Contest: Season of Our Discontent Anonymous Angst Contest
Title: Teardrops on Your Guitar
Picture Prompt Number:
8
Pairing:
Bella and Jasper
Rating:
M
Word Count (minus A/n and header):
9383

Beta: The Sparkly Red Pen's Her Mighty Ubergeekness

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): It's all I have left of you, this guitar and my memories. How I've stained it with my tears over losing you and living in my memories of us and the love we had. A love and life that was stolen from me, leaving me with only my teardrops on your guitar. This is my entry for the Season of Our Discontent Anonymous Angst Contest.

Warnings and Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters just the plot idea. The story my touch on sensitive issues of grief and loss and all the emotions one may have when experiencing them.

"Hello, baby, I don't know … I'm not sure why I'm even here today … except I was moving things and I found some more of your stuff and I missed you." I look down, trying to collect my thoughts. It has been so long—too long since I've been able to purge my feelings to you and I want, no, I need to do it right. I've had no one to confide in since you've been gone. You were both my best friend and partner for so long. I sigh before I lower myself to sit, placing the box and guitar next to me in easy reach. This could take a while at my rate, and with everything I wish to share I doubt my body would last long standing here.

"I mean … I always miss you, but this … I just wasn't expecting this. I was sure I had already gotten everything out of that room, but then … there it was—an old, tattered shoe box." I pause, glancing down at the box as I remember coming across it. I didn't even realize what was in it when pulled it down. I should have known—I mean, it wasn't a box from any of my shoes.

"I wasn't even thinking when I grabbed it. It was a good day … that should have been the first clue. I don't know what I thought was in it. Guess I just wasn't thinking much … at least not until I opened it." I can see myself in that room, in the closet; I had finally decided to clear out some of my old stuff. Stuff no longer needed or wanted, but stashed away from days past. I can already feel the burn in my eyes—I need to stay calm now. My hand drifts towards the guitar, lightly brushing it. It centers me, as it always does.

"Your sister and Aunt decided that I needed to be more social, as if I had ever been real social before. You were the social one. You always had a smile or a joke ready to share, never afraid to be yourself. You good nature always brought an ease to anything or anyone. Especially me." I can't go on for a moment as memories I try to keep at bay rush forward to try and overtake the walls that protected me. Images of us—our first date, kiss, our love—everything, good with the bad, flood my mind. I can see the memories of our child hood, playing games and you including me even though I was a girl. I can recall all of it so clear, the moment I realized you meant more to me than just my best friend, you were my first crush evolving into my first love and ending as my lover and companion. But sadly not my husband, not even fiancé. I wish it had been different, that I had realized how stupid it was to wait or fear that we were too young. I let the thoughts and actions of others fuel my worry of repeating my parent's mistakes and it cost me. Now I am alone, as I feared, and it is too late to change it. I know the box is the reason everything is surfacing so fresh and vivid in my mind. Seemingly without thought, my hands move the guitar to lean against me, and I can't help the bittersweet smile that it brings or the feelings of comfort it gives me.

"I … I let them talk me into donating for this damn garage sale. I know—as they so adamantly reminded me—I have lots of old stuff … clothes and books … my old junk that I've been meaning to go through and get rid of. All my old stuff from years ago … but not yours. I just can't seem to part with yours." It's the truth. I have thoroughly gone through our home—my home—packing up most of your things, moving them to a special spot in the house and my life. But some things I could never move from where you had left them. These objects have become a part of our house just as the scarred wooden side table or the mix matched furniture in the living-room. Items that you discovered and loved for their charm not value.

"That's the reason I was going through stuff and the reason I discovered the box. I'm not sure if I wish I had known what I'd find or not. I just wasn't prepared for it. I never knew you had all that. All those memories hidden, collected then carefully tucked away, for your eyes only to peak at whenever the mood hit you. I almost felt bad—like I was invading your privacy after I saw what treasures lay in the box." I look up, pushing my hair back—hair that you use to run your hands through. How I miss those hands in my hair, on my face—cupping my cheek lovingly before you kiss me. The same hands—your hands—that would strum this guitar, so graceful, surely, caressing beautiful notes from it for me.

"I still can't believe everything you kept in that old shoe box. You had stuff from before we were a couple. All the pictures of us—how happy we were in them. Pictures of us throughout the years—together or separate—some I had no idea had even been taken. I think you even stole some from our parents." I can't fight the smile on my face as I remember some of the pictures you had hidden in that box. Ones of me as a small child, looking like the child I know you had secretly hoped for. There was, of course, us at varies holidays, parties and other family events, not to mentions the random ones that someone snapped just for the hell of it. A whole collection of random images of our life as it was and I wish still could be.

