So this is it; the last chapter! Thank you all for reading Forever and sticking with it through my irregular updates. I hope you find the ending pleasing and fitting; I'm not really putting much effort into this, as you might tell. As a tribute, this chapter shall be written in Ophelia's POV. Hope you enjoy!
I gulped. Theo was staring at me still, his arms were tightening around me with a tension that he rarely shows. Did he still think that I was the one who killed Serah? I could see the confusion and fear playing in his eyes. His mouth opened and spoke something to me, something that I couldn't catch while thinking if this was a good move.
"Pardon?" I asked tentatively, hoping that my voice didn't show the fear I felt inside.
He licked his lips and looked down at me, "I said, you don't have to do this. I don't care anymore."
As if I could believe that, I wanted to say. Serah was everywhere. She was the cause of our meeting, the cause of most of our fights, and... A few days ago, we were fighting about who was to wash the dishes that night - stupid thing, I know, but I was exhausted and it was his turn to wash. His eyes were burning with rage; green eyes all dark and focused on me.
"It is your turn, Theo, why can't you just do what you're meant to do?" I asked, throwing the rag in my hands onto the counter closest to him.
"Well, maybe because this isn't my duty? It's my house you're currently living in, you realise?" He shouted, unrestrained annoyance ringing in his deep voice.
I knew he was going to pull out this card. Just knew it. But the hurt still rang in me all the same. Did he really not want me here? Most seventeen year old teens wouldn't live with their girlfriends, I know, and they would kill for a big and grand house like this all to themselves. Was he just letting me stay here for convenience's sake? So he could just grab me whenever he wanted?
He smirked then, devilishly, "The room you're staying in now; it's Serah's room. That was labelled her room when she was here. Except, well, she was never in it."
It doesn't take a Harvard student to get what he was implying. The smirk was enough to see what he meant anyway. Serah was meant to be the one living with him now. Not me. Why he ever took me in, is a mystery to me. I bet his mother must be shaking her head at him. Maybe it was to get a kick from annoying his mother. That would explain a lot. Why though? Why was it that Serah was always the one who got everything? What did she do to deserve all this? Not that I ever hated her, but, well, it was unfair. So I stared at Theo's deranged features and thought that it looked almost like Serah's that night she died. All those memories were rushing back. The blood, the knife, the shouting.
"So you still love her?" I mumbled.
I sounded pathetic, and I know it. Dad used to say that I could hide my emotions well and he was always worrying about hurting my feelings. I used to think that it was a compliment, but he only shook his head and told me that he wished that I could find someone to share my feelings with. Now, looking at Theo, perhaps it was a bad idea to think that opening up to him was fine. He clearly still mulled over his girlfriend's death. So what was I doing here? I found myself thinking the question that was constantly on my mind.
His eyes softened slightly, still looking at me, before guilt set in and set those green eyes I loved into a lighter green. His mouth opened yet no words came out, and then closed again. He repeated it. He then extended a hand towards me, mumbling my name in a voice ridden with guilt. And being the gullible idiot who loved books with the 'happily ever after' theme, I believed that he truly loved me and that I was living a happily ever after of my own now. I trusted him and pretended that I wasn't hurt. He ended up washing as an apology, and then sent millions of worried puppy dog eyed looks at me throughout the night.
So looking up at him now, I told myself that he had to know. He had to, or else we would be having more and more of those fights. How a fight about who was washing that night turned into a fight about Serah was beyond me. And it only happened three days ago. I suppose Theo would have forgotten about it. But he never answered my question. Did that mean that when he said he loved me, he loved her too?
His green eyes still shone with fear, his mouth kept protesting and he was shaking his head. Arms tightened around me.
"She committed suicide, Theo." I said, the one sentence that rang clear.
Remembering what had happened the last time I said this, I watched his expression for any signs of fainting. None. Only shock reigned along with sadness. Did he not remember what I had said before? I decided to carry on in case he started to protest again.
"She... Serah had an illness, Theo. A mental ill-"
"She didn't!" He protested, shaking his head again, eyes wide.
"She had schizophrenia. Had it for a while too, according to her mother. Whenever I stayed over for the night at her house, she would have sporadic moments of wanting to jump out the window; sometimes because she believed that she could fly, or that someone was out to kill her in the house. She shouted when I tried to stop her, and told me that it was alright because she had wings that were marvelous. She kept demonstrating her flying techniques and pointing out her wings. It all sounded so vivid," I explained, looking down at the ground when the hurt look on Theo's face grew too heavy. "And I almost wanted to believe her. That was the first time I saw her illness in action.
