Just a few days ago I was a perfectly normal high school student enjoying summer vacation. Then my boyfriend fell to his death. He and his friends were being idiots having a contest to see who could get closest to the edge and he slipped off the cliff into the old cemetery. It hasn't been used in decades because the ocean level has grown so much that at high tide it's flooded halfway up my calves.
That was just three days ago. Now I'm sitting on this rock as the pearls I cast to the ground begin to disappear. The white dress is also beginning to fade. The rose however remains, just as the previous two had. I don't know why. Maybe to torture me.
It started out innocently enough. It was even kind of cute and sweet. I shiver not only from the cold, but also the memory of the day I found out about his death. I insisted on coming here. I had to see the place he died. I came against my mother's wishes.
I wandered down the beach to the graveyard. It was low tide so the water was not flooding the walls, but the ground was always wet. I walked in worried about what or who could be lurking here. The graveyard was very secluded so someone could be here and I'd never know. I made it about halfway in when he appeared.
Well, no, that's not right. He was there, but he wasn't there. I can't really explain it. I couldn't really see him. I just saw him mentally. I really can't explain it, but it was him. I could tell. The boy wore Peter's short blonde hair and his amber eyes. For some reason he wasn't wearing a shirt, but he was wearing a pair of jeans I'd seen him in many times.
He came up to me and hugged me. Whispering, he said, “You came. I didn't think you got my message.” Of course, I had not gotten a message. He looked at my confusion and asked, “You did get the message, didn't you?”
I shook my head slowly and responded, “No, I didn't. What did it say?”
He looked uncomfortable and didn't answer. Instead he said excitedly, “Want to go to a ball with me?” It was such an out of character thing for him to say. I like that kind of thing, but he hated dancing.
Before I knew it I was nodding my head with a smile on my face. A beautiful red gown was suddenly covering my once bare arms. It looked so real when it first appeared. Then a giant room formed around us and the cemetery was invisible through the seemingly solid walls.
Music began to drift from nowhere and Peter's arms wrapped around my waist. They felt so real. I smiled and laughed. “This is a ball for just the two of us, is it?” I asked smiling.
He took my answer absolutely seriously, “People are,” he looked away before continuing, “harder.” His arms fell away from my waist. A woman appeared in the ballroom, but she was disproportionate and awkward looking.
“The ball was a bad idea.” The woman faded very quickly. Another scene grew around us. There was a small waterfall running into a glistening lake. Surrounding us entirely were trees in all directions. They were all filled with beautiful multicolored blossoms.
It was like stepping out of reality into a dream, into a wonderland. I noticed my dress had also changed. I now wore a knee length green outfit. It looked as though it were woven out of the very scenery that I saw.
I was so lost in the beauty of everything I almost forgot about Peter. He was sitting next to the lake delicately dipping his toes in the water. He smiled brightly at my awestruck look. Mumbling to himself, he said, “Better, much better.”
I sat next to him. I was going to take off my shoes when I realized that I wasn't wearing any. It was disorienting. My feet were bare despite the fact that I knew I was wearing shoes.
Peter must have caught me looking at my feet because he commented, “Do you like your feet? I mean, did I get them right? I tried really hard to remember what they looked like.”
I wiggled my toes and they felt completely free. My brain knew that I was still wearing shoes, yet somehow it wasn't registering. “How did you do that? How did you do all of this?”
He looked uncomfortable again, but responded in his normal carefree tone, “It's just one of those things you can do when your dead.” As he talked the most stunning red rose came to life in his hand.
I reached out tentatively to touch it. Before my hand got halfway there, he met my hand with his own. The rose stem was cool to the touch. The smell was heady and intoxicating.
I closed my eyes to just enjoy it's glorious scent. When I opened them though, the lake and everything was gone. Everything, that is, except Peter.
I was sitting in the water of the rising tide. The dress too was gone and my shoes had returned. I was soaking wet and cold. Peter helped me to my feet and sent me home. That night I slept well. I couldn't wait to go back tomorrow and see him again.
