Ten

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I summed up my friendship with Ari for Leo, who quietly listened to my story. I skipped to the part where Ariana died. I'd never told anyone about it since everyone else I knew already experienced it for themselves. Leo was the first new person I'd met in a while, I realized.

"She had this VW convertible," I told him. "She loved it. As soon as she got her license, she drove everywhere. The night she died..."

Leo squeezed my hand. I brushed a tear from my cheek.

"I was supposed to be with her

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"I was supposed to be with her. She wanted to go see some band play about an hour outside of town. It sounded fun. I said I would go...I changed my mind at the last minute. I don't even know why." I looked at him. He was staring intensely at me, hanging on my every word.

"I flaked. Ariana was pissed. I mean, I don't blame her. We ended up getting into an argument about it. She hung up on me, so I changed my mind, but..." I shrugged.

"It's okay to cancel plans, you know." He said softly.

"Not with Ari it wasn't." I replied. "I tried calling her back, but she wouldn't answer. I figured I'd talk to her in the morning and make up with her somehow. I don't know."

Leo nodded. I sat on the ground next to him, and took a deep breath before continuing.

"Anyway," I said. "She crashed her car and...died instantly." I cried softly.

"That's terrible. I'm so sorry." He tried consoling me.

"I just keep thinking that if I'd been there, maybe she wouldn't have crashed? Maybe she got distracted or something, but if I had been there..." my voice trailed off.

"Don't do that to yourself, Everly." Leo told me. "You couldn't have prevented this. What if you were there and she still crashed? You could've been killed."

I just shrugged. "Maybe that wouldn't have been so bad either." I whispered. "Then she wouldn't be alone. At least we'd be together."

His eyes widened and he grabbed both my hands in his.

"You shouldn't say that. I mean, I get it. You're still mourning the loss of your friend, but...don't say it wouldn't be so bad if you had died, too."

I looked up. "Sometimes I just think that maybe..."

"No," he shook his head. "No."

"Ever since the funeral," I started, "strange things have happened. It's hard to explain. I know it sounds crazy..."

"Tell me." He urged.

Cautiously I told him about my nightmares of Ariana, the photos spilling out on my floor, and then pulled the note out of my pocket. I handed it to him and watched as he unfolded it.

"That's her handwriting. I'd know it anywhere."
I told him. "It's exactly what she said to me in my dreams."

Leo studied the note. "Okay, I admit that's a little creepy, but it's a coincidence."

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