"It turned out that she only did this at home, which would explain how no one else knew about this. Sometimes, though, she would be all silent, and no one could ever get a word out of her. She would just sit there. Staring at the wall. Not a single word. Her mother was depressed too, after her husband died. Clearly she couldn't take care of her daughter well enough, so slowly, I moved into their house, taking care of Serah at night, and meeting a stranger the next morning. We all thought that it was due to Serah's father's death that this disease happened. Her mother then blamed the house and said that it was cursed, and brought her husband's death and her daughter's illness. At night, Serah's mother was drunk, and Serah was prisoner to her illness. She-"
"I don't want to hear this. Ophelia stop. Please, please, stop." Theo begged, eyes tearing up.
"She used to try to drag me around in her fantasy. Told me these things and told me to play along with her. More often than not, I wound up hurt. She would be apologetic, very apologetic, but at school, in the mornings, she would pretend nothing like that had happened. That she didn't have that illness and that she wasn't hurting me in the midst of it. She was very violent too, when she felt like it, she could definitely lift up the dining table and throw it. Her psychiatrist told us that she might one day cause her own death.
"And that was what she did. She sent me a text one day, telling me that she needed me over. Something important to show me," I mumbled, my own memories vivid as I recalled the text message bleeping on my phone. I remembered every single detail. That was when I knew that she had reigned over my life for long enough. And Theo's too. He still looked shocked and pale, several tears trekking down his cheeks.
"So when I got there, I was honestly shocked. I knew her condition was drastic, and she was only allowed to be in the public because they thought it helped her. Her mother was so happy and relieved to have me around; glad that she finally had someone to share it all with. I felt practically like a family member when I was at their house. Soon enough, I didn't realise that Serah had slowly reigned my life.
"When I got in, the furniture were all torn into shreds. She was standing in the lounge with a knife, slashing at the air, shouting, cursing, kicking. It seemed like there was someone there that she was fighting, so I ran to her, thinking that someone was hurting her. There was nothing there. Just... Air. She was slashing at the air. When she saw me, she laughed maniacally, telling me that someone wanted to kill her; wanted to kill me. She was defending me, she said, smiling, said that she was my sister and that I needn't worry because my big sister was there. Protecting me." My voice cracked on the last word.
I could remember everything. Remembered the cracked glass on the floor, the ruined sofa that was deeply slashed. The small cuts on her arms that were strangely like claw marks. Everything. Ruined. Like her. It was a mad scene. I was just standing there. I couldn't, didn't, do anything. It was my fault that she died. I could have helped. But I didn't. It was my fault. Why didn't I help her? I could have. I treated her like a sister, exactly like how she did to me. I was the only one to know about her condition. She trusted me. Her mother trusted me. Her doctor too. Everyone.
It turned out I said it aloud because now Theo looked perplexed at me, worry written across his face. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close, resting his chin on my head. I could feel as his tears fell into my hair, dampening them. I must've been crying then, because I could hardly breathe. So with my last ounce of the nonchalance that I was famous for, I told him the rest of the story like I had vowed to.
"She ran around her house, fighting, it seemed, the furniture at times, and the air. She then looked at me and told me that people were coming to kill us. That we had no escape. That they would kill us all. We needed to escape, and the only way was to die. She looked at me with such honesty and madness that I realised that she was close to snapping. So I figured, the only way for her to live on... The only way was to...
To let her die."
I awoke with the usual start. Without glancing at the clock, I knew the time. 2.09 A.M. The time that Serah had texted me. The time when it all began. Sweat plastered my shirt to my back, and my hands were still shaking from the memories of the nightmare. I sat up and looked around the room that had become so familiar to me now. I was used to the room bathed in the star light at night, making it look surreal, with long shadows crawling around. It seemed to me, the closest I would ever get to feeling what Serah felt. With her name, came unbelievable guilt. I had killed her. Let her push that knife into her heart. Let her believe that I was going to kill myself right after her. I needn't listen to what the doctor said. That I was doing her a favour for having killed her. I needn't have seen the relieve on her mother's face when she saw that her daughter was finally at peace. All I needed to see was the sadness and anger that was on Theo's face during her funeral. All I needed to see was my own wretched reflection.