I awoke in high spirits the next morning. The rose lay perfectly intact on my bed stand. It was so beautiful that I couldn't help smiling. I knew that I should be mourning Peter's death, but I couldn't be sad. Once I had finished getting dressed I tucked the rose gently behind my ear.
Downstairs, breakfast was already made. My mother insisted on making me breakfast every morning as though I couldn't do it myself. Setting toast and jam in front on me, she questioned, “You seem awfully happy. Are you running a fever?”
I tugged away from her arm before she could touch my forehead. “I'm not sick mom. I'm fine, okay?” I ate my toast in a hurry and then told her I was going out. She protested, but when I told her I just needed to collect my thoughts, she reluctantly let me go.
It was a two mile walk to the beach and it couldn't past fast enough. I finally reached the cemetery and yelled out, “Peter.” No answer came and so I grew more frantic, “Peter!” Another immeasurable amount of time passed and I was starting to feel the full effect that he might be gone.
Just then a loud noise came from behind me, causing me to jump from fright. I turned and saw Peter smiling behind me. I pouted and said, “It's not funny. You nearly gave me a heart attack.”
That uncomfortable look crossed his face again. “I don't want you to have a heart attack.” He said that in a toneless voice. It sounded unreal coming from him. He noticed me looking at him weird and continued, “I don't want you to end up dead like me.” His smile following that statement was halfhearted.
Without another word he used that same unexplainable magic to transform our surroundings. We went so many places over the course of the day. He took me to the ocean on a boat for just the two of us. Then we went to a mountain and made all kinds of things with the snow.
The last place he took me was to his house. He said that his parents were at church and so we made popcorn and started a movie. I was drinking Mountain Dew and he had Pepsi. We just talked and cuddled as we watched the movie.
I thought of all the wonderful and fantastic places he had taken me to today. It surprised me that this was my favorite part. Just being together like this way was all I wanted. I wanted our time to last forever.
I closed my eyes and snuggled into his warmth. When my eyes were closed I could pretend he was real. He felt so real. Then, I smelled the strong aroma of a rose and I knew he was about to send me home. I opened my eyes just as he pressed the rose into my hand.
This rose was somehow more beautiful than the previous one. Thinking about the last rose, I realized I didn't feel it's weight behind my ear. I reflexively reached up to touch it.
Peter immediately looked apologetic. “I can't hold even a small object like a rose more than a day. I just didn't want you to forget me,” he explained in a pained, broken voice.
“Peter,” I said hurt by his tears, “I could never forget you.” He hugged me and sent me home the same as yesterday. When I arrived home, my mother was waiting for me.
“It sure took a long time to collect your thoughts.” She looked so disappointed. I shook my head and tried to go up to my room. She, of course, blocked my path.
Thinking of Peter's parting words I mustered up all the sadness I had and said, “I'm just... having trouble... It's so hard.” I managed to get a few tears to run down my face. I didn't even feel bad for playing the sympathy card.
My mother backed off quickly. I guess my tears were pretty convincing. “I just want to go upstairs and go to sleep, okay?” My mom just nodded her head. After I was laying in my bed, I did feel a little bad, but I didn't want to tell her the truth.
I woke up to find something different about the rose. There was a small paper tied to a string attached to it. The tiny note read:
It made me a little sad that I wouldn't get to see him much today, but I was looking forward to the something special. With the message tucked safely away, I put the rose behind my ear. I don't know why, it just felt right there.
When I reached the kitchen I realized it was Saturday. My mom had overdone breakfast today. She made waffles, sausages, and eggs. I told her over and over I didn't need this much food, so eventually she stopped making so much for me. My father on the other hand ate a lot on his days off.
He was sitting at the table with his plate already full. He smiled at me, but there was sadness in his eyes. “How's my little girl today?” I didn't feel all that bad for tricking my mom, but my dad was an entirely different story.
