A deep rumble of thunder startles me awake from my restless sleep. Outside the window I see lightning flash, and another crash of thunder sounds in the distance. Emma stirs and moans, "What time is it?" I check my phone. "It's 7:26," I tell her before burying my face in my pillow. "I wish I could go back to sleep, but I know I won't be able to," Emma says groggily. "Same here," I say, my response muffled by my pillow. "Hey, Ally," Emma says. I look over at her. "Yeah?" She bites her lip. "I'm sorry about Niall." I hesitate. "You've known him longer than I have," I point out. "I know," she says, nodding. "But you two have a special connection...it was like fate for you guys to meet here." I think about her words. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was fate, but it's too early in the morning for arguing. I mumble something undistinguishable and turn to face the wall. "I didn't mean to make you sad or angry," Emma replies quickly. "I'm not sad or angry," I respond. "I just want to know why something so atrocious has to happen to such a good person like Niall." Emma waits, like she thinks I'll say more, but I have nothing more to say. I don't want to cry again. "Please tell me you aren't going to the hospital today," she says. I shrug. "You can't Ally," she pleads. "Are you feeling okay?" I say, abruptly changing the subject. She winces. "I'm a little sore, but other than that I feel fine." I nod. "That's good." The growing tension between us this morning makes me feel like I'm suffocating. I get out of bed, change, and I am about to leave when Emma stops me. "Where are you going?" she asks. "Just somewhere to...think," I reply, but, seeing the worry in Emma's eyes, I add that I won't go far. She nods dismissively. When I step outside, the rain beats down on me, soaking me instantly. I instinctively head to the lake. I always think of Niall when I go there. On the way, I start to think about the day that Niall kissed me on the boat. I remember it so vividly, like it just happened. I start to cry despite my best intentions. The storm rages on around me, and a separate storm rages on inside me.
I've just dried off and sat down on my bed when my phone lights up with a text from Niall. I smile and read it. You didn't tell me your dad was in the hospital it reads. Wait...what? I read his message again. And again. My dad is in the hospital? Why didn't I know about this sooner? Why didn't anyone tell me? Sorry, I must have forgotten. I was always so worried about you. The last part is true. I don't think about much except for Niall these days. It sucks about his tumor. :( I'm sorry. Niall replies a minute later. A tumor? This is more serious than I thought. I need to find out why I'm only learning this now. Maybe that's why I was sent away to camp this summer. If my dad didn't have a tumor, I would never have met Niall. I would have never met the boy I now love.