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A little too late
I woke up screaming again. My hair was plastered to my sweaty forehead and tears were streaming down my face. I never fully remembered what happened in these dreams, but I always remembered him. I remembered the terror in his eyes or the blood or the screaming… something terrible always happened concerning him but I could never remember what it was.
The horrible images from his appearances tonight were imprinted on my brain and I couldn’t go back to sleep.
“Go away Josh. Please just go away.” I pleaded to the darkness.
Josh was dead. But in my dreams, he was alive as ever. The same terrified look in his sky blue eyes… I shook the thought from my head and willed myself to go back to sleep with no luck. So I decided to take a walk. As I walked, my mind wandered back to that night, six months ago…
“So which restaurant should we go to tonight?”
“I don’t know… Mexican food sounds good.”
I smiled to myself. Josh was the best friend a girl could have. We went on weekly “dates” and to all the school dances together. Everyone thought we were an item but it wasn’t like that. He was like my brother and I was his little sister.
We were heading out to dinner because my date stood me up and Josh wanted to make me feel better. We had an awesome time at the restaurant, laughing and talking just like always. We went for a walk afterward.
“Carlie, I need to tell you something.”
“Uh… I…” His face flushed and he looked down.
I laughed. “Josh, you’re my best friend. You can tell me anything.”
His blue eyes met mine and he grabbed my hand. “Anything?”
My heart fluttered and I couldn’t get words passed my lips so I simply nodded.
He took a deep breath. “Carlie, I love you.”
I bit my lip but I didn’t let go of his hand. “You… what?”
“I… love you.” I lowered his eyes again and blushed. “I’m sorry, that was out of line.”
“No… no you’re fine.” I smiled a little, my heart racing. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure that we were just friends. I remembered all the times he hugged me or held me when I cried. The midnight phone calls and slow dancing… I had pushed away any romantic feelings for him because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship but I knew they were there, lurking in the back of my mind.
“I… I just…” Josh was always such a smooth talker that it was odd to hear him stutter…
Suddenly, I wasn’t so concerned with his stuttering. Within an instant, he had pulled me towards him and pressed his lips against mine. I was surprised at first but my hands found their way to his chest and his hands gently embraced my cheeks. When we finally pulled away, we turned away from each other, embarrassed. When we turned back, I saw the slight smile on his face and he must’ve seen the one on mine. The taste of his kiss lingered on my lips and left me longing for more.
“I… uh… yeah. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind trying it again.” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I saw his eyes widen and I felt my cheeks grow hot but he seemed to accept the offer. Once more, I felt his lips on mine. My arms wrapped around his neck, my fingers entangled in his hair. I emitted a small sigh and could feel him smile beneath the kiss. When we pulled away for a second time, our fingers entwined and we made our way back to the car.
I still wasn't sure how I felt about him, but I liked the way his hand felt and I most definitely liked the kisses. We were still holding hands when Josh started the car. We were driving down the road that had a river to the right of it and I shivered as the thought of drowning entered my mind.
"It would be horrible to drown..."
"Yeah it would be... but I would never let you. I would die before I let you get hurt."
"Aww that’s so sweet... Josh? What’s that car doing?" There was a car coming towards us that was swerving all over the road.
"I'm not sure... but they look drunk."
"Be careful..." No sooner than I had gotten these words out of my mouth, the car sped up and switched lanes.
"Josh!" I screamed as the car rammed into us. Josh had tried swerving but the impact only made us drive straight into the river.
"Carlie!" Josh screamed.
"Josh what are gonna do!"
"Stay calm baby just stay calm. I'll get you out of this."
"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh!" I started panicking when the water began filling the car.
"Just wait until it's full, then open the door! We're gonna have to swim."
I unbuckled my seat belt and try to stay calm as we waited for the car to fill.
"Carlie?" I looked at Josh, terror written all over his face.
"What is it?"
The water was almost to my shoulders now but I did as he asked and leaned over and kissed him. I felt water against my cheeks and when I pulled back I realized he was crying.
He interrupted by kissing me once more. His hands gently but firmly kept my face to his and wouldn’t let go until the water was almost over our heads.
“Carlie, take a deep breath and get ready.” He shouted. I nodded and sucked in all the air I could until there was no more air in the car. Josh leaned over and pushed the door open with such great force, I almost gasped. He shoved me out and I started swimming upward when I realized Josh wasn’t following me. I swam back to the car in panic and saw him struggling with the seatbelt. He was pinned.
He saw me and motioned for me to go. I shook my head and attempted to reenter the car. I started feeling dizzy when I felt a hand grab my arm. I looked back at Josh in horror and right before I was torn from the water, I watched him mouth, “I love you.”
The next time I saw Josh was at his funeral. I cried for days and puked my guts out. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. But it was. Josh was dead. And I should be too.
That’s why, today, six months later, I’m walking to the cemetery at two o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t take any more nightmares.
When I reach it, I walk to his gravestone. I sit on the grass and stare off into space. The only light comes from the stars and the moon. I speak in a hushed tone to thin air.
“Hey Josh. I miss you, a lot. You shouldn’t have saved me. I should be dead too. I can’t handle it without you. I wish we would’ve figured out how we felt about each other a long time ago because I can’t even look at another boy without thinking of you and how you kissed me and how your hand felt when it was holding mine. I can’t look anyone in the eyes without comparing them to yours. No one’s smile could ever be as gorgeous as yours…” I heaved a sigh and felt a tear slide down my cheek. “I can’t stay long but I want you to know… I love you.”