She looked up at me with her gorgeous green eyes, the depths of them so warm and loving. She had been my best friend for years, but now I was seeing her differently. Every time she grabbed my hand to pull me along with her my stomach would erupt with what I could only describe to be butterflies, a bit cliché, I know. She had held my hand so many times in the past, but it was different now. To me it meant more than trust and friendship, it meant so much more.
“Come on Nicholas!” She laughed in her adorable, melodic voice before dancing out the door. Her American accent was very prominent, you couldn’t miss is. I loved everything about her, everything. From the way she had a habit of biting her lip when she was nervous or in deep thought to her wavy hair that she disliked so much. I couldn’t imagine not having her in my life.
“I’m coming Bree!” I yelled back to her from where I was slipping on my Supras. Briana muttered something I couldn’t quite make out in response sounding agitated. She absolutely loathed being called Bree, but that had never stopped me. I chuckled a bit at my friend’s agitation. I was just glad to be back in Ireland after touring with the lads, even if I would only be home for a week.
Briana had moved back to Ireland with her family from the United States at a young age just a few years after moving away. We had became the best of friends shortly after, it was hard not to seeing as we were neighbors. Even after all the years she had lived in Ireland though, she still had the prominent American accent that she had picked up on during the time that they had lived there. That didn’t mean that Briana couldn’t put on a very convincing Irish accent when she wanted to though. She tended to speak with an Irish accent more often than her American one that she used mainly when she was with me.
“Took you long enough.” Briana scoffed but I could tell she was just joking by the way her eyes lit up when I strode over to where she was waiting near the front door. Without waiting for me to reply she grabbed my hand and towed me out the door and down the street.
“Where are we going Bree?” I asked her, having no clue at all. Briana hadn’t told me where she planned on taking me; she had just barged through my door this morning telling me to get dressed. Of course I obliged quickly pulling on some clothes and a pair of sunglasses despite the rain. If that girl told me I could never go to my favourite restaurant ever again, I would listen to her.
“Well, my best friend left me all alone and has been gone for such a long time so I haven’t been able to go to the ice cream parlor without feeling like a loner.” Briana explained, at least she sort of did. I felt a bit bad about leaving Bree, but I couldn’t help it, I was in a band now and that meant leaving for extended amounts of time for tours and such.
A smile spread across my face despite feeling guilty. I should have known Briana had wanted ice cream. If that girl could have ice cream for breakfast, she would. I let out a laugh as she continued to pull me along to her favourite ice cream parlor.
It took a few minutes, but we finally made it to the little shop. My hair was slightly damp from the rain and I could see drops of water glistening in Briana’s long brown hair that she had pulled up in a ponytail. As soon as we came level with the door to the parlor Briana dropped my hand and ran inside ready to order some of the frozen treat. I shuffled inside and joined her at the counter where she was already ordering Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. The middle aged woman at the counter scooped a large amount into a cone for Briana with a smile.
“It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen you two in here.” The woman who I knew as Maggie remarked as she smiled at us. Before I left to live out my dreams Briana and I had gone to the parlor about three times a week, sometimes more if Briana or I were feeling a bit down. Maggie had always been there and if it was a slow day she would come to sit with us and chat. She was like a second mother to Briana who’s own mother was hardly ever home.
“It has, Maggie. I’ve missed home.” I sighed as she scooped some ice cream into a cone. I gave her a smile as she handed me the cone full of my favourite ice cream, chocolate. I loved how Maggie had remembered my favourite ice cream. Briana was already attacking her treat as if it was the first thing she had eaten in a long time, which it wasn’t. When she had barged into my room that morning she had a plate of pancakes in hand.
“I know you’ve been busy, Nicky, but I haven’t seen little Miss America since you were here last.” Maggie replied using her nickname for Bree. I was surprised that Briana had gone that long without having her favourite ice cream or Maggie’s company. I looked over at my best friend to see her face flushed bright red, but she continued to eat her ice cream like nothing had happened.
“Oh really?” I asked turning to Briana. She looked down at her toes looking a bit ashamed, but before she could say anything a group of younger girls walked in giggling. I instinctively pulled down my sunglasses and made sure the hood on my jumper hid my face. Maggie shot Bree and me a nervous glance and tilted her head slightly to the side motioning for us to make our way to the booths.
