Audrey stood up, offering her hand to Jared who easily pulled himself up. He was still so weak, shaken by the agony the truth had wounded him with. He saw nothing and yet everything around him. He was painfully aware of Hannah’s body in the chest. He was aware of his brother, Emma, and Audrey’s need for vengeance. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying hard not to think, trying hard to just let it pass him by. He wanted peace, needed it, yearned for it. He knew though that this wasn’t the place. Would there ever be a moment of peace left for him? Did he ever have a chance for freedom from this restricting pain?
“Jared, you have to do it….and soon. They’ll know you’ve escaped the hospital and this will be the first place they’ll look.” Audrey persisted, her words hasty and nervous.
Jared opened his eyes, the wide blue of them glancing at her. He gave her a nod. “I’ll do it.” He simply replied.
Shannon felt Emma’s hand tighten on his arm and he felt something constrict harshly in his chest. He knew it would come to this, why was he so afraid? Was this what Hannah had felt? This dull ache in the core of his soul that told him death was near? Was this the pain she had felt when she had laid there bleeding out? No it had been worse for her because she had done nothing at all to receive such an end. This was expected. This was deserved.
“Wait for me outside.” He stepped closer, his words but a breath coming from his lips. He locked out the knowledge that Hannah was dead behind him and instead focused on the glimmer of familiarity he saw in her eyes. “Hannah…” He whispered and she smiled. Delicately he placed his hands on her face and he brought her to him. His kiss lightly caressed over her lips. The memories sweeping through his mind blistering, the agony and night around him forgotten. He saw Hannah then as she had been. All those memories he had lost hold of were unearthed and blossomed beautifully in his mind. She was so delicate in his arms, so soft as he pressed her closer to him. He was supposed to marry her, she was to be with him forever. They had wronged each other. Her with another man and him with selfishness. It had slipped away so easily, as easily as he had fallen in love with her.
The images faded once he pulled from the kiss. His eyes met hers and she smiled again, her lips glistening with his kiss and her hands delicate on his waist. He swallowed down the millions of emotions he couldn’t let go of. He couldn’t see her anymore. This wasn’t Hannah, this was the whisper of her crawling magnificently in someone else’s body. This was Audrey, a girl he had met at the label. She wasn’t a part of this, of any of it. He had to let go. He had remembered and now he had to let go.
She gave a slight nod and backed away from him. Without hesitation she climbed down the attic steps and her footsteps quickly faded away. He lsitened until he couldn’t hear a thing anymore before he finally turned to Shannon and Emma.
“Jared please, you don’t have to do this.” Emma pleaded, her voice broken and weakened. She didn’t want to go closer to him.
“Do we ever have to do anything?” He questioned, his words slow.
Shannon couldn’t speak, his breath was halting inside of him, his pulse was dying down.
Jared walked slowly to the chest, looking down at the body. He reached his hand out, his fingertips brushing across the pale and lifeless skin of her face. He could a sickness knot in his stomach, rising up in his throat until he turned away. He knew that Shannon and Emma hadn’t moved. They were afraid of him in that moment, scared that he was going to do something to them.
He turned back to them. They were as frozen as they had been. “Go.” He ordered, monotonously.
“Go?” Shannon choked out, his brows knitted together fiercely.
Jared nodded. “Get out of here….I’ll take care of everything.”
“Jared, we can’t do that.”
“Shannon!” Emma pulled on his arm with disbelief at his response.
“Go.” He ordered again.
“What about…..what about Hannah?” Shannon managed to push out, the presence of her body there with them too overwhelming.
Jared glanced back at the chest and then into his brother’s dark gaze. “Live with it. Live with what you did and everyday….everyday I hope you see it.” His voice became harsher, violent and his eyes inflamed with a dark anger.
Shannon didn’t move, he stood holding Jared’s eyes. He had the thought that this would be the last time he would ever look into his eyes. This hateful gaze was what he would remember about him. This darkness would be the last moment he would ever spend with him. There would be no other memories. Their childhood together would disappear, their music would no longer matter. Nothing would.
“Shannon come on, let’s go.” Emma urged, tugging at him.
Jared tore his eyes from Shannon breaking their stare. Shannon had nothing other to do than to walk away, following Emma down from the attic.
Jared walked to the window and glanced down at the night that had fallen over Los Angeles. The stars sang their silver light in the dark sky and the wind blew a whisper through the trees. Winter was here and he could feel it bite in his very soul. He could see Audrey below, standing in the driveway just staring elsewhere. Soon enough Shannon and Emma both came hurrying out. He was alone. He was alone with Hannah. Soon enough it would all die away and maybe a part of him would be left. A part of him could try to be free.