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Feels Like Yesterday
I woke up with the usual pain. The gaping hole in my chest, the place where my heart used to be, was sick with the fact that I woke up this morning and you never would. It’s been 526 days, 2 hours, and 54 minutes since you died. And it still feels like yesterday.
The day was cloudy and dark, just the way we liked it. I remember the way you would light up when it started to rain, the way it was so easy to find you in a crowd because you were the only one smiling, you were a fire in our world that was temporarily turned bleak and gray. I think that’s one of the reasons that almost every girl in our little city wanted you. When everyone else was complaining, frowning, and out of sorts, you would give everyone a little bit of hope with that million-dollar smile and the way you would shout weird facts about clouds as we were in between classes. At least, that’s why I wanted you.
It was the night of our school dance. I was going with you of course, because that’s what best friends do. However, I was hoping that rather than going as just friends, by the time the night was over we could tell people next week that we finally were more.
As soon as I got home, I rushed to the room where we’ve spent ten summers. My hand brushed the frog sculpture you made me in seventh grade while my eyes locked on the dying roses you sent me two weeks ago when asking me to prom. Arthur, my younger brother and your biggest fan, barged into my room and flung himself on my bed. As I was screaming at him to leave, telling him of the invention of knocking, he called out in his annoyingly high singsong voice,
“Fiiiiine! But your lover boy left you a present at the door, dear sister.” And with that remark he scrunched up his face in an attempt at a wink and left me with bright pink cheeks and a wonder what the heck you put on my doorstep.
I swung the door so fast my mother yelled from the kitchen not to break it off the hinges. There, on the porch was a present and a bouquet of yellow roses. The rain was really coming down now, and a few raindrops had caught the flowers, leaving them dewy looking and absolutely beautiful. As I took the gifts silently back up to my room, I realized something with a pang of guilt:
I didn’t deserve you.
And looking back, I guess God thought I didn’t deserve you either. He knew the whole world wasn’t good enough for you. He had to take you home.
I remember the way I felt as I was standing in front of my six-foot mirror on the other side of my door two hours later, with my insanely long dirty blonde hair straightened and hanging down to my lower back, the deep green dress with small white flowers up the side, to match your black and green suit, all shining back at me. That was the first time I’ve ever felt beautiful. I wanted you to be more than the best friend that I’ve known since I was six. I wanted to be more to you than the only girl that wasn’t afraid to roll around in the dirt and spend ninety-five percent of our time together digging up worms in grade school. I wanted you to see me as more than just another one of the guys. But mostly of all, I needed you to love me like I loved you.
When the doorbell rang, I had never been so nervous in my life. What if you hated the dress? What if you realized that you could have taken someone better than me? What if our car broke down and we were late? This time I opened the door slowly. And when I finally saw you, all of those worries melted away. If I ever told you that, you would have laughed, and told me that statement had a cheese factor of 10/10. But it’s true. You looked like a supermodel. Your brown hair was a little less messy than usual, but still plenty sexy and your blue eyes were extra bright against the gray atmosphere that was outside.
“Are you just gonna stare at me all night, or are we going to our prom?” you said, bringing me back from my continuous gaze that was locked on you. I’m sure I was bright red, and all I could do is nod as you took my hand and lead me to your truck.
Your truck is one of the things I will never in a thousand years forget about you. You had been saving for a truck ever since we were in third grade. It was where all of your change went, the dollar you found under the jacket by the pond, the tip you received from your daytime job, it all went into your truck savings. I was there when you picked it out. You had exactly $2,523.55 saved up and I had never seen you so proud about anything. We had gone to the used car dealership and had one of the guys show us around. The car salesman was a beer away from passing out and smelled like cheeseburgers and lighter fluid. He laughed when you told him how much you had and what you wanted, only to stop when he saw the look on your face. He staggered to what he believed would be your only option. A real screwed up, old, truck that was every piece as disgusting as the dealer. And you loved it. You shoved every penny of your hard earned cash into that disgusting man’s hand and jumped into your prized possession. The dealer yelled something as we were driving away,
“It’s nice to see someone that takes the things in life no one else wanted.”
I swear he was looking straight at me when he said that.
