Sometimes, he still takes that letter out.
And sometimes, he reads it.
But most of the time, he just stares at it until the words blur and the gray lines on the yellowed paper are the only things he can see.
It was the last letter she sent him.
It just so happens to be a wedding invitation too.
But he doesn't hold the wedding invitation until the lines blur.
He clutches the note that she sent with it as though she would come back if he stares at it for one more second.
Because in his dreams, she is there, smiling and standing and living and breathing.
And even though that is all she does in his dreams, he still knows they are better than reality.
He only sees her face in his dreams.
And he likes this better than seeing her entire figure.
Because if he saw that, there would be a ring on the fourth finger of her left hand.
And he can't bear to see that.
So he is happy when he sees her face and just her face when he dreams.
Because in his dreams, her face is there and if he tries hard enough, he can feel her breath on his face.
And this reminds him of times when they were sixteen and carefree.
Everyone around him still thinks of him as the young and carefree heart throb.
Except for Tawni.
Tawni knows he is miserable.
Because she is miserable too.
She was her best friend, and he was the boy who was in love with her.
He still sees Tawni every now and then.
She is still on the magazine covers, still smiling, still there.
And he knows it is cruel and heartless, but every now and then he'll think back and wish that those two would have traded places.
And then he begins to hurt, so he blocks the thought from his mind.
Because Tawni and Sonny hadn't traded seats in that car that night.
Sonny had wanted to drive and Tawni had wanted to sit back and relax.
And when Sonny was taking a turn, another car came around the bend and hit her side.
She died in less than twenty-four hours.
And he knows that he shouldn't think it, but he still wishes that Tawni had wanted to drive.
He doesn't have a chauffeur anymore.
He always drives himself now.
Because he tells himself that someday, he will be taking a turn and another car will come around the bend and hit his side.
And he tells himself, if he is lucky, he will be dead in less than twenty-four hours.
It hasn't happened yet.
Because he is not willing to cause a car crash himself.
Because he knows that Sonny was always a careful driver and she wouldn't want him to initiate a car wreck himself.
And because he knows that she would have wanted it, he always drives carefully.
But he always drives the car.
He is always the designated driver when he and a few people go for drinks.
And sometimes he'll see Tawni at that place that he and his friends are getting drinks at.
And he sees her smile for the camera and wave to her fans.
But he often wonders if he is the only one that notices the dead look in her eyes.
Sometimes, he wonders if others see that dead look and choose to ignore it.
But then he tells himself that of course they see it.
Because ignoring it is easier than confronting someone.
And sometimes he'll call Tawni or she'll call him and they'll talk about her.
They'll talk about memories of her or things they should have done with her.
Because now they can't do those things because she is gone.
And they never talk about the funeral,
Because it simply reminds them that she is gone.
And even though they know that she is gone,
It still hurts to be reminded.
But when he sees Tawni leave wherever she was at, there is always a chauffeur.
And he shakes his head and walks away to his own car,
Where he will drive himself home.
He hasn't been in a car that wasn't driven by him ever since she died.
Because he is still hoping that another car will come around the bend and hit his side.
And he is still hoping that he will die in less than twenty-four hours.
But that car never comes.
Or maybe he is driving too carefully.
He simply curses himself for his rotten luck every time he gets out of the car that he drives and thinks that maybe, if he is lucky, that car will be around the next turn he takes.
So he always takes the roads that turn.
And he always takes the long way to wherever he is going.
But the car doesn't come.
And every night, he gets out of the car that he drove and he goes to sleep,
Where he dreams of her face and only he face.
And occasionally, he will see her husband walking around the streets of Hollywood.
But only when he visits.
And when he visits, he doesn't stay for that long.
Because around every corner there is a memory of her.
And there is never another car hitting him when he takes those turns.
And he often wonders how her husband could stay there in Hollywood.
Because it hurts to see the memories.
And that is how he knows that Sonny Monroe and James Conroy weren't in love when they got married.
Because James Conroy can stay where he was and not see the memories every time he takes a step.
Whereas he had to move.
He moved more than a thousand miles away from Hollywood after the accident.
He doesn't regret it.
Why should he?
This way is better, he tells himself.
This way, he doesn't hurt as much every time he turns a corner.
But it still hurts.
Because he always turns a corner in the car, and he is still fine after doing so.
And sometimes, he'll have flashback about the accident.
He was the first person Tawni called when the accident happened.