"But even with all the pictures floating around in the box, as much as it hurt to see what was and remember what could have been, it was the envelopes that got me. Envelopes, holding things I had sent you or written you. Notes from high school or even the 'I love you' post-it I'd packed in your lunch for your first day at work, those were the things to break me. All the hope in our eyes plus the love I had, expressed in a tangible form, saved and locked away for you in a safe place." I can't stop the tears now, any more than I could the afternoon I discovered the box. The box. It just seems so wrong to think of it as just a box. It is so much more. It holds countless symbols of our life and love, hell even some of our tempers. Mementos reminding me of the fierceness we displayed in our love, in everything we were. We fought as strongly as we loved, neither wanting to be wrong or at least admit we were. There in the box, however, was proof of it all: pictures of us mad or happy or sad or just plain loving each other crazy, all tossed—no place, displayed, arrayed together in a real life collage of our life. With what is contained in it, the word "box" doesn't describe what it truly is. It was our life and so much more.

"It's almost like a stronghold of our … of your memories. Your treasure trove for all the important things you never wanted to forget. You even had the drawing I did and the corresponding picture of you with your old, beat up guitar. You were playing for me, just for me, as you loved to do when we were alone. I remember snapping the picture so I could later draw you just right, so afraid my memory would never do you or the beauty of you and this guitar justice—and I had to do you justice. There was just no other way; I wanted to capture the perfection that I saw within you, that I can still see. I never felt I did, but you, you loved anything I drew or painted." I sigh as I think of how you always encouraged me in my art as I would bask in the love I felt from yours. That's why I keep your guitar close to me—my tangible reminder of your love. I wipe my cheek as more tears fall. I know it's a fruitless attempt. I won't be able to stop crying yet, not until I get it all out. God, it's been so long since I was able to talk to you like this. Really talk to you about the chaos in my mind. That box—no, that symbol of us—has made it so I feel I can finally break free and talk with you like this. Confess my feelings—both of sorrow and love that I have for you along with all else I may need to.

"I still have your guitar. I keep close to me. I just … it just … I couldn't bring myself to pack it away. It just seemed so wrong, almost like I would be denying your place in my life, which is something I could never do. You were so big a part of my life; you still are. I also keep some of the drawings you loved up on the wall. And the scrapbook you made of my doodles of you and everything we loved, it's still in the living room. There are just some things I need to have even if others think it's unhealthy." I look away and out the window and my eyes lock onto the old tree within sight of this room. For a moment I let my mind slip back in time, and all I can think about or see when I gaze at that tree is you, guitar slung over your shoulders, carving our initials on another so like it. You loved it. It was your favorite. You use to sit under it and play your guitar, right under where you put our initials. If I squint, I can almost picture it. I can see you in the fading light, strumming your guitar—lost in thought, so focused on the music, and our initials above your head. I can see them clearly in my mind just as I can see you—as you were, as you should be.

"Baby, I brought the box and guitar with me today. I just wanted to look at them, hold them while I'm by you. Maybe I'll even try a few chords, though it won't sound the same. I remember a few of them that you showed me. Not many but enough to almost get lost in the sound again. It's been so long since I've been captivated by the sound or sight of it. I look at it, hold it almost daily but it's not the same, sitting there leaning against the wall, in a chair or even in my arms. It's never going to be the same without you holding it. But maybe, just maybe here, today in my arms, near you I can pretend that it's enough." I pull the guitar up to me and hold it, almost hug it as I long to do to you. After a second I shift it, still cradle it in my lap, and pull the box into my lap next to your guitar. I feel so close to you with it in my arms, like I'm almost holding you and it's been so long since I could hold you, really hold you; I can't part with that feeling yet. I don't know if I'll ever be able to part with it. It's one of my last links to you. A tangible reminder of how you expressed your love for me through music, such beautiful music and melodies lovingly plucked from its strings. I can almost feel your love again as I hold this time-worn, battered guitar. It's old; it was old before you but so much more know, almost as if the loss of your touched aged it more. I know it's that way for me. I always felt young and free with you but now, without you, I'm old and worn down, aged past my time. This guitar and I are old friends both left behind by you, missing you, your love, your caress.

