I rushed out of the café and laughter filled my lungs. Some people walked by the shop and looked at me oddly. I stared back at them and made a face, which made the humans walk faster… away from me.
A horn from a car suddenly honked, making my head turn in its direction. I saw a silver-grey Honda Civic pulling up alongside the curb at which I stood. My lips curved into a smile; Drew was here to pick me up.
I pulled the handle of the door and yanked it open. Drew was looking at me when I sat down and I just smiled at him, perfectly content with life, well, now that I was done working for the day.
“Hey Em,” Drew said in greeting, “How was work?” I glanced over to him when I heard the tone of his voice. His eyebrows were creased into a slight frown and his brown hair looked disheveled and unkempt. Even though his eyes were on the road, I could see that they were lined with frustration and worry.
“Work was fine,” I said quietly answering his question. “How are you doing today? Is everything okay?” I asked, still looking at him intently.
Drew suddenly heaved a tired sigh. “No Em, not really,” he said with annoyance, as if I should have known better than to ask. I only looked down at my lap and nodded, giving him the silence that he seemed to like so much lately. He made a right hand turn and the car leaned slightly, bringing us onto another short road.
“Have you been thinking about it?” Drew suddenly asked me from the midst of dead quiet. No. I didn’t want to talk about that. However, I couldn’t lie to him. I had been thinking about it a lot. How could one just shrug such a thing off? You couldn’t, that’s right. I let out a sigh and looked sadly at my 'almost brother'.
“Yes…I have, actually; a lot. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.”
“Me too,” Drew admitted wincing sheepishly. “So what do you think? Do you feel like it’s worth it?”
For some reason, tears came to my eyes as I thought about it more and more. I didn’t like this. I didn’t like this new feeling of duty that had come over my soul ever since Drew’s father had spoken his last words. I put a hand to my forehead and squeezed viciously as I thought of just what he had said. Was he out of his mind? Well, maybe come to think of it.
Drew’s father, Raymond, was a police officer. My family had been close to the Willings for almost my entire life. Mr. and Mrs. Willings were like my second parents and Drew, like my brother; my best friend. They had always told me that if they could, they would make me a part of their family. However, Drew’s father had passed away about two weeks ago now from a serious gun wound and in his hospital bed, he had croaked out his last words to Drew, only moments before leaving this earth:
“Drew, my son,” he had breathed at first.
“Yes, dad?” Drew said rushing to his side. I had also gotten up from my chair and crossed to the opposite side of the bed, my eyebrows creased in worry and my eyes budding liquid.
“Will you do something for me?”
“Anything, dad, I promise. What do you want?” I heard Drew’s voice crack with emotion at this point, and it made my own tears effortlessly fall down my sorrow filled face.
“You know how much I love you; you and Emma,” he said slowly and then suddenly let out a spasm of coughs.
I waited anxiously to what he was going to say; the confusion of where this was going building up in my heart.
“I need you to…to…marry her, Drew.”
Drew let out a surprised gasp and his eyes flew to mine. I allowed my jaw to hit the floor, eyes wild and heart beating. He couldn’t be serious!
“What?” Drew said, as if he hadn’t heard correctly.
Mr. Willings nodded and then sucked in one hard breath. “It’s all that I’ve ever wanted. You two will make each other very happy, I promise.”
I stared at this man until my eyes hurt from the lack of blinking. At first I thought it was just a joke, but then he added in a whisper, “I’m serious, please Drew, please…” and then he passed.
From that point on, nothing had been the same. Drew entered a cave of depression, and his mother was in a state of shock and paranoia. If it wasn’t for me and my parents, she was likely to have chained Drew to the kitchen sink, in order to keep from losing him as well.
The funeral was a week ago, and I would have expected Drew to have gone crazy, but for some reason he had been pretty much the same, excluding today. I don’t know what was wrong with him, and it was strange that he hadn’t told me by now. Maybe it was just the realization that his father was really gone or something, but I still found it strange that it had taken him a week to realize this.
“Emma!” Drew suddenly shouted, making me jump in astonishment.
“What, what?” I said quickly, my eyes flying around the car.
“Nothing’s wrong, Em. I was just talking to you and you weren’t listening.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, Drew. What did you say?”
A smile budded in Drew’s eyes, the first I had seen in a long time, but unfortunately, it didn’t reach his lips.
“I said, we’re here.”
“Where?” I asked in confusion, still hoping that he would smile. It had been so long since I had seen him smile, and now it was almost scary how much I wanted to watch his lips curl in happiness.
Drew sighed and rolled his eyes, the smile leaving his eyes completely. “At your house. See?” He pointed to his left and I looked out his window. I saw my white house standing before his pointed finger and I laughed casually.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I was just thinking.”
Drew only nodded and stared at the steering wheel as if it was a million dollars. In the silence I rolled my eyes; this was starting to piss me off. I was having a hard time with this just as much as he was, but he seemed to think that he was the only one that was suffering. Maybe if he let other people comfort him instead of trying to be a tough guy, then he would be my normal Drew.
