all fires must burn a life to live.


These marks seep far beneath the surface. You know these indents and bruises will still cover you one week from now. Painted across your soft flesh. Burned inside your perfect skin. These bruises run like a river deep inside you.

You wish they were hickies. You wish that was her intention. But you know better. You knew better as she bit down. As she cried out.

She flawed you. She stained you. And if she could, she'd make her marks permanent.

She'd make them into scars that would forever scuff your perfectly polished body. Because that's what you did to her. Except your marks scar further inside.

Yours ripped right through her fresh beating heart.

"Then just decide!"

It's all that's played through your head. It's on repeat, and the needle never skips.

It's what carried you to her house. You didn't know where else to go. You didn't know what else to do. You stood before her door. Afraid. Unsure. Like so many times before.

So different from before.

You remembered the last time you made these same steps. The last time you came to apologize.

"I want you. And I don't want to hurt you."

You suddenly laughed. Bitterly. You laughed at how selfish you were then. And how selfish you are now.

You laughed at such a cryptic truth.

I don't want to hurt you.

You disguised what you'd really do with an empty promise.

And she believed it. She believed your act. The smoke and mirrors worked. She only saw the promise. She believed you wouldn't hurt her.

She believed you promised you wouldn't.

And you wish you could have made that promise. You wish you'd never hurt her. You honestly never wanted to.

But you knew better.

You, honestly, knew you would.

You weren't laughing when the door pulled back. You weren't anything as her hugged body stood in the empty frame. She held onto herself so protectively. In the same way she did back then. She hung her head the same way. She avoided you the same. So much was the same you almost heard the same words.

"Why would you do that?"

But this wasn't the same and you knew it. You knew this was so different. This wasn't about your apologies. This wasn't about what happened at prom. You were supposed to be here for a much bigger reason.

But, inside, you knew prom really was your reason. It was everything.

And you hated yourself for it.

She looked at you with swollen and dried eyes, before turning inside. Leaving the door open, you heard her walk upstairs. Whether she meant it as an invitation, you didn't care, you took it as one and followed her.

You masked your guilty steps inside her distraught ones. Mirroring her sorrow.

You hated yourself more.

Her house was quiet. Her house was still. Her house was too eerie.

Everything was the same after everything had changed. It unnerved you. You shook your head.

This wasn't about you.

A phone rang as she shut the door.

You noticed no one answered it.

"Where is everyone?"

You chanced normal conversation and it stung you. It burnt you, because this wasn't what you should be doing. This wasn't about making things better for you.

And yet, deep down, you knew it was.

She shrugged, back towards you. "Mom and dad are at the funeral home. I don't know where Glen is..." her head turned slightly, just slightly.

She breathed deep. She closed her eyes. She faced you. She looked inside. And for just one second you saw her as you've always known her. You saw her looking to you like she always used to.

She needed help. She needed support. She needed love.

And she needed it from you.

She needed promises, whether they were empty or not, and you, of course, would give her them. Once again, you'd selfishly give her nothing, masked in everything.

"Oh Spence..." You gasped, taking her body in your arms. "...I'm so sorry..." you whispered against her motionless body. You felt slight relief as her face burrowed into your bare neck.

She remained there right inside you. Never farther away.

Her voice broke against your skin. "He's really gone..."

Finally you made your decision.

And you hated yourself, because you finally realized you never needed to make one. This was never a choice. And it should have never seemed like it was.

Because it's always been her.

"I'm here, Spence..." your arms held her tighter as she did the same, as her arms told you you were allowed "...I'm right here."

"No..." so softly whispered " you're not."

You pulled back. It wasn't an accusation. It was a hurt acceptance. It was her seeing through the smoke and mirrors. It was her begging "Oh please, please don't do this."

And it was her believing you were already doing this.

"Of course I'm here, I'm right here, Spence" you held her tighter, you needed her to see that you loved her.

"I decide who I love."

See that she was who you chose.

"I'm always going to be here. Always."

And then you did it. You made another promise. You wanted it to be true. This time you would make sure of it. But it was too late. She already saw too much. She already saw through you.

And she didn't believe you.

"Oh you're here, Ashley? Is that where you've been?"

She was choking on her words as she stepped away from you.

"Clay was shot five days ago!" Her voice shrieked.

"Then just decide!" rang in your ears.

"Clay died five days ago..." her head shook, her strength crumbled, her walls fell "...and I'm only seeing you now. How the hell can you say you're here, that you'll ALWAYS be here, when this is the first time I've seen you since that night!"

"I..." you stuttered, you stumbled "...I didn't think you wanted to see me."

You weakly, selfishly replied. You knew better. And so did she.

"Ashley..." with one word she shattered everything inside you because you knew what would come next.

" were the only person I wanted to see."

Silence fell over you. Silence fell over everything. The phone rang again.

"You...were..the ONLY one I wanted to see." She annunciated every word. Each syllable. "I needed you Ashley." Tears strangled her.

"...I need you." She whispered a truth she didn't want to admit.