"I wish I knew what made each of these items special to you. Here's us as kids laughing at something, I'm not even sure if we knew what it was at the time. What are we, like, twelve here? I see your joy, your smile as you laugh, and I can almost imagine the carefree sound. It was so pure and innocent. So free and joyous, floating around in the breeze, following me, comforting me in my innocence—my ignorance of what that sound would come to mean to me. I miss that sound. I long for it still, even after all this time. I can't help but hope, to dream that someday I may be lucky enough to hear it again. As unhealthy as that is, it still haunts me, in my waking and dreaming moments and all that lies in between. Is it wrong to want it, to crave it as I do air or food?" I glance up—looking hoping that maybe I could see your smile, even though I know I can't. It's not to be, but I wish and dream and hope. It's all that holds me together with you gone. These desires that threaten to engulf me and drown me in my sorrow are only kept at bay by my hopes that maybe someday, somehow, someway I'll get what I so dearly want.

"Let's see what else you have locked away from all others. Ah, yes, here's one I'd love to ask you about. Why do you have a picture of my first date? You wouldn't even talk to me before I left, so sure I was making a mistake by going out with him. Did I ever tell you I only did it to spite you? Yeah, you had her, so pretty and perfect and I … I was so jealous. I only hoped to invoke those same feelings in you by accepting his offer. God, were we stupid. Each with someone else while we longed for the other, jealous of what the other might be doing without us. We had some terrible fights because of those two. We wasted so much time fighting what we wanted. If only we had known … if only we had just … I don't know. Mom says I shouldn't live in the 'what ifs' but damn if I can help it." I watch my hand tremble as I search for the next picture I want. I stop and hug your guitar to me more closely, hoping it will calm me as it used to, but that was a calm I only found from your playing, or your touch—so sure, so warm. It was everything I thought home to be. You were my home, not him or anyone else. Only you could center me and bring a calm to the turmoil that raged in me when I let my emotions get the best of me.

"Is this—it can't be … how'd I miss it before?" I lift up a dried wildflower, and the tears and sobs over take me. I welcome the pain that I feel in this moment. It's better than the numb I live in daily. "You always called me your wildflower. I wasn't a rose or a tulip. You said they were too common, everyone used them. I was a wildflower, strong and defiant, making a place for myself wherever I wanted, even if there was none. Is this why you have this? You always brought me wildflowers, even had one etched into the neck of this guitar. You didn't think I'd notice it, did you? How could I not? I noticed everything about you and your companion. It's still there, worn and faded, almost rubbed away from yours and time's caress, but I can still make it out. I never told anyone and no one ever noticed, or if they did, they never mentioned it. It's still our thing." I hold the dried flower to my nose and close my eyes. I can smell the faint scent of it and it stirs up more visions of you—of us. You showing up on my door with a hand-picked array of wildflowers to say how sorry you were. It was the fight we had before my first date with him, our first big argument about them and relationships. We both were so angry for such different reasons, really it was just jealous coming out. I hated that she had you and believed she used you as the perfect accessory on her arm. You were so certain he was just using me. I believe you even tried to tell him he should just come out of the closet and not hide behind me. I was so anger at you, perceiving it as you viewing me undesirable to you and others. I was wrong, as were you, but we wouldn't realize it until later after we had experienced more of life which led us to many fights and apologies, my fondness still the first. Your guitar was slung over your back on the homemade strap I had given you. It wasn't much but you thought it fitting, as the guitar was a hand-me-down given to you by your dad. I remember how we talked and talked, eventually agreeing to not let them come between us. I had given you one of the flowers to keep with you, to remember as I would. Is this that same flower, from so long ago? I have one just like it that I would always pull out when we broke that promise and fought about them. Did you do the same? Pull it out to remind you, to remember what I meant to you? It makes me smile to think that maybe we had been coping the same way. Missing each other in the same manner, joined by our wildflowers as we stubbornly fought to prove we were right and the other was wrong. Is that why you put the wildflower on your father's guitar? Or was it to feel me close when I wasn't?

"That was the day you shared more of the mystery of your father with me. I remember him vaguely but I never understood him or your link with that guitar until then. How he gave it to you so you could express your own feelings without becoming all 'girlie'. How he used it to do the same and even used it to charm your mom. She looks at it every time she comes over. I think she's the only one to understand what it truly means to me and why I keep it out even though I can't really play it—not like you. I think she may have noticed the wildflower but only because she would be the only other one to know it so well. She's never said." I squeeze the guitar again as I think for not the first time how you must have planned as your father to give it to a child of ours, to pass it on to someone like you, someone wild and free, needing an outlet to express the swell of feelings inside before they drowned in them. I think that's why we worked for so long. Expressing our love and ourselves in our art, giving a glimpse into our minds—our souls with no boundaries or limits or constraints to stop us from seeing the true person underneath as only we could.

