Evermore 21

I’m not sure what I was expecting but I didn’t think Aiden would be taking me back home. At least being there gave me an excuse to change into my own clothes. I bundled up in my winter coat while he leaned against the wall and waited patiently for me. “So where is everyone anyways?” I asked him through pursed lips.

“They’re outside. Waiting for you.” He replied with a smile and took my hand. “Are you ready to go see them?” I raised a brow and slowly nodded my head. “Okay…but what’s going on?” I followed him down the stairs and out into the backyard. “It’s nothing to worry about, Ever.” He whispered as we came upon my mother, brother, and Whitney all gathered around my tombstone. “We have a memorial for you every year on the anniversary of your death. Except this year, of course…there were things that delayed it like a shoddily planned wedding and your unexpected return.” He joked weakly.

16

“We usually go around in a circle and we each tell a funny story that we remember about you or we express something you used to say or do that we miss.” Mama explained to me in a gentle tone. “But this year, the circumstances have changed quite a bit.” She chuckled awkwardly. “You can say that again.” I buried my face into Aiden’s chest to hide my tears. “Don’t cry, dear.” Mama moved in behind me and began stroking my hair. “You’ll have to forgive me if I end up saying the wrong thing from time to time…but I’m just so happy that you’re back in our lives.” She told me soothingly. “Me too.” Whitney stepped forward and put her hand on my shoulder. “You have no idea how lucky we all feel.”

17

“This is what I meant, Ever.” Aiden whispered in my ear. “They need you. Just like I do.”

18

“Isn’t there anything you want to say to your sister?” Mama prompted Clay. He swallowed loudly and shrugged his shoulders. “I guess.” He finally mumbled. “I’m not really sure what to say…except that I’m terrified.” He met my eyes and didn’t blink. “I’m terrified that it’s all just a dream and I’m going to wake up to you being gone again.” I’m not sure if he came to me or if I went to him but somehow I ended up in his arms. “Dammit. You better not die on me again, baby sister.” His voice was strangled as he squeezed me even tighter. “I don’t think I’ll be able to get through it a second time.”

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