When Lightning Strikes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 28 (v.1)

Submitted: July 12, 2012

Reads: 545

Comments: 20

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Submitted: July 12, 2012

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A/N: Hey guys! So this chapter is a little shorter than my usual ones, but I still hope you'll somewhat enjoy! I know most of you are sad that Aubrey's gone and it seems like there's less people commenting ... so I was wondering whether it's because she died? Just asking ... but I'm not going to change anything! If Aubrey's death has put you off this novel then I totally understand xoxo

Since the funeral, I hadn’t visited Aubrey’s grave. Honestly, I didn’t feel worthy of visiting her. What if she still hated me?

I sighed as I looked over my assignment. The professors at Mercer had heard about what happened (it was a small town after all), and had given their condolences. Some had even asked if I had wanted an extended week for my assignments. I had declined.

My friends always approached me with a new awareness now. It was quite frustrating actually. It was as if they were afraid to hurt me. I didn’t want them to be quiet and polite – I wanted them to be themselves. I missed the happy days, though I didn’t venture tell them that. Instead, I just kept silent.

Although I was following the same routine before Aubrey had passed away, it didn’t feel like my life was sewing back together. In fact, it felt the opposite.

The house felt haunted and empty. It was always so quiet. Every night I’d have the few same nightmares all over again. There were always images of Aubrey’s fragile body in her casket. There was the scene of our argument, where she had given me a chilling look.

The worst was a made-up scenario, where Aubrey would visit me and with narrowed eyes, tell me that she hated me. Then from behind her, everyone I loved would appear and say the same thing. They’d taunt me by saying it was my fault. Their faces would warp all together to produce a twisted image of Jason. He’d smirk at me cruelly and tell me he didn’t love me. I would wake up with a cold sweat in the early hours of the morning, gasping for breath and praying it wasn’t true.

My parents always gave me pitying looks whenever I walked into the same room they were in. They knew Aubrey and I had been fighting up until her death. I knew they desperately wanted to know what it was about, but both were too scared to upset me. Dad had been dealing with his grief by lying back in his armchair and listening to Jazz music. Sometimes I’d see a tear run down his cheek, but I wasn’t sure if it was just the light.

Meanwhile, mom was busying herself with chores, as it helped take her mind off the missing presence in the house. She’d also read her collection of classic books by the fireplace at night, though sometimes she’d mutter irately, “Not another death!”

I had been becoming increasingly worried about them. My parents were both the same. They couldn’t talk about their problems if it was a major one, but I knew somewhere down the track, they’d manage to move onto a new chapter of their life. They were a very strong pair.

I decided to pay a visit to Aubrey’s room again. My parents and I had decided that we would be keeping her room for now. We weren’t sure whether to leave the way it was. Mom had quietly suggested that we could change it when we moved on.

I sighed as I took in the perfection of her room. Even after weeks, her scent hadn’t faded. It invaded my nostrils and they flared. I couldn’t believe it was still here. It was a very delicate smell, one mixed with her Chanel perfume. I inhaled slowly. It was as if she was really here.

A framed photo I hadn’t seen before caught my eye. It stood on her dresser - a photo of us from the photo studio on my birthday. I traced the picture and smiled gently as I reminisced. As I did, the word ‘Jason’ caught my attention. It was a crumbled piece of lined paper, probably one which had been ripped out from a notebook. I frowned as I pulled it out from behind the bunch of items on Aubrey’s dresser.

I stopped myself as I started to unfold it. Wait … what was I doing being nosy? This wasn’t like me at all. I respected people’s privacy. Just because my sister wasn’t here, it didn’t mean that I could snoop around.

However, the temptation was too great. My eyes frenziedly took in Aubrey’s cursive writing. It was a short letter, addressed to Jason, but it looked like she had bailed at the last minute and kept it in her room.

Jason,

I’m sorry that I told you to ‘get out’. You know me when I’m really angry. Sometimes I can’t deal with it and need space. It’s been a few days since I’ve found out so I’ve had time to calm down and think about us. I’m not entirely sure if there should be an ‘us’. I love you and you betrayed me. With my SISTER for goodness sake! I should have seen it coming though. You both are so alike. How am I ever supposed to compete with that? Actually, no … just like you said, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to anyone. I know I deserve better than this, but I can’t help but still love you. You’ve always been there for me and I know you’re sincerely sorry about this whole mess. I’m upset that you kissed Gracie though. Not only because we’re together, but you KNOW she means the world to me. I’ve gone off at her, Jason. I told her all my insecurities and I know she’s hurting badly. But I am too and we aren’t talking at all. I can’t bear to see her heartbroken. I need your help.

