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A Tragic Relationship
I didn’t know what love was until I met Liam. I didn’t know how much I loved him until we were both fighting for our lives. By then, it was too late.
I am writing this from the hillside near our house in Raleigh, North Carolina—the house we had always wanted to live in. It was white with blue shutters and a huge porch that wrapped around it. There was a white picket fence that surrounded the yard, which was filled with lilies and daisies—my favorite flowers.
Liam Jr. and Ava are twins, nearly four years old. They have yellow hair like the sun and the bluest of eyes. Sometimes I feel like I could just fall into them and never come out. They are running around the yard right now, playing tag or hide-and-go-seek. I love sitting here and watching them play with each other, smiling and laughing. I wish that I could walk over to them, hug them, enjoy this time with them… but I can’t. I can’t be with them because I am not their mother. I see Liam walk out the front door and call them inside for supper. My heart aches when I see her come beside him and wrap her arms around his neck.
This is not my family. This is not my life. I am not alive.
When I was seventeen, I went to a school baseball game with my friends. The only reason we went was to look at the cute boys in their uniforms, except I secretly really enjoyed the game, but I would never admit that to my friends. It wasn’t “cool” to be a girl and actually know about baseball and enjoy it. We spent our time shopping, going to the movies, or going to the beach every day in the summer. However, one night I wandered off by myself while my friends Rebecca and Nicole talked to Tony Giordano—the tall, dark, and handsome Italian beauty of Sanderson High School.
And then I saw him. I heard the announcer say, “Liam Connolly is up to bat”. In my opinion, he was the cutest boy on the team. It’s true that Tony was a heartthrob, but I never went for the boys that everybody else was after—not because I thought I didn’t have a chance—but because when a guy had every single girl in the high school wanting him, I was just turned off. I took a seat on the bleachers and watched as Liam, with one easy swing, knocked the ball out of the field for a home run. As he ran past me, I swore he looked up at me and smiled.
When the game was over, I found my friends again. Apparently, Tony had invited us to go out to eat with the team at Mo’s Diner. Pretty much everyone who went to the games would be there anyways, so it really didn’t matter that we had been invited. The only special thing about it was that we got to sit with Tony and his friends. However, the night took an unexpected turn, at least for me.
I was happily gorging on pizza topped with barbecue chicken, onions, and peppers when I looked up and saw Liam’s smiling face. This was the closest I had been to him. He had this light dusting of freckles that covered his nose and his brown hair fell just in front of his eyes.
“Hey, Lucy.” He said.
Was that to me? There must be another Lucy at this table. I was speechless. I was trying to push words, any words, out of my mouth, but it just wasn’t happening.
“So, I saw you at the game today and I just wanted to tell you that I thought you looked really cute. I like that you cut your hair.” He noticed that I cut my hair! That means he had actually looked at me before today. I still couldn’t speak so I just smiled. “I was wondering, do you need a ride home tonight? I just bought a car and wouldn’t mind dropping you off at your house, considering you’re just down the street.”
I actually had to speak now. “Uhm,” Nicole kicked my leg under the table and I shot her a look. “Sure, that would be great.”
“Sweet. I’ll find you in a bit.” He flashed another smile at me and then walked back over to his table. My heart was pounding the whole time, but it felt like nothing compared to how it was when he drove me home that night.
On the way from Mo’s to my house we talked about graduation, prom, what colleges we were planning on going to the following year, and any plans we had for the summer. When we got to my house, he put the car in park and looked over at me.
“You know, I have been wanting to talk to you since sophomore year. The first time we had a class together. I feel stupid for waiting so long.”
“You’re not stupid, Liam,” I laughed. “What’s important is that you talked to me tonight… What made you do it?”
“You really want to know? Well, when I got the home run tonight, I ran by you. I saw you sitting there and your hair was so… beautiful. You have these cute blonde curls and I love how they look in the sun. And then you have these green eyes and they are… incredible.” As he spoke, he seemed to get more and more nervous, but he continued smiling and looking at me. “Would it be too forward of me if I said I wanted to kiss you right now?” I didn’t answer him, but simply leaned in to him. That was the first night of a tragic relationship.
That summer we were inseparable. We spent every minute together, day and night. When September came, we had to leave for school. Luckily for us, they were fifteen minutes apart from each other with a shuttle bus that stopped at both colleges. We saw each other every weekend and sometimes during the week. Our relationship proved to be strong in those four years that passed, and we grew more in love. Unfortunately, things grew a bit more complicated when our careers were pulling us in different directions. Liam had gone to the Naval Academy, while I pursued a degree in business. We were constantly arguing about what to do when he left for the navy. He wanted me to follow him, but I wanted to take a job I had been offered in New York.
