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I run my fingers through my wavy brown hair attempting to avoid the nagging thoughts. Only distractions keep my mind off everything, but nothing I think of holds me back long enough.
Pulling me out of my own bubble, I regain consciousness and realize the bell has already rung and the rest of my classmates have gone. The last thing I need is for my grades to slip the last month of school.
“Oh.” I stuttered trying to find the words. “I’m sorry, my head isn’t in it I guess.” I give a subtle smile to assure him I’m okay.
“Okay, if you need to talk I’m here. You’re a great student, don’t let anything stand in your way.” He’s so calm; his voice reminds me of the peace a slow ocean wave blankets over me.
“Thank you, Mr. Taylor.” I grab my book bag and head to the door, not realizing it’s pouring rain until my feet submerge themselves into a puddle. How fitting.
The BMW parked next to my 2009 rusted Chevy truck makes it look even worse than normal. I avoid eye contact with the owner, who I know, is judging me. With two tries the engine revives and I back out. Avoiding going back to the dorms where my overly eager roommate awaits, I take the back roads acknowledging the sound of the rain tapping on the metal encasing me. My phone buzzes, it’s Will. I have forced myself to ignore him for two weeks now, but I cave and answer.
“Hello?” My voice sounds sympathetic, I remind myself to fix my tone before speaking again.
“Ana, my God, I was so worried you haven’t been answering my calls.”
I knew he was going to ramble on the whole time. Why did I answer…
“I miss you, Will.” What the hell Ana, what is wrong with you? I’m shocked at the words that escaped my lips. I heard a sigh drift through the phone; out of fear of hearing it back, I hang up. I shouldn’t have let myself slip, but I couldn’t help it, I’m lonely without him. I miss him.
My heart breaks when I remember what we did together, being intimate and the vulnerability. I knew the second I looked up in study hall, junior year and saw his beautiful green eyes looking down at me that I would fall for this boy. “People still read?” His giggle drew me in further.
I catch myself drifting off into thought and stop myself realizing I’m at my door reaching for my keys with no recollection of how I got here.
Just as I pictured, Jessica sits with her new iPhone XR. I will never understand why people spend money on items everyone has. Her turquoise sheets make a soft sound as her legs dangle off the bed.
“I’m surprised you aren’t studying, isn’t your Ecology exam tomorrow morning?” My voice sounded distant and raspy. I tell her I’m tired, I’m over everyone asking me if I’m okay. I’m fine.
“Oh yeah, but I have one hundred and two percent in that class. It wouldn't matter if I even showed up.”
I take for granted her laugh. It makes me smile. My stomach rumbles beneath my skin. Wow, I haven’t eaten all day, it’s 2:30. Without hesitation, I ask Jess if she wants to get food and we head down to the cafeteria.
It’s half past four and I decide to write in my diary again about him.
April 25, 2019
It’s been a month since I’ve seen you. The way we left things that day in your apartment left me with so many regrets, but I’m sure you have more. I have a hundred questions and if I asked you all of them, I could sleep easier. What made her better at that moment than me? Did you think about me while it was happening or even before? How can anyone devote over three years of their life to a girl, propose to her, and give it all away for one night with a girl who meant nothing to you? You didn’t even know her! I don’t know when I’ll get over you, I don’t know if I will. The only thing I know is that my trust issues have worsened.
I miss my mom and sometimes I miss my dad, but he just reminds me of Will. I understand a piece of my mom’s pain now, but my heartbreak is in no comparison to her’s. After 18 years of marriage, my dad had an affair with a red-headed, 35-year-old named Shannon. Talk about a midlife crisis. I wish I could fly back home and see them, but I don’t know if I could stop myself from visiting him.