I needn't tell anyone that even I was subjected to depression for a while. That I needed therapy to get over her death. That I constantly woke up screaming at the same time each night, inconsolable. No one needed to know that, because they cast me in a bad light, 'The One That Killed Serah'. And they were right. I didn't need to listen to my therapist tell me that it wasn't my fault. I had killed her.
I decided that I couldn't sleep after all. Clambering out of my bed, I stepped into the dark hallway. I stopped and looked at Theo's door, as I did on many nights when I found myself walking to the kitchen and calming myself down with a cup of tea. I wondered what he was doing inside, what he was thinking, since he had hardly spoken to me for weeks now. Barely casting me a glance at home or school. Anywhere. I was practically non-existent to him. I could hardly blame him for doing that, what was anyone to do when they were told that their girlfriend had killed their ex? Especially if the ex had a condition. I could only wish that he could find some way to speak to me and look at me again, I'm not even expecting him to forgive me. How could anyone?
So, to spare him the difficulty of breaking his silence to chase me out of his house, I decided to book a ticket to another country where Shotgun had arranged my lodging, and everything else for me. I could hardly thank him enough for this. I walked down the stairs and glanced at the living room and kitchen that I had seen so many times before to remember where everything was with my eyes closed. The lamp was beside the sofa, the T.V was in front of them by a couple of metres. There were two potted plants beside the T.V. and a game console next to them. It was a wonder how much I remembered from my stay here. How was it that we went from a happy couple who didn't care how people saw us - 'The One Who Killed Serah' and 'The One Who Is Cheating On Serah' - to these strangers that were stuffed into a over sized house together? He didn't have to say anything to show that we were officially broken up. And yet I could still remember everything of the day we confessed to each other. A seemingly bad day where I was aching badly, to a happy day where nothing mattered. It seemed almost dream-like that it had changed so much.
I glanced at the clock that now read 2.30 A.M. There was still two hours before I had to reach the airport. Everything was packed up, stacked into a box in my room or stuffed haphazardly into bags. It was only when the room was void of anything related to me, that I realised how little I actually owned. A rich girl of seventeen years only has a box and two bags to her name. Not even a friend to call hers. Nor family, for that matter. I sometimes wondered why I even bothered to live this life.
I walked into the kitchen, resting my hand on the cool marble top counter as I glanced around the kitchen that I usually spent my time in, creating and cooking dishes that always had Theo excited. He admitted to never tasting homemade food in years, and always wore an excited grin when I brought out a dish. But that was before I told him the truth. And I can't blame him for hating me for it. I stared at the pan on the stove top and decided that as a final act, I would cook some breakfast for him. The first time in a long, long time. So I heated the pan and cracked an egg in it, wondering if he would actually eat it.
It has been three years since I arrived here. I'm currently living in a decent apartment that is truthfully, much too grand for an twenty year old. I celebrated my twentieth birthday with Shotgun, the two of us enjoying my cooking and then watching movies until we fell asleep on the couch, as we do every year. Shotgun was doing well for himself, having quit the group as I did, and now owns an Italian restaurant where I sometimes worked as a chef. It was doing well, and I felt incredibly proud of him. He seemed a happier man too, loving his job and knowing that he was doing something good. When I wasn't working at the restaurant, I would be at the local university, studying for a degree in literature and psychology. It seemed best if I worked myself to the point where my time with Theo and Serah was forgotten, too tired to even think about.
Shotgun, being my second father, worries over me needlessly, coming over to my house every day to check on me, apparently afraid that I would one day kill myself. Perhaps he doesn't realise that it would take more than that to kill me, I have, after all, survived my depression when Serah had died. The guilt still rang true in me, but it certainly felt less than those years back. But seeing that hurt and anger in Theo's expression when I told him my part in her death, told me that he never truly did forget about Serah and he was obviously angry at the fact that I had killed her. I hated myself for thinking selfishly that he was the one who told me that he loved me. Did he love her all the same while he was with me? It hurt to think that only three years ago, I was with Theo, in his house, enjoying his company and reveling in the fact that I was with him.
