one*

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End.

It scares us, not because of what it means, but because of what it implies. We are terrified of the unknown, of what isn't certain under our stare. It's a fear deeper than anything else I'd ever experienced before, totalising and paralysing at the same time. It's the kind of fear that freezes us in our place but makes our muscles burn at the same time - that is, if we were ever in the situation to face it directly.

The fact is, in life, not many things are clear. Sometimes, things don't make sense until we look at the bigger picture. Events mix up together in a crazy whirlwind of moments with apparently no connection, hitting us when we're down and feasting over our ashes.

We all have that one moment in our life in which everything takes a sudden turn, if for the best or the worst, we don't get to know. At least, not until the end comes. At times, it all happens sneakily, to the point that we don't realise it happened until we look back and realise how much has changed, but some other times, the event strikes us so hard that it leaves us breathless on the ground, suffocated by the same air that's supposed to keep us alive.

Only one thing was certain: that day, as I walked inside the university, I had no idea of what was about to come.




• • •




I looked up from the brown leaves scattered on the sidewalk, sending a tired stare in the direction of the grey building in front of me. Classes always started a bit too early for my liking, and it was always a struggle to wake up early enough to get out on time.

I sighed, making my way towards it and pushing the glass door open, instantly stopping in my tracks when I realised that some of the people that were lingering in the corridor were looking at me. I furrowed my eyebrows, not understanding the reason behind it. I wasn't a wallflower, but my group of friends was nowhere near being popular. I couldn't tell why everybody's gaze seemed to be fixated on me in the moment I stepped inside the building.

I shook my head, going back to walking and doing my best to ignore the stares as I passed by, starting to be a bit wary of myself. I automatically pulled my coat close, feeling way too observed for my liking.

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't even notice someone had stopped in front of me and almost crashed against them. I looked up quickly, frowning again when I realised that I didn't have the slightest idea of who they were.

"Raine, right?" The blue-eyed boy said, nodding to himself nervously before I could even give him an answer. "I would like to offer you my deepest condolences. I'm truly sorry for your loss."

I gave him a confused look. "Uh, what?" I asked, letting out a little laugh at the oddness of his words.

His eyes widened, and his face went pale. "Oh my... you..." he stuttered, sending a panicked look around, seeming to hope that someone would come to save him. "You didn't... I... I thought you knew."

"Knew what?" I inquired, feeling a hint of nervousness. Was there something that the mysterious boy in front of me knew, that I didn't? It certainly looked like it.

He took a deep breath, seeming to be trying to gather the courage to speak. "Theo Harris was found dead on Saturday," he said faintly.

Just like that, the world stopped moving.

"Uh, I... what?" I stammered, short of breath, feeling my heart drop as I blinked a few times, my brain convincing itself that I'd heard him wrong.

He seemed to get more and more on edge by the second. "He was killed. Weren't you friends? I thought you knew," he replied fast, looking like he was about to flee the scene.

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