It’s finally Friday. I don’t have any classes so I start my morning off by going to the mall. I’ve needed to clean my closet for a long time. I’m sure Jessica would love to have the clothes I don’t want anymore; her closet is dated 2010. I make my way past Victoria’s Secret realizing I won’t need to spend money on lingerie to enhance the little figure I have. I have naturally larger breasts, but I don’t like them. No matter what I wear I look ten times more inappropriate than if a small chested girl wore it. Plus, loose shirts make me look heavy and uneven since my legs are almost the size of my arms. Although he’s always loved my body. I contain these thoughts as I enter PacSun.
My hands skim the racks feeling for anything that catches my eye. I notice a black t-shirt with cuffed sleeves. I should wear clothes more like my peers. The buzzing of my phone startles me out of my thoughts; he texted me. I’m too nervous to open it and acknowledge his existence right now. I feel my heart beating faster to the ideas of what it could be. My throat feels as if barbed wire was wrapping it. I can’t be here. I speed walk out of Pacsun drawing attention from not only the employees but the four other customers; where is the bathroom? This race to beat the peak of my panic attack makes me realize I won’t be going out for a while longer. I’m not ready.
I finally make it to my rust bucket on wheels. Driving home relaxes me. I enjoy the distraction of the road. I listen to John Mayer; the smooth stringing of his guitar calms me.
Jess won’t be back for another two hours and I’m relieved to be alone. I grab my emergency medicine textbook and prop myself up with pillows in my bed. I have to read 60 pages tonight for my refresher course. I’ve been a certified EMT since my senior year in high school. I haven’t decided if I should be a trauma surgeon or paramedic, Will thinks a trauma surgeon would be “badass.”
Thinking of him reminds me of the text I got at PacSun; the one that commenced the most embarrassing panic attack I’ve had. But I’m alone now. I open it.
“Ana. Please stop ignoring my calls. I’m coming to visit you my plane landed this morning, I tried telling you two days ago and yesterday too. I’ll be there around 2 hopefully. I’m excited to see you.”
My heart beats faster than it ever has and my immediate reaction is to check the time, it’s 12:36. I can’t tell him not to come he flew two hours to visit me here in Washington. Instead, I text him: “Ok.” And I head to the showers to clean up. Showering is like driving to me, it naturally relaxes me but in a different way; I feel purified. The constant warmth of the water feels like a blanket protecting me within the bathroom walls. When I get out its quarter after one. I was in there for longer than I thought. What did I do besides wash my hair?
I don’t care to dress cute, even though I want him to realize what he’s lost. I pull out a blue DogCafe t-shirt from Florida I bought last spring and black joggers. I’m going to cry so I don’t see a point on wearing makeup. I sit on my bed twiddling my fingers and rechecking my phone every two minutes.
Half an hour passed 2 and I’ve heard nothing. The silence is killing me. “When will you be here? I have things to do.” I lie. I take two Gabapentin pills. I call him, no response. Will is never late, should I be worried? Maybe he fell asleep in his hotel room or maybe his phone died. I text him again twenty minutes after I called. “I’m going to get lunch. Idk where you are but text me.” I might’ve screwed my chance of seeing him, but I’m pissed. I wouldn’t care if he flew all the way here for nothing but disappointment. Okay, maybe a little.
The worst part is I still love him. Our relationship had a clear future. I was sure I would marry him and we would spend the rest of our lives together. I might forgive him. I know he regrets it and it was a drunken mistake, but how could I know this wouldn’t happen again? How could I know he wouldn’t hurt me again?
I head down 84th street blasting my favorite song: Free Fallin’ by John Mayer. I wonder if the cars driving past judge my singing and dancing? Sirens scream interrupting my jam session and alert me to pull over. Four cop cars, two ambulances, and a fire truck all speed in the direction of Panera, where I’m planning on eating. Curiosity takes the best of me and I follow the path of danger.
I don’t know what to expect as I approach the distant lights. It seems to be a car collision. I work part-time for Pierce Co. FPD I’m allowed on scene. This is in my division after all. I’m excited I’m never on call for these extreme emergencies.
