"Kaitlynn, honey, come here," my mum says to me from the other room.
"Coming mummy!" I push myself up off of the floor and run into the room where my mum is. Oh. Who are you people? "Mummy who's that?" I say, glancing at the other three people in the room.
"These are mummy's friends, you're going to be seeing them a lot from now on," she smiles at me. Oh, okay. "Why don't you two go play?" My mum looks at the couple's son and back to me.
He shrugs his shoulders and walks past our parents and follows me out of the room, back into the room that I was in. We both sit down on the floor and he stares at me, smiling. "I'm Ashton."
"I'm Kaitlynn," I shyly say and try to hide my smile. He's cute but he has boy germs. Ew.
"Wanna be friends?" he asks, something like hope in his voice.
I give up at hiding my smile and smile up at him. "Yes," I say and he hooks his hand with mine, hiding our latched hands between each other.
Friends, that's exactly what we are. Actually, we're best friends. We've been like that since that very day, and now, 15 years later, only one thing could change that. That one thing has the power to control what happens between me and Ashton for the rest of our lives, and I'm not ready for that. I don't think I will ever be.
I skip through the playlists on my phone before reaching the one that Ashton made for me. I press play on the first song and put the playlist on repeat, leaning back against the seat. When I was 16, my mum forced me and my brother to move to the United States, but we came back to Sydney for a few days because we're going on our annual vacation to a log cabin in the mountains, and Ashton's family will be joining us there; his mum, her new husband, Lauren, and Harry, and of course, Ash, will all be there. Honestly, I don't even want to go because I know that I will have to see his face and that will just be too painful for me, considering everything that we've gone through and my feelings for him, and his nothing for me, but I have to. I'm forced to go on this trip every year with both of our families together, and last year, I loved going, but this year, I truly do give up on all hopes and dreams that I had of Ashton telling me that he loved me as much as I love him. Last year... last year is the year that I told him I was in love with him, on the very last minute of our little trip as we said goodbye, knowing that he wouldn't be able to do anything about it. In fact, for what felt like every second of that day I told him, and the week that followed, he called me, but I never picked up the phone. He texted, but I never answered them. He left voicemails, but I never listened to them, and I never deleted them either. I knew who was calling to ask why I would like him, love him even, and to tell me that he didn't feel the same, and honestly, I don't have the heart to handle that. Sometimes he still texts me to ask how I'm doing and catch up on the little things, but that's it. There is no 'remember when' or 'I miss you,' there's only silence, and the cold chill that strikes after the slight resonance.
"Ashton?" I call out his name as I search for him in this house, but there's no answer. "Ash?" The lump in my throat has grown and my chest tightens. No. No, this can't be happening.
"Kait?" I hear the faint voice behind me, and I turn around, shocked at the horror before my eyes.
I jolt awake in the car, panting with my hand across my chest. It was just a dream, I remind myself. It was just a dream. I repeat the mantra inwardly until I can believe it, and my eyes search the familiar surroundings as I realize that we were going down the drive that leads to the house. Great. I thought I was ready to see him, but I'm really not. I can't handle this, I really can't. My mum pulls into the lot outside of the cabin and I grow slightly happy when I see that his family isn't here yet. Maybe they're not coming, my subconscious queeries. Oh, please, don't flatter yourself. I sigh and grab my bag from the boot of the car and make my way into the cabin, going up the stairs and into the room that I stay in every year. I drop my bag to the floor and flop onto my bed, staring at the ceiling the way that Ashton and I used to do when we would lie together in here. It still looks the same, the same splattered colors and designs, but why does it feel so different? I jolt up in my bed as I hear Harry's and Lauren's laughter erupt in the downstairs living area. Oh god. I hurriedly peel myself from my bed and grab my bag, sitting it on the bed as I unzip it and dig through it, pulling out the clothes and placing them in the dresser. I place the last piece of clothing into the dresser and close the drawer, leaning my back against it with a huff.
"Hey." Ashton's voice makes my heart drop. Why does he sound sad? Am I ready to face him? I cautiously turn around, and he's leaning against the door frame with his hands dug into his pockets, his head fallen as he stares at the floor.
"Hey." My voice is low, and surprisingly calm, as I look at him.
"You never answered my calls." He still doesn't lift his head to look at me but he seems wounded. What's on your mind, Ash?
"Sorry," is all I can say. I don't feel like explaining why, because that will lead to screaming and fighting, which will lead to tears, maybe not from both of us, but most definitely from me.
He lifts head up and stares into my eyes, prying his hands from his pockets as he pushes himself off of the door frame and begins to make his way towards me. "Kaitlynn, I-" he is cut off by his mother yelling for him from downstairs.
"You better go." The words in my voice sound nothing less than painful, and he leaves, closing the door behind him. The tears that I had swallowed earlier have resurfaced, forcing themselves out as I bury my face into my hands, muffling the sounds of my cries.