Not Goodbye by Lire

Challenger: Amy
Rating(s) of the fic you want: T (Teen 13+),
Which brother do you want your story to be about?: Taylor
Genre you want your story to be: Drama

Three specific things you want your fic to include:

  • Humor
  • Love
  • friendship

Three things you do not want your fic to include:

  • Slash
  • erotica

My hand shakes while I read your diary. I know shouldn’t, I know it’s personal, but you aren’t going to prevent me from it. I am trying to reach you somehow, and I realize there are moments to win and moments to lose. I know that mine has been one of the lasts, and it’s now, when I regret everything that has happened, all the hurt I have inflicted upon you. Now that you can’t hear me.

I’m reading some sort of letter, because your whole journal is epistolar. As if you wrote letters to somebody. In the beginning I didn’t know who you talked to, but little by little I have discovered I am that person. If I had known before…

Your words reach my heart and hurt it, they’re daggers nailing in me, and I know I deserve them, but even so they hurt. I don’t want to feel them, but I must. I must suffer for everything I’ve done to you, for all those moments I wasn’t by your side when you needed me. Friendship is based on unconditional and mutual support, but in our case it was one-sided.

We were in Venezuela. We were seven or eight years old, I remember Isaac had turned ten in November. We met a year before, when you arrived at the hotel from the United States. I had been there some time, hadn’t made a friend, but you turned my life upside down. And right when everything was going well, when I was truly happy, my parents decided to move again.

Do you remember that day? I don’t think I can ever forget it. We had been playing hide-and-seek game, Zac and you looking for me without succes. I left running and you saw me; when I was already leaving the garden where we played, I hit Isaac. He brought the bad news; he had heard the adults speaking, saying I would leave soon. Immediately we stopped playing and we went on spying.

It was true, completely true. My parents had made that decision without considering me, me or my feelings. Why would they ask a little girl like me? I was overwhelmed. Spain, my mom’s country, was very far away; I would probably never get to see you again. With that idea looming you had a shining idea. And you had a shining idea

You stole your father’s penknife and brought it to our hiding spot next to the swimming pool. You wanted us to become brothers by blood. Isaac was against it, but in the end he agreed. You applied the edge to our wrists and pressed. Our blood was mixed as soon as we joined our hands. It hurt a lot, but it was worth the pain.

I watch my left wrist, the star-shaped scar shining under the light from a sun that hides behind clouds that threaten us with rain. I always liked your room, with its windows oriented to the east and the west to be able to see the sun all hours. A lonely tear rolls down my cheek and falls on the violet matress of your bed.

Suddenly, a hand out of nowhere settles in my shoulder, frightening me.

“Taylor”, says the sad voice of my brother Isaac, “Perhaps you should come out with us. Please”

“No, Ike”, I answer shaking my head, “I’m not ready yet”

“Tay”, he sighs dejectedly, “Please. Everybody is waiting for you.”

I look for an excuse to not yet leave your room, to not make this goodbye something real, to keep thinking you will open your closet door jump out just to scare me, like in the old times.

“I haven’t…” I say, stuttering, “I haven’t been able to knot my tie properly”

Isaac places himself in front of me and with expert hands he fixes my black tie. I drown when he ends fidgeting the knot, but I was already drowning before. Without you, I need air to remind me to keep breathing. How I wish I’d realize long time ago…

Isaac forces me to stand up and pulls from me. I follow him with no desire, I don’t want to face anyone, I don’t want them to look me in the eye and see the fault in me. I’m the one to blame in you going away, and they all know. I don’t know what’s more unbearable, the fact that everybody looks at me sadly or the fact that you no longer will look at me again. Each small detail that gets in my way while Isaac guides me to your garden, each frame, each photo, each step, each small flaw on the wall, reminds me of you. I try to hold back the tears, but that won’t work anymore. Your words are hammering in my head.

We had been running the whole afternoon. We were fifteen years old, and we were in your garden, playing like children. You had decided we had to remember the old times in Venezuela, when we were still naif.

We never really lost contact. Isaac couldn’t allow it, and when we were old enough our parents allowed us to spend the summers together. That one was one of those summers that slipped through our hands like grains of sand.

Next to your swimming pool, Zac was reading a book. That summer he had already devoured three, and the fourth was on the verge of being finished too. You looked at me with complicity and you lifted a finger to your lips to tell me to not say a thing. You surrounded the chair where your brother sat without him seeing you, and with a fast movement you stole the book from him and kicked the chair over sot he fell into the pool. When he reappeared, three seconds later, spitting water and insults, you took my hand and pulled from me. We left again, running to hide in the garage. Zac didn’t follow us, and that seemed very odd to me.