"I still draw, but I can't share them with anyone like I could you. I mainly draw you as I remember you, and I draw this guitar, as it is, missing string and all. I can't seem to bring myself to get it repaired. That was something you liked to do. Fixing it yourself, saying that it was your bonding time and no one else could fix it right. I think it was you bonding with more than this guitar. I think it helped you feel closer to your dad in the same way holding it helps me feel closer to you. It bonds us—links us together even though we can't be together. Its imperfections only add to the beauty I see, that was something you often said in references to me; you were convinced that what I saw as my flaws only added to my charm, drawing you in." I sigh and reach down to pluck at the strings, not playing but filling the silence with echoes of disjointed notes. I cringe as some of the tones play, knowing you must realize how out of tune it is. You were the last one to tune it right before … before … you left. It hurts to even think it but it's still true. You left. You left me. Whether you wanted to or not, you did, and now I am adrift, abandoned to exist in the world with only my memories and this guitar to remind me of you, of us. This guitar, linked to so many memories of us.

"So many moments in our lives, almost all of the big, important ones, involved this guitar somehow, someway. The day you finally decided to ask me out, we were sitting on my dad's back porch and you were just strumming random cords as I drew random images in my sketchbook. The afternoon you finally kissed me on the lips, I remember you gripping the neck of it so tightly, I thought you would break it. You wrapped your arms around me with it still in your hand, hugging us both as we embraced." I can't help but squirm in this hard seat as I think of some of the moments, memories of us as we advanced our relationship. I can feel my cheeks heating up as these memories rush forward. Memories I usually reserve for when I'm completely alone, alone in our room, our bed. I want to shy away from talking about them in case someone could hear but I fear this may be one of my last chances to relive these moments in your presence. With you, here, next to me even if you still feel so far away, so out of my reach. I slowly reach my hand out towards you, to grasp your hand. It feels so familiar yet different.

"I remember the song you played for me on the night we made love. I threw myself at you, begging, pleading with you to complete me as only I felt you could. How you tried to be a gentleman and dissuade me and convince me to wait. I was having none of that. I wanted you and only you in that way, no one else and I was done waiting. You tried to fight it but in the end could not deny me." I squeeze your hand as I remember our first sexual encounter with each other, our first time with anyone. You were just as nervous as I was and you were so sweet and gentle. It was the first time of many, for I soon discovered I had unleashed a monster, and only I could "sate the beast," as you put it. Thinking of the first time leads me to thoughts of what followed. I remember fighting against the odds to stay together but the distance college created worked against us. Our choices in schools were dictated by our need for scholarships, and unfortunately, the offers were from different schools in different states. Yet I think our biggest hurdle at that time was our pride and stubbornness. Neither of us wanted to ask the other to give up the opportunity they had earned. We tried at first to make it with the distance but the interference of others proved too much. With our hearts breaking, we split ways for a short time. I regret this time even if it was needed. It cut short the time I would have with you.

"I know you say I should regret nothing, not even our time apart. How that time seemed to be needed to help us grow and discover what was truly important to us, but you could never tell me you didn't regret some of your choices. I know you wish we would have never parted then. I know how hurt you were that someone else was there for me, that it was him. And how you regretted the pain I felt when I learned that she was there for you. How naive we were at the time." I think about them and how we never gave a thought to how they might feel about us together. We never expected them to find a way to come between us or to fight so hard to be with us. We were so wrapped up in each other that we never noticed them planting doubts in our minds about what could happen while we were parted. I don't think either of us even knew that they planned to go to the same schools as us. We never expected them to actively work to break us up thought it was our weakness that allowed them to chip away at us. For a short time their plan worked, but they never counted on the strength of our love and how it would, in the end, reunite us. I do regret hurting him and her. I never meant to, but it's you I love; I always have and will.

"You know, I saw him recently. He looks the same, though older. He asked about you. I was at a loss as to what I should say. I never know how to answer the questions or take the meaningless words of comfort that follow. Meaningless because they're not from you and you are the only comfort I want or need. Would it surprise you that he caused another fight?" I stop because I don't want to tell you but I will. I will never lie to you. I wrap my arms tighter around your guitar and seek out its calm as I remember the fight with my mom. It was intense, awaking not only my grief but stirring a fury I was surprised to see. I should have known though since the cause of the fight is not a new subject and I am angered every time someone pushes the issue.