“I'm feeling better. I'm really sorry about yesterday. I just had so much going through my head.” The way I used little half truths still made me feel bad. He smiled though and continued eating.
After we all had finished dad said, “So Cindy, do you want to do anything today?” It was clear that the right answer was not no, but I could think of what he'd want to do.
“I don't have other plans. What did you have in mind?” I said, lying again. I found myself lying more and more over the past few days. The more lies I told the more I had to tell.
“Well, I thought maybe we could go and see a movie then have a dinner at a nice restaurant. How's that sound?” This is why it was so much harder to lie to my dad than it was to my mom. He was genuinely nice.
Still when I opened my mouth the words that came out were untrue, “As long as I can get to Jessica’s by five. We're having a sleepover.” I don't know why the words left my mouth, but they did.
Jessica was my friend who lived closest the the ocean. I knew saying that would ensure that I had a alibi, so my parents wouldn't worry and if they dropped me off on time I'd be able to make it the the cemetery in time.
My dad nodded his head and I told him I needed to go take a shower. It's was already ten and he wanted to be at the theater by one. Before hopping in, I called Jessica. She answered on the second ring. “Hello?”
I had a lie planned before I opened my mouth, “Hi, Jessica.” My voice sounded full of tears. “I know it's last minute, but I was wondering if I could spend the night there. I just need a friend right now.” I heard her mumble something near the phone.
“Of course. I'm always here for you and my mom says it's fine. What time will you be over?” She sounded honestly concerned so the next lie would be far harder to tell.
“Well my parents want to spend the day with me. I'll probably be over at nine, okay?” She consented and I hung up. I took a nice warm shower and got dressed. When I went downstairs My dad was in the living room watching television. I checked the time. It was only noon, so I had a little time before we had to leave.
I was about to go back up to my room when my dad asked, “So what movie do you want to see?” I turned toward him and sat down on the couch.
“A comedy. I've seen some commercials for That's My Baby that look pretty good. That came out yesterday, right?” I knew it came out yesterday because Peter and I were going to see it. I didn't think it would be a good idea to tell my dad that though.
“Yeah, it did. Okay we'll see that,” he said it all with his typical smile. About fifteen minutes until one, dad announced it was time to go. The ride wasn't to long. That's what I liked about living in a city. Everything was close.
The movie was funny, but it wasn't the same without Peter. Soon we were at the restaurant having an early dinner for my sake. I didn't eat much and mostly just picked at my food. Mom tried to ignore it, but my dad scolded me.
Soon they were dropping me off at Jessica's. I waved them off as I walked to the front door. Luckily, they drove off before I had to feign knocking. I checked the time on my watch. Ten minutes until I was supposed to meet Peter. I started running.
When I arrived he was waiting for me. I smiled at the joy that was radiating off him. “What do you have planned for tonight?” He didn't respond. Instead he just put me in the most beautiful dress. It was white and it flowed smoothed, but bunched up at the bottom. The straps were sparkling silver and crisscrossed around the front. Somehow the dress fit me absolutely perfectly.
When I looked up I noticed shocked that Peter was wearing a tuxedo. Slowly a room created itself around us. Then, people filled the room. These people looked so real and perfect. They all wore gorgeous gowns and suits as well.
As I looked around, I began to see what the decorations said. This was the prom. At least, it was Peter's image of the prom. He came up behind me and whispered in my ear, “I wanted to make more people, but I didn't have the time. People are so hard.”
I hadn't noticed before, but I realized there were only twenty people excluding us. I turned and looked into his warm eyes. “It's perfect. Just perfect.” Then I snuggled close to him, taking in his warmth, his scent. I would give up everything to preserve this moment forever.
The night passed so quickly as we danced. Soon the “students” began to leave. Finally, the D.J. announced that the next song would be the last. I tried to savor every moment, praying desperately that it wouldn't end. Just as the last note sounded Peter looked me in the eyes, handed me my third rose and said, “I wanted tonight to be perfect because after this I won't be able to see you anymore.”
