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She was scribbling furiously in a red notebook, head down, headphones in, lost in a world of her own words. He was watching her, and I him. Though, she did not know, nor did her. He studied her. I could hear his thoughts as he took in each part of her body. The way her long, blonde hair curled at the ends and covered her face. The way her legs bent and the way her knees showed through the holes in her faded jeans. He wanted to touch her lips. He liked the way they were shaped, like she was always smiling, maybe at something no one else knew about. He wanted to look into her eyes, he wanted to know just how deep the green pools were. Most of all, he liked the way her hands moved. The way the seemed small and delicate, but strengthened by the words that were pouring from her mind, maybe from her heart. I saw all this as he saw it, I felt all of it as he felt.
At the back of his mind was a memory that kept him from approaching the girl. A memory of red hair, pink lips, and sunshine reflecting off of a clear blue lake. I turned away from that memory, as did he. But, unlike me, when he walked away from his own thoughts, there were not tears in his eyes.
I knew everything about him. He was seventeen, exactly 5'9 and 170 pounds of muscle. His eyes were blue, like the sky. He had glasses, but hated to wear them in public. He lived with his mom, his dad had left them when he was just three years old. He hated sushi and loved cheeseburgers. He was the only teenage boy I knew who would choose a glass of sweet tea over a cold beer. His favorite color was green and he lived his life through country music. Though, he had a secret obsession with everything grunge. I could go on for hours, losing myself in the past, but the present is more important.
“Levi!” I watched as my blue-eyed prince turned at the sound of his name. Oh, I love the way his name felt on my lips. His best friend, Johnny, put a hand on his shoulder. “How you doin' man?”
“I'm good, well, I'm better,” Levi spoke quietly. He looked around, for a moment looking more like a lost child than a strong, popular high school student.
“I'm glad. It's been three months. We need you back, dude. She wouldn't want you to be unhappy.” Johnny was saying everything that Levi didn't want to hear. I wanted so bad to reach to him, to squeeze his hand to let him know that it's all okay.
“I should get to class, I'll be late,” Levi was saying right as the bell rang. There was a brief moment of chaos, as everyone raced to their classrooms. In his hurry, Levi collided with the blonde girl. “Sorry,” he said handing her the few books she had dropped.
“Are you okay?” She had a voice like bells, it was strong and clear. Levi nodded, but the girl didn't take her eyes off him. “Are you sure? You look...sad.”
Levi stiffened. “I'm fine.” The girl continued to stare at him, puzzled, as he walked down the now deserted hallway.
I had the urge to slap her. To scream at her, to tell her not to look at him like that. This isn't my story, though. I'm just in the background, observing. Unfortunately. Seeing Levi like is breaking my heart, well it's breaking what little I have left to be broken.
The rest of the day went by in a boring blur. Levi kept to himself for most part. The blonde girl didn't show up again until Levi was climbing into his truck. He looked so lonely, sitting behind the wheel, head in his hands. Again, I wanted to touch him, to make everything all right. His pain was out of my control, and it was hurting me as much as it was hurting him. He was immersing himself in red-haired memories. He was fading away from the world that he didn't want to be in.
The knock on the window seemed to pull him out of his thoughts. The blonde was standing beside his truck, staring up at him. He opened the door, “Yeah?”
“You dropped this today,” she said, handing him a small black journal.
He seemed surprised for a moment, but he smiled. “Oh, thanks.” He suddenly noticed the small drops of rain painting the asphalt and the way the small girl was shivering. “Uh, do you need a ride?”
She looked straight into his eyes for the first time and time, to Levi at least, seemed to stop. “Sure, thank you.” She was already scrambling into the cab of the truck, searching for warmth.
“What's your name?” Levi asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“Persephone, but everyone calls me Steph.” She glanced at him and blushed slightly. “You're Levi, right?”
He looked at her quizzically. “Yeah. Have we met?”
“No, but I've seen you around a lot. And I heard about you a lot after...what happened.” She stammered and Levi's grip on the steering wheel tightened. Oh, Levi, he's suffered so much.
“Yeah,” he relaxed a little, “most people have. Before I take you home, would you like to get something to eat?”
She blinked quickly and her cheeks flushed pink. “Sure, there's a place near my house. Doc's. You know where that is?”
“Sure do. I live about five minutes away from there. Are we neighbors?”
“Hmm, I think you live five minutes away one on side of Doc's and I live five minutes away on the other side.”
“Weird. Well, here we are.” Levi was starting to feel nervous, I could tell, as he parked the truck by the door. He ran a hand through his hair and kept stealing quick glances at Steph. I can't breathe. I don't want to see her smile at him like that, but he looks so happy. As long as he's happy.
He opened the door for her, and had they been seated at a table and not a booth, I'm sure he would have pulled out the chair for her. They ordered milkshakes and fries, and talked about school for a few minutes when Levi fell silent and sighed.
“Is everything okay?” Steph asked gently.