I put my arm around Bree’s waist and steered her to a booth farthest from the girls, making sure that my back was to them to get the least amount of attention. Sure I loved the group of fans that I was accumulating, but I rarely had time off to spend with my best friend. I didn’t want to spend my days off surrounded by fans.
“It’s a bit strange isn’t it? Being followed around by girls I mean.” Briana laughed quietly and settled into the booth across from me with a grin on her face. She licked her ice cream before the melting green drips could fall onto her hand. A smile spread across my face and I took a bite out of the top of my own ice cream.
“Yeah, it really is.” I smiled. To think that just two years ago we wouldn’t have been bothered at all sitting in the parlor. We were just two kids making noise in the corner back then with dreams of me making it big as a guitarist and Briana dreaming of staring in popular films or becoming a famous photographer. Now here we were, eighteen years old, sitting in the ice cream parlor that we had spent so much time in as children. Now I was becoming famous throughout Europe as part of my band, and Bree was working as a photographer.
“To think that girls all around the country want to date my best friend, the loud boy from next door who farted all the time.” Briana let out a laugh, a truly beautiful sound. I loved her laugh. I had missed it so much while the lads and I were on tour and I remember calling her almost every day just to hear her voice and to hear her laugh. If Briana was still laughing, then it meant that everything was still okay.
“Well, what about you Bree? How many lads do we have lining up with hopes of dating that small girl with the American accent, even though she’s from Ireland?” I let out a laugh. I was actually extremely curious. I wanted to know, but at the same time I didn’t. What if Briana did have some admirers? Why would she want to date me if she had other lads interested in her?
“Oh tons, you should see the line I have outside my back door.” Briana laughed; her words dripping with sarcasm. “I don’t see why anyone would be. I mean, it’s not like I’m that good looking.” Briana turned her green eyes away from me to look down at her green ice cream. She took another lick from it. I felt my jaw drop open. How could Briana not know she was beautiful? She was absolutely stunning, even when she was wearing a pair of sweats and one of my “borrowed” tops. “What?” She laughed noticing me staring at her.
Some of the ice cream was still on her smiling pink lips. I didn’t think. My mind completely shut off and I found myself leaning closer to my best friend until my lips hovered just before hers. I could have counted every freckle on her face, and for the first time I noticed how her eyes had flecks of gold and blue. My breath was ragged, but so was Briana’s. I had never heard her that quiet while she was awake. We just sat there for a second, our lips millimeters apart, before I crashed my lips onto hers.
Briana froze at first, but she responded quickly, moving her lips along with mine slowly. My heart swelled and I could only think about Briana. Her dark brown hair, those bright green eyes, the freckles that dotted her face, her long legs that drove me mad, her laugh, her voice, the scars from all the times she had fallen down. Her lips tasted of her favourite Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and she smelled a bit like rain and vanilla, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Briana’s hands found their way into my hair and I felt my hood fall, but I couldn’t be bothered. I was finally kissing Briana, something I had wanted to do for years. I let my lips mold against hers as we kissed. Briana pulled back, just slightly, and her warm breath brushed against my lips sending shivers down my spine. I opened my eyes to see that hers were still closed gently. Her breath was shaky and her eyelids fluttered open to show me those green eyes I loved so much.
“You have no idea how much I’ve wanted to do that.” She breathed and brought her face closer to mine so that our noses were brushing slightly. “I’ve wanted to do that for so long, Nick.” Briana’s eyes fluttered closed once more.
“Really?” I asked sounding a bit out of breath.
“Really.” Briana laughed slightly. She scooted back looking down at her forgotten ice cream that was melting where she had sat it in a small bowl. With a shrug of her shoulders she stood up to settle into the bench beside me instead. Briana cuddled up against my side and I wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her close.
“Nicholas, I don’t know how you haven’t been able to see it. I thought it was a bit obvious. My heart flutters every time I see you on the tele, every time I hear your voice. I’ve missed you so much. I actually went out and bought every CD you and the boys have made just to hear your voice. Back when we were sixteen, right before you went out to life on the road, I had the biggest crush on you. I didn’t know how to tell you, but I did. I just didn’t want to have to face you if you didn’t feel the same way.” Briana confessed and I couldn’t help but press a gentle kiss to her forehead.
