Fifteen years earlier…
It was snowing.
My mind was numb as I ran the two-and-a-half blocks from my house to Law’s. I couldn’t feel the hard ice crystals pelting my back and melting in my hair.
I couldn’t hear the wind whipping past my ears or the cars splashing through the puddles along the side of the road.
Headlights where nothing but a bright flash of yellow. The car behind them didn’t register. The sky was a mass of chaotic hues of gray.
Sometimes being numb didn’t mean being unable to feel. Sometimes being numb meant feeling anything and everything all at once and being unable to process it all.
That was me. I was numb. I was feeling everything in a way I knew it was about to destroy me.
Law and I got into a fight at school. A big fight. An epic fight. The kind of fight most people don’t walk away from and remain best friends.
Let alone, friends.
Or even less, boyfriend/girlfriend.
Which we weren’t, anyway.
This happened at lunch, and the entire rest of the day, I couldn’t focus on anything else. I should’ve been happy he was honest with me. Instead, I felt crushed.
I took the bus home, rather than catching a ride with him like I did every day, and that gave me a moment to think about what he’d said.
“We should use this time for experiences, Cami. I want our future to have no regrets.”
“You and me, we’re a forever kind of thing.”
If that were true, then he’d have no problem being with me right now. But he had to go on.
“I’m going to date Steph.”
The memory of those words rang throughout my head as Law’s house came into sight. They made my gut clench and ache more than the Olympic speed I set my pace to in my desperation to get to Law before he left.
With the icy snow numbing my face, I couldn’t even feel the tears streaming down my cheeks.
I hit his porch still running and hurtled up all three steps in one leap. My fist collided with his front door. Still pounding, I shouted, “Law! Open up!”
Nobody yelled back, and the door didn’t move. I hiccupped a sob. A clarity entered my desperate mind. My surroundings appeared, and I took them in. Law’s truck wasn’t parked in the drive.
Disbelief placed my hand on the door handle and turned.
Shock moved my feet forward inside of his house.
Pain sent me running up the stairs to his second-floor bedroom.
I barely made it to the edge of his bed before my knees gave out, and I collapsed. Naively, I thought my opinion would get to him. Would change his mind. He knew how much I cared about him, didn’t he? Why would he try so hard to push me away when I was begging him not to?
Why was she better than me?
I was stupid, that’s why. I’d lost just about everything. My parents were gone. Ritchie’s condition deteriorated daily. Maybe Law’s had enough of the lonely girl with the sad story? As many times as I heard bad news or lost somebody, he’d been there to support me. Could I blame him for saying enough is enough?
Maybe he’s right. He needed to have real high school experiences while he still could. Cancer and death and money were adult responsibilities he shouldn’t have to think about.
But where did that leave me? I couldn’t just walk away from my life. I couldn’t pretend my parents were still alive and that the brother I looked up to wasn’t dying from cancer.