Always and Forever

March 25, 2009
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Sweet, sweet Melanie: who knew she would be gone so fast? She was outgoing, loveable, and as far as I’m concerned, perfect. Melanie was one of those people who could make your day just by giving you one of her genuine smiles. Her laugh was contagious; just thinking about it made me smile. Her features were flawless. She was a one-of-a-kind girl that could never be replaced. And best of all, she was all mine.

“Faster Braydon, you drive so slow! Just let me drive, just this once please! You never let me drive,” Melanie told me from the passenger seat of my old Chevrolet truck.

“My truck, my rules Mel, you know that. I promised your parents I was going to take good care of you. Besides, you don’t even have your license yet,” I argued.

“Oh please! I have my permit. It’s close enough.”

I hated arguing with Melanie, even if they were stupid arguments. She always had this way of making me give in. Just one look in her big begging eyes, and there was no way I could win.

“Okay okay, I’ll let you drive just this once. But that’s it, got it?” I suddenly regretted what I had just said.

“Oh finally. Pull over, Braydon!” she said as she grabbed the door handle, ready to get out any second. As soon as I pulled over, she jumped out of the car and ran quickly over to the driver’s seat. Driving was probably Melanie’s favorite thing in the world. She couldn’t think of anything better to do with her time and driving with her best friend was just an added bonus.

Melanie and I drove in silence. I didn’t really know where we were going and honestly, I really didn’t care. I liked being with Melanie, with or without a conversation. She was really the most important thing to me at the time because I really didn’t have anything else.

“Mel?” I asked in a quiet tone. “Where exactly are we going?”

“If I told you, it would ruin the surprise!” she said as she smiled one of her big smiles, and I couldn’t help but smile too.

“Alright, alright can I at least have a hint?” I asked, actually quite curious.

“We’re here! Look familiar?” She couldn’t help but laugh a little.

I looked out the front windshield to see my absolute favorite place in the world. This was the beach where Melanie and I first met each other when we were about eight years old. There was a large party going on, probably about fifty to sixty people all along the beach. I recognized many faces, too. Melanie parked on the side of the street, and I jumped out of the truck. I waited for her to get out, and we walked over to the beach together. The music got louder as we neared the beach. I looked over at Melanie. Her face looked peaceful. Melanie had always loved the ocean. I think it was the sound she loved the most.

“Hey, Connor!” Melanie yelled to one of the older boys closest to the water.

Connor was Melanie’s older brother. He was a tall, tan boy with dark brown hair. I always thought it was a little strange how different they looked. Mel had blonde hair and green eyes, whereas Connor had brown hair and brown eyes.

“Hey Mel-Belle, what are you doing here?” Connor asked as he looked at me then Melanie with a small grin.

“Braydon and I just wanted to see what the commotion was all ‘bout.”

One of Connor’s friends must have said something to him, because he looked behind him, looked at Melanie, waved at us, and then ran off towards them. Melanie and I walked to one of the tables sitting out and grabbed some soda, both of us noticing the six 12-packs of beer sitting on the table. We could tell it was starting to get hectic around us. She seemed a little bit worried, so I started talking to her to maybe distract her from the intoxicated influences around us.

“So, Mel,” I started. “I haven’t been here in a long time. It’s a…interesting place to have a party, isn’t it? I mean, how did you know to come all the way….” I trailed off. Melanie was paying no attention to me. Her back faced me as she stared at something in the distance. I looked in the direction she was looking but saw nothing.

“Um…is there something in the water?” I asked kind of confused.

“What? Were you saying something?” she replied in a weary voice, sort of startled.

