"Have you seen Luke Hemmings?" Rylie tapped an old man's shoulders. He gave her a peculiar look, and shook his head.
Rylie was on the most popular boardwalk, it seemed, in Sydney. The pathway was covered in people walking different directions. Mixtures of different color t-shirts passed Rylie as she asked anyone if they had seen Luke. No luck.
"Hey." she waved at a teenage girl to stop. "You know 5 Seconds of Summer, right?" the girl looked like a fan. She wore a Misfits band tee, and baggy shorts. Her ends were died a light pink, and she looked like the perfect age to love 5sos.
The girl nodded. "They broke up, though." she sighed looking down at her sandals, then looked Rylie seriously in the eyes. She gasped, and clasped a hand over her mouth. "You're Rylie Higgins!" she mumbled through her fingers.
Rylie allowed a moment to laugh at her surprise. Apparently, she was more well known than she thought. "Yes, and I'm looking for Luke. Have you seen him?"
The girl laughed, and the giggles reminded Rylie of Ashton. "I wish." her Australian accent was thick with hope and shock. "Please tell me when you find him, you'll get back together!" The girl put her hands together in a beg.
Rylie frowned her eyebrows. "How'd you know about that?"
The girl laughed again, and shrugged her shoulders. "If you're a 5sos fan, you know." she left Rylie without a goodbye or even an ask for a picture.
Rylie nearly screamed in frustration. She slammed her boot against the ground like a child throwing a tantrum. She gained a few looks from passerbys, but she didn't care. She needed to find Luke, and no seemed to see him. Not even the paparazzi had pictures, considering there were none around. Maybe now that 5sos wasn't together or famous anymore, they gave up caring.
She had gone everywhere she could even think of him being, and places that made no sense. Hopefully, he hadn't left the country. Hopefully, he wasn't like a fugitive, and disappeared off the face of the Earth.
"Sir. " she put a finger up to stop a middle-aged man walking near her. "Excuse me." she cleared her throat, and he looked at her with a confusing expression. His hair was slicked back with Ray Bans nestled on his head. He looked friendly, but if Rylie knew anything at all, it was people were not who they seemed.
"Have you seen a boy? About 18? Blonde hair gelled back maybe? Or maybe not? Beautiful blue eyes? Really tall?" Rylie placed her hand high in the air, indicating his height.
"You basically just described every guy in Sydney." the man scoffed at her, but before he walked away, a woman walked over to him, and wrapped her arm around his. Now she looked truly kind. Her hair was a short brown, and her eyes popped with a golden green. "Everything alright?" she asked, looking from her, Rylie assumed, husband, and she.
"I'm looking for my-" Rylie paused, unable to identify him as. "Boyfriend." she went ahead and said.
"He's missing?" she asked, the first person truly concerned. "Can you give me some details of what may have happened to make him disappear?"
The man next to her rolled his eyes, and planted his feet firmly on the ground in impatience.
Rylie tried to shorten her life story. "Um...well his best friend died like a week ago, and at the funeral, I told him I didn't love him...which wasn't true!" Rylie didn't see the need to explain herself, but she did anyways. "I think he was feeling lonely from everything and he just...ran."
The woman looked awfully confused, but her forehead creased in deep thought. "Well..." she looked down at her feet, thinking hard. "If I were him, I would go to the one place where I could talk to the person I would never see again."
Rylie knitted her eyebrows together, showing she didn't understand.
The woman stifled a laugh. "Maybe he didn't, but I would've gone to my best friend's grave."
Rylie's mouth gaped open. Why hadn't she thought of that? Of course. He had to be there. That was the last place that made sense.
"Thank you so much!" she said excitedly to the woman, and shook her hand vigorously. "Thank you!"
The couple walked away, and Rylie was filled with a lurch of hope. He had to be there. If he wasn't, she would have to give up looking. She missed him so much, and all she wanted was for them to be together again.
She took off running. She ran as fast as she could down a thin road, faintly remembering it in her head. She strained to see the outside from the taxi she took to that cemetery, and if her memory was correct, she was heading straight there.
Her legs slowly began to get weak as they realized how far the cemetery was from the beach. Rylie tried to keep going, but she eventually had to rest, and walk the remainder of the way. She was just so eager to get there. She hadn't a clue how she would greet herself or what she would say. All she cared about was seeing his beautiful, glorious face, and knowing he was okay.
What if he wasn't there? What if that hope that Rylie built inside her just crumbled into a billion pieces? Rylie felt almost sure he would be though. She could practically feel Michael telling her he was. Michael. She hadn't forgotten about him. She still missed him so much, it hurt. It was just that she was at piece with herself knowing what happened was a fluke accident.