I pull off to the shoulder where multiple cars are parked. I realize there are three cars in the ditch as I reach the blockade police are guarding. A tall black man with a distinctive grey beard approaches me. “Excuse me, miss, this is as far as you can go, please allow us to do our work.”
“I’m an EMT. I was driving to lunch when multiple emergency vehicles passed me. I work for Pierce Co. FPD as a part-time college student. Here I’ll show you my ID.” I pull it out of my pocket. I can see him examining it. Making sure it’s not a fake through his facial expressions.
“You said this was your division?” His suspicious tone is a little offending, but I understand where he’s coming from.
“Yes sir, I probably know the majority of the responders here.”
He agrees to let me by, they need as much help as they can get. I spot my close friend, Nick, who’s also a college student and part-time EMT. I can see the sweat and devastation in his eyes, there have been fatalities. “Nick!” I shout as loud as I can. He makes eye contact and immediately runs toward me. I’m thankful I’m not the only student here. He grabs my hand and pulls me in for a hug and begins crying, I’ve never seen this side of him, he carries happiness wherever he goes.
Shards of glass and metal debris cover the road for 100 yards on both sides. The little blue car, one of three in the ditch, has minimal damage and both the driver and passenger have been evacuated safely. The black sedan is flipped upside down, the two little boys in the back have been transported to the hospital and the firefighters are working on getting the mom out; she has a massive laceration on her head and she’s unconscious but still alive. The white Jeep that hit the semi initially spun into oncoming traffic before rolling and hitting a tree; both the passenger and driver were found dead. The semi-truck driver is responsive but confused; police are questioning him now. By the look of the car underneath the semi, a black Honda, there’s no chance anyone survived. I take a few deep breaths and calm myself enough to regain focus.
“Nick look at me! Nick!” His head rose from my shoulder with tears flooding his eyes. “I need you to focus on. There are survivors out there who need our help! I know you’re strong enough for this--I know it!” He begins sobbing again until he finally catches his breath to talk.
“When we went to find an ID in the black Honda we found this,” His dirty hands bring up Will’s driver's license. “I’m so sorry I kn-” His voice cracks until he sobs again.
I don’t know what to do but stand. I can’t move, can’t think, can’t feel. I can’t do anything. All I do is stare into a smoking car burning him along with it. My throat closed and I can’t catch a breath. This isn’t real. He’s not dead, he can’t be dead. I need him, oh God no, no, no, no!
I push Nick off me and run towards the car. I can’t hear what anyone is saying. All I hear are my feet hitting the concrete one by one. I kneel at the car door and the glass begins cutting my body. He’s lying there motionless.
“Why isn’t anyone doing anything to help him! Please help him! Please, he’s not dead, he’s not! Someone help me!” My hands bleed from the shards of glass as I make room for my body through the narrow window. “Someone help me, please! Why isn’t anyone doing anything! Will! Will! Baby, please wake up I’m sorry I ignored you, I’m sorry I didn’t fix things, I’m so sorry for everything. Please wake up! You have to wake up!” Nick pulls me out of the car forcefully by my waist. The reflection off the car window showed me tears and blood have completely covered my face.
“Ana, he’s gone.” I shove him off me and run back to the window, my hands drip with blood. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t leave him.
“Why aren’t you helping me? Nick, please! Help me get this door off, we can save him, we need to, he’s not dead!” I can’t breathe. I can barely speak. He grabs me by my waist but this time two other firefighters hold me back too. “Stop! Let me save him, I can save him, please just help me!” His eyes are still open, but barely. I see his beautiful green eyes I fell in love with, he’s not dead. He can’t be dead.
“Ana stop, look at me. Will is gone, he was when we arrived at the scene. I am so sorry.”
“No!” My breath gets weaker every second; I fall to the ground in tears. “God please no.” I race back to the window and force my head inside scraping my forehead, “Will, baby, I need you to wake up now, please Will, I love you.” I softly kiss his lips and the three men pull me out once more, but this time carries me further and further from him. He can’t be gone. I need to hear him say I love you one more time, I need to say it back.