Tuesday, July 29, 2014
"Good night, dear!" Mr. Kleve said as Mia quietly moped up the stairs to her loft bedroom only to gently close the door behind her. The Kleves looked at one another and her mother sighed as she shook her head. This was sadly starting to become routine.
Once upstairs, Mia kicked off her shoes and plopped down on the bed without another thought. She did what she always did when she was in her room as of late: buried herself under her covers and hoped that sleep would get her closer to a time where she could leave this room and the now painful memories that it held.
Mia opened her eyes and looked at the alarm clock on the table beside her. 3:49 AM. It was a Friday night, so she didn't have to be up early in the morning. But that didn't mean that she had to stay up all night. She curled back up in her blanket and closed her eyes.
Mia's eyes flew open, and she clicked on the bedside lamp before walking to the window. Whoever was doing that was running a serious risk of breaking her window. Wouldn't that be a wonderful start to your day?
She opened the window to see someone familiar holding a basketball in his hands. Her eyes widened as they focused.
Her footsteps might have made quite a bit of noise as she raced down the stairs. She didn't care. The odds were impossible, but if she could see what she thought she saw again, it would all be worth it.
And she did.
"Sorry for waking you—" Elias could barely get out before being knocked to the ground by Mia's overzealous hug.
"Elias… is that really you?" Mia said as tears started to build up in the corners of her eyes. The boy standing before her smiled and nodded.
"Oh… How… Why…?"
"Don't worry about that right now. I don't have much time…"
"Oh, yeah… right." Mia said as she wondered what was going on. Maybe Elias snitched out his parents and he was secretly in the witness protection program. Maybe he was coming back to take her with him. Just imagine, a new life in St. Louis or New York…
"So… how are you doing?"
"Outside of the overwhelming sadness… I guess I'm doing okay."
Elias lowered his head with an expression of guilt before looking back at Mia and giving a small smile.
"Well, I hope that this is helping with that."
Mia smiled and hugged her boyfriend once again. "More than you could ever imagine."
"So… what now?"
"Come inside, silly. You can't be seen out here!"
"…I can't?" Elias asked as he tilted his head sideways with that curious look that Mia always found so adorable.
The two of them sneaked back into the house and up into Mia's room.
"I never thought I would see the day that I would be sneaking into your room in the middle of the night."
"Very funny… just because you're not dead doesn't mean I can't kill you."
Elias let out a small chuckle as he sat down on the table where she tried to trick him with a fake textbook several months ago.
"And why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"About your parents!"
"Yeah…" Elias glanced aside in shame. Mia closed her eyes as she wondered if this wasn't the best time to bring that up.
"I'm sorry, Mia. The less you knew about that, the better. I didn't tell you, Kenton, or Olivia because I care about all of you, and I didn't want you to see the horrible world that I've seen."
"Did you… cook…?"
"What?! Of course not!"
"Uh… I mean dinner! Surely you had to fend for yourself while your parents were doing that!"
"No, I know what you were meaning."
"Okay, fine." Mia said as she did the little pouty maneuver that she borrowed from Olivia.
"I knew everything since I was ten years old. That's the problem with being smart. When they figured out that I, well, figured it out, they stopped trying to hide it."
"Did they ever… kill people?"
"Mia, absolutely not! In fact, they were working out getting out of the business and we were on the verge of being a normal family."
"Sorry… I'm just… trying to wrap my head around this…"
"Yeah, me too. It's weird going to class knowing how your clothes were paid for. It was going to be weird going to the best damn school in the country knowing how it was financed."
"But you're going to do it, right?"
Elias looked down and then back at her with a smile.
"Damn it, Elias! You remember our promise, right? We're going to get married before you leave for college and then when I graduate and get a fantastic job and we're going to have a house on the edge of the city with two kids. Boy and a girl. And a puppy. And…"
"…lots of cake." Both said as Elias remembered exactly where she was going with this.