We looked in the eyes a second, suddenly serious. I had loose tufts that you tucked slowly behind my ears. Suddenly, the tact of your fingers made me shake, the smoothness of your breath on my nose gave me goosebumps. We were so near all of a suddent… your lips almost on mine…

“Elizabeth”, you said, and my name never sounded sweeter.

“Taylor”, I whispered in response, unable to think about anything but your lips, your breath and your hands.

You were going to say something, you were going to keep lowering your head to my mouth, when you were stopped by a burst of water shot straight to your face. I couldn’t help it, you were soaked and looked comical, so I burst out in laughs. From the doorway, Zac kept shooting with his watergun until both of us were so soaked that the clothes stuck to our bodies.

I smile while remembering that scene. We had been on the verge of kissing, it would have been our first kiss, but it never took place. While I approach the black cars waiting for both Isaac and Zac(?), I regret having backed out then. You didn’t deserve it, I thought. You didn’t deserve me loving you, when I never was going to be with you instead of traveling because of my music.

We never kissed. We were never a couple. And nevertheless I loved you. I love you now, and I always will. Not the time, the distance or the oblivion matter anymore. My heart always belonged to you, it will always be yours.

In the car, Natalie is waiting for me with a sad smile. The children are sleeping, one in each one of her arms, tired of waiting, I suppose. Zac sat in the front seat, hidden after dark glasses and a book, neither of which hide his pain and his tears. You were everything for him, that older sister he never had, the same one who he already will never have.

Did you know we were supposed to be at Mayfest today? Instead we are in Connecticut, so far from everything we know, from everything we love. When you came back here to study to study, I remember jumping with joy. My best friend was finally going to live in the same country, instead of a whole ocean apart. But the gap that separated us was already too wide to be jumped.

I called you this morning, Taylor. I wanted to surprise you, I was finally given that scholarship to study in Connecticut, and here I am. But I’ve been the surprised one. I wanted to tell you I was going to spend the next four years nearer to you than we have ever been since I left, but you have gone ahead.

“Lizzy, I have big news”, you said right after saying hello, “I am in love”

You have rendered me speechless. I still had faith in you saying the words that were left hanging in your garage all those years ago. But it was in vain, everything was in vain. I have heard you speak of her, Natalie is her name, and I have felt awful. Because I am your best friend I’ll be happy for you, but jealousy eats me from inside out.

Because I am in love with you, Taylor, though you will never know it.

The procession of black cars moves slowly on the highway, winding slowly. Although I feel my heart beating in my chest, it has stopped completely in my mind. Nothing will be the same again, Elizabeth, not without you.

Of course I knew you loved me. How was I not going to know it, if I felt exactly the same? Nothing that happened to us planned, but I had to assume my responsibility somehow. The price to pay for that reason, nevertheless, has been higher than I ever thought.

My wife’s hand settles down on my scar while she presses the mark smoothly.

“Everything will be okay”, she says, but I don’t believe her, “You’ll see, we will survive to this.”

I don’t answer. I turn towards the window and keep the tears at bay while remembering our last fight.

The wedding is in two days, Taylor, and I still don’t believe that you are going to marry her. I don’t believe that or that you are going to be a father at the age of nineteen. I never thought you had taken this relationship so seriously but now I see I was wrong. Nevertheless, I will never be able to tell you this. This thing of ours, whatever it may be, has ended. It’s over, definitely. And everything is my fault.

Yesterday, I was in my hotel room in Georgia, where you are going to marry her, when you knocked on the door. I opened it, astonished to see you; you entered with an exhalation and faced me.

“I can’t do it, Lizzy.”

“Excuse me?”

“I can’t marry her, Liz. I’m not ready. I’m too young.”

“Well, it’s a little late to back now.”

I saw you break down, sit down on the bed and bury your head in your hands. I sat by your side and I stroked your hair smoothly just to calm you. Little by little you relaxed and you raised your head again.

“Why?” I asked, “Why don’t you want to marry her?”

“I am too young.”

“Maybe Natalie is also, and she’s pregnant with your child,” I said, “You must have thought about this before playing with fire.”

“You are on my side or hers?” You asked out of the blue.

“Excuse me?”

