I leaned over my duffle bag that was stuffed with clothes for my upcoming stay at Harry’s house. I found it a bit weird that Harry and Gemma still lived at home, but I couldn’t really blame them- Auntie Anne was always doting on them and doing practically everything around the house. And ever since she left for the holidays over a year ago and all that happened, she hasn’t let us out of her sight for more than a day. She might even feel responsible for everything that happened here while she was away; but I knew that it wasn’t anyone’s fault besides his. I could hardly say his name anymore, only referring to him as ‘him’ or ‘you know who’. I hated going very Harry Potter, but I just couldn’t say his name. Every time I tried to say it, all that came out was silence.
That was one of the many results of everything that had happened. I couldn’t say his name, I couldn’t go into the woods, and I couldn’t let go. When I am feeling down, I stay at home and give myself alone time. I became an author to let out my innermost thoughts, or so I told people.
I did it so that I could write about realities that were better than my own. All of my characters have peaceful lives, their only drama being a nasty rumor or a ruined reputation. Oh, how I dream about living in one of the books I created. To have any other life would be bliss.
In my books I would make characters that were eerily similar to Jake and dad. Some similarities were intentional, while other times it was a coincidence. I wrote books so that I could pretend that they were still alive, so that I could stay with them for just a few more pages.
I lifted the heavy suitcase off of my bed and dragged it out into the hall. I trudged downstairs, careful to not cross paths with the dent on the stairs. As I made my way downstairs, my spirits lifted. I was going to see Liam today, and no doubt all the boys were going to be coming over this week as well.
We were so much closer than we were before, and I had formed a tight bond with Gemma. When we were younger, it was normally me and Harry, Gemma and Jake. But then Gemma grew more mature and Jake didn’t- that’s when the Three Musketeers were formed. And that’s when we found the old cottage.
I shook my head and stopped my mind from shutting down again. I had to forget him. I had to forget everything.
Setting my bag down onto the floor in the front hall, I pulled my mobile out of my pocket and sent Harry a quick text.
To: curly dream boat
Come pick me up now pweazzzz :)
I sat down in the dining room and sighed, waiting for my ride much like I had over a year ago, wearing only a towel and waiting for my clothes to be brought to me.
From: curly dream boat
give me five minutes you lazy cow
Laughing quietly to myself, I put my phone back in my pocket and sighed. I knew that if the boys and Dani and El were going to be there this week, so would Kyra. It’s not that I didn’t like her, but I could see in her eyes that she still had something for Liam. Gladly, that spark in her eyes had been temporarily transferred to Niall lately; I think they’ll last, and I really hope I’m right. The way he looks at her… there were no words. He loves her with his whole heart. I would hate to see his heart broken again.
I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes, letting time around me fly by as I awaited Harry’s arrival. It had been six or seven minutes since he last texted me, so I presumed that he was quite near. That was the great thing about Holmes Chapel- everything was so close together.
There was a knock on the door and I stood lazily, dragging my feet to the door. There was another knock as I neared the door and I huffed loudly.
“I’m coming!” I moaned and swung the door open to find a smiley cousin of mine.
“Are you ready for the best week of your life?!” Harry cheered, letting himself in. I grinned and walked over with him to my bag that was on the floor.
“Didn’t you say that last time?” I remembered about a month ago Harry rounded me up at 5 in the morning, telling me that he was going to take me on a little vacation that would be the best week of my entire life.
“Yeah, and wasn’t it amazing?” He picked up my bag with one arm, his impressive biceps bulging from the strain. He walked out of the house and towards his car, expecting me to follow. I hurried after him and locked the front door.
“Harry, we camped out at a child’s park.” I laughed and he opened his trunk, throwing my bag in.
“And we made some amazing memories!” I turned to me and leaned against his car. “You and Liam had some fun, too, as I recall.” He wiggled his eyebrows and I blushed furiously.
“Anyways,” I looked down at my feet to avoid his gaze. “I’ll go hide my keys. I’d hate to lose them during the ‘best week of my life.’” I ran off to the big tree before Harry could retort to my sarcasm. I giggled as I heard him yell after me, telling me that I would never forget this next week.
He was right. I would never forget.
If I had known what was to come…
Well, everything would be different- better.
I should have run back inside and locked the doors.
Harry and I were a laughing mess when he pulled up in front of his house. We had been joking around, talking about all the stupid things we had done when we were younger. Most of it was messing around with Gemma.
I got out of the car, taking deep breaths to calm myself down. Harry was already opening the trunk and pulling my bag out. I straightened my grey baggy shirt and green shorts and looked around, my brown hair flitting softly around me in the light wind. I didn’t really care anymore if Harry or the lads saw my scar; it was like it was before with dad and Jake. I could feel comfortable with them seeing it, but while out in public my hair had to say over my right shoulder. Now, it was okay if the boys saw it. I still felt nauseous and exposed in public places, but no longer at home.