“Bree,” I whispered against her slightly damp hair, “I’ve loved you for years. Sure at first it was like you love your best friend, but as soon as I left for the band, I realized how much I missed you, how much I loved you. I’ve wanted to kiss you for years, and I finally have. Have you ever wondered why I call you almost every day just to talk? It’s because when I’m on tour I miss you, so much. I call just to hear your voice, to hear you laugh. The other lads have been bothering me about it for so long.” I pressed another kiss against her hair.
“Nick, I just can’t believe this is happening. I mean, you just kissed me. Am I dreaming?” I chuckled at Briana softly, closing my eyes as I held her closer.
“Maybe it is. I hope it isn’t, but how about we prove that this isn’t a dream.” Briana turned her eyes to look into mine looking confused. I smiled and leaned into her again, this time the table wasn’t there to separate us. Our lips crashed together once more, moving together almost perfectly. It felt so right to be holding her in my arms, pressing my lips into hers. I couldn’t believe I was finally kissing her, holding her small form in my arms.
I sat up in bed with tears in my eyes. I half expected that Briana would come bounding in my room, full of life holding some food in her hands wearing a pair of her favourite sweats ordering me to get up, but she never would. I needed to stop fooling myself that she would. It just really killed me whenever I had a dream such as that one.
Briana had felt so real in the dream, and so full of life. My beautiful Briana, my best friend since we were small, I missed her, with my whole heart. She had always been there for me, always. She supported my dream to become a singer, and she never doubted me. When the band made its first big break, she was always there for me. She called every night, sounding so proud of me. I would smile for hours after a conversation with her.
Briana had always been my sunshine. That was what I had called her when we were small, my sunshine. She almost always had a smile on her face, and her laugh was so contagious. I remember how she had always dreamt of becoming an actress, and I remember how she would pace around her room practicing for whatever role she had in the school play.
The pictures that Briana had taken had always amazed me. She seemed to be able to find beauty in everything, even my crooked teeth. She had loved my teeth, even though I hated them. She would probably be mad at me now that I had braces. I had never known why, but she had loved them.
Briana had told me that if she didn’t make it as an actress, she would make it as a photographer, and I never doubted that she would. She had dreamt of her pictures being seen all around the world. She wanted people to see her pictures, and see the beauty that she saw in everything. I missed that, how everything was beautiful in her eyes.
It was painful to go on without Briana in my life, but I couldn’t change the fact that she wasn’t anymore, that she never would be again. My sunshine was gone, my princess, and I would never get her back. I had loved her with my whole heart, but I had never told her.
When we were seventeen, not long after the lads and I had finished our first tour, Briana got sick. At first everyone had thought that she only had a cold. Briana caught colds all the time when we were younger; it was something that we had just learned to live with. She was almost sick more often then she wasn’t. That time was different though. As much as everyone had thought Briana would get better, she never would.
Briana had a severe form of cancer, and every organ in her body was slowly shutting down. The doctors had told her parents there was nothing that they could do, we just had to watch as my sunshine faded away. All throughout the time she was sick, she had managed to keep a smile on her face for us, but it would never reach her beautiful green eyes like it had when we were young.
I hadn’t been able to see her much while she was sick. The lads and I were just starting our careers and the time I was allowed to see my best friend was so much shorter than I wanted. I made sure to call her every day though, and we would Skype as much as possible.
I watched as Briana wasted away, as her skin turned a deathly white. The light in her eyes seemed to go out, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to come back. I finally got a break to go back home to Ireland, and I had spent every waking moment at Briana’s bedside. I knew she hated me seeing her how she was, but my time with her was running out and no matter what she said, I wouldn’t leave her side.
Soon, Briana couldn’t even lift her arm more than a few inches off the bed. It absolutely killed me to see such a beautiful girl waste away. I couldn’t get her to laugh anymore. I remember crying whenever I was alone. I couldn’t understand why such a wonderful young girl had to be taken away from the world. She had never done anything wrong, but there she was at seventeen years old on her deathbed.
