In truths that she learned,

or times that she cried,

in bridges he burned,

or the way that she died...

She opens the door and, seconds later, collapses in Natalie's waiting arms. Everything goes dark, but then that darkness is replaced by something much, much worse.

Erin remembers the first time she ever felt pain. She is four years old and holding her bleeding arm. The neighbors cat had scratched her, breaking her tender, soft skin. She cries while her undeveloped mind is enveloped in a mix of shock and wonder at this foreign feeling, her first prickle of pain (most certainly not the last; if only she was that lucky).

Next she is repeating the motions of that day in second grade. She brags to all her little friends that her daddy is taking her out for lunch that day. She is called to the office with her little blue backpack slung over her shoulders only to see her mother standing there instead. That is the first time she knows disappointment. It is chased closely by her fist heartbreak, brought upon by the explanation of why her daddy couldn't come and why he would never take her for lunch again.

"Era, there was an accident..."

Her seven-year-old self promptly tells her mother to never call her 'Era'. Only her daddy can call her that.

Erin gets a reprise of the first time she knew fear. She accidentally knocks over a glass of milk during breakfast when she is nine years old. She sees the glass topple in slow motion as the white liquid spills over the top. It finally falls over on its side, drenching Phil and his newspaper. Her little heart clenches and fear sucks all movement out of her.

She feels helpless the first night in their new house. She hears Phil and her mom arguing, followed by a slap and the slamming of a door. The walls are not thick enough to block out the sound of her mother's crying. She can't leave her room in fear of being hit as well. She wants nothing more than to go to her mother's side, but she can't. Her helplessness drives her to tears.

The first time physical pain is wrought upon her by another person is Christmas of that same year. It is an accident, but his thick fingers leave a bruise and the sudden pain blinds her for a moment. She feels ashamed of herself for allowing him to hit her. The shame is worse than the initial, quick slap.

Her first real beating hurts like nothing she's ever felt before.

The doubt put in her mind by her therapist makes her think that her first love isn't real. She hates herself for falling in love with someone (something?) so fickle.

Gabe's not there for so many months and she thinks that he's left her for good.

She is dizzy from not eating. Her room has never felt more like a prison, and she's wishing that her damn chorus teacher kept her suspicions (however accurate) to herself.

She is terrified of him. Of him on top of her, of him taking her most valuable possession away from her.

She sees Nate, her best friend, as pale as death on his bed. In her mind, she is screaming and screaming and screaming but she can't actually do anything.

She is so lost when everything finally fits together. She feels betrayed that she was never told. A knife of deception seems to be twisting in her gut.

She sees all her dreams of Gabe's first death. She feels as though the flames are burning her own skin and her heart rips into shreds at the sheer agony on his face.

She remembers insisting she is 'fine' when she knows now that Nate's heart is no longer hers.

She hears those damn words more than once, "I'm going to punish you like the little slut you are."

She feels each painful, sweaty thrust.

Her face is wet from where he spit on her after he finished. She is laying in her own blood.

The moment of resolution before she pulls the trigger.

She sees Nate in a hospital bed for a second time, she sees how hurt and small he looks.

And she sees Gabe's head fall forward. She sees his cold skin and his closed eyes. She shakes him and shakes him and shakes him with all her strength but he isn't responding.

Give me pain, if that's what's real,

It's the price we pay to feel.

the price of love is loss,

but still we pay, we love anyway!

Suddenly, there is a burst of light.

Her daddy and mommy take her for ice-cream after she gets scratched. Her daddy winks at her and tells her that it's a 'battle wound' and she is now a tough warrior.

There are so many picnics in central park and every time her daddy pretends to be a tourist and although she is too young to get most of his impressions, she laughs anyway.

The day after her daddy died, she tells her friends and they all hug her at once. Wrapped in that tangle of arms, she feels friendship in its most tangible form.

Phil just wiped up the milk with a sigh and tells her to be more careful next time, but no he is not mad.

She cries in her new bed in her new house until she spots someone standing in the corner of her bedroom. She should be scared, but she just isn't. She smiles at him. At first he seems surprised and then he smiles back at her. Her heart leaps. That is the moment she falls in love.

She sees Gabe in all his glory, standing on the landing after sending Phil toppling down the stairs. And she knows that some of that was revenge for hurting her.

Gabe just sits next to her as she ices her new bruises and he holds her hand when she thinks she is going to cry. Him being there is more than enough.

She sees Gabe's smile.

She hears Nate's laugh.

She feels Gabe's sweet kisses.

She remembers the accomplished feeling from stabbing Phil.

She remembers Gabe finally coming back and standing by her side, so steadfast and stolid.

She remembers Nate coming to her room, bringing a plate of cookies. He is more welcome than the savior on Easter.

Gabe throws Phil off of her, and the anger in his eyes is not directed at her, it's for someone hurting her. That's the first time she knows she is truly loved in return.

She sees her two boys laughing together and her heart throbs with love for them both.

She hears the lullaby ringing in her ear and she sees Gabe reaching out a hand to ask her to dance. His white tux is soon covered in chocolately fingerprints, but they laugh anyway.

She sees the first real happiness in Nate's face as he holds hands with Angel.

She remembers knowing that Gabe trusts her as much as she trusts him.

There is nothing to weigh her down. She feels love, pain, disappointment, contentment, helplessness, hope, happiness and confusion at once. Erin suddenly knows that it's a mix of those feelings that makes one human. Feeling everything makes you full enough to burst. Ironically, she finally feels alive.