It was nearing the end of summer, but we were all done with University now. These days it was all work, work, work. Well, for the boys, Dani, El and Kyra it was. But with my dad’s inheritance I was set for a long time. That’s how I was able to just chill at home and chase my dream of becoming a writer. I had no mortgage or insurance or car payments anymore. Life was pretty leisurely.
“Ah! Hey, Alex!” The familiar squeal of Gemma came closer and I heard Harry chuckle as he walked past me and towards the house. Smiling, I ran to the door and into the arms of my other cousin, whom I loved as dearly as Harry.
Gemma squeezed me tightly and we laughed goofily. She pulled away and started jumping slightly.
“I am so excited- this is going to be so much fun! The whole gang together!”
“Yeah, we’ll definitely have some stories to tell after this!” I agreed as she pulled me inside, closing the door after us. Her loose dress flowed behind her as she walked with me into the family room where everyone was seated.
The first person to catch my eye stood up, his hair slightly damp and wearing board shorts and no top.
“Liam!” I yelled, unable to control my excitement. I ran towards him and jumped into his arms, wrapping my legs around his lean torso.
“Hello, love.” He smiled and squeezed his arms around my waist. “How are you?”
“Fantastic, now that I’m with you again.” I leaned back and he set me back down on the floor. I noticed that everyone had left to go out to the back garden, leaving us in privacy.
“Same,” Liam grinned widely and looked down at me. I rested my hand on his bare chest and I could feel the prominent scar under my fingers. Breaking eye contact, I looked at his chest and traced the jagged scar with my fingers.
He sighed and pulled my hair off of my right shoulder to look at my own scar. His warm fingers roamed over my shoulder and his smile vanished.
Wanting to lift the mood, I cracked a forced smile. “At least we match now.”
“That’s not funny, Ally.” He moved his hand away and sat down on the couch, resting his hand in his hands. I knew the second I said it that I shouldn’t have joked about it, about him. I guess I just hoped that one day I would be able to joke about it. Thinking more about it, I realize how sick I must sound. How could I joke about what happened to us? It was wrong to be able to smile while talking about it.
“I’m sorry. That was wrong of me to say.” I sat down next to him and he looked over at me. His eyes were filled with sadness, no doubt thinking back to the days when we had no idea if we would survive.
Liam rested his palm on my knee and took a deep breath. We stayed frozen like that for a few minutes before he stood and sighed. He turned back to me as I stayed sitting and held out a hand for me. He let out a small smile.
“Let’s go outside,” he motioned outside. “Everyone’s swimming.”
I accepted his hand and he pulled me up, wrapping me in another hug. This one was much softer and more loving, rather than quick and passionate. His soft breathing filled the air around us and his heart beat pounded with mine in the silence.
There was a knock on the door and we pulled apart.
“I’ll go get it,” I offered and Liam nodded before giving me a swift kiss and walking outside. I watched as he left the room and turned reluctantly to the front door. Who could it be? Everyone was here already; I came to the conclusion that it was either ordered food or someone else was invited that I didn’t know.
I reached the door and looked out the window to see who it was before I opened the door. Strangely, there was no one in sight. Did someone ding-dong-ditch us? Or was it the post?
With a slight frown I opened the door and looked around to see who was around. Not a single person in sight. I was careful to keep my gaze away from the woods.
I looked down and found a simple brown box with a crisp, white note on top of it- so, it was the post then. Bending down, I picked up the package and walked inside, closing the door with my foot.
Curious, I picked up the note and turned it over to see who it was addressed to.
To Alex Hylton
My breath froze in my chest. Something wasn’t right. Was it the handwriting? And how would anyone even know that I was here? I had only just arrived minutes ago.
Carefully, I opened the note and tried to hold the paper steady with my shaky hands.
‘It’s growing near,
I’m almost here.
I do still dream
To hear you scream.’
I was too shocked to yell for Liam, my whole body paralyzed except for my hands, which I used to open the box. Fear filled me as I looked at what was inside. What did this mean? Who was this from? Was it him?
I pulled out the wilted, dying red rose and gently held the brown stem between two shaky fingers. It looked exactly like… no. It couldn’t be. He was supposed to be gone- torn from my life forever. How could this be happening?
The rose in my hand reminded me of back when we were together and he was good- way before his other side emerged. Back when we were in love and I was allowed out of the house. The rose in my hand looked so much like the one he had given me on our first date. Was it the same one?
Still in shock, I placed the rose back in the box as if it was a ticking time bomb. Then, I noticed another, smaller, slip of paper that had been hiding under the rose. I pulled it out.
‘I’m watching. Don’t tell anyone.’