"Mom decided that I need to move on—as if I can. As if it will be easy to move on from you and our love. She thought he was a perfect start and tried to set me up on a date with him. As you can imagine, it didn't go over well. I think I yelled at them both. She actually had him show up at our house. I don't know what she told him and I didn't ask. I threw them both out. I threatened to call Peter if he didn't listen. I think you would have laughed at the look on his face after that. He was scared. Not her though, she just ranted and shrieked about how I can't continue to live in the past. That night, I cried myself to sleep with your guitar lying in your spot on the bed. My hand clasping the neck of it all night as my heart wished and ached for you." I can feel the tears sliding down still just as they did then. My tears were not only from my pain but also from outrage that she would try to force me to move on from you—from us. She broke down my walls that night, leaving me helpless to my sorrow and rage. Emotions that stemmed from my grief over what had happened to us. For the all the time and the future that was stolen from us. I was once again filled with anguish that would not be quenched, all because my mother had this need to bend me to her will. It seemed as if I had never missed you more or the comfort and safety that you provided to me. I could feel my heart breaking all over again like it did that night—the night you left me. The night I lost you.

"I wish I could go back to that night and beg you … plead with you to wait. Just wait until the next day to go on errand to replace this lost string. The broken guitar string that reminds me of my heart—my broke, shattered heart that will never be the same without you. If only I had known. If only there had been some sign that danger lurked just around the corner that night. Maybe then you'd still be here with me—love me as only you can and do. Oh, baby …" I can't go on. I'm stuck in that memory. The way you looked as you told me you were running out to pick up a new string. How you kissed me and said you wouldn't be long. How your eyes twinkled in the light when you smiled and told me that you had some new inspiration to share with me and as soon as you had replaced the string I would need to take my sexy, sassy ass to the porch so you could share it. I can still remember looking at the clock wondering where you were, because it had been too long. I remember thinking that maybe there was something new that had caught your eye in one of the little downtown shops. I can still remember how the later it got, the more my stomach tied itself up in knots. How my heart began to ache.

"I remember the unreal feeling I got when someone knocked on the door. How scared I was suddenly. How the air seemed to thin and leave me gasping for breath in fear of who was at the door and why. I seemed to know that something was wrong and nothing would ever be right again, and I was right. My world has never been right or whole since I opened the door to see Officer McCarthy standing there. Who knew Emmett, the class clown, would become an officer and be the one to comfort me after delivering life altering new? It was news that would forever change my life." I tighten my grip on both your hand and the guitar as I remember the look on Emmett's face when he told me there had been an accident, that my father had gone to the hospital with you and sent him to get me, how I needed to hurry, as it was bad. I remember being so consumed by pain and fear that I seemed to be drowning in it. I was so distraught that I lock up requiring Emmett to all but carry me to the car and into the hospital. I don't think I took a breath until my dad told me you were alive. My heart, for the moment, convinced itself it could keep beating.

"I don't know if this is better than what I feared. I never wanted to lose you but I have, haven't I? I lost you even though your heart still beats and your lungs still breathe. I can still hear Dr. Cullen telling me you are alive but in a coma and that you may never return to me. How he said the longer you were under the less likely you would wake up. I don't remember much after that. I think I shut down. My memories seem to have holes and gaps in them for the next few days. It doesn't matter. You never came back. You never opened those beautiful blue-green eyes. Eyes that would give away the feeling inside of you—burning dark and almost steel blue if you were angry or glowing bright and soothing green when you were feeling mischief or just loving me, not to forget the way the blues and greens seemed to swirl when your passions awake or you just loved. I want to see them—your eyes in what every way I can besides closed."

I close my eyes. I want to see you as you were not as you are now—lying in this bed, unmoving, unchanging. I want to see you in the sun or the moonlight, laughing or playing this—your guitar for me—eyes shining with love and passion for the music and for me. I want to touch you and feel the way your muscles used to move under my hands—not the way you are now. You feel different as you wither away here, lost to me. That's what you are—lost, lost somewhere I can't go and can't seem to pull you from. I so want to be with you even if I must follow you but I can't. No one will let me wither away with you. As much as I try they fight and push and I live—live without you.

