Chapter 19: Regret
What have I done? I couldn’t believe myself. Rylie had injured herself…because of me. And all this time I thought I had done her a favor by leaving. I thought she wanted me gone. I thought that she had no interest in me. I was obviously very mistaken.
I can’t eat. I can barely sleep. And when I do, I have nightmares about Rylie and her dying because of the cutting. Every time she was around me, she avoided even looking at me. Which is something that I used to want, but now it kills me. I can’t help but look at her with my guilt. It was eating me alive. I felt like the worst human being on the planet.
And what made it even worse is that after seeing her again, I acted like I hated her. I could never hate her. I thought that’s what she wanted. I didn’t want to hear her tell me how much she disliked me, so I shut her off from the beginning. And now I feel like a dick. She must absolutely hate me. And I don’t blame her. I would hate me too.
I am just in disbelieve that I could ever be the reason she was so miserable and depressed that she felt like she had to release the pain through cutting. I wanted to talk to her about it. I wanted to comfort her. I wanted to tell her how much I care about her and how in love with her I was.
But I couldn’t.
It was too late. She already hated me. I already told her that I wanted nothing to do with her. If I came to her now and told her all that stuff that I’ve felt for twelve years, she wouldn’t believe me. She would think I was just saying it to show pity. She doesn’t want my pity. That’s not Rylie. She doesn’t take pity. So what could I do?
Nothing. I couldn’t do anything but keep my distance and watch her to make sure she was okay. I played my shows, faking my happiness on stage. I pretended that I was totally focused on my music and every word that came out of my mouth, but the reality was that all I could think about was Rylie. Especially whenever I knew she was in the crowd. She stopped sitting in the front row. I believe she wanted to avoid my glances.
Something else I couldn’t quite understand was Ashton’s attitude towards me. He just wasn’t acting the same. He would pretend to act okay with me, but whenever we found ourselves alone, he acted really distant and short with me. And every time I asked him about it, he denied he was mad.
And then there was Amber. She would not leave me alone. She kept texting me, calling me, asking me to FaceTime. I felt bad that I was almost avoiding her by saying no all the time. And I was so confused. She was so comfortable and safe. But at the same time, it felt like she was using me for my recent fame. It was confusing. Especially with this whole Rylie thing. I didn’t know what to think about Amber anymore.
That day on the beach just kept replaying in my head. Over and over again. I couldn’t stop it. And every time it replayed, her words stung me even more.
We were warming up for our show in Mansfield and Rylie once again as absent from the show. I sighed. I just wanted to talk to her.
The rest of the boys and the crew went backstage after we finished the sound check but I stayed back alone and strummed my guitar, thinking. Suddenly I was strumming something that I sounded really familiar but I couldn’t place where I heard the song. The chords came naturally, like it was from memory. But I didn’t recognize the song.
I felt someone else’s presence on the stage. I looked up from the ground and saw Ashley, Rylie’s mom, standing across the stage.
“That’s one of Rylie’s songs.” She said with a soft smile.
With her words, it all came back to me. Rylie singing me the song when we were 13. Suddenly my heart fell again. Wow. I forgot about how talented she was. The song was amazing.
“I forgot.” I said quietly.
“I figured you had.” Ashley said.
“She hates me.” I said even more quietly.
“No she doesn’t Luke. She hates that she can’t have the friendship that you two had before.” She said.
“I don’t know what to do. I hurt her so much. I didn’t know how much. I saw her scars. I thought she wanted me gone. I thought she didn’t want me.” I said letting it out. I had always been close with Ashley.
“Luke. Rylie’s a strong girl. She made it through the pain. She found a way to beat her depression. Sure she missed you and still does. But she won’t go back to that place. She’s gone through a lot. Did you know her dad left her?” Ashley said.
“No.” I said quietly as I felt my stomach drop even further. I went and sat on the edge of the stage. She came and sat next to me.
“But Luke, she’s alive. She’s happy. She’s strong. She doesn’t let things break her down. She had her moment of weakness after you left, and since then, she won’t break.” Ashley said.
I thought about it for a moment.
“But how do I fix it? I didn’t mean to hurt her. I had no idea that she would react like that. I didn’t know what to do when I saw her again. I never thought that I would see her again. I panicked and told her I didn’t want anything to do with her. Now, it hurts to know how much I hurt her. I don’t know how to say that I made a mistake and that I’m sorry and that I ---...” I stopped.
“Love her? I’ve known that since you two were 8. I have a feeling that she knows deep down. She just doesn’t want to believe it. I would say to give her time. You need to slowly show her that you are sorry and that you want to make up for leaving. In the meantime, I’ll talk to her. Make sure she isn’t to hard on you.” Ashley said with a smile.
I smiled back. “Thanks Ashley.” I said.
“No problem Luke.” She said. I stood up and walked towards backstage.
“Oh and Luke.” I heard Ashley say. I turned around.
“You might want to consider telling Rylie that you love her. It’s been a long time coming.” Ashley said with a smile. She then turned around and walked backstage past me.
I felt my palms getting sweaty. Tell Rylie I loved her? Just thinking about doing that made me want to throw up. What if she didn’t feel the same? Our whole relationship would be forever ruined.
But I agreed with Ashley. It’s been ten years. She had to know.