a/n: this oneshot is dedicated to Maddie (fractured fairytales) for introducing me to this book & for being so amazing.
I don't own anything.
Also, I tried to write it in more American lingo - not spelling, however - so hopefully I succeeded!
note - It starts off in 1st person, until she dies, when it switches to third.
Life is short; life is something fragile and beautiful and something that, in the blink of an eye, can be gone. Even with me...I may have had a chance to relive my last day seven times, a chance to realise just what I have screwed up over pretty much my entire high school experience, but it still ends suddenly. One minute you're here, the next you're gone, on your way to wherever death takes you - and that moment of death is the same for everyone. Be you prepared for an event that ends you as you currently are forever or not, you and I are similar in the way that that moment is sudden and frightening and everything that can't be quantified into words.
It may be my mission to save both Juliet and myself tonight, by any means possible, yet I cannot guarantee anything; I cannot guarantee that I will save Juliet, or that I will be able to save myself at the same time, and so there needs to be a contingency plan. Just incase tonight is my last night, that I will finally have done enough to lift this repetition of these final hours and move onwards to wherever I go - be it with Kent, continuing my life, or wherever the dead go - and just let go.
And if not, well, I guess I'll have a chance to win back the people I love another time, another chance to try and explain to my parents that I love them and Izzy more than anyone else in the world, that I'm sorry for being such a bitch to them for four years.
And then my friends: my beautiful friends who are all flawed - for they're only human, no matter what is said about them (us) by those lower classmen - and yet have no idea what is coming. Only I do. Only I, who has lived through this so many times previously, know that, in the end, sacrifices will be made and lives will change.
And Kent. Already today, I've basically brought him back to me, as though the past seven years are merely memories, and, if I don't make it, I'll be leaving him again.
But, this time, it'll be forever.
I don't mean to sound as though I'm pivotal in every person's life, that every single person will be unable to function without me in their life: that would be selfish, egotistical - everything I've realised I've basically become since I tried to up my social standing. But I'd like to hope that there are people who will be affected by my death - if I die - and these people need reassurances further than the meagre offerings of today, the few words - or actions - that have been wholeheartedly felt on my behalf, yet may have left them flummoxed. They need to know that I love them, to have some part of me that lingers forever, a relic of methat doesn't make them cringe or wonder if I've meant what I've said.
I sign my name at the bottom of each letter, each part of my soul I've left for my friends, my family, Kent - even Juliet, to tell her it's not her fault, though I've set hers aside incase it's read and people assume these letters are suicide notes, my attempts to make myself feel better before I end my life.
In a way, I suppose they are: there is a chance that I could die, this time for real, and I want that to happen, to end this endless cycle of nothingness. So, in an aroundabout way, they could be deemed suicide notes...
At the top of each letter, besides Juliet's, I write the date as eighteen months ago, a time when I was ill and fearful that I wouldn't make it through pneumonia; it would make sense to have them from then, right? And it's not as though my Mom has been in my room to find them, so it should work.
Let's face it: it's worth a shot, to let them all know I love them, that Sam Kingston wasn't as big a bitch as people evidently thought.
And if I don't die and I repeat this day again, well, I know what I'll write.
Sam Kingston no longer exists: she lies in a coffin of soft ash, one lined with purple (it had been her favourite childhood colour, the only thing her parents could remember as they had to plan the funeral of their eldest child) velvet, in stark contrast with the cream coloured dress she's dressed in. And then there's Sam herself, the teensiest hint of colour in her cheeks artificial (for who would let this girl be buried without make-up?) and, to little Izzy, she looks like Sleeping Beauty.
She's more stunning than she ever was alive, people recognise with a heavy heart - because, in death, they all remember that she died for Juliet Sykes, that she could have just let "Psycho" die...but she didn't. And as she saved Juliet's life, hers was taken. All this sacrifice has meant is that every negative thought anyone has had about Sam Kingston, about how she apparently thinks (thought) she is (was) better than the rest of them, is erased. All anyone remembers is the fresh faced middle schooler, the one who rode and knew everything about horses; how they took their feeds at varying times of the year; at exactly which spot they desired to be rubbed to alleviate the itch; what they wanted from her - for her to allow them to let rip and jump higher and faster than their trainer would, because she loved them.
