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He never left

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“Hi, my name’s Kate, what’s yours?” I ask. He looked at me, and then turned back to what he was doing. At first I thought that he was a butt face, but then I thought that he might not have heard me, so I tried again. Speaking louder this time, I said “My name’s Kate, I live right next door, what’s your name?” He looked at me again, this time though, instead of turning back to playing with his toy trucks he turned to his mom. I looked at my mommy too; both of them were smiling down at us. He turned back looking at me again. I just smiled. “My name is Cartwer.” That was the first time I noticed something weird. He still talked like he was four! “You mean Carter?” I guessed, from the way he said it the first time. Ignoring my question, he turned back to his toys and started smashing the cars together. “Can I play?” I asked reaching for a toy car. “Nooo” he screamed at me. “Sorry” I start to say, but he doesn’t let me finish. “Just weave me Aloneeee!!” He cried running and hiding behind his mommy. I started to cry too, but instead of running to mommy I ran home. She ran after me until she saw I was going home. Daddy was home so it was ok.
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“I’m sorry about that, he’s not very social” Clary says looking down at Carter. “Its ok, I used to have the same problem with Kate. Actually this is one of the first times that she’s really opened up like this.” I say. “Really? It doesn’t seem that way at all” I smile at her the sound of her British accent, ever since Phil got sick we haven’t really gotten around much. It’s nice to meet someone from afar. “It gets better as they get older.” I say, my thoughts drifting back to when Kate wouldn’t even play on the playground. She returns my smile, and I know immediately I’ve made a new friend. “I really should be getting home; Phil might need help getting around.” He’s been needing more and more help, the doctor said that with the treatment he should live for another six years or so. But this is nothing I would burden a new friend with. “Well thank you for stopping by with these wonderful cookies, and I’m sorry to hear about your husband.” She says as she walks me out.
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The next couple times I saw him, I refused to say anything to him. My mom became friends with his mom, and she was over there almost every week for coffee. I stayed home with Daddy. When the school year started we walked to school and back in a comfortable silence. Other times when I had tried to start a conversation he just ignored me. It was Fifth Grade before I ever had a real conversation with him. He was in my class, and the teacher assigned us to be partners in a project. We were supposed to do a project on what we had in common. I know he had to be just about the worse person to do the project with. We spent hours talking at my house, and coming up with nothing. I knew almost everything about Carter, and yet we had nothing in common. Finally Carter found something. “Who are your favorite people?” He asked. “Huh?” I looked at him confused. “Your favorite people in history?” he clarified. “That’s easy, the hippies.” I say. He smiled. I think that was the first time I knew I liked him, when he just looked at me and smiled, the whole world lit up. I finally saw all the good in him. His beach blond hair, his bright blue eyes, I couldn’t understand how I never saw it all before.

We became best friends in a matter of weeks. I realized how nice he was, and when you really got through to him, he was such a good person. We learned more and more about each other, and we were always there for one another. By seventh grade we were sneaking out of our windows and having secret meetings outside. Then my dad got really sick. Carter and his mom were over at our house when it happened. Carter and I heard him coughing from down the hall, it was worse than usual. I ran down to his room, and Carter followed without hesitation. “Daddy” I yelled. My mom was in the room with Carters mom. “Call 911 Carter” My mom shouted, and he ran out of the room. I was crumpled on the floor. It wasn’t fair, for my dad to have to die so early; knowing it was coming wasn’t the same as it actually being there. The ambulance came eventually, but he was long gone. They drove away, with the sirens off. Carter stayed with me that night. Climbed in through my window and comforted me until I cried myself to sleep. I woke up that morning in his arms. He was at the funeral too, holding my hand, keeping me steady when I thought I was about to fall. “Carter, how did you do it?” I asked him one day. “Do what?” He asked. “Deal with your dad dying, and leaving you guys like that.” I said, looking into his eyes. Carter smiled a smile that didn’t quite touch his eyes. “He never left. He was always right here.” He put his hand on his heart, and then he looked back up at me. “He shares the space though.” Carter smirked one of his all American boy smirks. “Oh yea, with who?” I ask him. “With you of course” he says, looking at me as if that was the only possible answer. Carter was my first everything, First real friend, first kiss, fist love, first marriage.


20 years later
I knew when it happened, I felt as if my heart had been pulled out of my chest. I didn’t want to answer the doorbell when it rang. “Mrs. Ryder you’re going to have to come with us.” It was Paul the town sheriff. I nodded, grabbed my coat and went with them. By the time we got to the hospital, I convinced myself that everything was fine. “They just went out for milk and eggs, they’re fine.” I kept saying. They told me that I should see Calder first. He was in bad shape. I took his hand and started crying almost immediately as the reality started to seep in. His deep blue eyes looked at me, and smiled. “I’ve been waiting for you” he said, I could tell he had a joke playing on his lips, even in his condition. He winced as he shifted his body to face more towards me. I smiled through the tears. “Were you waiting long?” I asked him. “Didn’t” he started, then pausing to take a breath. “Didn’t I always” pause “tell you to” pause “drive faster” he said. His smile truly reaching his eyes. I laughed, ever since I got my license he’s been telling me to go above the speed limit, just once, but I never listened. Instead of answering I kissed him. His breath started to become more and more jagged. In his last minutes they brought Carter Jr. in on bed. He had to have a minor surgery, and some stitches, but the doctors said that he would be fine. “Don’t” he wheezed “Don’t Forget” he wheezed again. I looked at him confused, but then he touched his heart. I touched mine too, showing I understood. I didn’t cry when he died, I stayed strong for Carter Jr. I slept at the hospital that night, stayed there with carter jr. in his bed. Every time I felt my heart thump in my chest, I thought of Carter. I thought of the first time I met him, I thought of our first kiss, I thought of his blonde hair and blue eyes. I thought of how he made me strong. Most of all I thought of how he would always be there. “He never left”



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