“You're beautiful, you know that? Really stunning in your own way. I'm so lucky to be sitting here with you. But everything has gone so fast, and...I'm not ready. You know? I still love her, I always will. I'll move on one day, but I'm not ready right now.”
They were quiet for a while. Finally, Steph reached across the table and took his hand. “Thank you. For saying I'm beautiful. Levi, this doesn't have to be, I mean this isn't a date. We can be friends. I like you, but I barely know you. I understand. I wouldn't expect you to be ready to just fall into the arms of another girl right now, that'd be ridiculous. But, just know, that when you are ready, I will be here waiting.”
Levi had tears in his eyes and he had to clear his throat a few times in order to speak. “It's strange, all of this. We've never spoken before, but when you look at me, it's like you're seeing right into my soul. I know it's cheesy. I didn't think I would have feelings for someone else for a long time, then my first day back at school in months, and I find you. Thank you for understanding. And, I'm counting on you to wait.” He pressed his lips to her hand and she smiled.
I was drowning in my own tears. I loved Levi. And here he was, holding the hand of another girl. It was my fault, I had to remind myself. He deserves to be happy, he's such a good, kind hearted person.
They walked out of Doc's hand in hand. He didn't let go until she slid out of his truck with a stunning smile and a quiet promise of meeting tomorrow.
I longed to hold Levi in my arms. I watched him drive home, lost in his thoughts. I didn't try to read them as I had been doing all day, I didn't want to know what they were. I followed him into his house and up the stairs and into his room. He collapsed on to his bed, pulling a picture from under his pillow. It was faded and a little bent but he held it so tenderly, it seemed to be worth millions. It was a picture of a girl in a green bikini with long red hair and pink lips smiling brightly at the camera. Miles of blue water stretched behind her and the sun was hitting her directly, creating a glowing light around her. He reached under his pillow again, pulling out a necklace and pressing it to his chest. It was a goddess pendent, the moon goddess to be exact, on a long silver chain. I couldn't believe he had kept it. He looked at the picture again, his face looking suddenly older than seventeen. “I'll go see you tomorrow,” he whispered before rolling over and closing his eyes.
I watched him sleep. He looked peaceful, neither young nor old. Neither happy, nor sad. Just calm.
I must have drifted off to sleep after he had, because when I opened my eyes again the sun was up and Levi's bed was empty. I glanced out the window just in time to see his truck in the distance. I followed. He drove slowly, I couldn't bring myself to look at his face, though.
He finally pulled into the cemetery. I hung back, watching as he walked through the gate and down the dirt path, past all the head stones and the flowers. He stopped in front of a small, simple grave. It was recent, the flowers around it all new, and the grass fresh and green. He looked at it for a moment, the sat down slowly in front of it. He started talking, and I moved closer so that I could hear.
“I miss you. I started school again, it was weird being in the hallway and not having you beside me. Everything is weird without you. We were together for three years, three of the greatest years of my life.” He paused and wiped at a few stray tears. “I've been thinking about that day at the lake last summer. You know, that day we just took off? You were so scared you were going to burn, said red heads couldn't tan. But your skin turned brown. We spent that whole day tangled up in each other on the beach.” He laughed shortly. “I feel so...weird sitting here talking to you. I guess it's not really you. Anyway, you know I'll always love you, right? No matter what. I met another girl. I barely know her, but I like her. I want to be with her, but,” he started to cry quietly, “I don't want to lose you.”
My body was shaking I was crying so hard. I knew what I had to do, though. They had told me how to make myself visible, but it was harder than it seemed. I took a deep breath. I imagined my body coming together, all of the pieces of me forming to create a glowing form. I had to focus extra hard to pull all of my molecules together to become solid, but I did it. I was solid. I could feel things for the first time in months. Being trapped in limbo had not been fun, but I knew after this I could reach my Heaven. “Levi,” I whispered, and he turned.
He looked pale and couldn't stand up. “Charlotte?”
I smiled. “Yeah it's me. Well, kind of me.”
“You're an angel.” He said, finally standing.
“Not yet. I have some unfinished business.” I approached him and threw myself into his arms. We both cried. Neither of us spoke, I just stood, relishing in the feeling of his arms around me, his hands running through my long, red hair. Eventually, I reluctantly took a small step back and looked up at him. “You have to know, Levi, that it wasn't your fault. I wrecked the car.”
“If I hadn't yelled at you, you wouldn't have died, Char.” His body was trembling and I touched his cheek.
“No, it was me, I wasn't paying attention. I love you, Levi. I always will, forever. But I'm not here anymore, and I'm not coming back. It's okay for you to move on.”
“I don't want to lose you, Charlotte. Not anymore than I have to.”
“I won't ever leave you. I'll always be inside of you. In your heart. So cliche, I know. But you have a guardian angel now, baby.” I kissed his lips gently. “I need to go. It's my time.”
“I love you, Char.” He cried, but I had already slipped away into the bright blinding light.
A few hours later, Levi knocked on Persephone's front door. “Hey,” he said when she opened it. Then he kissed her.