Part One – The Before
They always say that just before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. But when Noah fell, with my helpless against gravity to save him, our life flashed before my eyes. Our first kiss, the first time he told me he loved me, that time in first grade when he ran up to me, out of breath, giving me my lucky pink pencil with Massie etched in the side, when I realized that I had a crush on him.
Oh, and one other thing popped into my head. A word.
Noah and I weren’t married, of course, since we were only seventeen, but there’s only one word that would describe the loss I would feel when he died.
Noah’s always been mine. I truley believed that I would never give him up. But when I saw him, falling and sat in that pool of red around him, I thought that, for once, I might not have a choice.
Three Weeks Earlier
A hot blush crept into my cheeks when Noah, with his dark eyes and light brown hair, smiled up at me from his textbook. Under the table, he grabbed my hand and slipped me a note. I opened it nervously and read it what must have been a thousand times over.
I love you.
This wasn’t the first time he’s said those words to me, but each time he said them or wrote them or even looked at me with that twinkle in his eye, I felt that same rush I had the very first time he said it. And every time he said those beautiful three words, I knew that he meant them.
After school, he ran up to me in the freezing weather, cheeks a blaze much like mine had been earlier.
I pulled him down to my short 5’3” height and kissed his cheek, slowly and sweetly.
“I love you too.” I said.
And I really meant it.
A cool breeze makes a sapling sway, back and forth, back and forth. I sit cross-legged under the small tree covered in dirt, shivering, but not because of the wind. Noah and I have been alternately sitting, laying, and standing here for the past two hours, but it feels like it’s been two years. Desperately, half of me wants to go back before this conversation, but the other half of me is glad that we did it, and it’s done. For good. We just needed it, you know? To figure out some stuff, no matter how heavy or sad it is. We’re stronger now, I hope. The conversation consisted of smiles and tears, and words, oh so many words. It went something like this:
“What’s going to happen, Noah?” I asked, and he let out a nervous laugh.
“When? What are you talking about, Massie?”
“What’s going to happen when we go to college, or one of us moves, or…or dies.”
“Stop it, Massie,” he pleaded with me, “We’ll make it through college and if you move, I’ll always follow. And death? Don’t worry about it.” He wrapped his strong, sturdy arms around me. “I’ll protect you from harm. And you already know that I’ll never let myself die on you.”
His comfort somehow didn’t make me feel at all better. Something kept nagging at me, saying Massie, Massie, Noah’s in danger. Something’s going to happen, and you can’t stop it.
This little voice made me want to scream and cry. My life without Noah really wouldn’t be a life, you know? He is a part of me, and if he was gone…well, I just wouldn’t be complete. It would be like one of those sad little puzzles that come in a box, and one peice is missing. No matter how hard you look, you can’t find it. The puzzle is forever incomplete.
I don’t want to be incomplete.
After that, there was a whole lot of middle talk ending with Noah kissing my nose, staring into my eyes, and saying,
“If I die, you have to promise me that you will live. We’re a pair, and I will never be dead as long as you’re alive.”
Now, Noah wraps his coat around my shivering body and holds me close.
“I love you, Massie.”
“I love you, too.”
He smiles, brightening the frightful day. I climb into my car, turn the rusty key, and crank the heat. When Noah’s car passes mine, a smile at him, but after he’s in front of me about a mile, I pull over and let my tears run.
Noah’s in danger, and there’s nothing you can do. That voice just keeps on reminding me, day after day, minute after minute, second after second. Every time the unwelcome thought pops into my head, my heart pounds a little harder. I’m losing it. Like, it’s just a little voice, right? It’s not real…right? Something tells me that it’s as real as the trees, or the grass. I just want it to stop. But, no, that would be too easy. Like, oh, no, Massie’s happy! It must end!
I seriously think that I’m going crazy.
Noah can tell that something’s up, too. He’ll look at me, at the fear in my eyes and the way I just want to lock him up and keep him safe, and just squeeze my hand tighter, his way of saying that it’s going to be alright.
But it’s not! I want to scream. I want to push him and protect him and kiss him while I still can, and just yell, tell him that he’s going to break his promise and that he’s going to die.
I can feel it coursing through my veins.
My hands constantly tremble.
My eyes are those of a wild beast, darting back in forth in fear.
It’s all I can think, it’s all I can breathe, all I can eat, that one word.