I wrap my hands around my knees as I pull them close to my chest and bury my head against my shoulder, breathing in the scent of his jumper.
Perhaps wandering around the suburbs of Sydney without shoes on because I forgot to put them on when I stormed out the house upon hearing my boyfriend died wasn’t exactly one of my proudest moments. Coming back to his house at seven in the morning and locking myself in his room just to sit on the floor rocking back and forth while wearing his clothes was possibly even more embarrassing.
But with each second that passed it seemed like my brain thought of more ways to torment me with memories of him, each second felt realer, his passing becoming more apparent with each breath I took.
And then there’s the part where this doesn’t feel it doesn’t feel real at all. It feels like he could walk through the door any second. Like I’m not an emotional mess trying to hold myself together by breathing in his scent and burying me in sadness. Like I could wake up any second, wake up and forget this horrible nightmare ever happened.
But I wouldn’t wake up.
He wouldn’t wake up.
The world will forever be Ashton-less and that’s something I don’t even want to imagine, I don’t even want to see a world without him, so I left the lights off for the entire day, because it would just be too painful to bear.
But that world had just become my reality.
I hadn’t cried after the few tears I shed when lying next to the swing set, but when the door swings open and Calum is standing there with the light from the hall shining behind him making him look almost like an angel trying to save me, trying to keep me from drowning, I can’t help but burst in tears.
He doesn’t hesitate to come over and wrap his arms around me, letting me cry into his chest as he wets my hair with his tears. I had put off any form of human contact up until now, but sharing my raw pain and newly found grief with Calum makes me feel less lonely, less hurt somehow. He releases me after all of my tears have stopped falling, I switch Ashton’s nightlight on that softly illuminates his room. Seeing his room, knowing he’s gone, feels like a slap across the face, but I can tell Calum wants to talk so I leave the light on.
“A-n-n-e-m-a-r-i-e is holding up alright, she has blocked all feelings and is focussing on the planning of his f-u-n-e-r-a-l.” He starts to sign. I can tell he struggles with finding signs, struggles with not breaking down again and I’m glad he doesn’t, because I need him to explain. Calum is the second best signer out of all the people I know here, Ashton would’ve been my first choice to ask to explain things to me, but he can’t. Not anymore. “L-a-u-r-e-n and H-a-r-r-y are at their grandparents’.”
I nod, careful to not try and put him off guard and to stop signing.
“Luke hasn’t stopped crying, he keeps talking about him, asking things. “Why?” seems to be his f-a-v-o-u-r-i-t-e question. Michael refuses to talk to anyone and has locked himself up in his man cave, I wouldn’t be surprised if he broke something in there.”
“What about you?” I ask him.
“I sat in my g-a-r-d-e-n for a while, just thinking, before realising that you might need someone. I’m sorry it took me so long.”
I reassure him it’s fine, I probably wasn’t ready to face anyone a few hours ago.
“What happened? No one really told me.” I timidly ask him, not sure if I want to know.
“Car c-r-a-s-h, a drunk driver hit him.”
I slowly lift my shaking hands, not sure how to phrase this.
“No.” Calum interrupts. “He did not s-u-f-f-e-r. It all happened quickly.”
I nod. “I’m so sorry, Calum. It’s my fault he died, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have made him go out. I’m so sorry.”
“I feel like it’s my fault he died too, I should’ve stopped him from going back home so early. I should’ve c-o-n-v-i-n-c-e-d to stay the night.”
“Of course it’s not your fault, you couldn’t have stopped him nor the drunk driver.” I try telling him.
“Exactly.” Calum tells me. “Neither of us could have stopped this from happening.”
And upon seeing him sign that, I can feel a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, no one could’ve prevented this because no one knew this would happen. Keeping someone locked inside solely because you’re scared the unfortunate event of them dying might happen someday is highly unrealistic.
“He didn’t drink.”
“He didn’t drink at the party.” Calum explains to me. “He really did pick up eggs you know. He was holding my bottle of beer, because I went to look for a pen so we could work on this for a bit.”
And then he hands me a notebook. The same notebook as the one Ashton was writing in the day I came back from shopping with his Mum and he was laying on the grass scribbling down words in this notebook, this very notebook.
“Song lyrics.” I absentmindedly sign even though Calum is fully aware of that, he slightly raises his eyebrows as if to ask me what I’m waiting for.
I open it to the first page and I can my throat tighten as I read the first words “Songs for Lizzy.”
As I flip through the pages I read loads of lines all about me. Sometimes quotes, sometimes a full chorus he’s written, but mostly just random bits of writing. I can tell by his messy writing, the phrases he has scratched away using a marker and arrows redirecting words to new places on the page that he was struggling with the words.
“I want to say ‘I love you’
but I keep it to goodnights
because love means falling and you’re afraid of heights
but if I promise to fall, will you fall for me too?
forget the risk, just take the fall
I'll spread your wings and teach you how to fly
and if that scares you;
we can pretend we didn’t fall
we can pretend the earth rotated incorrectly
and we forgot how to walk”
I let out a soft laugh at the last few lines and pretend that reading this doesn’t make me want to rip my heart out of my chest.
“He said that your laugh was his f-a-v-o-u-r-i-t-e sound. That’s in there somewhere too.” Calum slowly signs.
“This is my favourite.” I sign to him as I show him the lyrics to the most recent one. “He is an amazing writer.”
“Yeah, but he kept complaining. Songs he wrote about you never seemed to be good enough, he was always striving for perfection in those songs.” He cautiously signs. “It’s been a long day, you should try to get some sleep.”
“I miss him, Calum.” I sign as I pull the covers over my body, not caring about changing out of Ashton’s clothes first. New tears start to stain my cheeks and I feel myself falling again, falling back into the sadness.
“I know.” Calum tells me as he bites back more tears that are threatening to fall. “I do too.” After that he gets up and starts to walk to the door.
“Calum,” I tell him, begging for his attention. “Please don’t go. I don’t want to be alone.”
So Calum walks back to Ashton’s bed and gets under the covers with me. We hold each other tight in an attempt to glue our broken hearts back together, but it is without much avail.
Hi, thanks for reading. There will be one more chapter left after this one so don't miss it.
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