I was with her the night that she died. It was the worst night of my life. Her parents had stepped out to grab something to eat so it was just Briana and I in the room. I remember how she had turned those green eyes to me, a ghost of a smile playing on her lips.
“Nicholas.” She had breathed with her hoarse voice; her American accent was as prominent as ever even then. I remember kneeling beside her, taking her hand in my own as I tried not to cry. She had once been so loud, so full of life, and now she looked as if she would be blown away with a small breeze.
“I love you Nicholas.” She had whispered as she stroked the back of my hand with her thumb. I had been so surprised by her sudden confession that I hadn’t been able to say anything. “You better not ever stop playing your guitar, no matter what happens, just keep playing. I always loved it when you would play songs for me.” Her breathing by then had became ragged and labored. The tears had stung my eyes and a lump formed in my throat. At that moment I knew that Briana, my beautiful sunshine, had given up and was dying.
“Can you sing me to sleep?” She asked even softer than before. The tears had been streaming down my face at that point, but I had obliged. I sang the first song that had came to mind, Forever Young. The lads and I had done a cover of it before we had landed our first gig, but I knew that she had always loved it. I felt that it couldn’t be more perfect. After all, Briana would never grow old. We had talked about growing old together, still best friends, but we never would. Briana would never see her eighteenth birthday.
My guitar had rested against Briana’s bed so I hefted it onto my lap, hands shaking, and began strumming the first few chords. I sang to Briana, my princess, my sunshine, as her life slipped away. One by one, the machines that were hooked up to the girl I had loved so much lit up and alarms began going off, but I continued singing to the very last note. Briana’s eyes fluttered closed and the heart monitor flat-lined just as a nurse rushed into the room. It looked like she could have just fallen asleep, but I knew better.
Briana Moore, my best friend, my sunshine, my princess, the girl who had been so full of life and could see beauty in everything, passed away on March 27, 2011. I had loved her so dearly with my whole heart, but I had never told her. That simple fact would haunt me until the day I died.
I never would stop playing; Briana would have killed me if I did. At her funeral I helped her older brother, her cousin, and her father carry her coffin. I cried so hard that day. I just couldn’t believe that my best friend was dead, that she would never eat Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream with me down at her favourite parlor as we joked with Maggie ever again, that she would never star in a film, or have any of her photographs shown around the world.
Maggie was there, and I clung to her as we cried. Briana was gone. So many people had placed flowers on her coffin, but I knew she wouldn’t have wanted me to do that. Instead, I placed an envelope with some of her pictures in the coffin with her. One of my crooked teeth, one of her favourite ice cream, one of a shamrock she had found, one of Maggie, one of the lads from when she had met them, and lastly one of the two of us before she got sick. Our smiles were so wide and genuine. The light in her eyes shone brightly in the picture as we held onto each other, best friends and so full of life. Briana would have loved that I had put those pictures in with her instead of a flower.
Life carries on, even when it feels like the reason for your existence is gone forever. The lads and I continued making music and we met so many people. Briana had always love Ed Sheeran so I made sure to get a picture with him for her. She would have loved to meet him. We released our first album. I remember how shocked I was to hear that it had made it to number one in the U.S. Briana would have been so proud.
I wished so much that she was there with me, but she wasn’t. My best friend was gone forever, and I never even told her how much she meant to me.
I sobbed hard into my pillow. I missed Briana so much; it physically hurt knowing she was gone. She had been gone for a year, and I half believed that she was still alive. That dream was cruel. That was how it should have been. She should have been here with me, bursting into my room just to get ice cream. I should have told her that I loved her, I should have been able to kiss her, but I couldn’t. I never would be able to, and she would never grow old.
I plunged my hand into my pillowcase where I kept the note from Briana. I had found it weeks after her funeral and when I had I remember breaking down completely. She had written it before she had got sick. She sounded so happy in the letter, and when she confessed how much she loved me in the note, I had felt like I would have been sick. We had loved each other, but she never knew that. She had told me right before she died that she loved me, but I never told her.
The tears kept streaming down my face as I fell back asleep. The world of dreams consumed me, the only world I could see Briana in anymore.
“Nicholas, I missed you!” Her beautiful voice washed over me and I smiled in my sleep.