He might as well have torn my heart from my chest. It would have had the same effect as those words. I did the only thing that a girl with a broken heart can do. I ran as fast and as hard as my legs would carry me.
That's how I got here. That's why I sitting on this rock sobbing with the pearls cast to the ground as the high tide crashes down around me. I wish it all would go away, but the rose is still there, reminding me of him. It reminds me that I'll never see him again.
Now I'm faced with a choice. It's a choice that seems to great to decide in the amount of time I have. I could get up and leave right now and never look back or I could go in there and say my last goodbye. Isn't that what everyone wishes for. One chance to say goodbye. I have that chance, but going back terrifies me.
An owl sounds out behind me and my choice becomes clear. I have to go back. I have to see him one last time and bid him farewell. I stand up and I push through the rising tide. He's waiting just inside the graveyard with an unreadable expression on his face.
I want to turn. I want to run, but I don't. I walk up to him and say, “I just came back to say goodbye.” He walks up to me and holds me in a tight embrace.
“What if I told you we could be together forever? What would you say then?” He doesn't give me time to answer before he continues, “We could live in a cottage by a quiet lake,” as he says it, the lake appears. He slowly circles around me so that he's holding me from behind.
“We could live in the forest or on a mountain. You could have everything you've ever dreamed of. I could give you blonde hair like you've always wanted and you could wear beautiful dresses everyday.” Everything he mentions appears as he speaks. “There's only one thing you have to let me do.”
I tighten my grip on his hands, knowing what he's about to say. My heart flutters at the thought of making such a decision. My mind races and I try hard to think clearly. Then, he says the words I dread, “Let me kill you.”
What can I say? The news devastated me. My only child had committed suicide in the abandoned cemetery where her boyfriend Peter had died. How am I supposed to take that news?
I feel like a failure as a parent. I should have taken her withdrawal and her happiness mixed with her sadness as signs, but I didn't. My girl was too smart to kill herself. And yet she did, and yet she did.
Ralph tried to comfort me, but I will always blame myself for her death. I should have been there. I should have protected her. I'm sure someday, far in the future, I'll forgive myself, but right now I can't see it that way.
Ralph walks in and finds me half dressed. “Alison,” his voice breaks, “we need to be at the church in twenty minutes. You have to get dressed.” It takes him a good ten minutes to convince me to put my clothes on. Then, we have to rush to the church to make it in time.
It takes a lot of coercion from Ralph, but eventually, I approach Cindy's casket. I need to have one last look at her. I need to see my baby one last time. She holds a single rose in hands folded across her chest. It was my decision to put it there. I remember how much she loved roses, especially just before that last day.
Looking at the rose, I notice something out of place. There is something attached to it. I untie the small string and read the message. It is just two words, but they mean so much. They mean everything.
I'm standing here waiting for my mother to come in to read my note. Finally she approaches the coffin. Her face is grief stricken. She stands there a moment, looking me over. Then, her eyes fall to the rose, to the note. Her hands are shaking as she undoes the tiny knot. Then, her eyes widen as she reads my words.
Just two words. Two small words. She shouts, “I forgive you! I forgive you!” Those are the three words I longed to hear. The two words on that note were simply: I'm sorry.
She sinks to the ground sobbing the words over and over. My head starts to get dizzy. I can't figure out what's happening. The more she talks, the more my ability to stand fades. Finally, I curl into a ball and black out.
Time passes, how much I'll never know, but eventually my eyes open again. I'm staring at the ceiling. I hear the pastor speaking and I realize I stayed longer than I should have. Sitting up hurts my back. It feels like it's been days since I last moved.
I blink my eyes rapidly as I realize that I'm not on the floor. I'm in the coffin. There are gasps as everyone stares at me. I'm like a doe in headlights. I can't find the strength to move. Before I have time to step out of the casket, my mother has run to me and she's clinging to me tightly. She whispers the words just once more right in my ear, “I forgive you.”
AN: I don't know if this is twisty enough, but it is a miracle, right? I hope this works! ^_^