Bleeding Love

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He loves me, he loves me not.

The lush green grass squishes in between my toes and the radiant summer sun beats down on my strawberry blond hair. I lay down, tossing the useless flower to the side and gazing up at the cloudless blue sky.

My mind wanders back to my best friend James Martin. James and I have been friends ever since he moved here in eighth grade, now we're sophomores in high school. He has classic good looks, ash blond hair and cool, mysterious gray blue eyes.

He is everything that I'm not. James is popular, tall, drop dead gorgeous. I, on the other hand, am petite and short with lively green eyes and intensely pale skin. My looks tend to come together in an awkward way. Not to mention, it doesn't help me that I'd rather hide in a corner than socialize. However, that is what makes James and I the perfect pair of friends. We bring out the best in each other.

But, the problem is, we're friends, that's it. That's how it's always been. Now I see the possibilities between us. Not only are we already always together all the time, we finish each others jokes, and read each others expressions. Virtually, we could be the ideal couple. If only that thickheaded male would get it through his-

My thoughts are interrupted suddenly by the front door opening and slamming shut, followed by thudding footsteps. Turning my head ever so slightly, I see with no surprise that it's my fraternal twin sister Willow. Her silver nose piercing glints in the sunlight and I frown at the layers of black she's wearing today.

Feeling myself being pulled from my superior state of pure glee into a melancholy sadness, I watch my sister with dismay.

Five years ago, only four years after she and I were adopted, I was diagnosed with a severe case of brain cancer. The horrifying combination of losing our parents in a car accident and almost watching me die caused Willow to become introverted and silent. Now she seems to be going through a rebellious teenage stage and I don't like it one bit.

Glancing at me through her curtain of midnight black hair and blunt bangs, her eyes barely soften before narrowing once again.

I almost laugh at how predictable her moods can be, before turning onto my side and slowly getting up. Leaving the warm beams of sunlight, I walk through the backdoor, knowing my overprotective adoptive mother, Amy Luccard, would disapprove of my long exposure to direct sun.

Tiptoeing into the cheery yellow kitchen, I grab a glass of ice cold water before beginning my search for Amy.

Finding her didn't prove to be as hard as it looks, as I find her folding clothes in the living room. Amy is the type of woman who would sit up all night just to have a spotless home. She's also the type of woman that I call a clean freak.

Noticing me, she smiles, not managing to mask the worry in her hazel eyes. I sit beside her, watching her rough hands move delicately and quickly, repeating over and over the pattern she follows every day. My eyes wander to her porcelain face and wild red curls, wishing my own mother could have passed on the beauty gene to me.

My ears perk up at the sound of a knock on the front door. Jumping up, I silently pray that it'll be James. That the love of my life is at my doorstep with a dozen roses and chocolates and...okay maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Rushing to the door, my face already aglow with the prospect of seeing James, I remind myself to breath. When I open the door with a desperate urgency, I feel my beating heart being doused with freezing water. James Martin is standing before me, my favorite lopsided smile falling across his lips comfortably.

“Hey Randie. So what's on the agenda for the first official day of summer?” He asks, his voice like the ringing of cathedral bells.

Smiling and going over the options in my head I tick off my ideas on my fingers. “We could go down to the beach...or I've kind of been wanting to check out the farmer's market this year.” James follows me into the house where we sit on my worn sofa.

James shakes his head and leans back, crossing his arms casually behind his head. “I don't really care, we can do whatever you feel like. Remember we've got all summer.” Shivering at the thrill of a whole summer with James, I stretch my arms and bounce up, regaining my momentarily lost energy.

As I lace up my sneakers, James watches me closely, a look I don't recognize glimmering in his eyes. Working in autopilot, my heart skips a beat before pulsing rapidly. Standing up, I smile and swing the door wide open, letting the sun cast beams of golden light into the house.

As soon as our feet hit the cracked pavement, James and I relax back into our usual routine. We jog lightly, a sheen of sweat breaking through from the merciless heat. Not needing conversation, I feast my eyes on the glorious Washington scenery. Ancient trees with trunks as wide as I am tall shoot up towards the crisp sky, their green leaves blanketing the treetops. Spring green weeds sprout up between the trees and shrubbery, and delicate flowers peek through the overwhelming green plants.

The cool air blowing my hair into my face brings me back to reality. James is running beside me, calm and collected as usual. There is a far away look in his glacier blue eyes and his expression is blank, giving away nothing. That's one thing about James. He seems to have a secret, something he can't even tell me. But maybe that's why I like him, he's mysterious, a closed book so to say.

The squealing of tires across sun baked blacktop attracts my undivided attention ahead of us and beside me I see James' head turn abruptly also. At the end of the road, about forty yards away, a rusted blue truck is barreling towards us at high speeds. Horrified, I watch the driver twist and turn the steering wheel frantically, noticing the two teenagers stopped in their tracks looking like deer in the headlights.

That's when I know that this will be the end of my life. Today will be my last day under the warm sunlight, the last time I run with James. I will never see Willow's smirk or Amy's anxious gaze again. My hair will never be drenched by rain and my skin will never be burnt by the blazing sun. But, this experience is nothing like the movies. My life doesn't have time to flash before my eyes because it only takes a matter of seconds for the breath to leave my body.

Pain. Inescapable, searing pain explodes through my body as I hit the ground and my head emits a sickening crack. My teeth crush down on my tongue and warm, coppery blood fills my mouth. The world begins to spin and my vision blurs as I watch the truck stop next to my curled up body. Then it hits me, not the truck of course, a realization.

The glint of metal in sunlight catches my eye and I search for the source, losing my train of thought. Spotting an empty beer can in the driver's hand, my vision blurs and I remember my first high school party. The far off look in the boys' eyes and the feral scent of alcohol blown into my face. Terror coursed through my body...

