Just one more

August 1, 2010
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"Forever." Ethan whispered, forehead-to-forehead, face so close that I could make out the specks of gold in his brown eyes. As we stood there in the mid-July sun, cut off from the civilization on just the other side of the trees, I knew I was in love. Not fake love, the kind that you hear every 13 year old girl on the planet talking about; where they've been dating this boy for 2 days and think it's meant to be. No, this was a different kind. It shone through us like a flashlight under a blanket, lighting up our sappy, smiling faces. I could feel it in my veins; I could practically drink it in.

"I love you." It was the first time I'd ever said it to someone that wasn't family. The words almost had a weird aftertaste coming out of my mouth, but at the same time I wanted to say them over and over again, brand them permanently into his heart where he would never forget.

"I love you too." I smiled as I searched his face with my eyes, wanting to remember him just like this. The look of pure love radiating through him and into me, the way he seemed so happy to have me this close to him, how his perfect dark brown hair was lightly blowing when the wind hit. All the little things that built him up and defined him as himself.

"What?" shivers of happiness fell over me in waves as he brushed my bangs away from my eyes, lips turned up into a smile that I wanted to melt my own lips into.

"Nothing. I'm just happy." I said as I buried my face deep into his shoulder and breathed him in, loving the way he smelled, how I could feel his heartbeat through the thin fabric of his shirt, the way his warm body was pressed up against mine.

"Good." He seemed like he wanted to say something else, but was interrupted by his cell ringing. He flipped it open, keeping one arm solidly around my waist and answered.

"Hello?" There was a pause as he listened to the person on the other end of the line, "Okay. I'll be there in like, 15 minutes. I'm leaving Jess's right now." He paused again, then said goodbye and hung up.

"Baby, I'm sorry. I have to go, I completely forgot that I'm supposed to pick my little sister up from piano today." He hugged me tight and then turned to go.

"Wait!" I called after him. He turned around, I knew he would, and waited.

"One more." I said as I ran up to him and pulled him into my reach again; pressed my lips against his, longer than I typically would. After all, this was a goodbye kiss. I wouldn't see him again until tomorrow. A day can feel like forever when you're in love.

I could tell he didn't want to leave either; it seemed like it almost hurt him to pull away from me, not letting go of my hand until our fingers couldn't reach anymore.

I watched him until he was out of my sight, stood there in that place for a few minutes, replaying this afternoon in my head. Then I turned around, and headed back into the house.

***


It was later that night when my world came crashing down. I was doing housework, trying to keep my mind off the fact that Ethan hadn't called me at 7 like he had every single night of every single week of every single month for the past 8 months. I wondered if he was mad at me, if he had a family emergency, something along those lines. I never in a MILLION years suspected what really happened.

As I was loading the laundry machine, I heard the home phone going off upstairs and ran to get it, thinking it might be Ethan, even though I didn't know why he'd call my home instead of cell.

"Hello?" I practically screamed into the phone, out of breath from running up two flights of stairs to get to the phone in the kitchen.

"Hey." It wasn't Ethan. It was my mother, and she sounded upset, like she was about to do something she didn't want to.

"Hey, Mom. What's wrong?"

"It's... it's Ethan. I'm so sorry baby, but he was heading over to pick his sister up from lessons, and his car was hit by an 18-wheeler. He didn't make it honey." Mom's voice sounded choked up, and I knew she was crying as she said the words to me, knowing they would crush me.

"Mom, that's... that's not possible. It's got to be a mistake. I just saw Ethan today, there's no way... he can't just be GONE." My hand was shaking, barely holding the phone.

"I'm so sorry honey."

"No, no he's not dead, he's NOT!" I said, starting to sound slightly on the edge of hysteria, tears choking my voice, "NO."

"I don't know what to say..."
I dropped the phone. The clatter it made against the kitchen tile sounded distant, like it was happening in another room. I slowly sank to my knees, curled up in a ball. Ignoring the sounds of my mother's voice, still on the phone, asking if I was still there. Mentally the answer was no. My whole body felt numb. Just a couple of hours ago I had been wrapped up safe in his arms, away from anything bad that could happen. Now he was gone. Not just gone until tomorrow, even though that was plenty long enough, but gone forever. I would never feel his lips against mine ever again. I brushed my fingertips across them now, remembering the last one.

When I said one more, I didn't mean forever.





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