“You have to support me! But, whatever I do, you never agree. You didn’t like Natalie! You were shocked when she got pregnant and you didn’t support to me when I decided to marry her! And now I say I can’t marry her, you aren’t agreeing either! I don’t understand you, Elizabeth.”

You were right, all the way. But I don’t understand myself, Taylor, I can’t… I am not able to act coherently with you by my side, I can’t think.

I don’t remember how we kept on arguing, because my mind has registered a blank space as if it wanted to forget the scene; but I know we ended up screaming at each other. Then you said the words that broke my heart in a thousand pieces.

“You are bitter about me because I didn’t kiss you that day in the garage! Because you are in love with me and I don’t reciprocate those feelings.

That was more than enough. If you said that purposely to hurt to me, you fulfilled your objective. I didn’t get to answer you. I only stood up, opened the door and told you to leave. The last thing you will ever hear coming out of my lips will be, “Get out”. The last I will hear coming out of your lips will be, “I will never love like more than a friend.”

And the worse thing of it all is that you’re right.

You didn’t come to the wedding, Elizabeth. That same night you gathered your things and you left Georgia. I could have gone after you. I could have sacrificed everything for you, because those words weren’t true. The only reason why I didn’t want to marry Natalie was because I was in love with you.

Nat doesn’t deserve somebody like me. She deserves a man who can love her, not a ghost who’s never there. But our destinies are sealed forever. Perhaps, within time, I could learn to love her.

The cemetery appears in front of me, and the tears begin to escape my eyes. I shut my eyelids to hold them back, and slid out of the car. My brothers, Natalie and the kids, who are awake now, follow me. I hear Ezra ask why I am so sad, and the drowned sound of Zac’s sobs. It is really very difficult for everyone.

That night was the last time I saw you. We went to Connecticut to see you, but everything we got was a negative answer. You were nowhere to be found, and when we returned, defeated, I knew we would never find you. All these months, everything has been my fault. If only I had been braver… I know Zac and Isaac will never forgive me for the hurt I put you through. I will never be able to forgive myself.

Three days ago, I received that phone call. A robotic voice asked for me, and soon it said the words that destroyed my world for ever.

“Elizabeth Bernard has been involved in a car accident tonight, sir.”

A drunk driver skipped a traffic light and struck to you. Your cell phone remained unharmed, and the last number you had tried to call to had been mine. I wonder how many times throughout these two years you have tried to contact me, if the count had reached beyond the point of counting like I had.

I hardly remember a thing of that conversation or what happened when I hung up. My whole body hurt, and my soul didn’t stop to scream. It felt as if I was being torn in two. I still feel like shit, I ask myself if someday it will ever stop hurting.

And here we are, in a cemetery in Connecticut. Your coffin lies closed in front of us; I didn’t want to see you because I’d rather remember you alive, when you loved me and screamed at me, when we laughed and talked and got along. But it’s difficult for me, because images of an accident that should never have happened fill my head with ambulance’s noises and blood spots.

When they throw the first shovelful of sand on your coffin, I can’t take it anymore. Isaac has to hold me tight to keep me from throwing myself onto it and beg them to bury me with you. The tears run already free down my cheeks, and the sobs that drowned my throat are released. I can’t think about life without you, Elizabeth.

I don’t know how I have been able to live without your presence, or if I’m going to survive the fact you have died and you didn’t have me by your side to gather your last breath.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

He is the last one to walk away. Everyone else is waiting by the cars, but he finds it unbearable to leave. Taylor Hanson never had to say goodbye to someone who meant so much to him. Elizabeth was his life, although he wanted to deny it.

He pulls a white rose, the only adornment he has allowed himself to wear, out of the lapel of his jacket; Elizabeth favorite flower. In silence, he just lets it rest on the removed ground and whispers through the air.

“I love you, Lizzy. I will never forget you. Don’t forget me”

He stands up without looking at the headstone and begins to walk towards the cars waiting for him in the highway. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a sunray breaks through between the clouds and settles on the scar of his left hand. Several steps in front of him, two more rays illuminate their brothers’ hands.

The three of them watch the sky, astonished, and for a moment Taylor thinks he had a glimpse of Elizabeth’s face painted on the clouds. He blinks to move the tears away, and when he looks again, there’s nothing left to see.

In his heart he listens to the voice of his friend telling him to go ahead, because life is worth living.

“Someday”, she whispers to him, “someday we will meet again. This is not goodbye.”

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