James' soft moaning brings me back to reality, my mind still buzzing from my horror-struck memory.

James Martin, my best friend and soul mate, is stretched in front of the truck, his body twisted like a broken figurine. Where his hands lay, unclenched and blood stained, a growing puddle of red stuff is forming. You could almost mistake it for cherry preserves, but I know the truth behind it. James saved me when he pushed me aside, and for that he is going to die slowly and agonizingly. I can't decide if the throb in my soul right now is worse than the thought of my death.

Realizing that I may not have much more time with James, I crawl over to him, ignoring the odd tingling sensation in my back. Reaching his mutilated body, I lay a scratched palm on his forehead, not needing words to comfort him.

Feeling a sudden movement, I examine his face excitedly, praying that he'll leave this with only a near death experience, something that we'll laugh about later. But, in the bottom of my heart I know that my hopes are useless, that I will be leaving this road a single warrior that has lost her partner. Now I know what I need to do.

“James,”I say, my voice barely a whisper. His eyes flutter open and I look at them, bloodshot and strained. He doesn't look like the strong, confident boy that everyone knows and that I love.

His lips move at first without sound, but when they do my heart does cartwheels. “R-r-randie,” he stutters, his voice cracking.

Laying a single fingertip on his chapped lips, I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment before opening them, an unusual confidence blossoming inside me. Repositioning my hand to hold his in mine, I begin voicing my feelings.

“James, first off, do not try to interrupt me. Now, I need to tell you something. I like you...a lot. I might even love you, but the point is, I haven't been able to get you out of my system since we've met. I remember that day perfectly, as if it was today. It was the middle of the school year and it was raining cats and dogs, one of the worst storms in town history. It was also the day I met you.” I take a deep breath before starting again. “We were in eighth grade and that day I was particularly annoyed. When you walked into the room, all the girls' eyes, even the teacher's, followed you as you sat down next to me. My eyes remained trained on my text book, but when everyone turned in their seat to face you and you had the broadest smile plastered on your face, my anger swelled. I remember later that day I just flat out punched you in the face. That was when our friendship started.” James' skin is now pale white and the pool of blood has grown from small to massive in only the few minutes it took me to relay the story of our first meeting. This is bad, really bad. Knowing the driver is watching us with fascination after dialing 9-1-1, I try to carry on my speech. “James, the point is, you can't die on me. This isn't fair to either of us, I mean even if you get out of this I know we'll go back to being just friends, but the point is I need you.” My last words have a twinge of desperation in them and I am now clenching onto his hand roughly, as if I can tie him down to Earth with me.

Letting salty tears roll down my cheeks, I pray a silent prayer to the God I haven't talked to in years, hoping that now, just this once, He will give me a miracle. A faint pressure on my hand drags my watery eyes back to the crumpled body laying next to me. James is trying to tell me something.

I let him guide my hand where he wants and I wonder confusedly why he's putting so much effort to tell me something with his movements. Glancing a second time at his current state would send any normal person into a frenzy, maybe screaming or running away, maybe trying CPR or crying. However, I am no normal person.

Seeing where my hand lands as he releases it, I feel the tears coming harder and faster, my head pounding and my heart slowly ripping itself into shreds. James has placed my hand on his heart. Then I realize he isn't only trying to comfort me, he's telling me something. But then another second of realization hits me like a thousand pound weight in the chest. James, my better half, cares about me too. It was never a one sided feeling. And I waited too long to tell him, I sat around and wasted all our precious time.

Through my rapidly falling tears I look at this boy long and hard, seeing and feeling so many emotions all at once. Happiness at our newly found love. Fear and sadness at the knowledge of losing him. Anger at the fact that the fighter that I always saw in James' eyes, the confidence that always seeped out of him was diminishing, leaving a vulnerability that I've never seen before.

Through those same tears I also experience the worst sight in my life. I watch as my world comes crashing down and his eyes close, a soft sigh coming out of his slightly parted lips. I listen as his breathing stops all together and I wait for what seems like an eternity for his eyes to flutter open. For his heart to pound wildly in his solid chest and his lips to break into his crooked smile. For a laugh to escape those perfectly chiseled lips. Nothing of that sort happens, all he does is lay there, his guard down and his hand tightened around mine placed over his heart.

The outside world has nothing for me now, it's as if someone has reached down and scooped up the sun leaving me stumbling through the darkness, alone and scared. So, in a last attempt at being with James, I lay down ignoring the wetness surrounding me. I stroke his silky hair and hold onto his hand tighter, not letting this moment go, not letting him go.

Soon the ambulance comes along with my family and half the community. Arms grab me and hug me, but I feel nothing but fury at those who made me leave him. A thin blanket is draped over my shoulders and I watch as James is taken away from me forever. I will never see the boy that changed my life again.

Weeks later, I wrap the quilt around me, looking at his picture and imagining his strong arms holding me, warding off the nightmares that now haunt me every night. The nightmares of him where I relive every second of his death, waking up screaming his name.

At the thought of the life changing accident, my fingers trace up and down the scar from my childhood brain surgery. Tears threaten to fall as I remember the past few weeks. James' funeral at which I made a speech and all the days spent crying leading up to today.

Setting his picture down to its home at my bedside table, I walk to my window, separating the curtains to let golden sunshine fill my room, turning the curtains a filmy yellow. Looking around at my warm, bright room, I see a light that I haven't since the accident. A small section of my heart is whole again. It's healed, but still scarred, and I know deep down, that it will become stronger bit by bit as I slowly accept reality.

But, I know that for now this is enough.





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