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My Love is Gone (Prologue)
A loud thud sounded from the hard, back cover of the book I’d just finished. I slammed it shut, disappointed. I took a few seconds before I did anything else.
I spun my desk chair around, to look at my best friend, Luke. He just stared back.
Neither of us said anything, although we both knew it.
“I hate books,” I said.
“I know,” Luke replied.
“Especially that book. That book sucked.”
“I know,” he said again.
“Why’d you insist I read it then?”
I just stared at him, expecting a follow-up. And as always, here it came:
“I thought it might help.”
“Help with what?” I asked, pretending.
“Max, really. Don’t act stupid. You know I know. You’re hurt, Max. Stop pretending you aren’t. It isn’t fooling anyone; especially me.”
I spun back around, away from him, to face the wall. The book still sat on my desk, antagonizing me. The hard, black binding read three simple words: I. Love. You.
That book just sat there, acting innocent. I picked it up, with my sweaty, clammy hand, and turned it around to look at the front.
On it was a beautiful girl, about my age.
I hadn’t really looked at the cover while, or before, I was reading it. I just wanted to get it over with. Luke was forcing me to read this book.
Now that I had actually looked at it, the girl on the front…looked familiar. Very familiar.
Luke was still sitting on my bed, but I could feel his intense eyes staring at the back of my head.
I was searching for the author’s name, when he spoke.
“Max, it’s almost been a year now. You can’t keep doing this.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I replied, halfheartedly, still not finding the name. The chair was now turned slightly towards Luke, through my fidgeting.
“It’s not there.” He said.
“What’s not where?” I didn’t understand.
“Her name. She didn’t put it on there.”
“Luke, what are you talking about?” I stopped looking at the book for the author’s name, and turned to face him.
He didn’t say anything, just gave me a look, a cold, hard look. I blinked.
“She didn’t put her name on there. She didn’t want anyone to know who wrote it, because she didn’t want people to know what it was truly about. She only wrote it for you.”
Suddenly, I understood. This wasn’t just any other book. Someone I knew wrote this book. This awful, horrible book.
Someone I didn’t only know, but someone I cared about (or, used to, I wasn’t sure if I still did or not). Someone… I used to love.
“What?” I asked, still shocked.
“Max, that book is about you. You and Aimee.”
I couldn’t have spoken if I wanted to. There was nothing to be said. I mean, of course it sounded familiar - the book that is, and that’s exactly why I hated it.
No, this book was not about me, or Aimee. Aimee didn’t write it. She especially didn’t write it about me.
But she did. I could see the truth in Luke’s eyes.
“Max, look, the only reason why I made you read that book is because you need to stop. You need to stop all of this. Stop pretending it doesn’t hurt you, because I know, and everyone else who is ever around you knows that you are not alright. Max, your grades have fallen drastically. You never read anything anymore. You don’t write like you used to. You don’t write at all. You avoid speaking to anyone other than me, as often as possible, including your parents.
“You sit up here, in your room, solitary, sulking, every day. I’ve had enough. Everyone has had enough. You have to move on Max. You have to stop.”
The book that I still held in my hand, called to me, it stung my hand, begging to be seen again. The girl on the cover unfolded her face, revealing her true identity: My girlfriend.
I didn’t know how I didn’t realize it was her before, when I looked at it the very first time. Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen her for almost a year. Maybe because I just didn’t want to. I didn’t know.
I looked up at Luke, with pained eyes, filling with tears. Tears I’d held back for so long, that I never let out; I hid them from everyone, including myself.
I threw the book across the room. In the midst of its flight, it opened, and as it crashed against the wall, it bent the middle pages, creasing them unevenly. As it fell to the floor I was walking out of my room. I slammed the door shut behind me, leaving Luke inside. I walked down the seemingly long hallway, past my sister’s room. Down the stairs, I began to feel the first tear from my eye: the first tear I’d cried in a year. I walked through the living room, ignoring my parent’s questions, and out the front door.
