Last minute planes seemed to be a habit for Rylie. Katie had spontaneously decided to join Rylie on the trip because she wanted to tour Australia, and she seemed to think it would be good bonding time for the girls.
The flight was 9 hours long, and the funeral started at noon, so the girls had to quickly pack, and leave close to midnight. It was disastrous, and the biggest rush but Rylie owed it to Michael to attend his funeral. Everyone she didn't want to see would be there, but she just had to go.
"So how long are we staying?" Rylie bit her lip, and shuffled in her uncomfortable seat on the airplane. She feared that Katie would make them stay forever, and she didn't want to. She had to agree, however, because Katie was the one paying, (or using their mom's credit card.)
"I don't know..." Katie shrugged, and tried to cross her legs in the confined space. "How long does it take to see all of Australia?" she smirked at Rylie and plugged her headphones back in.
Rylie rolled her eyes and tried to get cozy. It would be a long flight, filled with anxious waiting, and tormenting thoughts. Her stomach twisted and turned in nausea, and anticipation.
Rylie laid her head back, and rustled in her seat. She glanced around at her fellow passengers, and examined, too closely, a couple a couple seats to the side.
She envied them. They looked so happy...their hands clasped together perfectly, and they looked into each other's eyes, smiling the entire time.
Rylie smiled at them because they reminded her of Luke...and how they used to be that happy. She wondered how he was taking Michael's death. As bad as her? They did grow up together. She wasn't alone in that grief. Many people were grieving of Michael's death. Rylie looked over her shoulder at her sister watching the news, and Michael's face appeared. It had appeared for the last five minutes. Fans weren't taking it well. First, the band breaks up, and then the lovely sunshine known as Michael died...because of her selfish ways.
The flight attendant spoke over the intercom, gaining everyone's attention. "Alright fellow passengers!" her voice was powerful but also sweet and cheery. She pushed her short blonde hair out of her eyes, and smiled a big smile, filled with perfect teeth. "Time to countdown."
Everyone shuffled in his or her cramped spaces, and pulled out some kind of tinsel or glitter.
Rylie raised her eyebrows as everyone started to countdown from ten. What was the occasion?
The passengers erupted in a harmonious cheer, throwing confetti all over the floors. "Happy New Year!"
Rylie slumped over. It was a new year. It was time to start over, and Rylie was still stuck in the past. She looked over at the delighted couple, and almost broke down in tears as they kissed, smiling through it. She should be spending such a wonderful celebration with the one person she needed to kiss. Luke.
Rylie ran her hands down her skirt, and looked at herself in the mirror. Black was the color worn at funerals, and she definitely went all out. Her plain black dress, black cardigan, black tights, and black boots seemed to work perfectly.
Rylie sighed and tried to stop the tears as she placed her black fedora on her head. Why was she doing this? Why was she getting dressed for Michael's funeral. He should at his home, eating leftover Christmas cookies. He should be laughing with his family, and drinking lots of alcohol as they celebrated the new year. Rylie should have been the one crushed by the impact of the car. Michael deserved her life.
"How you doing?" Katie asked as she placed her hands on Rylie's shoulders, and glanced at her in the mirror.
Rylie exhaled a quivering breath. "If I had to rate the pain on a scale of 1-10, infinity wouldn't be sufficient."
Katie squeezed her shoulders gently. "It will get better." she whispered in Rylie's ear.
Rylie turned around, and scanned Katie's pink dress and pumps. "That's not how you dress for a funeral."
"I'm not going." Katie said simply as she walked over to the hotel bed, and fiddled through her purse. "I don't know him, Rylie. You need to go alone." She looked up and met Rylie's pleading eyes.
"I can't do this alone..." Rylie was barely inaudible as her eyes slowly started to water.
Katie smiled weakly at her. "Yes you can. Funerals aren't that bad." she shrugged unconvincingly, knowing it would hurt so bad to see the coffin, and be surrounded by endless tears.
Rylie was trying her best to hold the tears, at least until she stepped into the cemetery. It was so hard because the minutes were ticking down, and she was beginning to question whether she could do it or not.
