Forever Too Late

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Change is always happening. It can drag on and take several millennia, or it can take a few seconds. It’s all around us and is the essence of our world. In many ways, change can be what hurts the most. It can give us unwanted reality checks, uncover deeply hidden emotions and it can also cause the best of people to snap. Other times, change is for the better and picks life up for you.


The problem with change is that once it’s happened, it’s eternally too late to go back.

*~*~*~*~*~*


“Joe, I need you to know something,” Keira says, her face weary - the same serious expression that she has been for the last few months. In silent agreement to her telling me, I turn to face her, gaining eye-contact with her hazel eyes. She shakes her head in refusal and begins to walk forwards again, pointing in the direction of our hill, One Tree Hill.


“Let me guess,” I tease. Stopping walking, I place my hands on her shoulders and turn her to face me. Looking down at her, I ask, “You love me?” I crack a wide grin and nudge my best friend with my shoulder. A mix of emotions flash through her face at my words, all mixed together, making it impossible for me to tell what they are. The only two that I can place my finger on are amusement combined with her now usual straight-face. “No? Okay. I can take a hint.”


I wink at her, and she rolls her eyes with a small, fake smile tugging at the corners of her lips, clearly trying to keep the mood at least slightly cheerful. She fails, and I let my smile droop down, realising that whatever she wants to tell me is important and probably not a happy thing. We turn to face forwards again and walk towards One Tree Hill in silence. The whole time, the only thought that I have running through my head is a consistent stream of, ‘Please don’t be moving, please don’t be moving’.


Finally my eyes are greeted by the sight of a single tree, decorated with the same white flowers that are scattered around the flat top of the hill, carried down by the wind. We trudge up the side of the small hill and as per tradition, sit ourselves down at the base of the tree, leaning our backs against the rough, gray bark.


Absentmindedly, my fingers trace along our etchings that we’ve carved into the tree over the years.


‘Joe is awesome, but Keira is even awesome-r.’


'One Tree Hill Forever.’


‘Joe + Keira = Best friends forever.’


'J and K. Best friends.’


‘Keira is awesome, but Joe’s cooler.’


I smile to myself, reminiscing all the times that we’ve been here and climbed the tree, played two person tag and hide-and-seek, escaped from any problems or hectic happenings at home, or, like today, we came to talk.


Staring out at the empty fields in front of us, Keira exhales deeply. “Today is my last day.” My mood that had been calmed simply by being on this hill goes out the window as my head instantly snaps to face her, but she simply stares ahead, avoiding my eyes.


"Where are you moving to?" I ask her sadly. The one thing I didn't want her to say, she says. She looks at me in bewilderment for a second before opening her mouth to speak again.


"I'm going to the Land Of The Dead, Joe," she informs me sadly. A single tear squeezes out of her eye and drops onto her lap. Fury begins to rise up within me, washing away all sadness.


“Who said that?!” I demand angrily, nearly shaking from my fury. The person who threatened my best friend is going to pay. No one threatens my best friend’s life and gets away with it. Especially not since she’s been like this. No one threatens Keira Claudine’s life and doesn’t see harm. No one.


“Me,” she admits, quietly. “I decided it.” Tears catch on her long eyelashes and glisten like diamonds against her porcelain skin.


My anger dissipates instantly. The rest of my emotion and strength drains with my anger and I feel like a deflated balloon. “I don’t get it,” I whisper, helplessly.


"I'm going to die tonight, Joe," she whispers back, her voice catching on her tears. "I'm going to kill myself."


I feel my jaw drop and my eyes widen. "What? Why?" Are the only words that I manage to choke out in my stunned state. A lone tear rolls down my cheek and Keira finally turns to face me, but lets her brown hair cascade over her face, hiding half of it so I can't read her emotions properly.


"I've been thinking about it since May, Joe. That's six months," she informs me quietly, her voice cracking. "I'm doing it, because I can never have the only thing that I want."


"What do you want?" I ask her, softly. "This isn't the only way."


"But Joe, it is. I can never have-" She stops herself before she tells me. I feel my chest heave in a disappointed sigh with my breath that I hadn't realised I was holding.


Fear and mourn showing clearly in her hazel eyes, her last words to me, are, "Don't come to the bridge tonight, Joe. Don't come."

*~*~*~*~*~*


Rain thunders down on the roof of my house, matching my mood. Tears attempt to leak out of my eyes and I let them. I’m not afraid to cry. Keira’s words echo in my mind, replaying like a broken record.


Because I can't have the only thing that I want.