And yet here she is, lying in a coffin in a church close to what was her home, rows and rows of people here to say goodbye to Sam, to pay their respects to the unlikely heroine: after all, how many popular girls do what she did, especially for someone as far down the "pecking order" as Juliet?
(Then again, none of them know about the repetition of her final day, about how many different ways it happened, until it finally happened the way it was supposed to.)
There's a crystal clear feeling of genuine sorrow in the air as the vicar delivers his sermon about how this vibrant young girl will be missed, and that she was unique.
(He doesn't recognise that every single person in the front five rows at least thinks that she was a stunner, that she was something more special than anyone could dare to label, and that to miss her is the greatest understatement of the century.)
Tears stream down faces, cascading, shimmering rivulets making tracks down once perfectly make-up covered cheeks - and yet not one single person tried to rub them off. They're the signs of emotion, of sympathy, of pain...and of loss.
There's a brief pause as the vicar finishes his sermon and casts a searching glance down at Sam, his heavily lined eyes unseeing as he tries to process just what has happened, just how this girl could have died after doing something so great for someone who needed it so desperately.
Then her Dad stands up, his tall frame hunched over in grief as he straightens a semi-crooked tie and sorts his hair (he knows she would never have forgiven him for standing at her funeral looking like a mess...or so he thinks) before stepping onto the raised area, removing a wad of paper from his pocket. Red rims circle his eyes, the haunted look of a man who has lost everything and nothing at the same time, lingering in his eyes; even as he unfolds the paper, his hands shake, sending shivers through his upper torso as he tries to keep things together enough to say his piece. He doesn't dare look down at the body - she can't be a corpse; she just can't- of his eldest daughter for fear of sending him over the edge, so he focuses on the grainy wooden door at the back of the church, internally counting as many indentations as he can manage to see. As he does, he speaks the words he has prepared, a heavy, monotonous tone used to say the words he feels so deeply, because she's gone and he doesn't know how to convey that his little Sammy is no longer around.
"The other year, we almost lost Sammy," he manages to say, tears glistening in his eyes as he finally tears his gaze from the back to look specifically at the front row. "She was sick, which seems ironic now, since we were sure she would die painfully, when it was actually...quick. But our little girl surprised us...she didn't want to hurt us, you see, and she wrote us letters before...before, when she wasn't sure if she would make it. I have them here, one for everyone in her life that meant anything to her." His voice shakes as one hand moves to rest on the podium, the other raised with the envelopes in his hand.
Silence greets him, even from those who he is evidently referring to: Lindsay and Ally and Elody, the people who almost were her family at the time Sam apparently wrote the letters. And yet Kent sits still, his entire frame taut because why would he get a letter, when she only apparently 'realised' they were perfect for one another mere hours before she was ripped from him? Back in junior year, she ridiculed him, called him everything...so why would he, the love of her life, get a letter?
(It's not fair.)
"I have a letter for...Lindsay...for Ally...for Elody...for Izzy...for me and her Mom...for the staff and students of Thomas Jefferson...and for Kent McFuller," her Dad stumbles through, almost unable to continue, as though the reality of the situation has hit him suddenly. Sam is never coming back. These letters are the last thing they have of her.
There's confusion all through the church as to why Kent got a letter, when Rob, whom she had crushed on for years prior to their relationship, didn't. But Kent doesn't care; all he's bothered about is that Sam left him something to remember her by, something that could contain anything...but it's from her. He realises he couldn't give a toss if it has hate words or anything like that in it - she evidently gave a crap about him back then (apparently) to write him something.