Rylie shook quickly, relieving herself of the tears and trying to get her act together. She grabbed her purse, and glanced at the clock. "I have to go!" she yelled hurriedly at the clock hand almost on the 12. She took off down the hall, and slammed her finger on the down arrow of the elevator. That moment seemed oddly familiar as she stepped on it. It felt like she was headed to her doom; and endless eternity of sorrow.
It was a rainy day, perfect for the mood. Rylie had forgotten an umbrella, but it didn't matter either way. She splashed in the puddles as she held her hand up/ A taxi quickly skidded to the curb, soaking her in water.
Rylie climbed in, and squeezed her skirt, watching water flood out. "Um... I need to go to...um.." Rylie searched in her memory for the name of the cemetery. "Gravemand Cemetery, I think." she nodded, hoping that was right. Her mind was intertwined, going in different directions. It was hard to focus on one thing.
The Aussie man laughed. "You mean 'Gravestone Cemetery'?" His Australian accent was thick.
Rylie nodded, her face turning bright pink.
The man nodded through the rearview window, and turned onto the road.
The whole trip, Rylie fiddled nervously. The ride seemed to never end, and she ran out of things to occupy her mind. She had applied her lipstick 20 times; she had adjusted her skirt to the point it wasn't moving; she had tried to smooth her damp hair, and make it less frizzy.
So many theories ran through her head. Would they stop the funeral, and all stare in shock at her? Would Luke go up to her, and yell in her face that it was all her fault? Rylie didn't want to see everyone. She didn't want to see Luke, or the One Direction boys. She didn't want to see Summer or Ashton, if they were there. Most of all, she didn't want to see Michael's coffin, knowing he was inside. She didn't want the priest to say all these amazing things to remember him by. Rylie saw his face every place she looked. She couldn't bare hearing all the things she ruined. He was a lifeless body, taken from the world by her. She couldn't do anything to avenge him, except kill herself, because it was her fault. She used him, and caused him to leave her house at the wrong time. Guilt wasn't enough to describe her agony.
"We're here." the taxi driver snapped Rylie out of her thoughts, and she shoved some money in his hands before quietly climbing out of the taxi. "Meet back here in 30 minutes, please." She told him before closing the door so gently. She shut her eyes immediately as she stood frozen in the rain. She heard the car drive off, but she didn't move. She didn't want to see. She wanted to turn back and run.
"Rylie...you can do this..." she mumbled under her breath, and she opened her eyes. The rain made everything more difficult to see, but Rylie vaguely saw a crowd of black far down the stone pathway. Nobody seemed to notice her as she walked towards it.
The priest was in the middle of a monologue as Rylie stepped in the back of the crowd. Her presence went unknown to the crying people surrounding her. Sobs erupted every now and then. Umbrellas meshed together, and Rylie snuck under a large one near her. She stood on her tiptoes and glanced around the small space.
Everyone was there. Many unfamiliar faces passed Rylie's eyes, and then she saw him. Luke. He was right in front of the coffin, perfect in her view. Rylie barely recognized his appearance. He looked almost sickly. He was smaller, and skinnier. His eyes were splotchy red, and looked just like Rylie's. He had been crying for 6 days straight...just like her. His hygiene was low. He probably hadn't even showered.
He looked...heartbroken. The only word to describe it. Every word the priest said condoned a large cry from Luke. HIs tear went unnoticed to the rain, and his whole body shivered.
Rylie wanted to grab him, and never let him go. She wanted to split the pain between them. If she had Luke, she could take the pain of the loss of Michael. If she had Luke, everything could get better.
Rylie took her eyes off Luke, and moved to an older couple standing beside him. They looked just like him. Immediately, she assumed they were his parents. She had never met them. She didn't know how they were. Right next to them was another couple sharing a black umbrella.
The woman had big green eyes that Rylie recognized, but she couldn't place the owner. Where had she seen those beautiful eyes?