On the night of my twenty-second birthday, he took me out to dinner to celebrate, just the two of us. The first two courses went well; the food was delicious and for once we were talking about things that had nothing to do with our futures. But then dessert came. The waiter placed down a thick chocolate cake, which I couldn’t wait to dig into. When I placed the fork in it, I didn’t pull out only cake. I saw something catch the light and I looked up to see Liam with a smile on his face. I put the fork down and discovered a diamond ring hidden amongst the dessert.
When I looked up again, Liam was down on one knee at my side, flashing me that irresistible smile that had made me fall in love with him that first hot summer.
“I know this is crazy,” He said, “but I just think that this is right. You can come with me to Georgia and I know you want to take that job in New York, but you can travel.” He began to stutter and trip over his words as he got carried away with the idea. “Look, I just need to be with you. I don't want to lose you.”
“You know that I love you, but I don't want this. What am I going to do in Maryland? I want to do something big and that job I'm being offered is going to get me there. We're so young. I'm so sorry, but no.”
“Age has nothing to do with it! I love you and you love me. There are a million other jobs out there—”
“I said no. Now take me home.” I stood up from my chair, leaving the ring on the table, and marched out of the restaurant. I simply could not fathom giving up my dreams for anyone, no matter who it was. My mother had done that and no matter how much she said she didn't, I knew that she regretted it.
When he sunk into the driver's seat, I didn't say anything. I knew that this ride home would be the longest and most unbearable of my life. I had nothing to say, but I sat there and waited for him to talk. When he finally did, I was taken aback.
“I can't believe you, Luc. This is absurd. How can you say you don't want to be with me? We talk about being together forever, but you can't even do something for anyone other than yourself.”
“I can't?! You're the one who is asking me to give up everything that I wanted and move to some dumb state while you join the Navy! That is your life. There are bases in New York, but Georgia has always been where you wanted to go. I would never ask you to change that. Do you know why? It's because I love you and respect the things that you want to do in your life.” I was growing angrier by the minute. “Maybe this isn't going to work out.” I felt his eyes turn from the road to my face. I couldn't even look at him.
“If that's—” At that moment, something happened. I didn't even know what was going on. I heard wheels screeching and glass breaking. All that I remembered were bright lights shining in my face a minute before.
We had been hit from the front, the three of us spinning and trying to stop. I felt myself whirling and free-falling at one point and then there was a loud crash, followed by a snap, and something large and foreign fell upon the car. Then, everything went black.
When I began to come back, I heard my name repeatedly, but I was not conscious enough to respond. I felt myself dangling upside down, forcing the blood to rush to my head. It didn't help that my head was already pounding and ready to explode. I tried to move my arms, my legs—anything! I needed to move some part of my body, but I just couldn't. Breathing was hard. Each time I breathed in I had to use any strength that I had to take in air.
In the background I could hear Liam's voice. “Oh my God. Oh my God.” He was crying. I wanted to reach out to him, but I was stuck. “Please wake up! Lucy!” I forced my eyes to open for him. “Lucy!?” I turned my head the smallest amount that I could for him. “Thank God! Lucy, you're going to be okay.” I closed my eyes again. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. “You're pinned in between the car and the tree.” Tree? This time, I shoved my eyes open, using all the strength I had, and actually taking in my sights this time.
The front of the car was squashed and any glass that existed was gone. When I turned my head to the left to see Liam, there was only a small, nearly non-existing space that I could see him through. Then I remembered what I was neglecting to look at: me. I took in as deep of a breath as I could and looked down. My legs had been crushed in underneath the dashboard, while one arm was pinned against the tree and the seat. My right arm was actually free and I came to realize I couldn't move it out of fear. My whole body was covered in blood and I began to feel the pain that consumed my entire body. I took a chance at speaking. “I n-need to get out.” It was a mere whisper, but it was enough to force the sobs out of me. “Get m-m-me out.”
“I'm going to. I'm pretty squashed in here, but I might be able to make it out of the window. Can you move at all?” His voice was the only comfort I could grasp. His voice was always what could soothe me.
“N-no. I... I'm stuck. C-completely.” I began to go over the dinner we had just had. How perfect everything was. And then I realized, I really was only thinking about myself. If I had said yes when he proposed to me, I wouldn't have walked out of the restaurant. I wouldn't have said what I said and he would never have looked away from the road.
“Alright... alright, I'll think of something. Hold on. Lucy, I'm going to try and get out of the car.” I shook my head, even though he probably couldn't see me in the darkness. “And Luc? I love you. You're going to make it out of this.”