There is a consensus of confusion as the four seniors make their way up onto the stage, heads bowed as the sombre attitude of their dark, oppressive clothing seeps into the atmosphere: black, the colour of mourning, the colour that shows you cared about someone so deeply that you need to show the world these feelings. It shows that someone you loved has died, has left you in the world without them now - possibly all alone.
The bright lights on the stage send rainbows from Kent's glasses, dancing patterns of fragmented light moving as he approaches towards his one time best friend's dad at the head of the pack. In his wake are Sam's new best friends (new compared to him), Lindsay, Ally and Elody, identical grief stricken expressions adorning their bare faces. Evidently, the knowledge that their saying really didhave meaning, that their friendship has to continue to the grave of one of their own, has hit them hard.
Sam's Dad stands still, his gaze focusing on the fourteens advancing towards him as he hands out an envelope one by one. The one for the school, he leaves on the podium, a thin envelope with her writing recognisable to anyone. When all four have theirs, he nods slowly and takes a glance to the side at his daughter, her body positioned as though she could be sleeping.
"Goodnight, darling, watch over us all," he murmurs into her fringe, his lips pressing to her ice cold skin as hot tears drip onto her face. Then he takes his leave, clutching the last two letters with as much force as he can, for fear that to loosen his grip would allow someone to take away Sam from him and his family - forever.
There's a continuing silence as the four teens consult one another, the social rift filled in because of where they are - after all, they're here for Sam, to pay their respects to the girl who filled all of their lives, just in different ways. But, as their eyes meet, they realise that they're the same, at least for this moment, because not one of them is more important here. And so, each nodding at one another, they slip the envelopes into their hands and hide it behind their body, wishing these words to be kept private, just them and Sam. Yet they continue to stand on the stage, staring out to the audience - of whom can barely fit into the church - and trying to find the words they want to say to explain their emotions at the last time they will see this girl's body. It's hard; each of them swallow lumps in their throats and have to continually wipe their eyes to be able to see where they're supposed to be looking at, before Kent finally takes the plunge.
He steps forwards to the podium, one hand resting on the envelope on there for the school, as he gathers his thoughts into a semi-coherent arrangement.
"I've known Sam for, God, over a decade. More, in fact...she was my best friend and, at a time, my greatest hero - heroine - of all time. We didn't speak through most of high school, something which rips me apart ever since she told me she loved me...that she loved me, merely two or so hours before she died. This girl is special, someone who will remain in my heart always, and I need to let you all know that I love her, Sam, as much as she loved me, if not more. Thank you." For the briefest moment, his eyes lock with Sam's parents, desperation and despair shining through clearly, and they all realise that they're grieving in the same way - completely and utterly, entirely consumed by grief.
His eyes drift to the side, right where shelies, and the breath catches in his throat: even in death, she's beautiful, striking - someone whose face will never leave his mind. He has an image of her laughing in his mind, cheeks flushed with colour and her mouth displaying pearly white teeth, and here's his final memory of her, something that will both comfort and haunt him for the rest of his life.
As it will haunt them all.
Late that night, simultaneously across town, five letters are opened. Izzy saves hers for the morning, instead twirling the necklace Sam gave her around and around in her fingers, trying to understand just what she could have missed out on knowing from her big sister.
Downstairs, her parents slit open the envelope, the room dimly lit by candlelight and they read as much as they can before their eyes are too obscured by the tears that haven't stopped since that night.
Dear Mom and Dad
I'm writing this incase I'm not around to tell you this, incase the end comes. If it doesn't and you find this, stop reading now.
If I am dead, then sorry for all the grief I'm causing you guys and Izzy; I didn't mean to, and I would much rather be with you.
I wish that I could verbally tell you how much I love you guys, rather than have to write it in a letter. You mean more to me than I think you know - definitely more than it looks like you do since I've behaved like such a bitch for so long now. You're the best parents I could ever ask for, saints for putting up with me, and thanks for being my parents. I'm sorry for dying and leaving you to deal with everything and I just want you to know that I'm going to miss you more than anything, wherever I am.