Rylie let out a sob, feeling the tears come as soon as she placed it. It was Michael's mother, and father. Their tears were far worse than Rylie's had ever been. They had raised him; watched him grow up to be an amazing man, and now he was gone. She had taken him from that beautiful family. That was a debt she could never repay. She destroyed a family. Rylie had grown up wondering what it was like to have a proper family. That was it. They must have been so happy to watch their son make it big, and be loved by so many. Rylie saw his mother baking in the kitchen one normal day, waiting for her son to come through the front door and greet everyone. Then, the phone started to ring, and his mother answered it casually, not knowing the words would ruin her life forever. Rylie saw her crumble to the ground, and shriek in pain.
Rylie looked down at the puddle beneath her feet. She saw her reflection, and grimaced at her shame.
She looked back up, and continued to ignore the priest as she looked for more familiar faces. No Ashton or Summer anywhere. They probably didn't even know.
Rylie wept as her eyes ran over Calum, and all 5 One Direction boys. There was Niall gripping a tissue as he dabbed his eyes.
"Now who would like to say a few words?" the priest opened his arms to the crowd, and Luke immediately stepped up.
"No..." Rylie whispered, and looked down at her soaked boots. She couldn't hear him speak. The pain was flooding into her, and when he spoke, she could no longer hold in the hurt.
Luke looked down at the coffin before him, and Rylie watched him breath out as he latched onto his mom's gloved hand.
Rylie shivered in fear and the cold slowly creeping into the air.
"Michael..." Luke's voice was the same as Rylie had always heard. Only now, it was weak, with no fight left. "Michael was my best friend...I grew up with him. " Luke paused, and let out a sob. "We shared so many memories, and towards the end...I had been so hateful to him." Rylie thought back to the times he yelled at Michael to stay away from her.
"I wish I could have said goodbye..." Luke touched the smooth, black wood coffin. "I have been through so much pain...I have lost two people that I will never get back. I just wish I could go back in time, and clear my mistakes...it's my fault he's dead." Luke placed his hand over his mouth as he released an agonizing cry.
Rylie covered her mouth, too. He thought it was his fault. He was putting the blame on himself when it was herself who killed Michael.
"I let the love of my life go, and he was the strong one! He went to comfort her...and I was weak, I let him get in that car accident." Luke shook his head, ashamed at himself.
Hot torrents of grief coursed down Rylie's face, mingling with the rain, and her sobs were lost in the approaching wind.
Luke's mother grabbed Luke's arm, and pulled him in for a hug. He cried into her shoulder, and the pain of his heart was felt around the entire crowd of people.
Rylie touched her heart. "I'm so sorry Michael..." she spoke lowly. She gripped the necklace around her neck, and held it tightly.
She almost went up to the coffin, but her feet were frozen in place. She had to leave. So far, she was invisible, and she wanted to keep it that way. Surprisingly, the minutes had flown by, and Rylie watched the taxi already pull in the parking space yards away.
She smiled, so relieved, and before she turned, she took a last glance at Luke. "I still love you..." she whispered, knowing Luke wouldn't hear, and she didn't want him too. She needed Luke to move on, and get over the monster she was. He deserved someone better. She had been weak, and done stupid things, and she needed him to forget about her. She would always love him, but the realization came that once Luke found out about what she did, he would be unforgiving.
Before Rylie looked away, Luke looked up from his mother's shoulder, and his eyes instantly met hers. Rylie's eyes widened, and she quickly glanced away, turning on her heel, and speed walking towards her ride.
Her wet clothes clung to her skin, and her hair stuck to her face, rendering her from moving faster.
"Rylie! Wait!" Luke yelled after her, but Rylie didn't stop. She told her legs to run, but they wouldn't budge.
Luke pushed through the crowd of people, and he took off after her. He caught up quickly, and grabbed her shoulder, turning her body to face his.
"Rylie..." he said, looking into her eyes.
Rylie tried to stop the tears as she shared breath with Luke. There he was, still glorious. The rain poured down on him, but his face smiled brightly at her.
"It's been a week, but it feels like eternity." Luke's eyes lit up. The contrast from his drooping eyes, and smile was confusing. It looked like the first time he had smiled in days. Up close, he looked so different to Rylie, but he was probably thinking the same thing.