Drumming my fingers against my wooden desk, I wonder, what is the only thing that she wants? At age eighteen, what would be the one thing? Maybe a nicer house, I ponder, although knowing that something like that wouldn't make my best friend suicidal. Or maybe for her parents to fight less.


I think that's it. She's given them six months worth of chances, and they've failed her. That must be it. But I'm her best friend. She wouldn't ditch me solely because of her parents. That's not Keira.


That's when it hits me.


She's a girl, I'm a guy. Guys fantasise about sports and cars, while girls fantasise about weddings and love.


Love.


I asked Lily out in April. One month before May.


I've been thinking about it since May.


Lily and I still haven't broken up. It's not her parents that she gave six months worth of chances to.


It's me. This is entirely my fault.


Tears start falling from my eyes at a faster pace as I jump up from my chair in frustration. Keira loves me. Why didn't I see it before? Before she decided on this, that I'm the one for her and that she can never have me.


Because now I realise just how wrong that is.


I pick up my phone and call Lily, number three on my speed dials. After a few rings, she picks up. Not bothering to greet her, I end our relationship in four words, “It’s over, Lily. Goodbye.” She begins to stutter on the other end, demanding for a reason, but I simply press the red button to hang up and set the phone back down.


Pondering my next move, I stare at the wall embedded with photos of mainly Keira and I; enjoying ourselves together like best friends do. My eyes cast across a photo of us on One Tree Hill. Then I remember more of her words.


Don’t come to the bridge.


She’s been there for me since we were three years old. But now, the one time she needs me, I’m not there.

*~*~*~*~*~*


“Keira!” I scream at the sight of my best friend’s back, taking her last few steps, slowly towards the side of the bridge. I sprint towards her, shouting her name as loud as I can between breaths. Rain hits down hard on me, but I ignore it and its accompanying thunder cackles as I sprint towards my best friend.


“Keira!” She steps up onto the ledge below the top railings and nearly loses her footing, as she is pelted by rain. I keep sprinting, and I'm only about five steps away from Keira.


My best friend takes the step to end her life over the edge of the railing. I seemingly finally reach the bridge's railing and throw myself against it, gripping it tightly with one hand and thrusting out my other to catch Keira as she falls. My hand slips on the railing from the wet, but I catch myself before I go over.


Feeling warmth against my hand, I quickly close it, grasping Keira's hand tightly. She raises her head to glare at me and I see a fire in her eyes that I've never encountered before. Squirming in my grasp, she angrily screams up, "Let go! This is my decision and I get to make it. I can do what I want, Joe. You're not my dad." She continues to squirm, trying to free herself and I feel two of her fingers slip out of my clutch.


I look down at her and desperately try to recapture the fingers that freed themselves. As I do so, two more slip out. I hear a sickening crack as her only remaining finger in my hand, her thumb, is pulled out of it's socket and she screams in pain. My grip loosens in a subconscious act of protection over her. Her dislocated thumb slips out of my clasp and Keira begins free-falling again. "You never loved me!" she screams her last words to me, shattering my heart as if it were a ceramic plate against the ground.


“No!” I shout out, leaning over the edge and watching the choppy, black water at the foot of the bridge as I let all the tears that I have left pour from my eyes. “Keira, no,” I moan, sobs shaking my voice.


That’s when I realise what the emotion was that flashed through her eyes. Her love for me and worry that I had finally found out. “Keira...” I breathe to myself. “Keira,” I repeat again.


My last tears finally break free and I sob openly. “Keira!” I scream down at the dangerous water at the bottom of the bridge. Unable to see her, I let out an ear-piercing howl of pain. I finally know what love feels like.


I found out, when I lost it. “Keira, I love you. I need you. You can have me. Just come back. Please," I scream desperately. "Please!"


"Don't make this change. Don't make me too late,” I whisper helplessly to the dark waters. “Please, Keira.” I lean over the edge, searching in vain for my lost friend and love. Sparks of hope are lit inside me as I see dark brown hair flowing in the currents, not moving, stuck to a stick.


“Keira!” I call out to her. The head doesn’t respond to me. I take a step up onto the railings and lean over, and call out again, “Keira!” The head continues to bob in the water but gives me no response. I lean further forwards to get a better view, and my grip slips, sending my body plunging over the edge of the bridge. Freefalling to the water, a split second before I hit it, I realise what the dark brown thing is.



A plastic bag.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

redhorse33 said...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm
Oh My God! This was so intense. I felt so bad for him.... Great job.
 
Pianoartist said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm
Woah, this is intense. It kept me on the edge of my chair the entire time. Good job:)
 
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