Love you forever and always
Her parents exchange a glance, barely able to see one another through the mirage of tears, and somehow manage to twist their lips into a semi-smile.
Their fingers entwine as their other hands stroke the piece of paper. "She hasn't left us, not really," her Dad mutters and, in this moment, the pair of them realise that Sam will always be with them.
Lindsay, Ally and Elody sit in the Tank, the shotgun seat left open for Sam, and open their letters at the same time.
"Dear Lindsay," Lindsay starts slowly, none of the usual eloquence to her tone, "I'm going to miss you so much if you are reading this now."
Elody frowns slightly, recognising this in her own letter, and continues onwards from where Lindsay paused. "Forgive me for writing the same thing to the three of you - something I'm sure you're aware of since you're probably sat together - but you all are my best friends...I don't love any of you more than another, so I decided to just write you the same thing."
"So Sam," Ally whispers, smiling slightly for the first time since before that night, before continuing with the reading, "I love you all more than you know. I'd tell you this to your face every single day, but I know you'd wonder what had gotten into me."
Lindsay takes over again, wiping her eyes furiously as she tries to read the words on the paper. "You make my days, with our mottos and hatred for Starbucks and everything that makes us the four best friends."
"Guess I'm gonna have to ask you guys to carry out the last part of our motto," Elody murmurs, her fingers following each word along the page, until the sentence comes to an end.
"Love you forever and always, Sam." as she finishes reading it, Ally bursts into a fresh bout of tears, twisting her free hand into a ball, for how could she destroy the last thing she has from Sam? Her chipped nails tighten around the letter, but they don't rip it or tear it or do anything to the paper.
After a few moments, they all realise they have a personalised PS at the end. And though none of them seem to fit the time the letter was written, none of them care - because it's from Sam...and that's all that matters.
To Lindsay: you're more than beautiful the way you are. Go eat a burger and a bunch of TCBY for me.
To Elody: no glove, no love, babe!
To Ally: Matt's too good for you.
"Guess she's not really going anywhere, is she?" Ally smiles ever so slightly. "We're always going to have our Sam Kingston."
"Amen to that."
He twirls his letter in his fingers, wondering whether or not to open it - does he allow his memory of her to be tainted by hateful words...or does he open it, and realise that the real Sam is always going to be remembered in his heart?
He decides to open it, if merely to sate his curiosity as to why she would write to him in her junior year, when they didn't speak, though he knows the real reason is that he needs to cling onto her as much as possible. To ignore her last written words to him - because he can't just rely on that rose, can he? - would be a sin, something that would justify her being taken from him, justify Sam&Kent becoming just Kent.
And so the envelope rips, his uncontrollable emotions leading him to become impatient, and the letter falls out, mirroring the fall of an angel.
(The fall of Sam.)
He's entranced by the way that it floats down to his desk, how it flutters and folds and turns to do anything but be laid to rest...or, rather two letters are inside. For a moment, he doesn't understand - why would she write to him twice? - until he reads the name on the perfectly creased piece of paper notbelonging to him.
It makes sense in less than a second, his confused brain making the leap from confusion and questioning, to comprehension and filling in gaps that he didn't perhaps need to figure out. She trusted him enough to pass a letter onto Juliet without questions, trusted him enough not to read it (he thinks) and he's not going to let her down.
With trembling fingers, he unfolds his own letter, wondering whether he'll be greeted with words of hate, or the off chance that there may be words akin to what she said that last night, on there.
I'm going to miss you more than anything, if you're reading this letter. We've not been close in a while, which is all my fault, and I'm sorry for that. They say high school changes you, and it's changed me for the worse; I didn't mean to be so nasty - it just sort of happened, something I regret.
You're the greatest guy there is, you know, and I wish that I could tell you every day that I love you. I'm not sure if I'll have been able to tell you how I feel before I died, so know now that I wish that we had been together always; we'd have been great together.