We looked at each other for a long moment, until suddenly there was a loud pop and screams coming from behind Melanie. We both jumped at the sound and she ran into my arms. I looked ahead to see what was going on while she buried her face into my shirt. People were running towards our direction. There were too many people; I couldn’t exactly see what was going on. Connor suddenly appeared in front of me and picked up Melanie. She screamed for him to put her down, but he refused. I watched Melanie disappear within the crowd. I was too confused to even move. I heard another pop and more screams. That must have woken me up, because at that instant I began running after Melanie and Connor. I had no idea what was going on or what we were going to do next, so I just started running.
I frantically started searching for Melanie. There were too many people crowded all together. I looked behind me and saw two men walking behind the crowd casually. I suddenly bumped right into Connor. Melanie fidgeted out of Connor’s hold and ran into my chest. I heard one more gunshot, and girls behind us screamed in horror. I turned around quickly to see a tall, tan boy with dark brown hair lying motionless in the sand. Melanie slowly turned around to see her brother, dead.
Connor’s funeral was really hard on Melanie and me. It seemed like it lasted forever. Connor’s entire family was there. I sat with them. I guess I was considered a part of the family. After Connor’s death, Melanie really wasn’t ever the same. She wasn’t the normal outgoing, loud, smiley girl she used to be. In fact, she really didn’t do much out of the house. She didn’t go out with her friends like she always did; the only person she talked to was me. I was really worried about her.
One day, I decided to take Melanie to the park. Since she loved being outside so much, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to get her mind off of her brother, and maybe help me out a little, too. I picked her up, and she actually to my surprise seemed perfectly normal, almost as if nothing had ever happened.
“Hey Mel, ready to go?” I asked with a slight half-grin on my face.
“Yeah, I’m ready. But is it okay if maybe…” she hesitated. “We don’t go to the park, maybe somewhere else?” she stared out the window nervously.
“Well, sure, I don’t care. What did you have in mind?”
“The beach,” she said flatly. She turned her head and looked at me for a long moment. I was shocked by her response. I didn’t know what to tell her.
“Melanie? I’m not sure if…well do you really…” I tried to find the right words. “Are you ready to go back?”
“Just take me, Braydon,” she responded with a blank stare.
I slowly pressed the pedal as my truck roared and moved forward. I agreed with Melanie’s decision, not wanting to argue. On our way to the beach, she stared out the window the entire time. I could tell she was trying to hold back her tears. Maybe the beach wasn’t such a great idea. I could have easily objected, but Melanie obviously wanted this, otherwise she would have just gone along with my park idea.
I parked in the same spot Melanie had parked on the evening of Connor’s death. She jumped out of the truck first and quickly walked to the beach. As soon as her feet hit the sand, she slowed to a stop. She stared down at the sand for a while and abruptly dropped to her knees. I slammed the truck door behind me and ran to her side. Her head in her hands, she cried softly. I sat next to her and put my arm around her shoulder. For the rest of the evening, we sat in the sand together as I comforted her.
I thought about Melanie almost all of the time. I didn’t talk to her for a few days, and I was starting to get worried. As I sat in my room one morning, I got an unexpected call from Melanie’s mother.
“Braydon, may I have a word with you?” she asked politely, but I could tell in her voice that she was crying.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, “Is Melanie alright?” I could hear my own words tremble nervously.
“That’s actually what I want to talk to you about sweetie…” her voice stopped abruptly. I could tell she had started to cry. I instantly knew something had happened to Melanie.
“Mrs. Kennedy, tell me what happened!” My voice rose with anger.
“Melanie drowned last night,” she answered without any emotion. “In the ocean, close to where Con…” she paused. Her voice disappeared. I didn’t respond. I couldn’t respond. I had nothing to say.
“She’s gone, hon.” She whispered under her own sobs. I immediately hung up the phone. I could feel hot tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had no idea if this was really even actually happening. I walked outside and headed to the beach. I passed my truck completely without even thinking about driving myself there. I walked down the sidewalks at a quick pace, tears still rolling down my cheeks. I could feel my face get red with anger as a neared the beach. When I reached the sand, I stopped dead in my tracks. I saw police cars and officers all around the water’s edge. I slowly kneeled down to the sand and watched as the officers did their job.
I sat by myself at this particular funeral. I didn’t have Melanie to sit with anymore. I couldn’t talk to her, or see her genuine smile, or comfort her when it was necessary. None of that existed anymore, nor will it ever again. Melanie, my Melanie, was gone. She will be mine, always and forever. My sweet, sweet Melanie: who knew she would be gone so fast?

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Miaoru said...
Apr. 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm
Great story! It is so sad, but so good!
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