Three Lilies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
All Caleb wants is for his childhood best friend and crush to talk to him again, but circumstances are not what they seem.

Submitted: June 30, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 30, 2012




The wind snarled and stalked me as I walked, tugging at the three lilies I held tightly in my fingers. This is stupid, I reminded myself, she’s not going to talk to you. She never talked to me. She used to, when the sun still shone and we were gangly teenagers with blue stained tongues, but not anymore. Blue tongues gave way to bad acid trips and lonely nights, and suddenly she was so far from me. This time we were separated by a solid golden gate, I outside and she in. I didn’t belong here, in this gated community, where everyone was so close and they always had visitors and received gifts like breaths of air. But she was here, and as usual I followed. Like the way she always led follow the leader and jumped into the icy water first, she had moved here and I had trailed faithfully behind her. The wind sighed as I slipped between the bars, as if it was familiar with how this exchange would go. Which it was. This was a trip I made daily, each time with three white lilies in my hands, each time with the hope that she would acknowledge me. Maybe it was romantic, or maybe it was creepy, but regardless I arrived every evening with three lilies and a small request: “Please talk to me.” I just wanted to understand. I missed her terribly, I sought her out in every crinkle of some-day crow’s feet and every ringing laugh around me, but it was never her. I just wanted her to talk to me again.

Leaves kicked up against my shins, as if warning me to leave while I still could, with my pride intact. They were nothing compared to a teenage boy’s heartache. I plowed on, the wind still fingering the lilies, attempting to gently pry them from my hands, but I held onto them just as I held onto the hope that today would be the day. Today had to be the day, I simply didn’t have any time left. Time, however, was no longer an issue when looking for her in this new neighborhood. Consciously or not, I had memorized the location of her new hiding spot. It was simply a matter of muscle memory that propelled me forward to her, I was free to fantasize about her familiar voice, one I hadn’t heard in what felt like eons. And suddenly, I was there. She was laying in the grass as usual, and I could almost smell the cigarette smoke. I gingerly sat down a few feet away, as I knew about her discomfort with personal space. “Hi.” I jerked upright, surprised at my whimper of a greeting. I cleared my throat, hoping that I’d regain some use of my vocal chords before she started snickering at me. “Hi,” I repeated, more sure of myself now, and I saw her sly smile spread across the right side of her face. This was the smile I liked the best. I stared into my hands, at the lilies curled in my lap, their petals reaching in her direction. “I’m leaving tomorrow,” I announced before I had time to think, partly because I wanted to know her reaction and partly so that I might finally accept it. Tomorrow was move in day. I was moving out of the state we had lived in our whole lives and into a new one, with thousands of new people and none of her. No one ever expected her to go to college, though. Our grades weren’t exactly level, and while I blew ahead in school she hung back, preoccupied with drugs and parties and friends that were not me.

I waited for her reaction, but there was none. Typical. I sighed and propped my elbows on my knees, resting my forehead in my hands. “Please talk to me,” I begged quietly, still staring at the lilies. The white flowers were still looking to her as we both waited for an answer that never came. She never talked to me. She was staring off into the distance, over the other residents and the hills and into forever. If I had anything to say, today had to be the day to tell her, I had wasted my other opportunities. Sighing again, I began.

“I miss you, Em. A lot. I wish you’d talk to me so you could tell me what happened. I don’t understand and you’re the only one who does. I really miss talking to you, you know?” My fists clenched around my hair. “I just don’t understand. Was it something I did? I tried to be here for you but you wouldn’t talk to me and now we’re here and I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m scared to leave you here and forget you and I miss you like crazy and I think I fell in love with you once.”

Of course I said that. Of course on the last day she saw me I had to say something like that. My throat was thick with tears that I refused to let out when my pocket vibrated gently, reminding me there were other people in my world. I slid my cell phone out of my pocket and swiped my thumb across the screen to answer.

“Hi Mom,” I muttered, trying to swallow the feelings that clogged my trachea.

“Caleb,” my mother responded, sounding concerned. “Where are you?”

I swallowed hard. It didn’t work. “In the new development.” I couldn’t bear to call this place by its accepted name.

“Oh, okay sweetheart, just be home soon okay? You still have some packing to finish.” My mother was always more gentle when she knew I was with Emily.

I assured her I would be home soon and slipped my phone back into my jeans, knowing Emily was watching and listening. “I have to go now.” No response.

This year had been hard for me, but it had been harder for Em. Life had overwhelmed her. She had gotten lost amongst her feelings and actions and wishes, and was never found again. The speech the pastor gave was nice, but it did little to soothe any of our hearts. I ached for her, and I knew in my heart I could never have her. But I still held out hope that I would hear her voice again. “I have to go now,” I reminded her softly. She sighed and the grass shifted and the lilies reached for her.

Unwillingly as always I crawled toward her, into her personal space, to say goodbye. She was never receptive, but at least she never pushed me away. I arranged the lilies where I thought her head must be, like a crown, and pressed my lips against the cold marble of her headstone. I knew the inscription by heart. Emily Preston, loving daughter and friend, taken too soon, may she rest in heaven among the angels. I couldn't bear to remember the date. She didn’t leave a note behind, nothing to explain her actions, just the memory of her house surrounded by police cruisers and ambulances, her mother wailing in the arms of a police officer and her father sitting numbly on the front steps. She was taken away in a screaming ambulance, never to step back into her home. A sleeping pill overdose, the newswoman later told us. We were all left wondering if we had a hand in it, if it was somehow our fault.

I was careful not to press down too hard on the small hill made by the dirt and grass that covered her like a soft blanket. It was true, I had to go. Despite the way my heart reached for her as I stood, I turned on my heel and walked swiftly away. I couldn’t look back. She knew my secret now. Maybe in heaven she was smiling at me and thanking me. You never know.

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