One time, he and Tawni went to lunch together and he asked her.
"Why did you call me first?"
And Tawni Hart looked him in the eyes and that was when he knew that she knew.
She had always known.
And instead of answering that question with words,
She used something that he was used to.
And even though she never answered the question,
He knows why she called him first.
He remembers getting that call.
He had been in a meeting at the time.
He was never there for the ending of that meeting.
Because once he got that call,
He jumped up and ran from the room.
He got into his car and drove to the accident.
Speeding all the way.
He is still surprised sometimes about how he got to the accident without causing one himself,
Because tears blurred his vision the entire time he was driving.
And when he got to that accident, he saw Tawni outside of the car sobbing.
She hadn't told him how bad it was.
He ran to the car, and there was Sonny, he face pale and her hair limp,
And there was no blood rushing up to her face,
And he knew then and there that she was dying.
And then he, like Tawni, began sobbing.
And even though the car had bent around her, he worked and he got her out of that car.
And he didn't wait for the cops or for an ambulance,
Because they would get there too late.
And somewhere in the back of his head, he knew that he was too late too.
But he placed Sonny in his car and Tawni got in too.
They rode to the hospital, and he still wonders how he got there without crashing.
Because he was sobbing the entire time.
Tawni was sobbing too.
But he was speeding the entire time as well.
And when they got to that hospital, he picked her up bridal style and ran into the emergency room.
No one looked up at first; they were used to things like this.
To them, Sonny was just another girl who was being brought in by two people who was sobbing hysterically.
She was nothing new really.
That was, until he screamed.
Doctors ran out of rooms all over the place, because even though a dying person isn't anything new in a hospital,
Each one has a different case.
And just because of those two words, she was admitted into the hospital without a moment to spare.
He still wonders if he could have driven faster, if there would have been a moment to spare.
He knows it isn't likely.
But it makes him feel like if he is a bad enough person,
Maybe next time he turns a corner another car will come around the bend and hit him.
And maybe that time, if he is lucky enough, he will not make it through the next twenty-four hours.
But he always turns that corner,
And he always lives through the next twenty-four hours.
Sometimes, he will look through a box of things that he has left over from when she was with him.
And he will pull out cameras filled with pictures that he has not yet developed, because he knows that once he sees them developed, he will begin to cry and break down.
And he doesn't break down.
He will pull out a red visor that Sonny gave to him.
He still doesn't know why she gave that to him.
All she said to him when she gave it to him was,
"Because you check out your hair so much, you're like a girl that checks things out. You are an official Check-It-Out Girl."
And then she placed that visor on his head and ran away before she saw that he pulled the hat off before it could mess up his hair.
He will pull out a plastic rose whose plastic thorns have withered away over the year.
He gave that rose to her on their first date.
She smiled sweetly when se took it and thanked him with a peck on the cheek.
And they laughed and walked into a movie theatre.
He will pull out movie ticket stubs of shows that they went to go see.
He sees the pamphlets that they got when they walked into the theatre to see Phantom of the Opera along with The Lion King, Wicked, and Footloose.
She always did love the musicals, he thinks fondly as he moves things around in the box.
He found a sticky-note whose sticky-ness has long since worn off that has the number of their old favorite pizza place.
He will pull out a pair of sandals that she took off as they walked along the beach.
And he will not cry as he pulls these things from the box.
Because while the memories hurt, they are happy memories.
And the only thing truly sad about them is the fact that he will never experience another memory with Sonny.
But he tries not to think about that.
So he reaches into that box again and pulls out something else.
An Oscar she won for her performance in a movie she did.
Her old cell phone that she had lost the charger to.
A basket that they would take for picnics on the beach.
A recipe that she would make every now and then that makes the most delicious triple layer chocolate fudge cake.
He hasn't eaten that cake in years.
Not since she made it for him the last time she was over.
And he will shake his head of the memories and continue going through that box.
He found a video of them that they made with Tawni and Portland once.
They are all at the beach together and in the last moments of the video, they promise to meet back there in five years.
He remembers going back to that beach.
He remembers seeing Tawni and Portlyn.
And he remembers crying with them as they thought about the missing member that should have been with them.
They did a little memorial that night, even if it was a year too late.
They took a bouquet of her favorite flowers and lit them on fire in a small boat as they pushed them out to sea.
Her favorite flowers were white roses, because they looked so pure and innocent, like nothing could ever ruin them.