You walked closer to her. Taking the same steps you made towards her front door. Not knowing what to do but going the only place you knew.

"I'm so sorry."

Her shaking head hung love. She didn't need you. She didn't want you.

But you knew better. You knew she did want you. She did need you. So you moved closer.

"I am so so sorry Spencer."

You meant the words. Those words. They were not empty. Those apologies were true. You gave them everything inside you.

She kept shaking. Tears slipped so quickly from her cheeks. Your hands timidly reached for her arms.

You held her. You unwound her.

Carefully, so carefully, you unraveled her.

And between your strong arms, she shook, she broke.

She let you in.

"Please, Ash..." She whispered into your neck. Her hands desperately clenched your tank top. "...I need you. I need you so badly."

You knew what she was asking. You knew what she wanted. What she needed.

And this time, you knew you could give it to her.

You nodded, as if she needed an answer. You softly whispered "I'm here Spence."

As if she'd believe you.

You held her. She gripped you. You kissed her. She smothered you. You wanted her. She needed you.

Suddenly she gave you all you needed.

She unraveled.

She unwound.

She let go.

She let go of everything.

And she threw it all onto you.

She was primal. She was rough. She was like she never was.

She threw you to her bed. The bed where it was always silent. Always secretive.

You heard memories of her playful giggling.


Lost innocent whispers.

"...we need to be quiet."

But that was forever ago. That was a different life. That was when you thought getting caught was the worst that could happen.

That's when you both naively believed it was.

But now you knew the truth. You both knew. Now you were going through the worst.

And she wasn't quiet.

She wrapped her arms possessively around you. She clenched her teeth into your necks flawless skin. And for just a moment, one moment you remembered making love in this bed. You remembered her soft kisses across your chest.

You remembered her delicacy.

You remembered who she was.

Your remembered who she'd never be again.

The tears flowed when you remembered. The tears mixed with hers.

She straddled your captive vacant body. She ground into your waist. She growled and wept. She ripped your clothes.

She held you tight. She strangled you harder with desperate hands around your shaking body.

And you let her. You let her scratch her nails down your back. You let her brand you with her pain.

You let her remind you with those trails. With those tracks and cuts she etched into your skin. She was hurt. She was shattered. And she wasn't going to let you forget one simple fact.

You were the reason.

"I don't want any more drama."

You did this.

You froze in her possession. You were what she wanted you to be. Whatever she wanted, you let her use you for it.

She grabbed your hand. She thrust it inside her boxers that were once yours. You noticed and wanted to smile. Wanted to embrace that she still wore them.

But you couldn't. You knew better.

Harsh tears rolled down your cheeks instead.

Your fingers were motionless inside her underwear.

"Please" whispered inside your ear.

"Then just decide!" Screamed inside your heart.

You were her puppet, and she was pulling, grasping at the strings. She was shaking your every limb, hoping you'd go exactly where she needed you to.

"Please, Ash..."

She didn't need to ask again, and you didn't want her to. Your fingers filled her. Your fingers easily slid inside.

For a single moment, you felt that familiar satisfaction. That pleasure in finding her beyond ready.

You were happy you still made her wet.

And then you cried because of it. You cried for being so selfish.

This wasn't about you.

So you made it about her. Everything for her. You pushed inside her. Just like you've always done. Soft and slow at first. Inching inside with nothing but love and care. Making sure your rhythm was built upon nothing else.

"Faster" she urged through gritted teeth as her hips thrusted into your hand, showing you she meant it.

It stopped you. It threw you. She wanted you to break her.

But you knew better.

You knew she wanted to break you more.

So you listened. You obeyed.

Because this was about her.

So you whimpered when she clawed at your back. You gasped when she bit your lips. You weren't surprised when you tasted the blood. You closed your eyes as she breathed harder.

And as she wept into your shoulder, you wept with her.

You hated how wrong this felt.

But you hated how right this felt more.

You hated knowing just where to touch. Where to kiss. How to maker her beg for more. You hated knowing just when to curl your fingers. Knowing exactly when she was begging for more.

Because this wasn't her. This wasn't who you knew and loved. She was different, yet everything you knew still worked.

And you hated it.

You hated that you caused this.

But what you hated most.

You were still the one, the only one, she needed.

She bucked against you. Strangled cries filled the air. Moans that once encouraged were now begging for more than just release.

They were begging for everything. Begging for the pain to leave her. For you to still be hers. For Clay to still be alive.

For life to go back to the way it was.

She was begging for the impossible.

It was you she was begging it from.

And for once, you did what you knew you should. You did what you knew was honest.

You held her tighter. Closer. You whispered in her ear, you whispered louder than you ever have.

"I love you Spencer. I love you so much. I love you. I love you."

It was your mantra. Your prayer. Your oath.

She was your choice.

And you wanted her to believe you. You needed her to.

But you knew better.

This wasn't about you.

This was about her.

So you gave her all of you. You gave her everything she needed.

And you made no promises.