Chapter 20: Flashback Part 2

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With the waves crashing against the empty shores of Santa Monica beach outside their window and the soft winter rain pelting the roof above them, Connor and Ella slept in their hotel suite, soft jazz music and a half-empty bottle of wine evidence of their much needed slumber. While Connor slept soundly, Ella softly shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks and her hands clutching the sheets as she found herself tumbling through memories she wished she could forget, and feelings she hoped not to recall...


Ella sits with Andrew in the main room of the Hollis University Library, taking a break from studying about the War of 1812 for their American History class to talk about one of their favorite books, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Ella smiled as she watched Andrew's guard fade away and his eyes fill with a fiery passion as he discussed the narrative of the writer's tale.

"...the theme of guilt and justice prevailing just shines through every line that Poe writes. It's just so beautiful," Andrew finished, smiling and looking into her eyes.

"You're right, it is beautiful. I never realized just how beautiful it was until I met you though. You speak with such passion in your voice," Ella replied, smiling back at him and gripping his hand in her own. They were sitting alone in a corner of the main room, away from the crowd, which she would later realize included her group of friends, who were using the library to blow off one of their classes. Andrew looked down at her hand, and she saw his face flush red.

"Um, thanks. I guess I just relate to the story a little."

"How so?"

"Um, well, it's sort of embarrassing, but since I was in junior high, I've always kind of been the kid you see get teased and ridiculed in any high school related movie. I've always been any Anthony Michael Hall character in a John Hughes movie."

"Oh Andrew, I'm sorry," Ella said, gripping his hand tighter.

"I guess I just have always hoped the people who put me down would realize their mistakes, and apologize. I...I don't like being treated that way, but more than anything, I don't like to see people consumed by that need to inflict pain. I pity people like that."

"That's why you're my best friend Andrew," Ella said.


"Because instead of focusing on yourself, you worry about the people who have caused you pain. You always put others first, even when they don't deserve it. You are an inspiration, Andrew Ingram."

Andrew blushed, gripping her hand in his own and staring into her eyes with the very same passion for which he spoke of the story. Their love of books was one of the first things the two ever bonded over, and it was in that moment that they both privately realized that they loved each other.

As they sat there, Ella looked up and noticed Greg standing near one of the bookshelves in the library, staring at them and clenching a book tightly in his fist. Rage filled his eyes, and Ella could see he was jealous of Andrew, for despite going out with Kate, he lusted for her, and she'd always spurned his attempts to get her into his bed.

What a scumbag, she thinks in head, and she turns back to Andrew, gazing into his eyes and memorizing his face, as if her dream self was able to reach back across time and tell her memory self to never let him go.


Outside on the rain-drenched beach, the hulking corpse of Andrew Ingram watches the hotel window, and as if able to peer into her very soul, acknowledges Ella's last thought.

"The madeeee," Howie mutters through Andrews dead lips, before turning away and wading into the dark, murky waters of the beach, disappearing into the night like the specter that he is.

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