Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me.
A/N: I had never expected for my first Butterfly Effect story to be so popular, but thanks for all the reviews. I had planned to post both Butterfly stories at the same time, but I'm just now writing the one that you're about to read (which will, in fact, have been written by that point) so I hope you enjoy and please review.
I'll Come Back for You. The lettering was slanted, block and hastily scribbled down, yet Evan Trabourn didn't find it at all difficult to read as he stared at the lined sheet of paper, which rested at the bottom of one of his cardboard boxes. For a moment, he couldn't realize how it had gotten there, why he was finding it among his other journals, photographs and family albums. He had written the promise when he was thirteen years old, sitting in the passenger seat of a rental U-Haul truck, saying goodbye to his friend, Kayleigh Miller. For Evan, that life was no longer the one he should remember, yet he couldn't forget it; that life had been the first one he had led, the one he had tried to hard to change. In the life he now lived, he had never written the promise to Kayleigh, had never even known her that he used to, yet here was the paper, looking just the exact way it had when he had written it those many years ago.
Finally, Evan reached inside the box and gently lifted the paper up, as though it was glass or perhaps a snake that would strike him if he was too rough. But the paper was just a paper, nothing more, yet to him it felt like so much more, just the last Christmas present beneath the tree that was shaped just like what you've always wanted. It held so much strange promise, unfulfilled potential.
Staring at the paper, Evan wondered he could read his journals one last time, change everything for the better, knowing everything he did now. He could be with Kayleigh, he could make sure Tommy and Lenny were happy, that his mother wasn't dying from her chain-smoking habit; everyone could be happy if he only choose his moment carefully.
But there was too much to risk changing; Kayleigh and Tommy were happy now, living their perfect lives with their perfect (finally) family. Lenny was happy, they were, after all, college roommates and his mother was living peacefully with her second husband, who was not an insane criminal. There was so much to risk by changing one little thing, that was something Evan had learned very well in the past few days (or was it minutes or hours or even years, he couldn't be sure). As much as he loved Kayleigh, was it more important for her to be happy without him then jaded with him?
Evan tossed the paper back into the box and purposefully dumped his piles of journals on top of it, burying it once again. He simply wished he had never found the paper, wished that he had never been reminded of the promise he had made to Kayleigh in another life. Evan had finally made up his mind to leave this life the way it was, to destroy his journals and any chance of being tempting to change his world once again. Lenny was waiting in his car out in the parking lot for him to finish gathering together all of his memorabilia to be carted to the junkyard and burned.
Slamming the cardboard top down on the box, Evan sealed away the paper and all ideas of bringing Kayleigh back into his life and hefted the cargo, heading toward the door. There was no turning back now, he would make sure of that.
* * *
The car ride toward the junkyard was silent, with Evan lost in his thoughts and Lenny realizing that; Evan was in no mood to talk, too worried that if he opened his mouth he would spout out some reason to turn the car around and save the journals, change the world. It was better safer to remain silent, everyone was surely better off.
As usual, the junkyard -which wasn't really that at all, but more a clearing where people tossed old mattresses and grills- was empty so Evan and Lenny's arrival wasn't noted by anyone. The spring wind blew against his cheeks as he slammed the car door behind him, arms burdened with his no longer precious cargo.
Lenny led the way toward an old rusted charcoal grill, pulling a book of matches out of his pocket at he walked. Evan stumbled to keep up, unable to see his feet and trying to keep from tripping over the odd assortment of junk on the ground. When he finally joined his friend, he wasted no time taking the top off the box and tipping it, so that the its contents spilled into the grill.
"Are you sure you wanna do this man?" Lenny questioned, knowing how important the journals and photos were to Evan. He hadn't asked just why his friend wanted to destroy the childhood memorabilia but he figured there was no harm in letting Evan do as he pleased.
Evan nodded. "Yeah." He took the book of matches from his friend and drug one across the side of the grill, igniting it. Staring at the flame for a moment, he tossed the match on top of the journals, which caught fire quickly.
Evan set the box aside, something inside catching his eye; he was surprised to see the paper with the words he had written to Kayleigh so long ago still resting in the bottom, having not fallen in with the other things. As the journals burned and photos crackled, he bent and picked the paper out of the box, studying it intently.
Suddenly possessed with the idea that he was making a horrible mistake burning the journals and giving up his only chance to be with Kayleigh, Evan wished that he could pull the burning objects from the fire and stamp them out. Most of the entries would still be legible, he could still alter things and end up with his beautiful Kayleigh.
Yet, he didn't move, didn't even flinch as he watched the covers of the notebooks begin to ignite. He loved Kayleigh and he owed it to her to give her a happy life, the life she always deserved. Evan's gaze went back to the paper he still held in his hand, the promise from so long ago, from a life he no longer lived and never would again.
Evan tossed the paper into the flames, and it was engulfed instantly. He watched as the words I'll Come Back for You vanish into flames, thinking of how he had tried to keep his promise to Kayleigh.
How could he have known, all those years ago, that not coming back for her would have solved all their problems. Evan hoped that Kayleigh's perfect life was going to fill her with happiness and potential. Most people only got one chance at life, one chance to make it perfect and livable. He had gotten five chances, he was damn lucky that things had ended up the way they had.
The promise from so long ago turned to ash, blowing onto the gravel and melding with the dust, as though it had never been. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, Evan thought as he watched his journals burn, the papers curling. The life he was living now was the one he would forever live and he was going to be damned if he was going to waste it wishing about the past.
The past was just that, unobtainable, no longer anything but distance memories. No more solid then the ashes blowing in the wind.