A/N: Hey guys! I'm really, really sad. It's the end of the road. I just want to say that it was a true pleasure to write this story, and part of it was you guys helping me along with suggestions and encouragement, I really appreciate it all. I love all of you guys so much, you have all truly been a pleasure to write for, and finally, thank you all for reading my story. Thanks! Now ladies and gentlemen, I give you the absolute final chapter of Hard to Say Important Things! (cue lights!)

Chapter 23: Goodbye, Loves

(Vern Tessio POV)

After Abbie ended up staying, high school got a little weird. I didn't see Chris and Gordie around anymore, and I thought that kind of sucked because they were great friends. But it doesn't really matter.

But I really hated that Abbie had to move out of the house. Because man, we had spent some good times together in my house that year! We had watched some TV, snuck into Billy's room (under Abbie's orders of course, I was scared!), made fun of my Ma's cooking and ate cherry Pez instead (yum!), and I even got her to help me just look around the porch for my pennies. We actually had a good time. But then, her parents sold her house in California and bought one here, so we kind of saw less of each other. We just didn't hang out in the same crowd anymore, that's all.

The people I did see a lot of were Teddy and Emma….well, sometimes not even Emma, because she would want to hang out with Gordie, Abbie, and Chris, and then Teddy would…well, that's not fair for me to tell that, Teddy might beat me up, even now! Yeah, I kind of just followed Teddy where ever he went, and he always bossed me around. He was fun, I guess, but he was pretty mean to me sometimes. Teddy was the only real friend I had in high school, and I guess I was his only friend too.

But the best thing was my girlfriend Trisha. She was funny, pretty, kind, giving, and….between you and me, she was (and still is) a little stupid! Funny how someone like me ended up with someone kind of stupid. But it didn't really matter how stupid she was (and is): she's real nice, and I ended up really loving her. So I asked her to marry me during graduation, and she said yes! I still can't believe that I got married, I just don't seem like that type. Oh well. So, I had four kids, and inherited my dad's lumber job in Castle Rock. It's funny, I've never been out of the town before, even for lumbering works, and I don't make a lot of money. I've never really seen what's outside of Castle Rock, but I guess I'm ok.

(Teddy Duchamp POV)

I pretty much hate my fucking life. It sucks dick.

So, I go through the shop courses in high school, and I'm practically the king. Yeah, the king of the retards. To think that I, Teddy Duchamp, was the smartest guy in those courses….you must think that A: I'm lying, or B:….those kids must have been pretty damn stupid. Well, if you picked B, you're right. If you picked A, fuck you.

Yeah, those kids were really dumb, those morphadites. Plus, I had Vern all up my ass. But hey, he was my personal slave….that hopeless loser did anything and everything for me. Yeah, maybe I bossed him around…but who cares? He was a dork, a nobody. He must have thought I was his only friend……….eheheheeheeheehe! Right, like I'd be that dumbass's friend, eheehehee!

You know, there were three other friends I had: Abbie Tessio, Chris Chambers, and Gordie Lachance. Damn, I think I hated those last two guys. Before I used to like them, but then suddenly they broke away from me….you know why? Because they took the goddamn college courses! Those assholes thought they were too fucking smart to hang around with me! They really pissed me off, I'm pretty sure. I also think that that Abbie Tessio used to date Chambers. We were pretty good friends, I guess. But hey: she had her boyfriend. No use in having me around if I'm not your boyfriend….but if I am around and I'm not your boyfriend…..eheheheeheehe! I didn't try to fuck around with her though. I had my own gal.

Ah, Emma. She's the one who told me all of that shit about those guys….I kind of forgot. But hey, who gives a fuck? I surely don't. But here's a little secret: I did give a fuck to Emma. Quite a few actually, eheheheeheeheheeheehe! I actually got her pregnant in high school, junior year. So I proposed to her. And we still haven't gotten fucking married yet. Ain't that a pisser? Anyway, we kept the kid, and let's just say I couldn't take care of it (it wasn't even a boy for Christ's sake!). We kind of dumped the kid onto Em's parents, so she got all pissed off at me. Plus, she was wasting her time with those fucks Lachance and Chambers. So I did some things that would make her stop seeing them. Yeah, a really rocky relationship. But she did come back to me in the end.

Anyway, after high school (yeah, I graduated. What's it to you?), I signed up for the army. My one and only passion, the one fucking thing I really loved besides Em Gem. And what do you know, they don't except me because I'm pretty much screwed with my eyes and my fucking dad ruined my left ear. So I didn't get in. So you can say I got a little, teensy, weensy, tiny bit angry. And landed myself in goddamn jail. Well, I stay in there for about a month or two, and then suddenly Emma comes to my rescue, bails me out, and I'm as free as an ugly chick. So then I just started taking up odd jobs to pay for me, Em, and the damn kid.

