Somewhere

Author's Note: So . . . This is a SKoW response challenge. It was rather difficult, but I guess that is the point of a challenge. I am not really that much of a romance writer, so I am afraid that it is rather, um, cliché (I think . . . If not, got me.) So, enjoy.

~Serena~

Oh . . . Here are the challenge guidelines, and all of that fun stuff:

SKoW Challenge #27 - No Need to Say Goodbye

Link to challenge: post/52827444316/challenge-27-no-need-to-say-goodb ye

Inspired by the song "The Call" by Regina Spektor.

Description: Goodbyes are the hardest. Unfortunately, for our protagonists, they will have to bid each other adieu and it is unlikely that they will ever see each other again.

Requirements:
1) An actual parting between the protagonists — whether they come back together or not is up to you. (Read the second stipulation under "Optional".)
2) A creative way of saying goodbye without actually saying it (read the second stipulation under "No" for details)
3)The reason for the parting has to be WILLING — this means that nothing is forcing one to leave the other. It must be out of the character's own volition.
4) Cell phones must make several appearances.
5) Setting must begin in the Fall/Autumn season.

Optional:
- Both are leaving for different things, instead of one leaving the other behind.
- They are reunited. If you choose to do this, however, they must be separated for at least a year. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, anyone?)
- Cell phones are a key part of the story.

No:
- Airport/bus terminal goodbye scenes
- actual usage of the word "goodbye" or any of its variations in any languages (this includes "see you later", "'bye", "farewell", "arrivederci", "adios", "hasta la vista", "adieu", "aloha", "au revoir", "auf wiedersehen", "adeus", "paalam" whatever else you think of) by either protagonist in dialogue
- text messaging or chatting online. As much as I love to do both, I hate seeing it in fiction.

"Never stop hoping . . . . Need to know where you are, but one thing's for sure you're always in my heart." ~Within Temptation~

My cell phone lies on my bed. I look down at it. Should I call him? After all, tomorrow we will both be living new lives, away from each other. I bit down on my lip. It's just a simple call and it could somehow save us. We have both known that this day was coming, but we had not wanted to talk about.

We know that we both need to live our own lives. We have been together for so long and it will do us some good to spend a little time apart. We will always love each other, no matter what happens, no matter where this crazy thing called life takes us. We both know that we will fall in love with others, but we will always have a certain spot in our hearts for each other.

No matter what, I will always love you.

Sighing, I reach for the phone. What will it hurt? I dial his number.

"Hello?" He picks up after the third ring.

"Casey?" I ask, even though I know it's him.

"Elizabeth?" he asks.

I walk around in a circle. "Can I see you?"
I hear Casey take a deep breath. "I thought we agreed that we weren't going to do this."
I can feel tears forming in the back of my eyes. "I know, but I need this."

Casey sighs again into the phone. His sigh is filled with pain. "Elizabeth—"

"Please, Casey?" I whisper into the phone. "For me, for us?"

Silence fills the phone. "Just give me about ten minutes."

I feel a smile forming on my face. "Thanks, Casey."

"No problem," he says. He pauses for several seconds. "Just remember, what we are doing is for the best."

"I know," I say back into the phone.

"I'll be there in a bit," he says.

We hang up, I throw my phone back down on my bed, and I pace my empty room. Everything is packed, all ready for tomorrow. I am excited, but sad at the same time. This town, this street, this boy is my home. It has been for the past eighteen years. People never leave this area. They go to school in the city twenty minutes down the road and live at home. They have their children here and marry the girl next door. Everyone knows everyone and to give this up, is viewed as a shame.

Yet, for what Casey and I need, we are both going to be forced to give up this way of life. We have things to do that will better our world.

I open my window and let the September air into my room. The leaves are starting to turn. The brilliant colours fill the town's landscape. Soon, it will be time for the annual Pumpkin Festival. This will be the first Pumpkin Festival that I have missed since I was six and had the chickenpox.

My cell phone rings again. I walk over and pick it up. "Hello?"

"Lizzy, I have to take the long way," Casey says. "They have Maple Street shut down for road work."

"Okay," I say.

"I haven't forgotten about you."

"I know," I say.

"I love you."

