Remember When (Suggestions?)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 5
Chapter 5

The largest oak tree in the park was located by the ocean. My upper body strength wasn’t what it used to be but even with the slits on my forearms, I managed to climb to the highest branch. Gabriel followed, amused by my graceful movements. He was startled by the tree I had chosen. This had been our favorite tree as children. I didn’t expect Gabriel to remember. Then again, I didn’t expect many things from him. Taking out a pencil, I wrote.

“Can I read it?” Gabe asked when I leaned back, done with the poem. Wait, what had I written about? The pencil had moved on it’s own. He was handed the poem that in swift scribbles read:

Once upon a haunting,

The ghosts come out to play.

Leaving their rotting bodies

In the very place they lay.

They sing and dance and send chills

Your unsuspecting spine

They reach their cold hands out

To pull and grab you from behind.

They only want something to do

They’re in for the fun

And if you look around you’ll see

You’re not the only one.

Glorious screams and shudders are

All there to surround

The sounds of ghosts playing with

The new toys they have found.

If you’re unlucky,

Before your eyes they will manifest

Making you freeze in fear

Putting your vocal chords to test.

Gabe grinned and clapped at my poem. The desolation in his eyes returned. Silent, my eyes stared at the blue seas and sky which was splashed with pink and orange clouds.

“You know,” he began, “I’m still wondering about you.”

Unmoved, I wondered what he spoke of. Wondering about my origin? My life before Salem? What made me so somber? All the thoughts that could be going through his head at the moment swirled like a hurricane in my head, causing a bit of throbbing which I quickly dismissed. Lips parted as I began to ask what he spoke of. I decided the silence was nice.

“Melancholy…who are you really?” he asked suddenly. “Just a beautiful girl from the islands of Hawaii? Just a figure taking the memory of those lost? Are you here to make me suffer? Or here to make me forget?”

What in the hell was he talking about? Paranoia? Is that it? Is he paranoid that something will harm him emotionally—or physically; either would be quite painful. Gabriel’s mind had always been the one I couldn’t decipher completely while others were clear as river water. He spoke of Tornado this time. There was no hesitation.

He edged away, as if in pain. Chest now heaving, he reached to grab the branch above his head to sustain his figure on the tree. After steadying himself, Gabriel grabbed my hand, something so small and white even though his skin tone was as pale as mine only with a faint tan. Yes, I’ve definitely paled since I last saw him. His black hair was hanging straight over his face, not swept anymore, but simply hanging before his eyes—eyes that I could feel boring into my cheekbones with or without the shield, all the same. Gabriel gave it a quick, affectionate squeeze. Something wouldn’t let me pull away. It took half of my concentration not to return the gesture.

“What are you talking about, you loon?” I muttered, the ocean waves seeming to drown out the sound. Abruptly my head had begun whirling, causing a bit of wobbling which Gabriel seemed ready to save me from.

Gabriel was fighting hysteria. “Melancholy, tell me, please. What are you?”

“A girl. I’m pretty sure about that.”

An unfamiliar, annoyed exhale was released from him. Gabriel yanked me to his body, causing me to lose my footing but land on his lap. Maintaining his balance, Gabriel pressed his forehead to mine. We were so close. I could feel his minty breath on my lips and sense the anger he was containing. No…he must be over her…It’s been years…

“Don’t.”

The word rang in the air, echoing hundreds of times—whether in my head or in the real world was impossible to differentiate. Don’t. To think that one word would send goose bumps all over my body, raise the hairs on my skin, sink my stomach and cause me to grit my pearly whites. My eyes, which had been wide and staring into Gabriel’s solemn powdery blue pools, now shut to fight the rhythmic flashes of pain unleashed by something in my side. Breathing patterns were disturbed and the pale lips quivered with the desire of one of the forgotten kisses.

“Don’t what?” My voice was as unsteady as my lips. I was being completely supported by Gabriel’s gentle hands. The one that had held mine was on my waist, sustaining me and the other tightened around my arm. The pain wouldn’t normally bother me, but there were a few small wounds still healing there. I ignored the stinging as if it was normal.

“What are you?” he asked instead.

“Why would I be anything other than me? Who would I be?”