That’s how I felt though, and as I sat in the passenger seat, smiling and agreeing with whatever story you were telling me, I was still secretly wondering why you chose to be here with me. But then you gently shook my shoulder.
“Nikki, is it okay if we don’t go straight to the prom? I want to show you something.” Your blue eyes pleaded and you smiled that heaven-bound smirk.
“Yeah, sure.” I gave what I thought was a reassuring smile, but you just shook your head and leaned into me.
“I think that where I’m going to take you will make you feel better.” And you kissed my cheek.
You always did know exactly what to say.
We pulled into our “surprise” just as the rain slowed. It was drizzling now, and out the windshield I saw what looked like paradise in our small town of nowhere. You opened my door and led me out, all the while watching me take in our haven. It was green, everywhere green, framed by purples and yellows and blues. There was a trail up one of the hills, and a creek running down the side.
“Isn’t it beautiful? I want to just take you up on the trail for a little bit okay? I just thought you’d like this place.” You looked proud.
All I could do was agree and follow you up the path. We were side by side the entire time. We were both getting more soaked by the minute, rain pouring down now all over our clothes and hair, making us blend in with the green surrounding and encompassing us. When we finally reached our destination, we resembled people that took baths in formal attire. My dress was plastered to my body, my hair dripping. You looked even hotter. You led me into a small cave in the side of the hill that was next to us. It was surprisingly dry and smelled like crushed flowers and woods. For awhile, all we did was stare outside. The wind was picking up blowing the plant life up and down as the rain pelted them. The whole scene was so unreal; it looked straight out of a painting. It was the best gift that anyone had given me. Leave it to Jake.
“Jake, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing this with me, I mean can we just stay here? Do we have to go to the prom because just look at how amazi-
“I’d like to stay here.”
The colors around our cave seemed to get brighter, the rain got heavier.
I turned around to find your face inches from mine. The colors were neon, the rain had a pulse.
“Can I show you something else?”
You didn’t wait for an answer. Your lips found mine and we kissed. It was perfect. All those years of friendship, secrets, and love were expressed in this one, these two, these three, beautiful kisses in the middle of heaven. We talked and laughed and kissed for about another hour, and then ran back to the car, all the while stumbling, laughing and being giddy, ridiculous teenagers. When we drove away, I couldn’t stop trying to soak all those memories and feelings and that gorgeous scenery to be permanently etched in my mind. I didn’t know where we were going, I didn’t care. We weren’t talking, just smiling. Smiles, smiles, and thoughts. The soundtrack of our drive. Soon, we reached the busier streets. The stoplight turned red, and your old truck slowly made a stop. We looked at each other then, listening to the sounds of engines and horns.
“I think I’m in love with you.”
I could have danced at those words. Those words I had been dreaming of my whole life, were said to me in these few moments. I should’ve. I should’ve made you pull over to kiss me, or go back to our heaven and look at those green, green hills and talk about our lives. But I didn’t.
I said, “I think I’m in love with you too.”
Was that really all that I could manage?
And then the light turned green, Green like your shirt and green like my dress, Green like those hills. We were halfway through the intersection, a pickup truck came out of nowhere and slammed into your truck. Your precious truck. And You. Jake, Jake, The truck, Jake.
All I can remember is afterwards, I was lying in glass. A blanket of glass and I saw your green shirt. Green like those hills. And lots of red. I heard a scream. It was mine. They took you out of the car, Jake and put us both in the ambulance. You were still gorgeous. I heard your heart stop, Jake. I saw them try to fix you. They couldn’t help you Jake.
I told you I loved you over and over again, Jake. I told you about the color green. Green hills and green dresses.
Only this time, you didn’t answer back.
This is letter five hundred twenty six. It’s going to be at your grave, with lots of green and five hundred twenty five other letters. I don’t know why I still do this Jake. My dad told me it’s the only way I cope. But the truth is, I don’t cope. I’m not coping, Jake. Because you’re not breathing.
Before this letter is over Jake, I have to tell you something. I think I love you. And I won’t stop until God decides it’s time for me to meet you in heaven.
P.S: Heaven looks like hills. Green hills filled with purples and blues and yellows and you. And it’s raining.