And in all this time, I didn't leave Oregon. How fucking pathetic is that? Damn. I've thought of suicide many times, even in high school. Sucks, because if I didn't have Emma, I'd have fucking killed myself years ago.

(Emma Sheffer POV)

Wow. My life is…wow.

It's really strange actually. You see, in high school, I was split down the middle of two groups. There was Gordie Lachance, Chris Chambers, and Abbie Tessio. And then there was Vern Tessio and Teddy Duchamp. And there I was, in the middle of some awful tug-of-war scheme. Teddy would scream and yell at me because I would hang out with Chris and Gordie (he didn't really mind Abbie all that much, but she was Chris's girlfriend). One time there was this dance at school, and Teddy was off somewhere, probably hitting up some girl behind my back. So Gordie came and asked me to dance for one of the slow songs, and I said sure. And then while I was dancing with Gordie…cue an outraged Teddy Duchamp (trust me, you don't want to see one of those). And he yanked me out of Gordie's grasp, pulled me off in private, and slapped me across the face. Cue detention for a month. But the great thing was that Teddy didn't mind Abbie, so I could always hang out with her. She was my best friend until the end of high school. She was my only friend who was of the same sex, what can I say? I could always count on her.

Teddy Duchamp. What a guy. He was (and still can be) such a sweet, genuine guy, and then later he can turn around and be this angry, vile….thing. He impregnated me in our junior year, and we had Laura. Well, of course, since he was upset Laura wasn't a boy, Teddy dumped her and didn't pay her any attention. I mean, I know he was still a kid and all but…it just wasn't fair. So we kind of gave her up to my parents to raise, but now she lives with us. Us. Oh god.

Let me tell you how it got to be "us". Well, I was in the college courses, another of the many reasons Teddy would get upset with me. So I get into this great performing arts college, and had planned to go after the summer after my senior year in high school. And I did. I told Teddy goodbye, and I left. I didn't want anything to do with him anymore. But then a couple of months later, I heard: Teddy landed himself in the Castle Rock jail. Well, I realized that deep down, I really loved him. Sure, he could be a bastard sometimes, but I loved him. So I left my college and moved back to Castle Rock. I bailed Teddy out of jail, and now we live with Laura in a little shack of a house. While Teddy does his odd jobs, I sing and dance in clubs (you don't want to know what kind) to pay for Laura to go to school.

In a way, I think I hold the family up. But it's sad, because I actually got out of Castle Rock for awhile, but then I came back. I really didn't get to experience all the things I wanted to. But hey, if it's for love, it's ok.

(Gordie Lachance POV)

Where did the time go? It's amazing, that I actually came out ok.

High school: a jungle, a snake pit, a zoo. If you had to associate high school with anything, it would be something that involves wild animals. It was a really frightening place. There was always this reputation I had to live up to: Denny did this, Denny did that, you should do it too. But somewhere along the line, I realized, with the help of my friends: I'm not Denny. I'm Gordie. I'm Gordie Lachance, and I will do what I want to do. And I didn't want to be Superman. And I also realized: it wasn't that I was supposed to be like Denny, it was that I wanted my father to like me. But he wanted Denny. And you know, I wasn't Denny. So I just decided: fuck it. I will do what I want to do, I will be who I want to be. And with my great friends, I ended up being who I wanted to be.

Chris Chambers, Abbie Tessio, and Emma Sheffer helped me through high school. With their encouragement, I kept at it, and didn't let the fact that my father hated me ruin what I wanted to accomplish. I miss those friends now, I wish I could still talk to them, especially Chris. They had helped me so much… And then along came a girl. Cammie. One day she came up to me and asked if I remembered her. I thought for a minute, and then said yes. She then told me about why she didn't stay friends with the gang: she had been jealous that Abbie had been dating me: but that was a long time ago. She apologized, and I ended up in a relationship with her. But not just any old relationship: we got married by the time we finished college.

It's weird. Despite not living up to expectations, I created my own. And those I lived up to. I am now doing what I do best: writing. I've already written six novels, and I'm working on the seventh right now. It's something really special, something close to my heart that needs to be shared. It only just popped into my mind because of a major occurrence of something, but it happened a very long time ago.

I made it out of Castle Rock, have a wife, a kid, ended up becoming a freelance writer, and I actually got to see the world beyond my woodsy, boring hometown. Again, it's weird. Life is great, in yet it's cruel. But isn't everything like that?

