Chapter 18: Till the End

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Jacky couldn't explain why he didn't recognize Ryan's house at first. He wondered if it would be awful to ask if he could just walk home from here, rather than get back into the car.

On the other hand, Ryan didn't look like he wanted to get out of the car. He sat there, staring straight ahead, his face slack.

Ducking down, holding himself up by the roof of the car with a shaking hand, Jacky looked at Ryan for a moment. "Ryan? I'll go in with you if you want."

"No

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"No."

He didn't look at Jacky as he got out of the car and brushed past him. One foot in front of the other. Cracks in the walkway. Up the two steps and then tried the door. Who had locked it? He felt in his pockets for the key. Nothing. They would be in his backpack. He sighed, deflated. Prepared to turn around. Jacky was standing right there, holding his keys out to him.

"You don't have to do this alone," Jacky said to him.

Ryan just turned away and went into the house.

***

It was silent after he shut the door. Dark, silent. Empty. No beeping. No whooshing sound of air.

He was alone.

For a long time he stood in the doorway of her room. The bed wasn't made. The EMTs had taken her out and put her on a gurney and left the rumpled sheets and the bank of dark machines.

His own room felt just as dead and empty. There didn't seem to be anything here he wanted. His schoolbooks were in his backpack, in the car. He pulled out a duffel bag and methodically went through his drawers. Seven pairs of underwear. Seven pairs of socks. Two pairs of jeans. Seven shirts. It didn't seem like much. He took his toothbrush from the bathroom. All the pill bottles were hers. He looked at the labels. He took two of the bottles and buried them in the clothes.

Back to packing. He should bring pajamas. He had some pajama pants and an old sweatshirt from when he played junior varsity. He'd been so small then, the sweatshirt had been enormous on him, and now it fit him snugly. He'd probably just wear a t-shirt to bed.

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