March 6, 2012
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Jonah wanted to scream.

He wanted to run and run and get as far from this place as he could. Better yet, he wanted to rewind eight months or so, and have things go back to the way they were. Before the ‘Thing-That-Would-Change-Everything‘.

He felt like his heart was being torn out of his chest and thrown in a blender. Repeatedly. He was in so much pain. Which was ironic, because he wasn’t even the one who died.

He looked toward the grey sky. It was cloudy and he was aware that it was raining. He vaguely heard the rumble of thunder. He wasn’t really sure of what street he was walking on.

He thought about her. Autumn. He felt the tears falling down his checks, and the sobs as they came up his throat.

God, he could barely think about her name without having an emotional breakdown.

Autumn. To him, it brought the image of a young girl, 18, on the verge of becoming a woman. She had dark, golden hair, and eyes that were chocolate brown. Normally she had her hair down. It was long and thick, with soft curls throughout. She was so beautiful, even after her hair would fall out.

She was an old soul, through and through. She liked classics. Classic movies, classic cars, classic music. She had an almost bohemian edge to her. She liked faded, scuffed jeans, and tee-shirts. Sun dresses, and Converse. She had a thing for floral print.

She was like a fallen angel. Gorgeous, and sweet, and whimsical, but she had a wild side. There were times when they would got to parties or a club and she’d go crazy, dancing like she had no cares. And she’d pull him in and they’d get high off of the way they felt, in that moment. She was a strict no drugs, no booze kind of girl, because she didn’t need them to feel buzzed. Give her a beat and the boy she loved and Autumn was off.

She was an incredibly talented artist, too. Painting was her passion. She had one a few prizes for her work and planned to go out to an art school in California, after graduation. She had told Jonah that all she wanted was to marry him, go to art school, and live happily ever after.

And when they made that promise, they were in love and stupid. They thought they would live forever, always together. Jonah couldn’t help but find the irony in that too.

He remembered how they’d started dating as freshman. Looking back, it was crazy how much they’d been through.

Like the time that they broke up for a three days, because some cheerleader had told him that she was cheating and he‘d been stupid enough to believe it.

Or when he planned a romantic dinner in the city and his truck ended up dying on the side of the highway, half way between his house and the restaurant. So they laid in the bed of his truck and pointed out constellations.

There was the time she spent a month of her summer in Florida with her aunt, and he sat in bed everyday, miserable and lonely. And she’d come home early, because she felt the same way.

Once when he’d been standing under her window trying to serenade her, the neighbors called the cops, and he got arrested for trespassing.

Then there was the day that she told him she had cancer.

He had thought that was the worst day of his life, but god, was he wrong.

She had fought hard over the last eight months, and the doctors had said she had a good chance of recovering after her last round of chemotherapy. But then about a week ago she had taken a turn for the worst. Kidney failure. It didn’t look good.

He refused to admit to himself that he could actually lose her. It had never occurred to him that there was such thing as a life without Autumn. She had always been there, for good and bad. He was in love with her, and that should have been enough to keep her alive. He knew that his reasoning was skewed but it was all he had.

And now, a couple of hours ago, her heart stopped. He had been there. Her family and him, they took shifts at staying awake with her, since the medications she was taking made it hard for her to fall asleep. It had been a few minutes in to his turn.

They were laying on her hospital bed, facing each other. He had been telling her a story, a story of the life they would have when all of this was over. Deep in their hearts, neither of them truly believed it. And then all of a sudden something in her eyes changed.

When he saw it he didn’t understand it. But he felt like something was changing. So he closed his eyes and kissed her lightly, and then put his forehead to hers. She looked into his eyes, and they were both crying, very softly. She just looked at him, and in the smooth, velvet voice of hers she said, “Jonah.”

In that one word it felt like she had said everything.

Her eyes closed and she let out a shaky breath. And that’s when he heard it; the sound of the heart moniter flat-lining. In that moment he didn’t cry. He just kissed her forehead, and got off the bed, as the nurses came in. Then when he saw them shake their heads and tear up a little, it really hit him.

Autumn was dead.

And he fell to his knees and cried harder than he’d ever cried before.

One of the nurses got him to stand up and walked him out of the room. He was hysterical as they walked to the waiting room, but then he saw her parents and little brother in the hall, carrying a bag from the gift store, looking tired, but not heartbroken. Her father met his eye and stopped in his tracks. Jonah knew that he could tell. So when her dad took off towards Autumn’s room, the nurse and his family following suit, it only made it more real.

Autumn was dead.

He felt himself fall to the floor again, but this time there was no one to pick him up. This time he was alone, truly alone. There was nobody he could run to now, when it all became too much. Nobody to hold his hand just because. No one to joke around with. No one to take long car rides with. No one to kiss under the moonlight. No one that he would love the way he loves her.

Autumn was dead.

What was he supposed to do? Where was he supposed to go? What was he supposed to say to his family when he come home that night? How was he supposed to last that long?

God, the pain was getting worse. It was like he couldn’t even breathe without thinking about her and how she’s gone. Each time he did think about her it was like a rusted knife to his heart. But she was all he thought about, ever. How could he not?

Part of him was tempted to go back to her room, and see her family. He knew that they probably didn’t want to talk though. He didn’t think that he’d be able to go back in
God, he knew that the pain of losing someone would get better with time, but how was he supposed to live with it now? How was he supposed to live through pain like this? He didn’t get it, and he almost didn’t want to. Understanding meant accepting, and he didn’t think he could ever accept what had just happened to her.

There was no part of Jonah that was hurting physically or mentally. He briefly wondered if sleep would help, or if he’d only dream of her.

He had no idea how much time had passed since he left her room. Just then, her mother came around the corner, bawling and moaning. She saw him, and he stood up and walked over to her, crying still himself. “Oh, god, Jonah. Oh, god…”

She pulled him toward her and they cried together, which made the pain slightly less intense, to mourn with a familiar face. Neither said anything, but just wept. After a while she pulled back and held his shoulders. He never remembered her looking so broken.

“I know-I know how hard this is, b-but you should go home, honey. We’ve all been through too much lately, and it’s not even o-over yet. You need to go to sleep, and you shouldn’t be alone, not after this.” She paused and bit her shaking lip. “Go home and let you family hold you. I’ll call you later, okay?’

He was in to much pain to argue. So he nodded, and she hugged him again.

He took the stairs, and made his way out of the hospital. He figured he shouldn’t drive in his condition, so he started towards home. He barely registered that the sun was coming up.

All of a sudden Jonah felt like screaming again.

And because he felt like he had a justified excuse, he sat down on the curb and screamed.

Autumn was dead.

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