"But can I? Is that what this is … living? I walk around imitating the old me, when I am nothing but a shell of myself because I believe the driver hollowed me out the day he hit you. The day he stole you away from me—locked you away inside yourself. If you're even there still, inside. Are you there, locked inside, hearing me, unable to do anything to respond? Or are you gone, leaving me this vacant body that looks like you but isn't, to mourn you and miss you and wish you'd take me with you. Please come and take me with you. That's all I want. To hold you instead of your guitar, to hear you instead of others, to love you as I always have and will." I release your hand and clench mine into fist due to the resentment that starts to surface. I hate to bring these feelings to our time together. I don't want my bitterness over what has happened to mar the time we have or color my memories. I try not to blame you for abandoning me, I know in my head and deep in my heart you would never willingly leave me again. Still I can't help the bitterness or the hostility I feel when I am reminded of the man who caused this. Try as I might, I have yet to forgive him for driving while under the influence and destroying my happiness. I know I should and someday I probably will, but not today or tomorrow. Wanting to calm the storm that whirling inside me, I reach for you and brush your once silky hair from your forehead. Even this sends me warring emotions, it used to shine as a halo atop your head. You would tell me you weren't an angel but the devil when I said that, but you are my angel, with your own built-in halo. I miss running my hands through your hair as you play or relax against me. I miss so many things. Things we did or planned or that we will never do.

"I feel like I'm frozen here with you, unable to move on without you. And you know what Jasper? I don't want to. I never want to move on without you by my side." I stop as I hear the door to your room open. I can feel the eyes on me and I take a moment to wipe my eyes and compose myself before I look up to find a nurse in the doorway. I give her a weak smile as she looks on us with a look of sorrow mixed with pity. I loathe how they pity me the loss I suffer through and refuse to move on from. I abhor pity, especially being on the receiving end. I didn't want their concern because I know while they my express their sympathy, in the next breath they report any and all they see to your doctors and family.

"Ms. Swan, I am sorry to bother you, but visiting hours are just about over." I can hear the regret in her voice as she tells me. I remember her now, this is the nurse who has let me stay late before, so unlike the others. I suspect she would let me stay all night if she could. She's one of the few that, even in her pity of me, seems to understand I need to see you. I need to be close for as long as I'm allowed.

"Oh, I guess I let time get away from me … again. Can I have a few more moments to say goodbye before I leave?" I can't help the hitch in my voice at the thought of goodbye. The thought of leaving, of saying goodbye, hurts and frightens me. I never want to do either. Especially now that I know I'll have to wait to see you again due to our families limiting my visits though it's "for my own good," they say. What part of that being away from you is for "my own good"? I can't help but get pissed every time they intervene and spout off about needing to let go, moving on. What do they really know about what I am feeling; have they ever experienced this type of loss?

"Of course, sweetie. I don't want to rush you but I know the doctors will be making rounds in about thirty minutes, so just be sure to wrap it up before then." She smiles at me before turning and leaving us. I wait for her to close the door and glance at my watch.

"I only have a little time left. I wish I could stay with you forever but they won't let me. "It's not healthy," they say. I should move on, I should stop living in the past and accept that you will never open your eyes, but it seems to me if they truly believe that, they would stop visiting, too. They would stop waiting, too. Why must I be the only one to stop waiting, hoping that maybe just maybe you'll come back? What gives them the right to tell me, me, that I need to move on? I don't think any of them could move on from the loss I have suffered. From the loss of their other half—the other half of their heart, their soul—having it violently ripped away from them without warning or thought or care to how they will survive. No, they would stay just as frozen, just as locked inside as I am. Dreaming and hoping and reliving all the memories they have. Clutching on to any and all shreds of the past they had together and hoping to change the fate they were dealt. Fate. How I always use to think it was on our side but now I rail against it, asking, begging, screaming at it to change its mind about our future. What I wouldn't give just for one more day, one more hour with you awake and vibrant as you were before fate stole you from me." I stop and take a deep breath, clutching the guitar to my chest. I know I need to prepare to leave and it hurts and angers me all at the same time. It seems I am abandoning you here when I leave but that only infuriates me more—you left me first. Try as I might in all my grief, I still have some resentment towards you for not coming back. Logically I try to tell myself that if there was a way you would have, but my heart—it doesn't comprehend how you failed to find a way. I go around in circles, irritated at the whole affair of my fluctuating emotions. I want so much just to love you and not have these other feelings mixed in.

I need to pack up so I start to put everything back into your treasure box and close the lid, hoping the simply action will stop my train of thought. To further help distract me from my unwanted thoughts, I ponder where would be a good spot in the house for this—your memories. I want to honor them as you honored me with them. And I do feel honored that you made a box of memories of us. That you loved me so deeply and so hard that you wanted to keep these items to remind you of us.