I remembered those times when Serah used to run towards Theo, immediately latching on to his arm and grinning at him. I used to feel that pang of envy and jealousy when his green eyes would focus on her and he would smile at her, brightly and full of what could only be called love. And I was nothing more than the new girl with a dad who owned a bar. I, too, despite my nonchalant attitude, wanted a partner. I envied what Serah had, and only wished that he would look at me the same way. Without realising it, I started to like Theo. So was it so terrible, that the first time we talked was because of a maths assignment? I was the happiest girl alive, I was sure. That he was glaring at me while he spoke? That I could not even bring myself to meet his gaze when all the while he was staring at me? I felt like a complete idiot sitting there when he was trying to talk to me. I was more than happy when I saw him at my club. Really. Just that maybe, it would be better if he hadn't seen me in such a.. provocative position. But life isn't fair, and I was lucky he had even noticed me. Those nights when Theo was drunk and singing off key with me, I felt like the happiest girl in the world. Even dad could tell, he had that smile on every day when he saw us. I only wanted for someone to love me like Theo loved Serah. Was that so bad of me to lie to get what I wanted? It wasn't like he asked every second what had happened to Serah. Sure, he could have only kept me because then, he could interrogate me everyday, but was it wrong to wish that he wanted me there?
So at times like this, I would pour myself a generous cup of wine and sip it, reminiscing about the past three year and its happenings. In two days, it would be the end of the year, and Shotgun had forced me to go to a party he was hosting in the restaurant. "Have some fun," he says. I would like to say that I do have fun, thank you. He occasionally told me to go out and have fun with my friends - and I actually do have some now, thank you - and to go out on dates like any normal twenty year old would. Just yesterday, I was hit on by the man at the checkout. He kept flirting and took an extremely long time to scan the items I had in my trolley. Seriously, how is that going to get me to go out with you? Idiots. So of course, I said no despite finding a million little papers with his number on it and the trademark 'Call me'. As if I could ever do that. What if the same thing happened again? How was I going to take it again? Move to another country?
So, that night, while watching Titanic and generally moping about the sad fate of Rose and Jack, I was cuddled into a blanket comfortably. Was it sad to be watching the world's saddest romantic movie while drinking a glass of red wine? Well, stuff you. I still am the daughter of a feared mafia leader and I did pick up skills in shooting guns. I had only gotten to the middle when the doorbell rang. I had ordered some takeaway, too tired and unbothered to cook that night. There were two papers I rushed to finish last night, and had barely slept before rushing to school. The only merit in that, of course, was forgetting all about the debacle.
As I rushed around the apartment, searching for my wallet - I really should get one of those tracking devices that Kate, my friend, was talking about - the doorbell rang again, once, quickly.
"Coming!" I shouted, impatiently rifling through the contents on top of the counter to find my wallet. And of course, there it was all along, on the tea table by my couch. Trust me to leave it there.
I opened the door in time before the delivery boy could ring the bell once more. Head bent and searching through my wallet for a twenty, I failed to see the person. My gaze caught sight of a pair of dark blue Vans. That was odd, the place I ordered takeaway from frequently had a strict dress code for all employees; black shirt emblazoned with the restaurant's name, dark sandals - why they ordered for sandals was beyond me; isn't it hard to run in? - and dark pants. So seeing dark blue Vans was a very odd sight indeed, unless, it was some rebel who thought they were cool by breaking rules. I ran my gaze up to the dark fitted jeans the man was wearing. So, a very defiant rule breaker we have here. Not that it was a bad thing; those jeans really are making those legs look longer. A dark blue dress shirt that accentuated his broad shoulders and fit chest instead of the black shirt that was ill fitting to say the least. I knew the owner of the restaurant, and she was a very fiery lady. What would she make of him? Wavy brown hair curled to his broad shoulders, looking incredibly silky and soft, though slightly messy from the wild wind outside that winter was so famous for. Higher up, a square jaw with slight stubble that served his look well. Silvery-green eyes were staring down at me when I finally raised my gaze up. Those green eyes that I constantly wished were focused on me was now. Those eyes I dreamed of in my dreams every night. Those eyes that were filled with hurt, anger and betrayal burned in my memory. But now, only held elation and fear. Those eyes that belonged to...
I blinked and stumbled a little, without knowing. He quirked the side of his lips into a small smile before hesitating and wiped the small smile off his face, obviously nervous about what to do. It's good to know that I wasn't the only one feeling that way. He had let his hair grow longer from the short haircut that barely reached his ears, to shoulder-length, and it suited him well. His face was more defined, those three years were good to him, and his cheekbones jutted out with a defiance. He even grew taller, head a few inches to the doorway that I considered quite tall already. He tried smiling again before rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. His classic nervous gesture.