I didn’t say a word, but I reached for the handle on my door, ready to storm away, when Drew’s hand suddenly pressed against my forearm. I sucked in a breath at the coldness of his skin. Drew was always so warm and loving.
“Wait Emma. I need to talk to you,” Drew whispered hoarsely. His usually vibrant green eyes looked like dead grey leaves when they were fading and disintegrating into the earth. They were cold and lifeless, but for some reason, I saw a spark of un-assurance; like he was worried about something.
“What’s the matter, Drew?” I said kindly, taking his hand in mine. He looked at my fingers with wonder. I was getting really worried about this guy. How many times had we held hands? This definitely wasn’t the first…
“I’ve been thinking a lot about what my dad said, Emma. I know you have too…but you’ve probably been thinking about how ridiculous it is, am I right?”
I let out a short laugh and looked at him with a face that said, ‘Duh!’
Drew only nodded and looked at our hands again, tightening his grasp around my palm.
“Well quite frankly, Emma I’ve been thinking about it but in the opposite sense. I think it’s a good idea. I think we should get married.”
“What are you talking about, Drew? Did you get enough sleep? You’re out of your mind!” I ranted, trying to pull my hand away from his. His firm grasp relented, however, and I realized just how well he knew me. How did he know that I would try to pull away? I didn’t even know that!
“Emma, please calm down, this isn’t exactly the easiest thing for me to say, right now,” he pleaded. I looked at him with a crazed look in my eyes, and he looked at me with pleading written on his face. He wasn’t thinking straight, I mean look at him! He wasn’t thinking about my future or my happiness at all. How could he do such a thing to me? He knew that I didn’t love him in that way! Drew knew that I wanted to marry only for love and nothing more. He wasn’t being fair.
I grunted and stared straight ahead of me, being as stubborn as a mule. Anger poured into my brain, causing my breathing to pick up its pace. Drew started to speak again, and his words echoed my thoughts.
“I know this might seem unfair to you, but think about it, Em. You would be with me for the rest of your life and I would take care of you. You’d never be hungry and you’d never be bored; we’d fight too much to let that happen. We could live in my house down on Maple St., and you wouldn’t have to worry about anything for the rest of your life. I know that you’ve always wanted to marry for love, and so have I. But you love me like a brother, so it couldn’t be that bad could it?”
“Not that bad?” I snapped, letting a small tear fall down my red cheek. “How could you even think about proposing such a thing? You know how I feel about you Drew, and that’s never going to change, I’m sorry.” I pathetically let out a sob and I became convinced that Drew must be thinking about how much of a baby I was.
“Oh, Emma please don’t cry. Look, I wouldn’t ask you unless I really felt that it was worth it, that you’d be happy in the end. And besides, if you married me then you might even end up happier then you would with some other jerk-head who only wants you for bangingyour bodyin bed.”
In spite of myself, I laughed a little, loving the bluntness in which he spoke about such things. I took a deep breath and tried to make myself stop the tears.
“I know, Drew, and I appreciate it but I’d rather be in love with that jerk-head then marry someone that I don’t love… no offense or anything, but I just can’t see myself looking at you that way.”
“You don’t have to look at me in any special way, Em. We don’t even have to have kids, and the only time I’ll touch you is when you say, and only if you say so.”
I moaned in annoyance, hating the thought of this more and more, and in my stubborn blindness, it didn’t really occur to me how sweet he was being right now.
“Look,” Drew started, “the other night I heard my mom sobbing in her room, and then she started to blubber and pray about all of these random things, but do you know what she said?”
I shook my head.
“She said, ‘Oh Lord, please let there be some way for Drew and Emma to get together; that’s all that I ask; Raymond has wanted it for so long.”
“She didn’t!” I gasped and turned my teary eyes onto Drew’s. He was almost smirking, but it wasn’t a happy smirk. It was a sad, ‘I-knew-this-was-going-to-happen’ smirk.
Drew nodded sadly. “She did. I guess she and my dad had been talking about it ever since we were little, they just never said anything until now.”
I couldn’t believe this. I guess the idea had to have come from somewhere, but I just couldn’t believe that they wanted such a thing so very badly.
“Look, Em,” Drew said bringing his other hand to our cluster of fingers, “It was my dad’s dying wish. If you can’t do it for me, then can’t you bring yourself to do it for him?”
His words loudly echoed in my soul. He was right; it was my ‘almost father’s’ dying wish. If I did this one life changing act, then I would make so many people happy. The only person who wouldn’t be happy was me. I looked into Drew’s eyes and was surprised when I saw the way they flickered with love. It was probably because he had just talked about his dad. I admired the way he doted on his memory, and determination suddenly filled my mind.
“Drew,” I said slowly, “I’ll marry you. I’ll do it for him.”
Drew’s face suddenly broke out into the widest smile that I had seen in a long time. He pulled my hand to his lips and firmly kissed it. I smiled at his happiness and knew that this was the reason that I had decided to do it. Then, I instantly thought of Zach and I suddenly balked; what had I done?