"I love you just as deeply … just as hard. I will never forget our love, no matter what may come. My heart will always be here, locked away with you in this room for no other to touch or have. You are my forever, Jasper. Even if we never have our forever and I never have your name or child, you are still it for me. If this is all I have then I will take it and wait for the day the time that fate decides to grant me one of my requests, to be with you either awake or wherever you are. I wish I could follow you there. You've never left me behind like this, never went were I could not follow. I still don't understand why I can't come with you. I want to so badly. I don't feel like I am living without you. I don't feel like I can or want to go on, but I will because you made sure to leave people here that will force me to. You made sure that someone would always take care of me whether I want it or not. Peter and Charlotte do, along with your mother." I wipe my cheeks as the countless tears stream down. I need to stop since my vision is blurring and I want to see you clearly before I leave tonight. I want to look at your face; it almost looks like you did when you would sleep next to me. I want to pretend that is what you are doing—sleeping in our bed while I leave to go somewhere. I wish I could. Pretending wouldn't hurt like this. Pretending pushes back all the unwanted sentiments, whether they be my feelings or what others view I need. If only I could always pretend.

"Don't worry … I have a hotel room for tonight. I'm not driving back home until tomorrow. Your mom is the only one that knows I'm here today and she insisted on the hotel. I couldn't say no to her. Not when I know she understands my need and only wants to protect me in case … case you ever come back. She's the only one to really understand my loss and pain. She's the one to let me get away with more and to make the others leave some things alone. I think she's the only one to hope as much as me. She wants her baby boy back. I think she wishes we would have had a baby so that I had something other than my memories to keep you with me. She told me how you and Char were the reason she made it through losing your father. She had you guys and you needed her. She said it helped keep him alive to her, too. Making sure you remembered him and his love. I wish I hadn't been so stubborn. I wish we would have slipped and I had your child—a small little child with your eyes, grin, or even your laugh. Just some part of you locked inside a small person created of our love. I think that's one thing I regret the most." I remember how I told you I wanted to wait. How I couldn't see myself being ready for a few years. You, of course, understood and never pressured me, even as you longed to marry me and start our family. I hate that I put it all off for so long—too long, and now it's too late. Why didn't I give in? My reasons from then seem so trivial now. Who cares if we were young or had to struggle and put off upgrading things? I thought we had all the time in the world to do everything, to marry and have kids, but I was wrong. Now I have missed my chance for it, and I can never see wanting that with anyone but you.

"I guess I'll just be there for Charlotte and Peter's kids. I make sure they know about the wonderful uncle they're missing. I will make sure you always live in every one's memories and thoughts no matter what. I will never let anyone forget who you were. How loving … how kind … how much you mean to me still. Jas, I've got to go now and as much as it hurts to leave you, I'm going to head out before the doctors find me still here. God only knows what they'd do this time." I pause trying to clear the anger that arises with this. I don't want to cloud my goodbye with thoughts of ire with our family. I don't like to dwell on our disagreements here for this place is for us and I loath to taint it with added drama. I prefer to focus on us.

"If you are here and hear me, please know that I'm thinking of you even when I can't be here. That I will visit again soon. Well, as soon as I can. I can't make here as much as I'd like and I think that's one reason they insisted your mom move you here instead of closer to home. I think they feared I'd live in your room if you were close enough. I'll try and get away again next weekend or the one after. They keep me busy if they know I have any free time. Don't worry though; your mom will rein them in if they get too wild about it. She knows how much I need to make this trip even if I'm sad and withdrawn afterwards. I miss you more after being here. I can't help it. It's like a joke or someone teasing me. I get to see you and even touch you but not really." I sigh. Not really at all. I miss you more afterwards because I can't help but relive our time together or think of our love or the things I can never have with you. It hurts but I have learned to deal with it and will take what I can get. I look at my watch and know I need to leave. I stand and lean over you to whisper my love. It is only for you.

"Goodbye, Jasper. I love you more than anything in this world. I'm here waiting just in case you can find your way back. Always, baby, always." I place a lingering kiss to your cheek and breathe you in. It's not the same, though. You feel and smell different, even though I make sure they use your shampoo and shaving cream. I make sure they have all the same stuff you used to use. I can't help but buy it like I always have. With a last glance and a few more tears I walk out of your room and head to my car clutching your guitar and treasures to me. I pass the kind nurse who always gives me extra time. I think she knows the family likes to limit my visits for my own good. I think she knows, like your mom, how much I need to see you, be near you if only for a little while. It's the only think keeping me going.