Rylie crossed her arms, wanting so badly to walk away, but she couldn't. He was right. It felt like eternity; their closeness was foreign.
"I'm so sorry..." Luke's eyes pleaded for forgiveness. He reached for Rylie's hand, but she pulled away quickly, and shuddered. "Please forgive me."
The truth was, Rylie had already forgiven him. She didn't care anymore about the song. It was obvious Luke really did love her, and the whole situation was a complicated predicament. She had so much going on with thinking about Michael that she kind of stopped thinking about what Luke did. She just wanted him back; more than you could ever imagine. However, she considered herself a monster, and he deserved nothing to do with her.
"I forgive you Luke..." Rylie told him as she looked back down at her boots. She watched both the rain and the teardrops ricochet off the leather boot, and fall onto the ground.
Luke gasped, and his eyes grew wide with delight. He enveloped Rylie in a hug, and squeezed tightly. "Oh, I missed you so much!" he cheered in her ear, and Rylie could practically feel his heart slowly piecing together. She had missed his arms around her, and the heat that radiated off his body. She wanted to hug him back, and show him she still needed him, but she couldn't. She had to get away, and let him move on.
"Luke..." Rylie pulled away, leaving Luke bewildered. "My forgiveness doesn't change anything." she met Luke's stunned eyes, and she had to look away. "We can't be together."
Luke breathed in, and stood in utter shock at her words. "B-but why?" he stuttered.
"Because you deserve someone better!" Rylie yelled, and threw her hand up in motion. They now had the attention of everyone at the funeral, and Rylie met Niall's shocking eyes. He mouthed, 'You came.'
Luke reached his finger up to touch Rylie's cheek, but she placed her hands on his chest, and pushed him away gently.
"I don't want anyone else but you! Don't you understand that by now!" Luke shrieked, and he twisted his face in a shocked and almost delirious expression. "My life has been a living hell these past few days knowing you were so hurt by me!"
Rylie stepped back, and tried to conceal the sob that escaped her mouth as the tears flowed out.
Luke pointed to the coffin down the pathway. "I need you now...more than ever." He exhaled, out of breath, and tried to reach for Rylie again.
"I killed Michael!" Rylie screamed at him, and tried to walk backwards but she tripped, and stumbled to the sopping ground.
Luke bent down to help her up, but she pushed him away. She pushed herself up from her knees, and looked back at Luke.
"You don't want me..." Rylie explained, her voice lower and more out of breath. "I slept with Michael and that is why he left at the time he did, and that is why he's dead." She looked down, fearing Luke's gaze. "I'm a monster..." she whispered at the ground, and let the tears run down her powdered cheek.
Luke was speechless. His mouth was open, but no words came out. "Y-you slept with Michael?" his voice cracked, and he looked down at his shoes.
"I just told you I killed Michael and all you care about is the fact we had sex?" Rylie asked coolly, raising her eyebrows.
Luke battled with his emotions, choosing whether he should be mad or just let it go. He attempted to reach out for Rylie again, and he managed to touch her hip.
Rylie didn't pull away because she really wanted him, and she gave into her needs for a moment.
"I don't care..." he moved closer, and his face was inches from hers. He bent down, blocking her view of the ground, and made her look at him. "I love you...I-"
"Well I don't love you!" Rylie screamed, yanking her body away from his. She turned on her heel, and ran as fast as she could to the taxi. She didn't look back, knowing Luke was utterly heartbroken by her words.
She climbed in the taxi, and slumped back in her seat as the Australian man drove off.
It was a lie. It was the biggest lie she ever told, that she didn't love him. She loved him more than life itself, but that's why it hurt so much. She needed him to let her go, and find someone worth loving. Maybe that simple lie would be enough to make him move on. It could go two ways; he could be heartbroken and never let her go, or he could move on.
Rylie hunched over, clutching her stomach as she cried out in agony. The man looked at her with a perplexed expression, but she ignored him.
She would truly be alone forever. She knew deep down she would go crawling back to Luke, but whether he wanted to or not was the question.