The area was bare still. No sign of cement blocks anywhere. It was pure dead grass surrounding a dirt road. Rylie expected a kangaroo to pop out at her, but she knew that was an Australian cliché. Australia was nothing she assumed it would be. It was actually mostly suburbs, and hardly anyone was outside if the weather wasn't magically gorgeous. Most Australians feared the sun because it was so hot, and the chances for skin cancer was high. The only reason people were on the beach that day was because the weather was actually pretty warm; a contrast from the snow and freezing temperatures winter brought. Rylie imagined in the future her and Luke on that beach, soaking in the sun. It was a scenario that gave pleasure to her worried soul.
She looked up at the bright blue sky slowly transfiguring to a darker color. The sun rested on the horizon, and mixtures of yellow and pinks formed in the clouds.
She was running out of time. He had to be there.
Please still be there, Luke. Please.
Thankfully, a fence appeared before her eyes. A tall metal fence, made up of black, slender poles that configured to a point. Rylie sighed with relief as she walked to stand in front of the tall gate that towered over her with the words, 'Gravestone Cemetery,' engraved in a dirty calligraphy.
She dragged her dirty leather boots against the worn gravel as she searched around the large place for any sign of life.
The dark slowly creeping in made everything a lot more spooky. So many graves rested in that cemetery, occupied by so many dead people.
The eerie air only added to the suspenseful fear Rylie felt. The few trees cast shadows on the ground, reminding her of bony skeleton fingers grasping for her frail body. The moss crept in the crevices of the old gravestones, and the haunting feeling was enough to make Rylie want to crawl in a corner and cry.
Why was the place so big? It would take her forever to find him, and she hoped she wasn't too late. She hoped she was close to hugging him, and feeling his warm embrace.
Suddenly, she heard a voice. A small voice barely a whisper, but she heard it. Rylie turned her body towards the direction the sound was coming from, and only yards away, Luke was kneeling in front of a newly installed grave.
A flood or relief enveloped her soul, seeing his presence. She was so close. She smiled at the back of his head, but immediately shuttered in fright.
There he was. On his knees; in front of Michael's grave; with a gun to his head.
Rylie's eyes widened in shock as they traced the shadow or Luke's forearm up to the gray pistol resting between his fingers. The gun pointed directly at his temple.
His back was facing her, but she could still feel the tears from him seeping into her, and flooding her veins with despair.
She was frozen in her place. She felt the air catch in her throat, and block her esophagus from speaking. She felt her limbs become stiff and immobile. She had to do something! She tried to will her body to move, but she feared if she twitched an inch, Luke would pull that trigger.
No, he couldn't. Luke was a smart boy, and even if he was blinded by his heartbreak, he still wouldn't. Rylie didn't dare take a second to question his motives, but there was nothing she could do. If only she could think of a way to ease him out of it. She knew the clock was ticking down before Luke made that fatal mistake.
"Help me Michael." Luke spoke. His voice was so weak, and he let out a sob that made Rylie grip her stomach with sickening grief. "Help me put the gun down."
Rylie was right there. She could help him; if she remembered how to speak. Her heart reached out to touch his and mend it, but the utter terror that filled her body blinded her functions.
Luke gulped loudly, and Rylie nearly screamed. Her body tensed up, and she felt her heart race to the point of maximum speed.
"Luke..." she finally got out. Her voice was calm; hoping her tone would calm Luke down and help him see clearly. She had to tread lightly around the situation, and if her voice gave faulting rush, then Luke would too. She stepped forward calmly and slowly, taking extreme precautions in her moves.
Luke tensed up, and Rylie could see his shirt tighten, and his back dimples etch into the fabric. He turned so slowly that the suspense in the air was frightened too. His eyes met Rylie's so quickly that they widened in pain and humiliation. For a millisecond, Rylie thought she had gotten through to him, but he instantly shook his head rapidly, the gun unwavering in its position. "It's in my head..." his eyes squeezed shut as he told himself the lie. "She's not here..." he whispered. "It's all in my head."
"No, Luke..." Rylie spoke slowly, but she felt so out of breath. She felt like she had said a thousand words, opposed to three. Her body tried to keep steady, but it shuttered every few moments. "I'm really here...." she took another small step towards him, only a few away from snatching the gun out of his aching hand. "Grab my hand..." she reached out her small hand, and offered loving fingers.
Luke glanced sharply at them, and cringed his forehead in confusion. His expression reminded Rylie of a lost puppy. His frown was deeper than the Grand Canyon, and it offered no comfort in her quest to save him. Save him from a making a unfixable mistake.
"But why would you really be here if you didn't love me?" his tone of voice held so much unforgiveness and pain, and Rylie knew it was all her fault. She had stripped him of his common sense, and made him lost in the world of depression.