"Right. Lots of cake. So, you do remember, don't you, Elias? We're practically engaged, just without the rings!"
They had only been dating for several months and that was one hell of a leap to make.
"Well, cake isn't that healthy… we would have to set a good example for the kids…" Elias said as he quickly tried to figure out an effective way to gracefully derail this train of thought.
"Screw that. They can have celery. And you can too. More cake for me!" Mia said as she reached her hands up excitedly.
"Shh!" Elias said as he gestured to the floor to remind her that they were right over her parents’ bedroom. Having your kid wake you up at four in the morning by ranting about cake is second only to having your window broken with a basketball for making your morning suck.
"Mia… You know that this isn't going to be how we end up, right?"
"What… do you mean?"
"We're two thirteen-year-olds in love. You're going to end up with someone entirely different and there's going to be someone named Elias buried deep inside your memory as your first boyfriend and nothing more."
"Elias… are you breaking up with me?"
"I'm not… believe me, if there's someone who wants what I said to be a false statement more than anything, it's me."
"Then what are you getting at?"
"Mia… I'm dead."
"No… you're not. You're right here. See?" Mia said as she poked his shoulder with her finger.
"Mia, please. Just take a chance to realize this… for me…"
It was at this point that everything clicked for her. Tears started to form again as she took a stammering breath.
"I came back to say 'goodbye'…"
"No… don't say 'goodbye'… you're here. Stay here. Stay with me!"
"I can't, Mia."
Mia wrapped her arms around him and started sobbing into his shoulder.
"Don't… tell me… not to cry… because… it… won't work!"
"I know, and I'm not telling you to…"
"How can you… expect me… to deal with this…?"
"I can by telling you that you're not alone."
"I might as well be if you're not here!"
"I saw what you did to Kenton. Don't be like that. I need you to be the friend that I couldn't be!"
"Be what kind of a friend? It's his fault that you're dead!"
Elias took a deep breath and paused for a few seconds. Mia knew that this was a telltale sign that he was starting to get angry.
"Stop. Just stop. I did what I did because William could’ve hurt Kenton and me. He had a knife and wasn’t thinking clearly…"
"I did what I did to make sure that William wasn't going to hurt himself or us with his knife or force Kenton into ruining his own life. All of which were probably on his agenda."
"So, please. If there's one thing that you can do to help me, it's not blaming Kenton. In fact, he needs you and Olivia to take the guilt off his shoulders. There's not one piece of my soul that blames him for what happened. If I could do it again, I would. Over and over."
"…Okay… I'm so sorry… I just… thought that Kenton was replacing you…"
"It’s almost time for me to go."
"No! Stay here!"
"Are we really going to have this argument again?"
"Yes! I'll keep arguing over and over again if it means that you'll be here to argue with me!"
"Sorry, but it's not going to work."
"Elias… before you go… can I at least tell you something that I've been wanting to tell you?"
"Oh, here we go. What could this be?" Elias half-jokingly said as he prepared to get one of Mia's famous tell-offs.
"I love you."
What a tell-off. Elias was stunned for a few seconds and smiled at her as he reached out for one last hug. Tears started to form in his eyes as she embraced him.
"Mia, thank you. Please don't be afraid to move on, because I… will always be happy as long as you're happy."
The two of them sat there in silence for what seemed like hours upon hours. Before she knew it, there was light starting to peek over the closed curtain signaling the arrival of the morning. As she transitioned into her real waking consciousness, she heard Elias's voice echo through her ears.
"Don't forget, when you need me, I’ll see you again."
"Goodbye." She whispered to the daylight as tears started forming in her freshly opened eyes. She slowly got out of bed and looked at the table. Nothing was out of place. The window's curtain was pulled shut. There was no evidence that Elias was there. It was all just a dream.
With a sigh, Mia grabbed her phone off her bedside table and disconnected the charging cable. She grabbed that piece of paper that was given to her the previous day and opened the messaging app on her phone.