Slowly opening my eyes, I managed to see Gabriel’s teeth digging into his bottom lip. He wants to kiss me. He didn’t, but his black hair moved in the breeze to be placed near his lip and atop his nose. Just as quickly as I had been caught, I was released, pushed back against the trunk of the tree.

“It was stupid.”

“Gabe, what was?” Despite the lack of oxygen, I stood and neared Gabriel. Concern washed over my features. He was my skin tone at this point.

“Is it easy to trust a person?” Gabriel wondered. “Is it easy to care for someone? As easy as blinking and as simple as breathing?”

“You can trust me…”

“Can I?” His head snapped up and his eyes looked accusing. I was guilty of something, wasn’t I? Toying with his heart? That’s what I had made it seem like in the end. If he really never dated because of that, then...then his mind would be much harder to persuade than I had expected—and that level had been high beforehand. My hesitation resulted in his spirit plummeting even more. “That’s what I thought.”

“You can,” I assured him. I wasn’t so sure about that; the stingy eyes contradicted my words. “Why would you think otherwise?”

Gabriel’s mouth opened and closed quickly. He was rethinking his words. They were blurted out anyways. “Last time I trusted someone, they broke me into pieces.”

“Your heart?” My chest tightened.

“No, not just my heart.” His thoughts were dark. Gabriel wasn’t too happy that he had brought this topic up. A pause. A side glance look, too. Carefully, he now spoke. “I was torn apart.”

“Who was it if I may ask?”

Gabriel scoffed. “As if you don’t know.” My heart skipped a beat. He’s as smart as ever. I’m smarter too, though.

“Would I ask if I did?”

“You know, of course you do!” Gabriel stood, shaking the branch that held us. My poem fell to the ground and Gabriel followed it with ease. He landed, barely stumbling, like a cat.

“Gabe! Know what?” I chased after the angered boy. “Gabe…” I whispered once I turned him around. “Please, what is this about?”

“Nothing. I’m leaving you alone now.” His words were like knives to my stomach. This is what I wanted. But Gabriel’s sudden change of mind was shocking. It’s just not like him to give up on something.

He started walking. “Wait, wait! What do you mean?” I tugged him back.

“That is what you wanted. Isn’t it?” Another knife into my thigh.

Speechless. Again he walked. “Yes, it is.” The moment he had paused vanished and Gabriel’s legs were again in movement. “But—I can't.”

Paralyzed. “You don’t mean that,” he croaked.

“That’s where you’re wrong.” A soft shuffling became background noise as I slowly made my way towards Gabe. “I may want to let you leave—I may want you to leave me alone and never speak to me again. But I can't.”

“Sure you can.”

“No—you see, things don’t work that way for me,” I disagreed. “Unless I leave this town and never see you again, then it will tear me to shreds to see you around school. It’ll kill me to not see your dashing features gift me the most brilliant of brilliant smiles when you come up to me. I don’t know if I can without having to.”

Silence.

“Now it’s my turn not to let you go, Gabriel.”

“Why?”

“I can't say.”

“Yes you can.” Gabriel’s hands whitened as his hands hardened into fists. “You could if you wanted to. You don’t though, and it’s because you’re her.”

“Who? Tornado?” This was a risk.

I didn’t imagine Gabriel’s reaction would be so rapid. Reflexes are good, I noted. Though, he knew. He was hoping for a confession, but hadn’t really expected to receive one. This child knows me better than I thought.

“You admit to it?” There was a small glint of hope in his eyes, but that emotion was overpowered by surprise. And hate.

Yes, it would seem that way. Mr. Kenward hates the lost girl who he had once held and caressed. I knew I went too far in the past. This is the result. This is what I wanted. My plan had seemed so right at the time. Big mistake. I wasn’t ready to let him go—then or now. Those years spent digging glass into my wrists in the hope I could bleed out the memories and the sorrow; the kisses, the hugs, the sad and happy times I once knew. And that love. The warmth he sent my way and the passion that burned in our beings and surged between us.

We had been doing so good. Our relationship was blossoming even though it had already surpassed its youth. Serious relationship in junior high? Rare. In Hawaii, I had found myself longing to come back over the course of a year. Then I froze my emotions and locked away the remnants of the memories that caused heartbreak again and again.

