Ryan starts a new trend with Cammy, reliving memories long past. Things may or may not get better for the poor girl.
I listened in horror to all of the details about the argument. Every word that he explained to me, every little movement he made as he told me about it, caused me to wish I had never become between them, made me think that life would be better off without me. I had caused a meltdown between two people, the best of friends, who would never betray each other otherwise. I wasn’t completely sure what could salvage their friendship, but I knew the only thing that could salvage my heart was a miracle. It was a terrible burden to have dropped on your back, a burden that left me weak and remorseful. I fought back tears that so desperately wanted to fall from my eyes over again.
“Cammy, it’s not your fault…Really, it isn’t…” He tried to insist, to calm my regret of everything I had caused so far.
“Yes, it is, Ry, and you can’t convince me that it’s not. I know that if it weren’t for me, you and Pete wouldn’t be wishing the other one was dead right now; I know it. There’s no denying this was all because of me,” I said solemnly. “I don’t deserve to be on this planet…Things would be better off without me.”
“Don’t you dare think that about yourself, Cammy. You belong on this planet more than any other person I know. You deserve to live, to experience everything this world has to offer, to laugh and to love. You deserve all that and more. I-I’d give you the world if I could. I’d give you two if it were possible. But promise me that you will not, under any circumstances, tell yourself that you don’t deserve to live,” Ryan scolded me, an actual flame of anger spiking his voice.
“I don’t deserve to live,” I said in a whisper, as a tear slid down my cheek.
I had broken his promise already, and I knew it.
“Cammy…” Ryan sighed, a twinge of disappointment and sadness in his voice. “Please, please don’t. I couldn’t live with myself if I knew that I-” And he cut himself short. “Can we please forget all of this and move on? I want you back to your old self. I want your smile back more than every, Cams. Please?”
I nodded my head and ceased the tears that had escaped the prison of my eyes.
“Now promise me something,” He said quietly. “Promise me that you will never, ever tell yourself your life is worth nothing. Because it means the world to me,” He finished.
“I…I promise,” I stuttered. We rose from the couch and looked at each other.
As I looked in his penetrating gaze, his brown eyes that I would die for, I thought to myself, at least I think I promise. I’m sorry Ry.
“What do you say we go out for ice cream? Just you and me, like before, when we were in high school?” He suggested eager to escape the deadly conversation.
I couldn’t refuse him, even if he was asking me to go to the center of the earth, swim in the magma and return back again. “That sounds great, Ry. Let’s go,” I agreed, following him towards the door I had so angrily stormed out of about two and a half weeks before, my heart ripped out and hastily shoved back in by the boy I had known for so long. The boy that I wanted to be with for the rest of my life; the innocent little boy who would laugh at childish cartoons, who would make faces at me in the middle of an important conversation, who would be there for me when I needed a shoulder to lean on.
I prayed that things would never change about him, but I knew in the back of my mind that everything changes at one time or another. Years from now, I could be old and alone in a tiny house, shivering not from the cold but from despair, wishing I had changed things when we were younger. And he would be the lovely, genuinely happy Ryan Ross, living forever and caring for his wife Keltie. They would get old and die together; I would get old and die with no one but myself to blame.
My thoughts were lethal. Everything I pondered was another knife to the heart, drawing more and more pain with each returning blow.
I shook it off and continued with him to his car. Upon opening the door, I sat myself inside the front seat, next to him as he started the engine. This was the seat that Keltie had been sitting in not even a week ago, not realizing how truly lucky she was to have him.
“It’s been so long since we’ve been to this place,” Ryan explained, as we drove down familiar but forgotten back roads that we hadn’t traveled down since our years in high school. “Remember when we used to meet up at the corner near my mom’s house and walk to go get some ice cream? And how we knew exactly what each other would order well enough that we could say it all backwards with a comet blowing up in front of us? I miss that,” He said honestly.
Or maybe it was fake. I could never tell with him. I knew that there were emotions somewhere in his mind that I hadn’t even encountered yet in the whole six years or so that I had known him, and that’s what bothered me. I brought myself back to reality and mustered up some thought to reply.
“I remember what you would get,” I admitted, smiling. “A scoop of cotton candy with rainbow sprinkles and a sugar cone. Do you remember mine?”
“No, not really. All the sudden we just stopped coming here, and it all faded, I guess,” He explained, as we pulled into the parking lot of the tiny store that served ice cream and many memories.
Of course he didn’t remember. Things have changed between us since high school, things that I held near and dear to my heart that were disappearing in the distance.
We got out of the sports car and went to the window to order our ice cream. He insisted on paying, as much as I told him that I had the money. I missed the days when we would do this, without a single care in the world, imagining the great time we would have with each other after school ended for good.
Those thoughts we had about our futures were completely, utterly wrong. I had to admit it to myself.
Of course I remembered. I could never forget the days that I would walk with Cammy down to this little corner ice cream shop and spend hours talking to each other. Those were the days that I wished I could relive every second of, the ones that I wished I hadn’t taken for granted. But I did, and now they were just a vast memory, never to return again. Things had changed between Cammy and I, and I hated it. I wanted everything to be the same before all of this.
Tell her, tell her, tell her, my conscience chanted repeatedly in my mind.
But, as always, I went against my better instinct and bottled my feelings in this empty box that people refer to as a heart.
I insisted on paying for the ice cream, just because I took responsibility for Cammy. I felt somehow bonded to her, to make sure she was safe and happy. I thought of the times we had shared, when her mother had demanded that I look out for her at her first time alone at a concert, or when we used to walk to the park just for the sake of being together.
And then came Keltie, a bulldozer tearing my life upside down and crushing it before my eyes. She had cast a spell on me from the moment I had met her, that warm, sunny day, that just wouldn’t allow me to let her go. I had loved her that day…I’m not sure how much of that feeling was left now.
But there was one thing I was positive I wasn’t going to do, and that was hurt someone else who had played such a big role in my twisted life.
I knew that a single hint towards the truth would rip her open and kill her, like serial killer and his knife.
And I was the serial killer in this case.