The protagonist is faced with one of the most horrible situations from his past. Some light is shed on his pre-FOB/ teenage life.
A teenage boy is leaning against a wooden fence which encloses a fairly vast patch of meadow. His eyes are following a young female equestrian on a white horse.
The delicate mare changes the pace from trot to gallop and is moving towards the spectator in impressively sweeping leaps. As the girl on the horse passes him by, she flashes him a smile. A smile that both reflects how much she's enjoying herself at the moment and how much she appreciates that he is here with her.
"Wow," is all the watching youngster manages to utter. His face mirrors his admiration for the rider.
After the animal and human pair have whizzed past him three more times in the same manner, the equestrian reduces the tempo, resulting in the horse switching over to trot again. The last few steps before the duo reach the observer are walked. They come to a halt in front of the guy.
"I hope it wasn't too boring," the girl says and smiles sheepishly.
He shakes his head, "Not at all. It was... wow, just wow. Aren't you afraid that you might fall off if you're going so fast?"
She starts patting the mare's neck affectionately, "No. I mean I used to be a bit scared at first but I've been riding for the better part of my life. You get used to it. It's kind of a feeling like... like you're floating on clouds once you get it right."
The horse stretches its nuzzle towards the boy. He hesitates before touching it softly with his hand.
The equestrian giggles amusedly, "It's alright. Shiva doesn't bite or anything. Do you wanna walk a bit with us? There's a really nice place with a little creek near by."
He opens the small gate for the horse and the girl to pass through and nods, "I'd love that."
Even though I knew virtually next to nothing about equitation I could see that Laura was talented. Most of all, I could see how much it meant to her, how much she had put her heart into horse-back riding and how it was paying off. Whenever she was near a horse her whole face would brighten up. It was as if she dove into her own world where nothing could harm her, where all that mattered was her and her animal partner.
Occasionally I got quite jealous because of that. My bitter feeling was a mixture of envying her for having found something that gave her so much joy and strength and of being hurt that this something wasn't only me. Eventually I brought it up and I could see that Laura was battling not to laugh me in the face because she thought my worries were so ridiculous. With her trademark calm voice and patience like an angel she sat me down and explained to me that even though she couldn't imagine a life without riding anymore, she also couldn't imagine a life without me anymore. That horses meant the world to her, but that I was her world. That she loved sitting on Shiva but that she loved it even more if I was around to watch her. Way to play to the ego of young Pete Wentz, I can tell you that.
That day had been the first time I had accompanied her to the riding stable. I remember how nervous I was, not only because horses have always been something mysterious and quite scary to me, but also because I didn't want to look like a complete idiot in front of Laura who was so comfortable with these powerful animals. When you're just 15 you have this stupid notion of having to impress members of the opposite sex with your 'manliness'.
She spent most of her leisure time either at the stable or at the local animal shelter where she did community work as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world to devote most of your spare time to somebody else than yourself when you're a teenager. Well, to Laura it was. I'm not saying she didn't have any flaws. Laura was a mess when she had to talk in front of more than five people. She got so anxious her hands started shaking and she would mess up the shortest sentences. Book reports were always horrible for her. She also had the habit of expecting too much from others. I think she applied her own standards to most people and, of course, that mostly resulted in disappointment. Also, once she started talking about people's recklessness with animals there was no stopping her. Even if everyone around her was pretty tired of hearing it. But it was her passion so you couldn't really blame her. And if you did, I'd break your arm.
I'm not saying that the accident she had about one year after we had become boyfriend and girlfriend wouldn't have been a hard burden for anybody else. But Laura was the most active person I've ever met; that still holds true after more than 10 years. I clearly remember the day her mother and I picked her up from the hospital.
While Mrs. Palmer and I were watching Laura ascend the stairs by means of the custom product elevator, she turned to me and said, "Peter, words could never express what your continuing support and never-ceasing love mean to both me and Laura. You are growing up to be a wonderful human being."
I could see tears forming in her eyes. I was touched myself; how could she say that I was the strong person here when her daughter fell off a horse and found herself paralyzed from the waist downwards? When Laura was mostly cheerful and joky whenever I visited her in hospital, in spite of her life-changing handicap.
"It's the least I could do," I managed to get out.
Mrs. Palmer shook her head and placed a hand on my shoulder, "Don't say that, Peter. I think most 16-year-old boys would be too overwhelmed by what happened to come and see their girlfriend in hopsital for weeks, every day after school. And I couldn't really blame them, you know."
"But you have to be aware of one thing. Things will most likely become more difficult now that she's back home. When she was hospitalized she was probaby overwhelmed by the new situation. Now that she's back home she will come to realize all the things she can't do anymore. It's breaking my heart..." She stopped in mid-sentence and sobbed quietly so Laura wouldn't hear her.
I took her hand and squeezed it softly. I felt helpless. What do you say to a mother whose daughter has to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair? A mother who had to watch how everything that her child had enjoyed doing was beyond feasibility now.
My eyes caught the numerous ribbons and plaques that Laura had won at riding competitions adorning the wall next to the staircase. All the trophies that stood on the shelf above her bed. All those reminders of what she used to have, of what could have been if only cirumstances had been different.
Just when I felt that I couldn't pull myself together anymore Laura's voice rang from the top of the stairs down to us, "Hey, I could use a helping hand here, guys!" Cheerful, as if she didn't know it any other way.
"Sure," I replied, wiped my eyes quickly and darted up the stairs.
"I hate you," I said to my reflection in the mirror. It hadn't changed. "I hate you for all the wrong decisions you've made."
If Laura could see me know she'd be so disappointed.
If Laura had never left me I know this wouldn't have happened. We could have been so happy together. Even without music, even without Fall out Boy.