I make it to my car and gently place the guitar and box in the passenger side before I climb in. I sit in the dark parking lot for a few minutes and let the tears fall as they always do. It's become a ritual after every heartbreaking visit to cry, alone in my car, before leaving. This is my way of staying safe for you or at least not causing anyone else the grief I feel. I don't think I would survive if I caused someone else to feel this pain—this heartache and loss of someone so dear to them. So I always spend time to cry and calm myself before I drive to anywhere. I reach over and lightly run my fingers along the guitar. I can feel my tears slowing and a calm settling over me. I will wait until I'm safely in my room before I break down completely. Alone with no one to stop me or worry—I will cry until I can cry no more or I pass out from it. I will purge myself of my pain and anger of leaving you here before I go home and pretend to be healing. That's what I live now. Pretend to live without you. I will smile and laugh but never as I did with you. It will always sound off or hollow to my ears without your tone next to it—harmonizing it.

With these thoughts, I slow pull out of the lot and head to the hotel. I have a date with my pillow and your guitar. I might even open the box again and relive some more of our memories and life while I can in solitude—without prying eyes that watch me waiting for me to break and do something stupid. Eyes that enrage me in their need to control my moods and how I deal with them. They are mine, my feelings and I should not have to hide them to appease anyone of my state of mind. It irritates me that they watch my every move, waiting to see if I am healing on their terms. I am exasperated by their constant scrutiny me and the very thought they have that I am unstable and would risk doing anything when there is still hope, even if slight, that you could come back to me. It's a risk I will not take. I will not leave you alone to fend for yourself in this world with no hope. I at least have hope. No matter how small or impossible it is, I still hope that someday I won't feel this desolate, lonely pain of being without you.

Before I know it I find myself in the room with the guitar, curled up alone. Alone with my thoughts, alone with my memories of you and us and the love we shared—still share—even if you can't be an active part of it. I know and can feel it in my heart, in my soul that we are still connected and you still love me. It's one of the few things that keeps me going in the half-life I'm condemned to live. As I lay here, alone with my only true companion—your guitar—I let the tight hold I have over my pain and emotion go. I no longer have to hide my pain, my sorrow. Or my rage, even if it's only for tonight. Tonight—as any night after our visit—is my night to just let the emotion, the pain drown me. Tomorrow I must once again pretend that I'm surviving and living. I must put on the mask of careful numbness for our friends and family. Here I can embrace the pain and the outrage I feel for it all.

I cry, curling myself further into myself, hugging the guitar closer to me, as I let the pain and feeling of sorrow envelop me. Sorrow that I must once again leave you here, away from our home away from me, when all I want is to take you with me. How I wish I could bring you home. It's seems so unfair and unjust that I must leave you and this leads to the rage underneath. My hearts is torn between the sorrow of leaving and anger of you leaving me. It seems so wrong to feel any anger but I do. I have a deep burning fury at that I can't control or rationalize about this. I am pissed at you but also myself for letting you leave that night. I should have insisted that you wait or gone with you. You didn't have to go that night, you could have stayed home and saved us all from this. I roll into my pillow and scream my frustration and anger. I let it all out and then I am left with the guilt I feel for blaming you and for going on. It leads me to cry for everything that we cannot have and everything that we did. I cry until exhaustion takes over and I sleep. And dream—dream of what I wish for, hope for and want the most—you awake and with me again. I see you in my dreams not as you were, not as you are now but as I know you could have been. I dream of our wedding that will not come, of the children that I will never carry, and of growing old together. And here, in my dreams, I am again happy and free. Oh, how I long to stay here where I can be in your arms again.

With the raising of the sun and my blaring alarm my dream world ends. My dreams and hopes for us fade to only a memory and deep longing. I allow myself a few minutes to try and remember my dreams before they drift away like smoke on a breezy day, there to taunt me as if I could garb them and hold them to me but only to slip through my arms, through my fingers before I can latch onto them. All too soon I drag myself from bed and prepare for the trip home. I use this time and the time in the car to once again reconstruct my mask to hide my pain and my annoyance that I must once again pretend for others. It is aggravating to always put forward this mask for them, but if I want to avoid fighting, I must.

Before I know it, before I feel ready to, it's time to leave. Leave you in this town and return to the life I'm forced to endure without you. Without you there to hold me, love me and share our life. I live without you there to come home to, to care for, to love as I so want and need to. Instead I go day by day without my heart, my love, with only the reminders of them to comfort me.

As I drive home, leaving you behind in this city, I feel as if my heart slows to a stop the further I get from you, leaving me … leaving me alone and dead inside with nothing. I am alone without you and only feel alive with you. The closest I get to feeling anything while away is when I hold your guitar, and as sad as it is, I will live this way. I will live alone. I will live this way, your guitar and I, with the hope that maybe we can have more. Until then, it continues as is. I will visit and love you and seek my solace from the guitar. Your guitar.