Erin opens her eyes.

When the night has finally gone and when we see a new day dawn,

we'll wonder how we wandered for so long, so blind.

The wasted world we thought we knew,

the light will make it look brand new...

"You did it, Era," She knows that voice. "You made it."

"Daddy," Her voice is thick and she flings herself into his waiting arms. He hugs her back, chuckling.

"Hey honey. You're here sooner than I wanted you to be." He says, seriously. She shrugs. It's all behind her now. All the bad feelings have been conjoined to create something positive. "How did you come here?"

She knows what her dad means. Her heart sinks in her chest. "You weren't watching?" She asks, disappointed again. He shakes his head, no.

"I couldn't... I couldn't just sit there and watch," He says with shame, and she knows what he means. "I couldn't stand knowing that I couldn't do anything."

"Well," She takes a deep breath. "Do you want to know?"

"Do I?" Is his wide response. She shrugs again.

"Suicide." Erin says, shortly. Her dad sighs and hugs her tightly.

"Oh, Era... It's all behind us now." He tells her. Then he looks behind his shoulder at something that Erin can't see- now that she thinks about it, her surroundings are completely blank. "You've got a line."

"Oh, is it our turn?" Someone says cheerfully. A young couple that Erin has never seen in her life steps forward. The man has shaggy blond hair and blue eyes while the woman is Hispanic with long, flowing light brown hair and golden skin. Seeing them together, she realizes with a rush who they are.

"You're Angel's parents," She says, slightly dumbstruck. The woman nods eagerly and pulls the man behind her. He rolls his eyes despite the smile on his face.

"I'm Mimi and this is Roger." She says.

The man finally speaks in a stereotypical 'rocker' voice. "Thank you."

"For what?" Erin asks.

"For being friends with our daughter." Mimi kisses Erin's cheeks and pulls her husband out of sight. She can't see exactly where they're going until they're gone. The next in is a group of three, all of whom she recognizes.

"Hey Natalie!" She says of the first one, launching herself out of her dad's arms to greet these three standing up. She turns to the teenage boy with his arm around Natalie's waist. "Mr. Davis?"

"I told you a long time ago to call me Henry." He tells her, mock scolding. However, it doesn't look like he can stay too serious with Natalie under his arm. The third person is the man that Erin saw on the street, the one who was looking at the architecture firm.

"Oh!" Natalie seems to realize that introductions are lacking. She motions from the man to Erin. "Erin, meet my dad. Dad, meet Erin."

"I'm Dan Goodman." He holds out his hand and she shakes it. He laughs. "Nice, firm handshake, young lady!"

Erin goes to hug Natalie and when she does, she whispers into her friend's ear, "Gabe, he... he..."

Natalie pulls away, an unreadable emotion on her face. "I know. I saw."

"Natalie, why don't you introduce Erin to your- Where'd she go?" Dan looks around him, confused. Natalie sighs exasperatedly, as if this is something she has gotten used to.

"You're really bad at keeping an eye on Mom, aren't you?" She asks. Dan shrugs helplessly.

"What can I say? She's a wild one..."

Natalie's face contorts. "Ew."

Let it shine

"God damn it, woman!" A voice breaks through the cheerful cadence. "Just let me go-"

"Not looking like that!" An unfamiliar woman says.

Erin closes her eyes tightly. She knows that first voice. Her knees give out from under her and she buries her face in her hands. She's certain she's hallucinating.

Natalie calls out loudly in the direction of the voices. "Hey, you, come fix this!"

"I have a name." There's a pause. "And she's not a this, she's a she."

"Whatever, just... Do something?"

Someone crouches in front of her, she can feel their body heat. "No no no, don't cry." Natalie peels Erin's hands from her face. Erin didn't even realize that she was crying until she now sees how her vision is swimming.

"All this for me? I'm touched."

A voice like melted honey.

Through her haze, she can still see him clearly. While there is a smirk in his voice, his face is soft and he has on a friendly grin. She stands up and stares at him for a long time. "Gabe," She finally says. "Gabriel."

"Hi, Erin." His voice is subdued as if he's scared to scare her.

She steps forward boldly and traces her hands over his face, forgetting about the fact that her dad and his parents are watching them. "But... How?"

"It was you," He whispers and brushes his lips against hers. "It was all you."

She doesn't get what he means, but that doesn't matter.

Gabe is hers again.

And she is home.

There will be light. The end.

Need some explaining? Okee dokee!

So urm remember Natalie's story about how her timer ran out at the same time she finished her mission? The same thing happened to Gabe. Since Natalie couldn't see herself, she didn't know that it looked like she failed to everyone in the beyond (unfortunately it can't be the traditional heaven because of that whole suicide-is-the-ultimate-sin thing). So yeah!

Gabey's mission was, quite simply, to understand that it wasn't his fault. It's a pretty broad statement, but he is one of those self-blaming people who continues to mess up because they think there's no hope for them.

If you didn't do your homework (you little shits i swear to god), you can make it up to me by quite simply going to youtube and typing 'I am the one reprise'. The first video that pops up should say off-broadway. Click that. Watch it. Don't understand it because it's out of context but whatever, right?

AND REVIEW! PLEASE! MY DAHLINGS! Even if you've been a silent reader, at least comment a goodbye for this story :) I'm thinking about writing a prequel that will be about a family that lived in the house before Erin, but it will be horror because Gabey dahling will pull his creepy ghost shit. :)









And goodbye :(