"Don't, don't... you'll never come back," Lyra murmured, her fingers tracing someone's outline on an old photo.
"That day you promised me-" her voice cracked, and she let out a sob, slipping into the memories. A few years ago, Lyra was barely an adult. She was 19.
She had been driving out late at night, gripping the steering wheel so tight that her knuckles had turned white. She was mourning her sister, who had passed two weeks ago.
"Lisa," she whispered solemnly, her soft voice expressing grief and longing. A hint of anger showed in her blue eyes. As she drove on, she became angrier. Lisa shouldn't have died.
Lisa had been covering a coworker's shift when the fire happened. It wasn't supposed to be her. Tears streamed down Lyra's face. The road in front of her became harder to see.
She saw someone in front of her. "Lisa?" she dared to breathe. It wasn't Lisa. It was a guy.
What was he doing in the middle of the road? As Lyra quickly swerved to the left, she realized that he hadn't been on the road at all. It was her who driven off the road.
She quickly found a place to park her car.
She didn't feel like talking; she just wanted to go home and sob into her pillow, but she felt some sort of obligation to go to the man and apologize, even explain herself.
She dashed to the man, her strawberry blond hair blowing in the wind. "Sir? Are you all right? I am so, so sorry!" "I- I'm fine." "Are you certain?" "Yeah, you didn't hit me, Miss.
In fact, I should be the one asking if you're okay. Are you?" He peered closely at her. Lyra turned her face away, but it was too late.
He had probably already noticed that her makeup was smudged and her eyes from red and puffy from crying so much. Her hair probably looked awful, too. And it wasn't just that.
If she looked him in the eye, she doubted that she would be able to keep her concerned, normal disguise from shattering into pieces.
Her lip would tremble, anguish would show on her face, and a sob would escape her lips. She might even end up pouring out her entire story to this stranger. She couldn't do that.
No, she had to keep up the mask. "I'm fine, sir. Why would you ask that?" She forced herself to look at his hair, at least, if not his eyes.
His light brown hair was shaggy, and a bit scruffy. She really wanted to touch it. She looked elsewhere. He had green eyes. He was super cute. Super handsome.
He wore a grey hoodie and blue jeans. Sneakers. Holding a grocery bag. He was probably, what, 20? The boy shrugged. "Well, because you didn't really seem, um, all that there.
A bit out of it, you know? Plus, you were off the road..." Lyra blushed with shame. She mumbled, "Uh, well, see... I really didn't mean to. I'm really sorry.
It's just that my sister-" she stopped. She couldn't go on. But she did. She spilled everything out to him, just as she had feared.
The words just came, and she found herself revealing things she had never admitted to anyone else before, even herself. How guilty she felt. How she should have been a better sister.
How she could have prevented it. All of her wrongdoings that were weighing heavily on her heart. And the boy didn't say anything throughout it all, just looked at her and listened silently.
Offering her a tissue that he magically made appear. Well, actually, he had bought a tissue box and took it out from the grocery bag, but still.
He kept a respectful distance from her, although it seemed like he wanted to hug her, or comfort somehow, if only they weren't total strangers...
Lyra continued on a bit longer, her anguish become more and more intense. Her legs did collapse, and she fell into the boy's arms. She sobbed hysterically, unable to stop the wave of grief.
Lyra finished, and took a deep breath, realizing what she had done. "I- I'm so sorry! I don't know why I said all that. I shouldn't have burdened you, I-I-" "Hey."
The guy looked deep into her gorgeous hazel eyes. "It's okay. Talking is good sometimes. You do feel much better, don't you?" Lyra paused for a moment. Actually, she did.
The burden wasn't so heavy anymore. "Yeah, I do... not counting the guilt I feel for telling it to you." "Again, it's fine. You let it all out, even though it wasn't your fault at all.
It's okay to have regrets, just don't keep them forever. Don't constantly ask yourself what-ifs, when there's nothing you can do anymore. You did your best at the time, and that's all.
I'm not saying you should forget her, but at least cherish the good memories, not the memories that could have been. Believe me, I speak from experience." Lyra blinked gratefully at the boy.
"You have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you so much. You're really good at this speech thing. By the way, I'm Lyra. You?" The boy replied, "Dave." "Dave," Lyra repeated.
"Yup." "Dave, I... again, I can't tell you just how amazing what you told me was. I'm so grateful. I'm actually not sure how I would have went on if you hadn't said that."
She blinked back tears. She had something else to admit as well. "And... I know it's wrong, so soon after something so sad... and so sudden and so unexpected, but... I...
you make me feel a different way. A good way. A-" she looked down, realizing she was still in his comforting embrace, but pretended she hadn't noticed. "A special way.
I'm sorry, to a complete stranger, though a kindhearted one who knows my deepest, darkest feeling and secrets now, and who probably already has someone or doesn't want one or...or..."
Dave held his finger to her lips. "Shhh. It's fine. And the truth is, I'm kind of drawn to you, too." They looked into each other's eyes for quite a while, and then finally drew away.
"I'm sorry, the feeling's still there," Lyra stammered. Dave agreed, "Yes, I still feel drawn to you...
Hey, you know what, let's exchange numbers, keep in touch, see if we still feel this way after a while.
We can get together sometimes to talk, get to know each other better, or even if you need a shoulder to cry on. I'll always be there for you." Lyra gave him a small smile. "I'd like that.
Thank you so much, Dave." After exchanging their contact information, they stumbled away, unsure how to say goodbye.
They constantly texted each other after that, meeting up and hanging out, until they became more than friends. They went on dates. Shared special moments.
But of course, good things seldom last... A car accident, it was. A huge one. Instantly killed.
He had been on his way to buy surprise macaroons for their two year anniversary of meeting, because she had casually mentioned during a conversation how much she loved macaroons, when a huge truck slammed into him.
It wasn't Dave's fault, but the drunk truck driver's- but Lyra had instantly blamed herself when she found out the location entered in his GPS- the macaroon shop where he was heading.
She sobbed, and all the advice Dave had given that fateful day when they had met slipped out of her head. Everything was her fault. Everything.
Dave dead, Lisa dead, her parents dead a few months after Lisa... Dave, who had been holding her together as she struggled through so many deaths, was now dead himself. Because of her.
All her fault. Lyra kicked and cussed and pounded the floor, the tears uncontrollable, her mind a haze of grief, sorrow, and rage, almost all directed at herself.
She clenched her fists so tightly that her nails dug into her skin, but she didn't stop.
She just clenched tighter, because she deserved the pain, the punishment for being such a horrible, terrible person who lost everyone she loved. "All my fault," she snarled. "All my fault."
She knew that Dave had told her many things about cherishing memories, what-ifs, and overcoming guilt, but she couldn't remember any of them.
It just made her cry harder and miss him more intensely. And now, three years later, looking at old photo albums, she remembered all the pain, all the grief, all the happiness.
She leaved what she was about to say next unsaid. She didn't finish, "That day you met me you promised me you would always be there for me." Instead, she tried to grasp at the good memories.
All the changes they had gone through, together and apart. She'd never be the same again. But then again, who was ever the same again after living through the ups and downs of life? Changes are inevitable.