Usually I love staring out the window at the beautiful landscape in our town while we drive. Today, it just hurts. Like everything has since Toni died. It's been 6 weeks. 6 weeks since I've felt whole. 6 weeks since I lost the girl I thought I would marry. I can't get over the fact that she's gone. I can't get over that night. Our prom night.
"Maia, can I come in yet?" Toni calls through my bedroom door. She'd been waiting for me to get into my prom dress. We were both anxious to see each other all dressed up. I smooth down the blue silk and take a deep breath.
"Yeah Toni, come in." I call back to her.
She slowly opens the door and we gasp simultaneously. She is absolutely stunning in her strapless purple dress. It fits to her body perfectly, showing every perfect curve of hers. My eyes move to her face where I find an awestruck look. I look down, blushing.
"Mai, you are absolutely gorgeous."
"No, Toni, that would be you."
"Shut up and kiss me." She crosses my bedroom and grabs my face, pulling me into a perfectly rough kiss. When it ends we keep our foreheads pressed against one another's and stare into each other's eyes. Her green eyes twinkle with specks of brown and gold, dancing in the simple, fluorescent lighting from my ceiling.
"How am I so lucky to have you in my life?" I ask.
"Same way I'm lucky to have you, sweetie."
That was the last moment of intimacy we ever got. It wasn't about the physical closeness, just us basking in each other. As my father turns onto the road leading to the park, another memory hits.
"Maia, let's step outside for a sec. It's way too warm in here."
I follow Toni out of the ballroom and into the hotel lobby. We'd been at Prom for an hour now. A beautiful hour where no one seemed to notice us holding onto each other as we swayed in time to the music blasting through the sound system. The lobby is so much cooler and Toni pulls me into a hug, and eventually a kiss.
"Hey! We don't wanna see that at our prom!"
I knew it wouldn't last. The people at school never really accepted our relationship. Usually we avoided too much PDA, but the other kids were practically making love on the dance floor. They had to allow us a little kiss, right? Nope! I turn to see half of the baseball team glaring at us.
"What was that?" Toni has a bit of an attitude. She lets it shine through here.
"I said, 'We don't wanna see that at our prom.'" The jock replies.
"Funny, I don't remember saying I wanted to see you humping your girlfriend on the dance floor!" She retorts.
"Toni, let's just step outside, huh? Like outside where we can see the stars, outside." I whisper to her, not wanting to cause a scene.
"Okay, babe. Let's go." She grabbed my hand and we left the building, and hopefully the danger.
The car stops, jerking me out of my thoughts. We've arrived at the parking lot of the graveyard. I unbuckle on autopilot and grab the envelope from the dashboard before getting out.
"You going to be okay, Maia?" My father looks at me with concern.
"Yeah Daddy. I'll be okay. I need to talk to her alone."
"I'll be right here."
I start the now familiar walk to the freshest pile of dirt in the park. I've come here every day for the past six weeks. It should be well known by now.
"Toni!" I scream. The jock holding me grips my arms even tighter as I struggle to break free to help her. Four of the baseball players had followed us out of the hotel and around the building where Toni and I were trying to find a quiet spot to calm her down. Two of them were kicking her all over and hitting her with a bat.
"You deserve this, you know. Flaunting your unnatural, disgusting selves at our prom. Ruining our night." The other player spits on my shoes before he punches me in the gut. I can't breathe right as he continues to beat me while his friend holds me.
"Toni." I wheeze as I continue to struggle as much as I can. Finally one of them gives a signal and I am released. They disperse and I hurry as fast as I can to Toni's side. Her face is covered in blood and she doesn't seem to be breathing well or very conscious.
"Maia, I love you." She whispers, surprising me.
"I love you too, babes. Hold on, I'll call an ambulance." Most of my breathe is back, so I scramble to my purse to grab my phone, turning it on as I return to her side, dialing 911 as I go. "Hey, Toni, talk to me sweetie. Look at me baby; it's all going to be okay."
Her eyes are barely open and the blood caking her face gets thicker as it spills from the wound on her forehead. She takes a few shallow breaths and coughs. She coughs up blood.
As I frantically explain the situation, she loses consciousness and stops breathing. That's when I lost her. When I lost my love.
I resurface to reality just as I reach the correct tombstone.
"Hey sweetheart. I'm back, again. No I won't move on. At least not yet, even though I know you'll want me to live my life. Just give me some time. I miss you. I even wrote you a letter. I hope ghosts exist, and you are one so you can see it. I'm sorry. I can't stay as long as I usually do. I've been reliving again. It's just too painful. I love you, I just can't stay."
Tears are streaming down my face as I speak to the piece of stone. I set the envelope on the top of it and take one last look, committing the etching to memory yet again, even though I know exactly what it says.
Toni Madeline Kandrick
May 21, 1994-June 6, 2013