(Chris Chambers POV)

I actually amounted to something. Is that a total shocker? It surely is to me and the entire community of Castle Rock.

The community of Castle Rock. The damn community of Castle Rock. High school were the hardest years of my life thanks to everyone living in Castle Rock. Everyone loathed the fact that a dirty little Chambers boy was taking the college courses. Everyday I sat among the cleanest, wealthiest, and, may I say, the most stuck up students. While they wore those pressed dress shirts, pants, and skirts, I was stuck in my usual torn-up jeans, boots, and I even became attached to a leather jacket (haha, I bet that made me sound like a hood). Honestly, I had thought about quitting those courses, and I was so close to doing so often. Students gossiped and bullied, teachers urged me to take even one shop course, and my father. Oh my father. I think he landed me in the hospital once….he hit me over the head with a beer bottle. Without the pressure to quit, there was still the work itself. I had to keep going back and relearning things before I could step up to the parts of the studies that were really complex.

It's just….I made it. Through all of that. Through the students, the teachers, the work, the family, the reputation. And…well, I know I wouldn't have made it without my friends. Gordie Lachance. Jesus Christ, what a lifesaver. Every night we would sit down and study, and I'd always leave him, angry. And it was horrible, because every time I left, he'd always have this terrified look on his face, as if he was scared that I wouldn't be able to do it anymore and give up. And you know, someone who is that scared for someone else really is special, especially if that someone has problems of their own. I'm so grateful for Gordie Lachance. I couldn't have asked for a better best friend in high school. The sad thing is…I haven't seen him in ten years. But even if I never see him ever again, I know that he got me where I am today, and I'll love him forever.

Even though having Gordie would have been enough, I had (and still have) the love of my life, Abbie. What's there to say about Abbie? She's kind, caring, intelligent, unique, beautiful….she's special. She's important. I love her. She just kind of lit up my life. I never thought……I never thought that there would be someone who could love me so much and not give a shit about my reputation.

There was this one time in junior year when she had looked awful. Not saying that she looked ugly, because she always looks pretty. But she looked really sickly, and I was concerned. Actually, I had been concerned for awhile. I had noticed that once she had started to date me, other people stopped talking to her and bullied her a little bit. So I knew that I had to break it off with her, no matter how much I knew I loved her. I wanted her to be happy. I invited her to my house (when my parents and my two older brothers were gone, of course), and she confessed something to me: she had been raped by my older brother Eyeball. I just……after I told her why I had to break up with me: she begged me not too. She said she didn't care what everyone else thought because she loved me. And I think that she was the only person who ever flat out said that.

And then there was this time when we all thought she was leaving Castle Rock for good. I can't tell you what I felt. It' just…..I don't know if I ever felt such pain as I felt in those moments.

I'm sorry. It's just…..it's hard to explain. And it's not because I don't have an understanding ear. It's just…..it's sometimes hard to put your emotions into words. That's how I feel about Abbie.

Whenever I see her, my heart starts to pound. Whenever I touch her soft skin, I can't help but shiver. Whenever I kiss her…….I soar. Whenever I'm with her, I'm in another world. It's like that world of Castle Rock never even existed when I'm with her. I can close my eyes and imagine that I had a great childhood, nothing that consisted of beatings, and bullying, and teasing, and undermining, and feeling as if I were alone. I'm in a whole new world with her. It's like I can finally let loose, I can finally be free of everything I once feared.

Abbie proves to me that I actually made it out of that town. And….and I love her more than anything.

What….what's going on? I see two people fighting…..

(Abbie Tessio POV)

My life is gone. I'm dead. My death was caused by the death of Christopher Chambers. Damn….if I had been there with him when he died, I would have pulled that knife out of his neck and stabbed it into my own. My life is not important to know. I am dead. I am alive. I'm both, actually. It's a cruel game of tug-o-war. I can come back to life, just not the life I had before I died. I'm different without Chris. He saved me, in every way someone can be. He introduced me to true love, and to friends. Friends. Those friends that I had in Castle Rock. They made me what I am today. They made themselves what they are today. We affected each other, we helped each other, we discouraged each other, and we brought the life back into each other. The friends you have as a child and a teenager are the ones who give you the life you have forever. They are the ones who help you build your life. And I can say that I never had friends like the ones I had then. Every single one of them got me ready for the amazing, wonderful things in life. And the awful, devastating things.

It's so important and so hard……it's so hard to say all of this.

And I don't even have my understanding pair of ears beside me.

FIN