And he remembers her telling him that as he lit that bouquet of flowers on fire.
You were wrong, Sonny, he thought as those flowers burned.
White roses may be innocent and pure, but they can still be ruined.
He compares her to that burning bouquet of white roses sometimes.
Because she was so pure and so innocent it seemed like nothing could ever ruin her.
And just like white roses, she was innocent and she was pure, but she was still ruined.
As he went through the box, he found that burned and shriveled up bouquet of roses that he lit on fire.
And without a second thought, he places them in a glass of water and puts it on his dining room table.
Somehow, it gives the room a hopeful feeling.
And he knows that Sonny would have liked that feeling.
So he fills that glass with water now, and he doesn't know how, but those roses grew and bloomed.
And years later, they still stayed that way.
Tawni came by one time and saw the roses.
"They were her favorite," she said softly before exiting the room with tears running down her face carefully.
And he stared at the flowers for a moment longer before nodding and silently following her out of the room.
The next time Tawni was over, she brought her own bouquet of white roses to add.
As he continues going through that box, he found a notebook filled with sketches for So Random! that were never completed or never performed.
He gave that notebook to Marshal for a month or two, because even though Sonny had died, So Random! was still going strong.
Marshal had everyone get together and a month later, the cast had done all of the skits in a late memorial.
Portlyn and Tawni came over the night the skits aired.
They sat there and watched the screen.
The only sounds other than the television were the sobs escaping from each person's throat.
And he smiled bitterly when it was all over.
Cheers, he thinks as he drains the bottle from his lips.
And if he closes his eyes and concentrates hard, reality can still make it through his drunken stupor.
But reality hurts, he realizes and opens his eyes once again to the bright light.
He looks over to his right and sees Tawni wiping her eyes as she talks with a reporter.
He looks over to his left and sees James Conroy smiling while talking with a reporter from the same magazine.
And he looks away shamefully, knowing that chances are, he'll never be happy enough to smile again.
Because he's just not lucky enough to be happy.
He looks all around him, and every person, or so it seems, is talking with a reporter.
And even though he plays one of the biggest parts in the story, the reporters don't know that, so they don't ask.
There is a large podium on a stage, and someone is walking up to it to share a story about a well-loved person who holds a special place in everyone's heart.
That's what they all say.
And they are not lying, but they aren't telling the entire truth either.
They don't talk about how she broke a stress ball in half one time, because she was so mad.
They never tell anyone how she couldn't even write neatly while crying.
And they never, ever talk about how she cried herself to sleep on nights where she had given up on all hope.
But maybe they don't know about that, he thinks to himself.
And he walks out of the building, careful not to make eye contact with anyone.
And he walks until he feels he can't walk anymore, and then he sits down.
He walked a mile, but every step was lifted with a heavy heart.
He is sitting on a park bench, about to drift off into unconsciousness, when the bottle that he has been holding for more then an hour now slips from his hands.
The shattering of glass causes him to wake up with a jolt and realize what park he is in.
He is sitting on the same bench that he sat on when he first kissed Sonny Monroe.
And if he squints off into the distance, he can see Connor Studios.
And awakened by memories, he runs away.
Because it hurts too much to think about it.
He ran away from the park, just like he ran away from the five-year anniversary of Sonny Monroe's death.
He can't stand to hear stories of how much they all loved her.
Because they only talk about the moments that they loved her.
And they skip all of the moments that they were mad at her.
Because no one is every mad at a dead woman.
Except for him.
He is exceptionally mad at Sonny Monroe, even though she is dead.
Because he had to sit through that wedding, even after he had read that note.
And he had to congratulate her on getting married, even though he knew that he should have been the one standing next to her, receiving the congratulations.
And he wants to hate Sonny Monroe; he wants to hate her so bad.
But he can't, because he is in love with her.
And so he settles with being inexplicably angry with her now that she is dead.
She has been dead for five years now, and he just now realizes what the note that she sent with her wedding invitation means.
He stared at it for hours on end, willing for the letters to mean something.
But the words never changed.
And he never stopped staring.
But now he understands.
And he lifts his head up to the sky and smiles.
Truly smiles, for the first time since she has passed.
And he proceeds to laugh.
He is no longer angry.
Because even though she couldn't see it coming, she still saw it.
And as Chad Dylan Cooper laughs at the night sky, he pulls out a crumpled piece of paper that he carries with him wherever he goes, just in case he needs it.
Don't be angry, please.