"I lied, Luke. I love you so much. Please don't do it." Rylie pleaded for Luke to somehow know she was telling the truth this time. She dared to take another step towards him, and she could almost reach for his body. Luke flinched in terror, but the gun still stayed prominent in its position.
She was at a loss for what to do next. She was so scared and overthinking every move, but her mind was a jumble of sickening scenarios and thoughts.
Suddenly, Luke looked up from his slumping position, and placed his blue eyes right into Rylie's. Rylie saw straight into them the look of hate she feared to see. There was no hope. His pupils pierced hers, and he grimaced at her in utter hatred.
"I have a feeling this isn't gonna last..." Luke spoke sharply, and his fingers trembled as they stretched for the small button that ends lives.
"What?" Rylie was completely thrown off and her eyebrows laced together in a confused expression.
The next moments were a blur. It was as if time had stopped, and everything was frozen. Rylie heard the clicking of a trigger, and the erupting bang as the bullet found its target. She watched for she could do nothing as a spray of red droplets showered from the other side of Luke's head, and landed in delicate mists on the grassy dirt. Then, her eyes must have been playing tricks on her mind as she watched Luke's body stiffen quickly, and immediately crumple to the ground; lifeless.
All she could hear was the pounding of her heart. Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom.
She was frozen, still not comprehending anything. All she could remember was that night they laid on the hard concrete floor, and drifted off to sleep at the dreams of lasting.
And then she realized that she had just watched the only person that kept her heart alive with love and happiness pull that unfaithful trigger, and destroy the most precious thing in the world. Nothing compared to the pain gripping her lungs...and stomach...and head...and heart. Michael's death was nothing compared to this one. It was over....
Rylie pushed that horrible thought out of her head. She would not lose Luke. They would walk out of that cemetery together, and if they didn't, neither one would ever leave. Luke was still alive, and Rylie would do everything in her power to keep it that way.
"Please think about this Luke." she said, her eyes catching every single itch Luke moved.
Luke looked at the newly filled dirt hole, and breathed out. "I can't live without you..." he mumbled.
"You don't have to..." Rylie raised her voice slightly, still holding her hand out for him to hold. "I'm here, and I'm never leaving."
She saw Luke's eyes twinkle with a flicker of hope, and a flash of sense coming back into his mind. His arm trembled, following the rest of his body. Rylie felt air flooding into her lungs as she took a nice sigh of relief.
"You promise? You promise you'll never leave?" Luke's voice was as small as a child's, and his question made Rylie tingle with shame, knowing she had caused the pain that made him fear of loneliness.
"I promise..." she sad quickly, taking no hesitation in her words. "I'll always be here...but if you pull that trigger, Luke...I would have to the same." She realized she meant those words that left her mouth. When she said that she couldn't live without Luke, she couldn't. She couldn't go through that pain again of losing someone, and knowing for sure it was her fault this time. They planted both feet in that relationship, and all in meant they made the life altering decisions together. If he went down, she did too.
Luke's facial features cringed as he battled within himself, a fight Rylie couldn't begin to understand. She didn't know what he was feeling, but she knew he felt that love she was virtually giving him. She smiled lovingly at him, hoping he had made the right decision.
Luke sighed as his hand went down, taking the gun with it. He glanced up at Rylie and smiled weakly as he tossed the pistol to the side, too far for him to reach.
Rylie let a unbelievable yelp of excitement escape her as her eyes filled with relieved tears. She lunged for Luke, and wrapped her arms around his bust body. She gripped him so hard, not planning to let go.
She was so terrified of losing him. That was too close of an awful experience, and she never, ever wanted to feel sad again.
She felt Luke's hesitant arms eventually wrap around her, and she felt a sense of home in his embrace. She felt like she was in the right place; she belonged in his arms. She had missed him so much that joyful hysteria had overtaken her. Everything was right in the world; their hearts were mending at an untimely rate.
They had been through so much that it was scary, but they would get through the other hardships of their long life together.
Rylie allowed a heavy sigh to express the solace and remedy of her shaken nerves.
She loved Luke so much, and she was filled with a gleeful intoxication knowing they both had peace of mind. Her mind was in a frenzy of bliss and delight.
The warmth radiating off his body made Rylie forget the harsh memories and replace them with the beautiful memories of the cherishing emotions they made together.
"I love you Luke." she mumbled into his shirt, and she lost track of time of how long they stayed in that hug.
"I love you, too Rylie." Luke's words were filled with relief too, and Rylie spotted over her shoulder that hateful gun that could've taken the love of her life. She frowned at it, and gripped Luke harder. The touch of his fingers on her waist sent Rylie's body flooding in happiness. "I'm so glad I have you."
Don't worry. The story's not over, yet.