Don't ever change for a girl - nobody who wants you to change is good enough for you, since you're perfect the way you are. I just wish that I'd told you this before, and indeed realised it sooner, because we would have been so happy together. I know it in my heart.
Love you forever and always
He wipes a tear from his eye and takes a second to wonder how they got to where they ended up, when they were once so close. The maturity in her words almost astounds him, almost how ready and prepared she is to die, and part of him wonders whether the letter really was written back in junior year, given it sounds more like the Sam of 12th February, than any other Sam. But he quashes this side of him, knowing better than to doubt the dead - especially the dead girl who has just told him, post-humously, that she felt the same way he did (does) since forever.
There's a postal script at the bottom of the letter, seemingly hastily added, and he's left wondering what this suddenly sprung connection is between Sam and the girl she died for - Juliet. He's never really gotten to know her, but he's beginning to wonder whether or not he ought to get to know her, if merely to discover whySam died for her.
Can you please give the letter to Juliet? Please? You're the only one I can trust not to read it. Xxx
It's as he thought; she trusts him enough to pass on the letter without reading it – and, because that's what she wants, he'd never dare break the confidante with a dead girl.
"Sam Kingston was someone unique, someone special and different...and there was no way that we could open this letter she bequeathed to us all, without the entire school being present," the principal announces in the school hall the day after the funeral, having been unable to resist any longer as to what Sam could have wanted to say to the school.
The school sits silently, waiting on tenterhooks that none of them want to admit (how bad would it look to admit you want to know what the dead girl thinks?), as the envelope is opened.
"Hi, everyone who is listening to this letter being read out in assembly. There's not much I want to say to you all, other than to just accept people. There's no point in the cliques I know I was part of; it's just another thing that causes pain to people. I know that you'll probably listen to me for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, but you're going to go back to normal." The principal pauses for breath, looking at how his students are reacting; all of them look as though they're actually absorbing these few words, as though they mean something greater than if an adult said them.
"Just remember me, as you pick on another kid for being different. Remember how I used to be like that and then I turned popular. I just want people to be happy. Oh and you're a pretty cool school, just so you know. Love Sam. Ps, sack Mr Daimler, he's a paedophile. And check out what's happening in the gym office every now and then; it opposes the rule on page 69." One glance left at his vice-principal confirms that what the girl has said is true, as simple as this, what with the blush colouring her cheeks, and the whisperings in the student audience about what Sam could mean begins instantly. The words need not even sink in and they're already gossiping about whether or not it's true.
Kent sits just behind Juliet, her hair tied back and hidden under a hat that no teacher can bear to enforce her taking off; she insisted on coming to school to hear Sam's letter - it would be wrong not to, given what happened.
"She wanted me to give you this," he whispers into Juliet's ear as he leans forwards, not bothering to say hi or even pretend that they're close buddies. In his hand is the folded piece of paper, outstretched for Juliet to take, even as she jumps high in the air.
"But...but...I thought she wrote these back in junior year," Juliet replies, thoroughly confused as she turns to look at Kent.
All he does is smile, continuing to proffer the letter. "This is Samand what she does...well, you can never be sure."
In a daze, she takes the letter and unfolds it at the same time as the principal finishes his speech about how Sam will be so missed.
All it says: you deserve it. Don't regret it, ok?
And she is the only one who could know what it means.
Tonight, things will look as though they've gone back to normal: the Kingstons will dine and Izzy will ask silly questions and want to read her letter; the three friends will go to TCBY and order their usual; Kent will sit in his room and work on cartoon drawings, all of which (as always) are dedicated to Sam.
The only difference is that, no matter how hard they try, the void left on their lives by the loss of Sam will linger: her Mom will call her for dinner; Lindsay will text her; Kent will write her an email and then delete it prior to sending.
They're all going to suffer without her...but maybe, just maybe, they'll make it through.
an/2:I'd appreciate it if you didn't favourite without reviewing.