boiling inside of me.

I didn't notice where I had fallen until I heard a loud honking noise. I looked up, and through my tear-blurred vision, I saw I large semi-truck barreling towards me.

I heard the squeal of breaks, and then felt a heavy smack that knocked the wind out of me and sent me flying.

And then everything went black, and all the pain—Isabel's death, Reece's betrayal, my broken heart, the twisted ankle—was gone.

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