Please Don't Go

Everwood fanfiction by LeeT911  (LeeT911@hotmail.com)

*  *  *  *  *

"You're leaving."

It's not a question, it's a fact.  Delia's tone shows she knows as much.  Despite her young years, she is very perceptive.

Ephram stops in the doorway of his room, turns to face his sister.  There is no blame in her eyes, yet he can somehow feel that she is unhappy.  He doesn't crouch down to talk at her level.  Instead, he stands up straight, thinking it better not to belittle her.

She reaches out, grabs his shirt in her hand, presses close to hug him.

"Why?"  She whimpers.

Out of habit, Ephram puts his arms around her, strokes her hair.  This time though, he doesn't tell her everything's going to be all right.  Because, most likely, it won't.  She feels so fragile, slightly trembling, fighting away the tears.  He wishes he could say something to comfort her, but nothing comes to mind.  He wishes he could let her cry, but he knows if she does, he will lose faith.

She lets out one sob, stifles it immediately, buries her face in his black shirt.  Ephram's heart clenches.  For an instant, he is unsure of himself, afraid that Delia will burst into tears.  If he needed a reason to stay in Everwood, here it was.  But...  His mind was made up.

"Why couldn't you say no?"  Delia asks again, her words slurred with emotion.  And even then, there is no accusation in her voice.

Ephram holds his tongue.  This would be so much easier if she didn't act like she knew.  This would be so much easier if he could just yell in her face and run away.  This would be so much easier if he could just say "you're too young, you wouldn't understand".  But things are never that simple.  They cling to each other silently, ignoring the clamor coming from downstairs, where their father and grandfather are still arguing.

It is nearly an hour later when he finally lets himself release her.  "I have to pack."  He whispers.

She pushes him away, not forcefully.  Always so gentle. 

She runs to her own room, closes the door without slamming it, all the while avoiding his eyes.  He hears her throw herself on the bed.  There are no sounds of crying.

Holding the wet stains on his shirt, Ephram vows that he will someday be a better parent.

*  *  *  *  *

He eats dinner at the table only at the insistence of his grandfather.  He avoids meeting his father's reproachful stares.  He avoids watching Delia pick at her food without eating any of it.  He wills himself not to notice the way she stares straight down and never looks in his direction, never looks away from her still full plate.

The meal goes by too slowly.  Ephram chokes down his food as best he can, not tasting any of it, but hating it anyway.  He clears his own dishes, desperate to get out.  He practically runs back up to his room, where at least he can shut out the world.

*  *  *  *  *

Late that night, he lies awake in bed, trying not to think about where this will all be tomorrow.  He tells himself that things will be better when he's back in New York.  He tells himself that it will all work it out.

He slips his earphones on, turns up the music.  The ongoing debate in the kitchen is finally drowned out.  The complete and utter silence coming from Delia's room no longer scares him.  Still, he does not sleep.

*  *  *  *  *

Delia talks to him the next day, wishing him good morning as she steps into the bathroom he just exited.  There are teary streaks on her face.

He skips breakfast, not wanting to spend any more time so close to his sister.  His grandparents take an eternity to pack their things and get the car ready, yet Ephram manages to avoid his immediate family for the entire time

When they are finally ready to leave, it is nearly noon.

Ephram stands on the front porch, suitcase already safely stowed in the car.  No more turning back.

Andy looks at him sadly and tries to say something that won't start another argument.  Ephram thinks about giving his father a hug, shakes his hand instead.  There's only so much that effort can do.

Delia, however, does get a hug.  He lifts her up, holds her cheek against his own, knowing full well it will probably be a long time before he can do this again.  She wraps her thin arms around his neck.  He feels the wetness start to run down her face.

"Please don't go, Ephram."  Her whisper is so soft, not even their father can hear it.

He puts her back down, brushes the tears away with his fingertips.  "I'm sorry, Delia."

*  *  *  *  *

He watches the house that isn't home dwindle away in the distance.  His father and sister are still standing out front.  Neither of them wave.

I'm sorry, Delia.  He thinks to himself.  Everyone has to be selfish sometimes.

*  *  *  *  *

END