Well … I think I’ve gotten down all my feelings. I want to talk to you. I want to sort things out rationally. You’re not answering your phone or your emails so I’m going to resort to the traditional way: a letter. I’m sure your mother will deliver this to you.

Call me after you read this.

Aubrey.

I swiped away at the tears which were arising. Thinking about our first ever major fight again hurt so badly. I hated that I had betrayed her like that. It seemed like she really loved Jason, even if their relationship had its definite flaws. I guessed the letter had been written about a day or two after the argument.

I looked back over it and sniffled. So at that time, I had still ‘meant the world to her’? I couldn’t believe she could still love me after something like that. Aubrey was just amazing. Here I was alive, unworthy of her sisterly love, while she had been heartbroken because of me and was now gone.

It just wasn’t fair.

Clutching the letter to my chest, I sunk to the ground. I must have forgotten to close the door because my mother hurried into the room soon after.

“Gracie? What’s wrong, sweetie?!”

I shook my head, not wanting to tell her. It was a heavy secret to be holding.

She spotted the paper crushed between my fingers and tried to pry it from me. “What is it?”

My eyes met hers. I shook my head fiercely again. I didn’t want my mother to judge me. “No, no! You’ll hate me!” I moaned.

Her big brown eyes grew soft at my comment. In the background, I heard dad’s footsteps coming into the room to see what was going on as well. “Nothing could ever make me hate you, Gracie. You’re my daughter. I’ll always love you, no matter what.”

Dad backed her up. “She’s right. I could never hate you too.”

It comforted me to know that my parents loved me, but I was still unsure. Most teenagers didn’t reveal big secrets to their parents and I wasn’t an exception. I took a deep breath to control my uneven breathing, and then slowly released the paper.

“That’s it,” mom cooed.

With my head in between my knees, I sat there with my eyes screwed shut. I couldn’t bear to watch my parent’s expression, but inside, I hoped they would understand.

“Well that’s surprising,” I heard dad murmur. I sneaked a peek and saw he was clutching his heart, with his eyes as wide as saucers.

Mom cleared her throat. “How long had you and Jason been seeing each other?”

“It wasn’t like that mom,” I whispered. “We kissed and realised what we were doing was wrong. We tried to keep away from each other …”

She sighed and pushed back a strand of her dark hair. It pained me – it was exactly the same shade and texture as Aubrey’s.

“Do you love him?”

My heart skipped a beat. I was stunned that my mother was asking that. My mouth tried to form words, but I felt stupefied.

“Well?”

I took a deep breath to help control myself. “I-I think so …”

“Oh lord.” My dad grimaced. “Gracie, haven’t I taught you better than that? You never get in the way of someone’s relationship! And to think … all this time that scumbag was a cheating on Aubrey!”

Mom and I were startled by dad’s new rage. My emotions were conflicted. I wanted to tell him that Jason was not a ‘scumbag’. He was kind and genial – the most amazing person I knew. On the other hand, I was telling myself to keep my trap shut, as dad was right in one part. He had taught me better. He did not tolerate cheating, especially after mom had experienced it so many times throughout her life. That was why he was so over-protective and gentlemanly to my mother.

“I can’t believe you would betray your own sister.”

Those words coming from my father’s mouth broke me. His disappointed stare added to the guilt. All I wanted to do was to go down on my knees and beg for his forgiveness. I wasn’t used to disappointing him. He had always supported me. He had always been proud of my achievements.

And now, he disapproved.

Tears sprung to my eyes once again. I couldn’t help it. “I’m sorry, dad …”

“Sorry doesn’t cut it, Gracie. Aubrey would never take your boyfriend! Why would you do that?”

I gasped for air. Beside me, mom laid a comforting hand on my shoulder, but the way she was looking at me signified she partially agreed with her husband. Here I had prayed that they wouldn’t hate me, but now my hopes had been crushed. It was my nightmare coming true. My family was finally turning against me.

“I … I don’t know …”

With one last fuming huff, dad stomped out of the room. A few doors down, I heard another door being slammed. I flinched, not used to his anger being directed at me.

Mom stared at me for a while longer before sighing. Without a word, she pushed herself up from the carpet and paced outside too.

I couldn’t believe it. My parents weren’t by my side anymore. The big, fat truth was that I was now alone. I clutched at the handwritten letter before re-reading through it. That was when a light bulb flickered in my head and a new stunning revelation came to mind.

This wasn’t my entire fault. It was Jason’s too.


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