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You Said You'd Never Leave
Chloe never thought he would leave her. He promised he would always be there for her. But all it took was one night. One night for everything to be ripped from her.
They were driving home, after their movie date, and had stopped at a red light. Chloe was having a great night, being with him, holding his hand, talking. She remembered some of the movie, but for most of it she was messing with him. While they were sitting at the light, they talked about going on a picnic tomorrow at their favorite park. Neither of them saw the giant, speeding semi-truck barreling towards them, drunk driver behind the wheel. They both had smiles on their faces, until Chloe saw the lights. They shined right into her eyes, behind Derek’s head. The light creating a golden halo around him making him look like an angel. Then, their car was flying towards the side of the street, rolling in the air, and smashing into the light pole. Chloe felt searing pain all over her body. She tried to get out of her seat-belt but couldn't get her arms to move. She turned her head to Derek trying to reach for him but, instead, all she could do was croak out his name. Finally he looked towards her and she saw all his love for her pouring out of his eyes.
“We’re gonna be ok, Chlo,” he promised. “We’re gonna be just fine, I promise.”
“Derek, you’re bleeding,” she cried. It came out hoarse and soft. Derek had blood running down his face and he struggled to keep his eyes open. She watched as he faded in and out, the faint sound of sirens in the distance. “You have to keep your eyes open. Come on, please,” she pleaded with him. After a couple more seconds, he didn't answer and she started to get scared. “DEREK, PLEASE OPEN YOUR EYES!”
“I’m here Chlo, I’m here.” She could see how hard Derek was trying to stay conscious for her, to try and keep her calm. The sirens were getting louder and louder, until finally, they were right outside their car. The sound of men yelling orders and metal equipment hitting the cement filled Chloe's ears.
Her seat belt was cut and she fell onto the inside of the ceiling before anyone could catch her. She felt someone strong lift her onto a stretcher. She looked around frantically for Derek.
“Where is he? Did someone get him out?” she cried to the man pushing her towards the ambulance. “Please, please you have to help Derek, you have to make sure he gets out and gets help.” By now she was hysterical and finally she succumbed to the sleep that was taking over. The last thing she saw was the paramedics pulling a bloodied and beaten up Derek out of their demolished car.
She woke up hours later, wrapped in a scratchy white blanket, to an annoying beeping sound that she couldn’t place right away. She looked around the room, seeing the bland white walls and the metal equipment. She looked at her hand and seeing the needles sticking into her arm she realized where she was. In a gush of memories, the crash came back to her. The bright lights, Derek across from her, the pain, and finally his face covered in blood, doing everything he could to keep her calm. She panicked. Where was Derek? Did he get out? Did someone get him help? Just then, she heard someone walk into the room and, looking up, she saw it was her father.
“Chloe, you’re awake!” he exclaimed, rushing to her bed and hugging her lightly.
“Dad. where’s Derek?” she asked him. “Is he ok, did he make it here alright?” She prayed he was ok, she didn't know what she would do if he said no. Her dad put his head down, without answering her. “Dad answer me! Is he ok?” He still didn’t answer he and she saw that he had begun to shake. She realized he was crying. That’s when it hit her. He didn’t make it. Derek didn’t make it. Everything around her slowed and she felt like her whole world was collapsing in on her. He was the best thing in her life and now he was gone. She started screaming. He father tried to calm her, putting his hand on her shoulder and talking to her even though she didn’t hear a word of it. Eventually, he put his arms around her and rocked her, like when she was a little girl. Doctors rushed in and gave her a sedative trying to calm her down, fearing she would hurt herself. She started getting drowsier until she finally fell asleep from the drugs, the last thing anyone heard from her that night was one word, a quiet whisper.
It’s been two months since the accident. Two days since his funeral. Chloe is sitting at his tombstone, resting one hand on it, wishing this was all a dream. Praying she would wake from this nightmare up to Derek shaking her. But she won't. Deep down she knows that she won't. She’s lost him and permanently this time. She can’t help but remember all the good times they had together. Their trip to Bia, his brother’s wedding where they danced all night. The strongest memory she had was the night he proposed to her.
She was crying again. Tears streaming down her face, her breathing coming in short, slow pants. She felt awful. Alone. She knew she had her family, Simon, even Tori was helping her; trying to help her, that is. Nothing anyone did could ever help her or make her feel whole again. She didn’t know how long it would take her to feel that way again but she was pretty sure that without Derek in her life, she would never get there again.
“I’ll never forget you, Derek,” she said to his tombstone, hoping somehow he would hear her. “You were my everything, you still are. I don’t know what to do or where to go now that I don't have you. I’ll push on, though, baby. And one day, I’ll be with you again. I know it’s going to be years until I’m with you again but since I know one day I will be, then maybe I can survive the long years ahead of me. I love you, Derek. I’m never going to forget you. You’ll always be my best friend.” During her whole speech she never stopped wringing her wedding ring around her finger, the biggest reminder of him she had left and, with one final touch to his stone, she walked away from the love of her life, vowing to come regularly and pay her respects, say hi and I love you. He may be dead to everyone else, but to her he was still alive, inside her. As she walked away she heard a faint “I Love You” come from the wind, and she knew it was Derek.
Death watched it all. The accident, Derek die, Chloe’s torture after finding out he hadn’t made it. Even her acceptance that he was gone. He watched and he cried. Death didn’t cry over the living or the dead; why was he crying now? He had taken thousands of people from their loved one‘s and he never cried, not once. He didn’t know what it was about these two young people, but he couldn’t help but regret taking Derek out of her life. He was standing a few yards away from Chloe as she said goodbye at Derek’s tombstone, watching Derek watch her. Death saw how pained he was at leaving her behind, and it made him regret his decision even more. If he had a choice he would put Derek right back into his body and let him live a long happy life.
Derek walked back from his stone, away from his love and back to death. His face a mask of pain, guilt, and longing for Chloe. God, Death hated this feeling; he hoped it never occurred again.
“Have you seen enough of her?” he asked, seeing the depressed look on Derek’s face and feeling awful for him.
“I’ll never be able to see enough of her. She’s my perfect angel, the love of my life,” he answered, “but she’s right, knowing that I’ll see her again helps a bit. I know it’s going to take so many years but still a long time is better than never right?”
Death was devastated. He’d never heard anyone say something like that before he took them away. He tried thinking of anything he could do to put this right, give him back the the world, back to his Chloe. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t think of anything that could put things back to normal.
“You know what, Derek? You're right. And I’m sorry for taking you so early; if I could put you back in your body and give you back to Chloe, I would. I’ve tried to find a way, but I just can’t. I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what was making him say these things, but he didn’t care anymore. He meant these things he was saying, so he didn't care.
“Thanks, Death.” He paused, “I’m ready to go now.” With one last look to Chloe, Derek turned around and walked towards Death. They walked towards the other side together, not as enemies, as you’d expect someone to be with Death, but as friends. Now, Death saw things in a different light, thanks to Derek’s life and his untimely death. And when Chloe’s turn came, death greeted her with open arms. Ready to take her away. Away from the cold, cruel world and back to her love.
Her best friend.