If you knew somebody was going to die, what would your last words be to them? Well, they probably wouldn't be along the lines of "you're a fucking joke" or "I'm so done with you."
Yet somehow, those were my last words to Leah, and they very well could have been my last words to Grey.
When I walked into Grey's house, I knew something was amiss. The air was heavy and stale, thick with cigarette smoke and the smell of something I couldn't quite place. Something sour that made my stomach churn. Something like death.
When I reached the living room, dark except for the faint light flickering off the TV, thought I was having another nightmare. A sick, twisted nightmare that even pinching myself wouldn't pull me out of. Grey's body laid lifelessly on the floor, a tiny river of blood trickling down his forehead from where he hit it on the corner of the coffee table. Even when I dialed 911 with trembling hands, my hysterical shrieking sounded like it was coming from someone else. Even when the EMTs arrived, filling the house with flashes of blue and red lights, I still thought I was dreaming, my spirit watching my body from afar.
All I kept seeing was Leah. Was that how she looked when she died? Would I have felt as sick to my stomach as I did now at the sight of her limp body? Was this what it felt like to have your soul ripped from your insides, and that even though you were breathing and blood pumped through your veins, you felt like you were dying? I couldn't save Leah, and maybe I couldn't save Grey either, but I was going to try.
Reality finally hit me like a bullet train when I sat in the back of the ambulance, hearing Grey's pulse faintly on the monitor. I squeezed his cold hand tightly, desperately trying to will my own life force into him. As the ambulance sirens blared outside, I took deep breaths and thought about what I actually wanted my last words to be.
"I'm so sorry Grey," I choked out, rubbing my nose on the sleeve of my sweatshirt. "I know you said leave the past in the past, but even now I can't. I feel so guilty. I was so consumed with sneaking around with you, and saving face with Jayden even though it was a shit relationship, and all kinds of other irrelevant things that I didn't see what was going on with Leah."
I paused, unable to swallow the knot in my throat. I looked up at the EMT tending to Grey, who gave me a kind, completely judgement-free smile that crinkled the corners of her honey colored eyes. She had seen people die probably every day, and seen their loved ones hysterical over their lifeless bodies. I took a deep breath and put my other hand over Grey's.
"I left her there, Grey. I yelled at her and I left her at that stupid party, even though I should have stayed and tried to help her. I knew she was doing drugs and I knew nobody at that party gave a shit about her, but I was so angry I just left. I thought I was teaching her a lesson. It was my fucking fault and I didn't think you'd ever love me if you really knew. So I left, out of shame and...complete denial. I thought if I had to face you and see her in that casket it would have made it all too real."
I let tears freely fall from my eyes, staining the front of my sweatshirt. His pulse still faintly registered on the monitor, and let out a heavy sigh before continuing.
"I never stopped loving you. Not for one moment. As much as I tried to move on and forget, I couldn't. You were always there, and I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you." I looked down at him, so faded and pale and clinging to life. I squeezed his hand again, but this time, he squeezed it back.
I shifted uncomfortably in the sticky green hospital chair, and the pelting of rain against the windows seemed to calm me for the time being. I didn't know how long I sat there, staring at Grey with tubes up his nose and needles in his arms, but when his eyes fluttered open, I swore I felt the world stop.
"Oh my god," was all managed to choke out, tears threatening to burst from me again. "I thought you were dead."
"I think I was," he mumbled, still half unconscious. "But I woke up when I heard your voice. I thought you left."
"I couldn't," I said, reaching for his hand. He was still cold. "I'm so tired of making mistakes. If you're mad at me, I don't blame you, but-"
"I'm not," he said softly. "I just wish you had told me the truth sooner. All this time I was beating myself up thinking it was something I had done but...I guess I'm not one to talk about keeping secrets. My reasons for not telling you were exactly the same. Fear. Denial."
I heard his voice start to crack, making my heart crack in the same way.
"Everything was so good between us," he continued. "It made me almost forget for a little while. I felt better. But if I had to say it out loud to someone...it made it real."
"I'm so sorry Grey," I tried to sniffle back tears, but they dripped from my eyes like a broken faucet. "For everything."
We cried together softly for a while, letting nothing but the sound of the rain fill the silence.
"I've realized something over the past few weeks," Grey said, running his calloused fingers over my hand. "I really don't want to die, but mostly because I don't want to be in a place where you're not."
I shook my head, wiping tears away with the sleeves of my sweatshirt. "Whatever happens, I'll be here. I'm not going anywhere. Not this time."
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Grey Matter | ✓Romance
Kennedy McAlister knew she had to go home eventually. After graduating from UCLA and unable to find a job in California, she's forced to return to her small Alaska hometown of Finnick Island to help her mother run the coffee shop they own. Kennedy's...