"Hey," he spoke softly, voice void of much emotions.
Even his voice deepened. Unbelievable what three years can do for one. I wonder if I looked adequate enough for him now, maybe those three years had taken a toll on my appearance and I wasn't quite the same as before. I chastised myself for thinking that way. It was only when he was looking at me with a slight questioning gaze that I realised I had to greet him too.
"Hey," I replied, hoping with all my might that I wasn't too eager in that simple greeting.
It had been three years. I wondered what would happen. All those dreams I had of him; some sad, some happy. All those time I spent thinking about him, worrying, filled with guilt. It all led up to this. This meeting. Why had he come after those years? Was he not mad at me? I would have avoided me for the rest of my life. Did he not hear what I had said three years ago in his kitchen? No, he did. For he had given me the silent treatment that I deserved from the start. No angry stares, not even a curse at me. Only silence. I had reduced him to a depressed state those three years back, and it was all my fault. Why couldn't I have had kept it to myself? I should have broken up with him on another excuse, spare him the anguish. He didn't deserve his life ruined with the knowledge.
I wouldn't have had to retake a few sessions with a therapist who seemed more interested in looking down my top than listening to me. I hated myself for the relief I felt when I told him about Serah. I didn't need to ruin another life.
"I visited Serah's grave the day before," he continued, eyes still staring at me.
He looks infinitely wise, and stronger. Not only physically, but mentally. There was a twinkle in his eye that I have never seen before. What did I look like in front of him? A mess, definitely. My therapist - a different one, after Shotgun had almost beaten the previous one to death when he saw the man leering at me - still books me for a regular meeting bi-monthly. What did that say about me?
"I... I told her everything you told me. I spoke to her, Ophelia." He said, the deep mellow voice that was still foreign to me.
I wondered briefly why he was telling me this. A build up to yelling at me, perhaps? Three years back, he had just walked away when I finished the story. Walked out the door and came back three days later with a silence and a solemn mien. I never knew where he went to, I just sat in his house for three days, watching the door. He deserved to yell at me. Let out the anger that had built up over the years. I had killed Serah.
"I have never felt better in my life. I never knew that... She had been ruling my life ever since her death; you were right." He smiled. He looked relaxed and happy, like he could take whatever life threw at him. Before, he was the first to run at the sight of danger, fainting at everything. He had changed so much.
"So," he continued, looking at me until I returned his gaze. It was warm, and filled with some emotion I could not figure out. "Let's start again, shall we?"
He stuck out his right hand at me. Smiling. He nodded at his hand and looked back at me. What was he doing? Wasn't he meant to yell at me? Was that what I wanted all along? For him to yell at me? My therapist, a Dr. Watson, had asked me that question many times. 'What do you expect Theo to do if he came back?' And I always came up with an excuse to escape. I never knew the answer. Was yelling what I wanted?
I continued staring at his hand. Was he going to turn the tables on me if I took it? Was he mocking me now? Planning out an intricately woven revenge? I wouldn't mind if he did. I deserved it fully. So I reached out with my left hand and took his. It was warm and soft, a large contrast to my cold one. He must have thought the same thing, because he broadened his smile. Together, our hands lifted up and down twice, a strong handshake.
"Nice to meet you, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful you are. My name is Theodore Jenkins." He said slowly, deep voice pleasing to my ears.
I tried my hardest to read for any signs of a malicious plan. I saw none, but it could have been that Theodore had gotten better at lying. About time; he always showed his expressions blatantly and wore his heart on his sleeve. I didn't care if he decided to just cheat me of everything. He was allowed to anyway. I lied, cheated, and betrayed him. I deserved it fully. So I decided to play along with him. Even if it meant that it hurt to know that he was not here for me, but for Serah. Again. Like before. I swallowed the hurt that bubbled in me. I deserved it, I told myself. Think of Serah, your sister.
Smiling, I inhaled deeply and tilted my head to the side. "Why, thank you. You look good yourself, too. I'm Ophelia Jones. Nice to meet you too."
A/N Well, this is it. I actually liked this chapter. What do you guys think? Anyway. I was thinking that the ending sounds like it has something building up to a sequel... So what do you think if I wrote a sequel for Forever? Give me your suggestions for ideas, and it would be a great help. Thanks for reading the story, and I really really hope you enjoyed it. If I ever put up a sequel, I'll put a note on my profile, so visit it occasionally! Thanks all! :)