Tessie never once thought that it would come to this. She never saw herself here, standing beside his coffin, listening to others reveal what they knew of him. Moans and sobs sounded all around her, and there were tears falling from every eye; every eye, except for hers.
She had tried to cry. She had tried to mourn, but had found only a numbing emptiness within her. The words that were spoken. which were to bring such memories and feelings, only triggered an incredible urge to laugh. These people, known and unknown to her, knew nothing of Travis. They spoke of a boy who mowed lawns in the summer, and helped an elderly lady's poor cat out of a spruce tree. They spoke of a boy who was driven by undying morals and uncomparable love. They spoke of a boy who would not only devote his life to the welfare of others, but completely forsake himself in the pursuit of what was believed to be right.
The wind played with the dying leaves above Tessie's head, singing their own tribute to Travis's life. It was a beautiful autumn day. The sky seemed to be the exact shade of his eyes, now forever closed. The tiny white clouds, innocent and pure, chased one another across the sky. Tessie thought of their younger days; a time when she and Travis would spend hours playing a never-ending game of tag. At that time, they too had been pure, but growing up had come quickly for him, and for her as well. Tessie thought it might have been easier, if things had stayed the way they had been years ago. Their world had revolved around Playdough, and sprinklers, and popsicles. And of course, eachother. They had always been inseperable, right up until the day he died.
To this day, she really had no idea what went wrong; what drove him to get involved in gangs and drugs, the trademarks of today's society. Was it his father's betrayal and abandonment that cast into him a terrible hatred for the world. Was it his mother's drunken rages, her hateful accusations, and his sleepless nights, wondering if she would come home this time? It was these things that had driven him closer to Tessie. She remembered the night that he arrived at the her front door, wet from the pouring rain and streaming tears, and a large bruise forming around his eye. She remembered how his mother came to the door, ranting about a "spoiled brat" and a "good-for-nothing mistake". She rememered her own mother taking his drunkard mother home. She remembered how as soon as she and Travis were alone, he told her things, secrets, he called them, that sparked fear and anger into her own tender heart. He was ten years old.
The years went by, and nothing really changed. He spent many nights at Tessie's house, whispering secrets only they could share. A time came when they no longer regarded eachother the same way they had when they were young. It was a much more powerful feeling, a closeness that could only have been love. He told her stories of how he was going to take her away, and they would live in a world free from painful punches, and damaging words. He made Tessie promise after promise, that nothing would ever seperate them, and that he would always be there for her. One amazing night, they sealed these promises, when they gave something to eachother that could never be returned. Tessie remembered that night as if it was yesterday. Every kiss. every murmur, as soft and sweet as cotton candy. He became her obsession, her everything. And Tessie was his.
The time they spent together, though still just as meaningful, had become less and less over the last few months.Travis wouldn't tell her where he was going or what he was doing, but assured her everything was fine. Tessie, though worried, stayed out of his business, for she had learned long ago that you didn't push for information regarding his life. He began giving her elaborate gifts; gold rings, diamond necklaces, and she still did not ask where the money was coming from. By then, however, she knew. Her heart ripped a little everytime he left her, and her fear increased with every gift he gave. It was dangerous work, and Tessie feared for his life. She asked him repeatedly to stop, to give it up, assuring him that she did not need the jewelry. She only needed him. And as a statement, all the expensive jewlery was hidden away in a shoe box beneath her bed. Instead, she simply wore the beaded friendship bracelet they had made when they were both nine years old.
Fingering the bracelet, she stared at the casket in front of her. She had been there, as she had been there for every other important moment of his life. She remembered the romantic evening he had planned, the candle-lit dinner, the walk on the beach. The moment when he took her in his arms and said he was through with the crime and the nights away from her. And then, those few breathless seconds, when he knelt down in front of her, the moon smiling down upon them, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. He slipped a ring upon her finger and held her close, whispering the same beautiful promises he had whispered when they were young. It was all so perfect.
She never imagined it would end the way it had. It wasn't supposed to. They were supposed to get away from this town, away from his past. They were supposed to get married, have a family, and a live along life together. These arewhat he promised her. These are the promises he broke.
On the way back to her house that night, they walked hand in hand, the beautiful ring shining on her finger. Their laughter and joy echoed up the street. A black cadallac pulled up along side of them, but they didn't notice. They were too enveloped in each other. But Tessie saw the window roll down, she saw the gun pointed at Travis, and she saw that terrible smile from inside the car. She screamed. Travis turned. And then he was on the ground and the world went black.
When she awoke she was lying in the hospital. A stray bullet had grazed her side, but it was nothing a few stitches couldn't fix. "Where's Travis?" Tessie asked her mom, but she never even had to answer. The tears that welled in her eyes told her the truth. Travis was dead.
And now here she stood, beside his casket. The world around her seemed unreal, the people fake and distrustful. The only truth, the only reality was was lay inside that box, now being lowered into the ground. As they began to bury it, a single tear fell from her eye. With him, they buryed her dreams, her hopes, and her future. There was nothing left for her in this world. As she turned to leave, a changing breeze tangled itself in her hair and seemed to whisper, "join me."
And so she shall.
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