I didn’t have a clue as to where I would go, but wherever it was, I’d be there. I began to walk faster, now that I was in the open, vulnerable, for the whole world to see. As my tears fell down my face, out of my eyes, over the crease of my upper lip, staining my white t-shirt, it felt like the whole world had its eyes on me.
I started walking even faster, almost a jog. A few blocks away from my house, I could hear footsteps getting louder behind me, closing in. As they got closer, I could hear the heavy breathing that went with them.
I ran with everything (although very little) I had. Luckily, I had been wearing tennis shoes.
I still didn’t know where I was going: I just was. I was just going, getting away from here, from people. From Luke. I didn’t want to talk, and I knew that’s what he wanted from me.
He was closing in, getting closer. Trapping me.
“Max!” He yelled. I ignored him and ran faster, as did he.
“Max, stop! Wait!” I didn’t.
His steps were declining, becoming slower, fading. Mine weren’t.
It was at this very point in time that I was extremely glad Aimee convinced me to do track. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to outrun Luke. Outrun her.
After a few minutes, they were gone. Luke was gone. I was alone, how I wanted it.
I sat on a wooden bench in the park. The wood it was made from looked old, ancient. It was peeling, splintering. I sat anyways.
There was no one around, no one to see me. The tears I had held back while running came rushing out, once again. I had no intention of stopping them this time; it was pointless.
They spilled from my eyes, no emotion coming with them. I held myself prisoner, stone-like, waiting for this to pass.
It seemed hours that I sat on that old wood bench in the park, alone, leaking tears.
“Max,” Luke said, out of nowhere. I hadn’t even heard him approach. I didn’t look up. “Max, look, I’m sorry. I was only trying to help.” I still didn’t look up, didn’t say anything.
He sat on the other end of the bench. I felt his eyes burning into the side of my face. It drove me crazy. I snapped my head to the side, to look at him, shoot him an annoyed look.
Neither of us said a word, just sat there, staring at each other.
After a while, it was annoying. I stood up, and began walking home.
I could hear him following me.
It felt like a shorter walk actually walking than it did running home.
When we (yes, unfortunately, we) got to the front door of my house, I opened the door. He began to walk in, and as I shut the door he caught it, stopping it from shutting.
“Luke, go home.” I spat, and slammed the door in his face.
I walked back through the living room, where my parents still sat, again ignoring their questions, and up the stairs. Back through the hallway where my sister’s room was, and into my room. The first thing I saw when I opened my door, was that gaud-awful book lying on the floor. I didn’t near it, I didn’t pick it up, I didn’t move it. I just threw my body on my bed, forgetting what happened today.
Shortly after, I was asleep, numb, thoughtless, and dreamless.
I woke up from her angel face, early in the morning. It felt like three a.m. I picked up my cell phone that sat on the bedside table and flipped it open, to see the time: 4:27 a.m.
There was also one unread voicemail message, and two texts.
I went to my inbox in my phone, to find that both of them were from Luke.
The first read:
Max, I’m sorry for the way that went down. I probably should have been more sensitive. I know this has been rough on you. Please, call me.
The second read:
Max? Look, I know you’re probably really mad right now. Just talk to me. Dude, we’re best friends. I’m here for you. You don’t have to do this alone, you know. She’s still in your heart, man. Leave her there.
After that, I called my voicemail. And not to my surprise, the voicemail message was from him.
“Max, I tried texting you. You didn’t text me back, so I called. You didn’t answer, obviously. You have to let her go, she’s gone, Max. It’s almost been a year, and you’re in worse shape than you were when it happened. It wasn’t your fault. I know you think it is, but it isn’t.
“We’ve been told to buckle up since we were four years old. You can’t keep blaming yourself. You can’t keep shutting the rest of the world out. You didn’t kill her, Max. It isn’t your fault. Stop treating yourself like it is…
“Call me. You need to talk to someone, stop denying it. She’s not coming back, man. Let go. Live. For her, Max. Live for her.”
I stared at the screen of my phone that read: Connected: Voicemail.
I flipped it shut, and threw it across the room. It crashed against the wall, and to my dismay, landed right next to the book.
The book Aimee wrote.
About me. And her.
About me and her.
I love you, too, Aimee.