"I know, Casey. Now, hang up the phone and drive before you have another accident." A few months ago, Casey had been talking on his cell phone to one of his mates and ended up hitting a telephone pole. Luckily, he hadn't been seriously injured, but him using his cell phone while driving still made me nervous.

"That was just one time!" Casey objects.

"And it was one time too many," I say back, and I hang up.

Casey is not dying for me. Every second that I think about it, more reasons come up as to why we have to do this.

I sat the cell phone back down on my bed. I still can't believe that this is happening. I'm being pulled a million different ways. I want to live my life, but I want him with me for all of it. Yes, I know time apart is good, but I wish it wasn't. I wish that being together was what we needed and not this. I know that I should be like my best friend and happy that I am a free, single woman, but I'm not. Casey and I share a bond. Great, now I sound like a stupid love struck person who has no real life.

Really, Casey and I do share a bond.

I look at my cell phone. It has been twenty minutes since he last called me. He should be here any minute. I sigh. I hate to say it, but our cell phones will be our lifelines to each other.

That is if we even agree to talk after this. We hadn't said that. We had more focused on not seeing each other. Hum, it is something that we need to think about.

My cell phone rings again. I pick it up.

"I'm here," Casey says. "Look out your window and you will see my beautiful face."

I laugh into the phone. "Yeah, right."

"Lizzy, I'm hurt," he says mockingly.

I slip on my shoes. "I'm sure your ego will survive."

Casey laughs. "We'll see about that."

I smiled into my phone. "I'll be down in a few."

"I'll be here."

I tie my shoes. "I know." I know it's more than waiting. Even apart, we will always be here for each other. If not physically, then mentally.

"I'm coming," I say as I race out of the room.

"Okay."

About half way down the stairs, I hang up. Talking on the phone will never be the same. I need to see him in person. I race out of the house. He is leaning against my porch with a smile on his face. His face doesn't show any signs of regret both for coming here and what we are doing.

I race into his arms and I hug Casey, the boy who will always be a part of me. We stay in each other's embrace for several minutes before breaking apart.

Casey smiles down at me. "Just keep remembering that this is for the best."

I nod. "Yeah, life is an adventure after all."

Casey's smile is becoming more forced. This is breaking both of our hearts, but we both need this. This is the time of our life when things have to change for good.

I motion for him to sit on the swing next to me. "University will do us good. I mean you will be going to medical school and saving lives. I'll be at vet school saving the cute and cuddly ones lives, which is more important than what you will be doing. See, it's a win-win for everyone."

Casey laughs. "Of course, you would make yourself sound more important."

I nudge him in the side. "You got that right, buster."

"I beg to differ, however," Casey says.

"Why?"

"I'll be saving people's lives."

I roll my eyes. "Animal lovers will say otherwise."
Casey just shakes his head and doesn't respond.

I stare at my knees. "I have a question."

Casey leans back against the swing. "Go for it."

"Can we still talk?" I ask.

"What do you mean?" he asks.

I hold up my phone. "Through these." I look at him. "I know we said that we wouldn't see each other, but can we still use our phones?"

He pulls his own cell phone out and studies it. My heart begins to race. What will he say? Will he think it's a stupid idea? Why did I have to go and open my big mouth?

"I think we could do that," Casey says.

"Great!" I exclaim a little too loudly.

Casey gets to his feet. "I have a few more things to pack."

I nod.

"I wish you the best of luck with your first year at university," he says, his voice cracking.

I am blinking hard. I had been bracing myself for this, but it is so much harder than I thought it would be. "Good luck."

Casey lowers his sunglasses. "Let's go save the world," he says happily, but it sounds forced.

I nod, unable to say anything.

Casey turns and heads back to his car.

I jump to my feet and run after him. "Casey! Wait!"

Casey turns and looks at me.

I embrace him harder than I ever had. I move my head up and press my lips against his. He deepens the kiss and runs his hands over the small of my back. Neither one of us can break apart for several minutes.

I am the one who breaks the kiss. Still in his arms, I look up at him. "No matter what, no matter where we go, I will find you somewhere and you will always be in my heart."

Casey leans down and gives me peck on the lips. "I know and I feel the same way." He moves away from me and gets in his car.

As I watch him drive away, the tears begin to fall. I'm not ready for change. It's the end of my world.

My cell rings again. "Hello," I say into it.

"No matter what happens, just remember that you'll always be in my heart," Casey says into the phone.

