A/N: This is a little epilogue-y closure-type chapter thing. Wrapping it up basically. You'll find out just what was wrong with Ashley. I didn't proofread it because I finished it at 11:30 and I'm hella tired, so try to ignore and typos. Thanks to all those who reviewed, it means a lot that you took the time to read my story that I'm really quite proud of.
Spencer didn't leave her room for three days after the incident. Even though it's been a year now, since it happened. That's what she refers to it as in her head; an incident. Because it still doesn't seem real. Not Ashley. Not her Ashley. But she knows it was. Spencer had seen it happen and still she'd refused to believe it. She'd thought she'd prepared herself for that. She'd known from the very beginning that it would end up like that. But she'd honestly thought she'd have more time. Spencer had done the research. That first day she'd met Ashley. When Ashley had looked up at her through sooty eyelashes and smiled and Spencer had felt it, even then. She'd asked her mother as casually as she could exactly what Cystic Fibrosis was. And after her mother had explained most of it, Spencer had spent two hours online reading more. So Spencer felt robbed. She should've had more time with Ashley. And then Spencer felt guilty for being so selfish because Ashley should've had more time with her.
So then Spencer was mad. She'd decided to blame everyone and everything she could because she didn't know what else to do. She knew she was being mean, she knew she was wrong, and she knew she was hurting people who didn't deserve it but Spencer really couldn't bring herself to care because Ashley was gone. Gone. And Spencer just wanted to stop feeling that way. She'd wanted her brothers to stop looking like they weren't allowed to be happy when she wasn't because she knew it was hollow. She'd wanted her dad to stop trying to hug her so much because the arms she'd wanted to feel around her weren't his. She'd wanted her mother to stop saying that Ashley was just a lost soul and had strayed from the path because Ashley wasn't lost. Ashley had been right next to Spencer for not nearly long enough and she'd just wanted eveyone to stop pretending they understood.
Spencer had fought with her dad. She hadn't wanted to, but he'd been talking to her like he knew, when he'd had no idea. "Spencer, I can imagine how you feel," he'd said. "I know what it's like to lose someone you love."
That made Spencer angry. Her dad had never lost anyone. All the family and friends he'd known were still alive, still around. "How can you say that to me?" she'd yelled. "You have no idea how I feel! You never lost anyone. You and mom got divorced, you chose to leave her." She hadn't wanted to say hurtful things, but she'd just been hurting so much. "Ashley died. She's gone and she is not coming back, so don't think for a second that you have any idea how I feel." And Spencer had stormed off to her room, collapsing on her bed and crying tears that were long overdue.
When the tears subsided, Spencer was thinking again. About time. And about how that's all there is and there isn't enough of it. She'd remebered that first day she'd met Ashley and remembered knowing that that moment was big. Spencer thought that she knew when those brown eyes had met blue that Ashley was the one. And Spencer believes that there's a person, that you meet and you can say, "This is the person I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth with." And if you miss it, or walk away, or even blink, it can pass you by and all you're left with is time.
Time is all Spencer has now. Time comes softly, creeping up like a surprise in the dark. Beside us for a while, and then gone all too soon. Spencer glances at the clock and watches the seconds tick by. That's how time moves now--an hour here, a day there, and then it's night and then it's morning. One day at a time. That's the only way Spencer knows how.
After Ashley's funeral, Mrs. Davies had approached Spencer. Spencer hadn't even wanted to go to the funeral. She hated funerals. And she didn't want to remember Ashley that way. But her dad had said she'd needed closure so she'd gone to pay her respects. After the service, when Spencer was ready to leave because she couldn't handle the viewing, Ashley's mother had stopped her in the parking lot. She'd had that tote bag that had been buried at the bottom of Ashley's closet and had handed it to Spencer, saying that Ashley had wanted Spencer to have some things. Spencer hadn't been able to bring herself to go through the bag until now. She's still not sure she's ready but it's been a year and she thinks she's as ready as she'll ever be.
Spencer sits on her bed, the bag in her lap. She tried to open it once, the day after she got it. She'd looked inside it and found the sweatshirts she'd let Ashley borrow the first time they went to the beach. After that, she had to put the bag under the bed because it was just too soon. Now she thinks she can do it. So she pulls the sweatshirts out and she swears they still smell like ocean and Ashley's perfume. Ashley's lime-green iPod was under the sweatshirts. Spencer turns it on and there's just one playlist, all her and Ashley's favorites; "Songs About Us." Spencer presses play and puts in the earphones. Then there's a picture they took out in the hospital's courtyard. On one of Ashley's good days, back when they were just friends. They blew kisses at the camera and Spencer's pretty sure it's the only picture of her and Ashley together. Spencer sets it on the nightstand next to her bed so it'll be the first thing she sees when she wakes up.
There's a black velvet box at the bottom of the bag and Spencer can guess what's in it. She wishes Ashley would've kept it. But when she opens the box, the pick on the chain isn't blue, it's chocolate brown, and Spencer smiles. Her name's in gold and the note pressed into the box says, "Now we match." Spencer pulls the necklace around her neck before reaching for the final item in the bag. It takes a second before Spencer can place it, but she remembers the old notebook Ashley had so fiercely been scribbling in that day. It's old and tattered and written on. The pages are all thumbed and dogeared and Spencer feels her chest tighten when she sees Ashley's handwritting. She hears David Gray as she's opening it.
There's a note to Spencer inside:
I wanted you to have some stuff. And this notebook means a lot to me, so hold on to it for me, okay? There are some things I want you to know about me. I can't always say them, so I write them down. It's all in here, from when I was little. Everything. The good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly. I want you to know all of me because I'm yours, heart and soul. The last song, I wrote for you. So just close your eyes and it'll be like I'm singing to you. You have no idea how much I love you, Spence. But I bet you could ballpark it. Do me a favor? Be strong for me, Spencer. I know you don't want to but I know you can. It sucks, but it'll make you better. You'll be happy again. One day, it won't hurt so much and you'll smile. I love you. So much. Thank you for being part of my life.
Ashley's notebook is full of poems and lyrics and journal entries and a lot of it is pretty heavy. It scares Spencer a little, but then she finds entires about her. About the day they met. About the moment Ashley knew she loved Spencer. About their time together. Spencer reads them all over and over until the words won't stay on the page. Then she decides she needs to see Ashley. She doesn't go to the cemetary. It's dark and cold and creepy there and Ashley never liked them anyway. Spencer goes to the beach. Their beach. When Spencer sits at the water's edge, she watches the sun sink below the waves. She buries her bare feet in the sand and wiggles her pink-painted toes.
Spencer breathes in deep the salty air and can almost smell Ralph Lauren perfume. If she sits still, she can almost feel Ashley next to her. Spencer feels better now. She looks out at the water and smiles. She's not worried anymore. She not scared or angry. She knows she'll be okay. She knows Ashley's okay. Because Ashley's not gone. Ashley's a seagull. Out there flying. And free.
A/N: That's all she wrote. Thanks for sticking with it and for all the feedback. I hope you weren't disappointed. I worked really hard on this fic and I'm glad for those who enjoyed it. If you haven't already, hit that little review button and tell me what you think.