I knew that I wasn't. It was nearly impossible, but I just waited. I went back to thinking over things. I remembered the first night we had spent together and how perfect everything was. That's when I knew I really didn't care about what job I did or didn't have. Being in New York wasn't what would make me happy forever. Being with Liam would. I wanted to say yes. Just as I realized this, he was next to me, out of the car.
“I think my arm might be sprained, but I'm going to do everything to get you out.”
I closed my eyes as he tried to work a way out of this mess. I felt him tugging and banging on the door. The more he tried to find a way out for me, I began to lose track of time. It could have been hours since we'd tumbled down from the road, maybe just minutes. When I heard the sirens and the people shouting and flashlights shining in my face, I didn't really care about time anymore. Maybe I really did have a chance to make it out to be with Liam.
“We were driving and he hit us head-on. She is wedged in there. I-I can't get her out! You need to g-get her out. I need her out.” Liam was frantic as he spoke to the police officer—or maybe an EMT—about what happened. I could hear the tears in his voice. I just wanted to get out of this car so that I could hold him and let him know that I was alright.
Then there was a loud noise, a slam, and then I was free. I could feel myself being pulled out of the car. I still don't really know what they used to get me out, but I know they had to take off the car door. I wouldn't be surprised if my legs never made it out though. That part seems impossible. As they placed me on the stretcher, Liam rushed over to me.
“Lucy, I'm going to be in there with you. I'm coming in with you. I'll be right there with you the entire time, I promise. I am not going to go anywhere without you.”
I felt his hand on me, squeezing my hand, but I couldn't hold his back. I didn't have the strength, but I forced myself to speak to him. “Yes.” It came out as a soft whisper that I could barely hear, so I tried again with more force this time. “Yes. I love you, Liam. Yes.” When I said those words I saw him smile and I saw the tears fall at the same time. But then I was put up into the ambulance where things started getting crazy.
I remember how I was so scared to be in a car again. All I could think about was being trapped or crushed under something again. There is no worse feeling than being trapped and I would never wish my experience upon anyone. But despite all the negative things I was thinking, I knew I was safe—or at least that was my hope.
There were so many different people in that small space. There were people working on my legs, checking my vitals, my head, my everything. The turns and bumps in the road made things even more chaotic. When we had finally arrived at the hospital I heard Liam shout out to me saying he would be there when I came back, and I truly believed he was going to have someone to wait for. The last thing I remember was looking up at a ceiling and then drifting off to sleep.
When my doctor came out to the waiting room after my surgery, Liam was thrilled. He didn't give the doctor a chance to say a word before spitting out his thoughts. “How is she? Good, right? I bet she did great. When can I go in and see her? Do you need me to wait? That's fine if you do.” And then I think he noticed the look on the doctor's face.
“Mr. Connolly,” he began to say, “I am so, so deeply sorry.” Liam didn't let him get anything else out before he fell to the ground in tears. “Lucy had been through so much her body was too weak to hold on. I am so sorry, son.”
“Where is she?!” Liam yelled. “Where is Lucy? I need to see her right now. I'm marrying her!” He could hardly get the words out clearly through his sobs. “Please...”
The doctor lead Liam into the room where I was laying under a sheet. I can still feel the doctor pulling my sheet off my face, how cold it felt when he took it off of me. I hated that feeling, how cold I had gotten. But when Liam's hand touched mine it warmed me, just for a brief moment. And in that moment I whispered to him, “I love you, Liam. Forever and always.”
And then I was gone.
That was eight years ago. Lucy Ellis, 22, died in a car accident Saturday night due to a drunk driver. That was the leading sentence in my newspaper article. I have never once blamed that man for killing me. Truth is, it wasn't his fault that I died... well, technically it was, but I don't see it that way. Turns out that he had lost his wife because of cancer five months before and he just couldn't live without her. He visits my grave, along with his wife's, every Saturday morning and I feel like he is one of my closest friends now.
I don't hate Liam's wife. She really is a wonderful person—well, from what I've seen. I sit on this hillside often and I watch them. I don't mean to sound creepy, but I need to have a connection with them to feel alive. If I don't, I'm afraid I will never feel alive. I won't be able to feel warm and that cold feeling will consume me forever.
I still love Liam. Sometimes I imagine that I live her life. That Ava and Liam Jr. are mine. That that house is mine. But I know it is foolish to think. I just can't help it. I know he dreams about it sometimes too. I've seen him look at her sometimes and he sees me in his eyes. Don't think that I went crazy after I died, because I didn't. What I mean is that he looks at her and I'm behind her and he sees me instead. I don't know how the afterlife works and maybe this is only what it's like for the people who never got to really live their lives—people like me.
No matter what, no matter how much time passes, my heart will always belong with Liam. And maybe one day, when Liam's body has left his world and his soul has reached mine, just maybe we can have the life that we never got a chance to live. Maybe.