I wipe a few tears away. "We seem to be saying that a lot today."

"I know, but it's true," he whispers.

"Together in our hearts?" I ask.

"Together in our hearts," he says back as he hangs up.

A red leaf falls from the ground and unto my head. I pluck it off and hold in my hand. A few minutes later, the wind blows it out of my hand. I watch as the leaf climbs higher and higher into the sky. Like me it's going somewhere in this world, but it just doesn't know where.

The following year: Thanksgiving

Coming home from university to celebrate Thanksgiving is one of the greatest things a girl can do. There's just something about coming home and living in an actual house instead of a dorm. Coming home is so much more than that. It's like the new book you've just started to read, and you have no idea where it's going to take you.

My cell phone is ringing. I give the gravy one final stir before heading off to answer it. "Hello," I say into it.

"Are you home for Thanksgiving?" Casey says into the phone.

"Why?" I ask. We have spoken to each other a few times and discovered that we really didn't have that much in common anymore. Over the past year, we had fallen out of communication and he hadn't been home since. However, it is still good to hear from him.

"Look outside your window," Casey orders.

I rush to the only window in the kitchen and look out. There he is, leaning against the almost leaf barren maple tree, looking just as handsome as ever. I scream into the phone.

"You're going to blow out my eardrum," he says.

I don't care. I drop the phone and race out to him. See what I mean about coming home . . . You never know what to expect.

His arms open up once he sees me and I jump into them. Despite being apart for well over a year, he is just a familiar as he ever had been.

"I thought you said you weren't coming home for Thanksgiving," I whisper.

"I changed my mind," he says, his voice sombre.

I look at him. "Why?" I know something's up. He just wouldn't come home for nothing. He hadn't been home since leaving for medical school! Why now? What does he have up his sleeve?

"I've decided to enlist."

I step away and study him. Wait! What? What happened to Casey over the last year or so? Where is my Casey, the one who hates any kind of violence and would never dream of hurting a fly, let alone a person? Why is he willingly going to enlist? Where did this wacky notion come from? This person in front of me is not my Casey. My Casey is dead.

"Enlist, why?" I whisper. "Why would you want to do something like that?"

Casey smiles at me and hugs me. "I think it's for the best."

"You said that when you broke up with me," I snap. "You can't use that line again!"
"Lizzy," Casey says.

I pull away from him. I don't want him to touch me. "You could get killed!" I scream at him.

Casey winces. "It's a risk that I am willing to take."

I close my eyes. "Is this why to came home? To tell me this?"
"I didn't think it would be right for me to tell you this over the phone," Casey says slowly.

"There is no right way to tell me this," I snap as I storm back into the house. "Don't even think about coming after me!"

I slam the kitchen door and fall back against it. How could he even think about enlisting? Didn't he read the news reports? So many of our troops were being taken away from us and I didn't want him to be the next.

Am I really mad at him or I am just afraid for him?

My cell phone rings a few seconds later, but I don't answer it.

The following year: September

My bags are packed again for my third year at university. Things are going great. I have a really close group of girlfriends. In fact, we are all going to be living together this year in an off campus apartment.

As I, though a few last items into a box, my cell phone rings. I look at the caller ID. It's not a number I recognize, but I decide answer it. Life is an adventure after all . . . This number could be my future husband. I snort at the thought.

"Elizabeth Roth?" a voice asks in my ear.

I pick up a photograph of Casey off my desk and wonder if I should take it with me. "Yes?" I say. Suddenly a sick feeling enters my gut. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just nervous about the apartment.

"I regret to inform you—" the voice starts in.

I look at the photograph. My heart is twisted. I feel like I'm going to be sick. "You don't need to tell me. I already know," I say slowly and I hang up the phone. I touch Casey's picture.

We will always be together, somewhere. I know that this is what he wants. I know that he wants. To him, others come before himself. To him, saving another before himself is life's greatest joys. We all have to make choices and sometimes those choices hurt those closest to us.

I sit my phone down my nightstand and carry a box down to my car. He's made his choice and I've made mine. Together, and forever more, there will always be that special spot in our hearts for each other.

Life is a journey and it always comes back to where it all started. I just hope it works out that way for me, for us.

Thanks for reading. I hope I stayed with the prompt. You can really pick your own ending as to what happened to Casey.