“To being her?” I shook my head. “I’m not her no matter how much you’d like me to be.” Now there was pain crossing his features.

“Who says I want you to be her?”

“Your heart. You miss her. And you love her. Face it, Gabe. You want her back.” I felt conceited. Where had those words come from? Surely I hadn’t meant to say them. Thought of it—no, it was more hoping that it was true—but I hadn’t intended to say that.

“I don’t.”

“You do.” Persistent, I continued with my act. “I’m sorry I’m not your childhood sweetheart. I’m sorry.”

A small eternity of silence passed before his next word. “You have her eyes…” Gabriel’s lip trembled and tears stung his drying eyes.

“I’m sorry about that too…” Gabriel neared, each step taken with a subtle hesitation. He took my hand and I winced. Fast, hard pounds came from my chest the moment our skin made contact. Staring contest. I tried to connect with his mind—there was something, something very strange about the today Gabriel. It was a sort of fog in his eyes and a bar that protected his thoughts instead of projecting them to make a sync possible. “What are you—?” He looked away.

“Why…why are you like her?” I was pressed to his chest just as his body began to shake with anger. “You smell like her and fit in my arms like her.” Pause. “More importantly, though, how exactly did you know her name?”

“Icy and Willow told me.”

“Why?”

“You were staring at me and they saw you walk me to class.”

“I see…”

“That wasn’t my fault,” I pushed him away. “You wouldn’t go away.”

“And now you don’t want me to leave.” I was sure that a smile would have crept up on him had he not just seen a couple walking along the shore. My lips hardened into a straight line.

“Don’t make me take that back.”

“Does that mean I can kiss you now?” asked Gabriel, seductively.

My eyes widened. “Get away from me.” I shoved him.  “What’s wrong with you? I was going to let you be my friend.” Gabe looked puzzled. Exactly what had led him on? “You can forget about that.” Swiftly, I turned on my heels.

“Hey, I was kidding.” Never had I seen him more serious. “I wouldn’t ruin the chance I got.”

“Do I look like I’m laughing?” I sputtered through clenched teeth.

Not one of his features twitched. “Hey, why are your eyes covered by your hair all the time? They’re such a pretty blue.”

I glanced down, hiding the wince resulting from the screams. So many…so much blood…they’re coming. All of them. They’re coming to get her—to curse her soul. A voice not of my own planted thoughts in my head, painting pictures I did not wish to see. Cold—it’s all cold and there a small thing…it’s cold too. Smoke…I can't breathe. Flames danced upwards and sparks flew around in the cool space. There was a body on the ground—a baby. One who was seconds away from death. I ran to pick the body up and keep it warm as long as I could. Arms emerged from the darkness and held iron grips on my legs and arms. Then more appeared and moved towards the baby—

No. No. NO.

“Kiddo,” Gabe whispered. I shook violently and nearly fell to the grass. “What happened? Lithia! Lithia!” Nearly collapsing, I regained reason.

“I—uh…” The images dissolved, almost every trace of its presence gone. The cries were still recorded. “Sorry—it’s nothing.”

“What were you talking about?”

“Talking about—? What do you mean?”

“You muttered something about blood and someone coming and coldness.” Gabe’s eyebrows pushed together, creating a crease where his third eye should be and his eyes burned with concern. He looked helpless and anxious about my temporary condition.

“I did?” I never realized the movement of my lips which formed words. “I drifted off…”

“You sure?”

“Positive.” Lies are filthy but my only friends for the next few years. “Wait a moment, you called me Lithia. You knew?”

Chuckle. “I knew by third period. It’s hard to solve a mystery when people come up to you and ask why you’re talking to the new girl. But, the fact that “Welcome Lithia Redd” was on the board first period helped.” I gaped, astounded. “Ms. Trine is very hospitable.”

“No more Melancholy then?”

“Unless you’d like a pet name.” Gabriel winked. I scoffed.

“Lithia is fine, Gabe.”

“No, she’s beautiful. And I’m glad she’s not pushing me away.” Gabriel leaned down and shared a kiss with me before I knew what had happened.

Fury boiled in my veins. “I told you not to.”

“You also told me to go away. That was to see if you would change your mind.”

“You’re a pig.”

“Yet you’re still standing by me.” He walked past me. I didn’t follow.

 

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