🌥 XXVI

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Hey everyone! These are the last few chapters of HI and I honestly can't believe it. This story has a long time in the making and I find it hard to believe it's coming to a close soon. Thank you so much for reading this chapter, I hope you like it, and please do vote and comment on your thoughts!

Shay

🌥 🌥 🌥

Scott's van is deadly silent aside from the soft jazz music playing on his radio. No one is making jokes or pointing at things they see on the road down the mountains. We begin our drive back sometime after five in the afternoon. Our room, the bathrooms, and the kitchen had to be cleaned to a certain extent, but Anna assured us there was going to be a crew coming around and cleaning everything professionally anyway.

When Anna and I had made our way back to the cabin it was as if something had just, broken. No one was being emotional anymore they were all just waiting for us. Silence amongst all the members.

Ethan was tense all the time, and we didn't exchange a single word through it all.

Now I'm resting my head on Carlos' lap at the very back seat of the van, with all of our luggage. I watch the trees blend into each other out of the windowpane. Carlos is stroking my hair absently, headphones plugged in and eyes lost in the landscape too.

The energy that rang strongly through all of us the past days had suddenly crashed down like lighting touching the ground. We were all tired and scared and are not sure where life was taking us, but most of all, we knew someone had talked, and maybe they were in Anna's car or in our, and that had all the members on edge, too.

We get to Westray around nine-thirty, the trees become streetlights, flashing over my window from time to time. I sit up, see the girls get dropped off one by one. They don't say goodbye, everyone lost in their own world.

Alan gets dropped off next, he leans over and kisses Scott so quickly that I nearly wonder if I made that up in my mind.

Next is my house, and as his van comes to a halt reality begins taking shape around me once again. I'm not in some luxurious cabin up in the mountains far away from civilization. I'm not sitting next to the boy I like, watching the lake from a high vantage point. I'm not joking with my friends about what we'll do after college, eating burgers around the fire pit making s'mores and laughing with each other.

"You're going to be okay," Carlos says, giving me a hug as I reach for the handle of the door. "It's all going to get worked out soon."

I nod, shouldering my backpack and stepping out into the sidewalk. Scott gives me a military salute before he drives off.

There is a cool breeze rolling through town that I take a moment to appreciate. I am aware that smell is not concentrated in towns and cities, but there's something about scents that remind you of certain places. Standing on the sidewalk leading to our apartment complex I let myself smell Westray, and how different it just smells from everything else. Like wet earth, but the type that is faintly in the distance, where you don't know whether it will rain or not, the uncertainty of it all making you pack an umbrella just to stay prepared. Like the sap of trees, the memory of running your fingers down the trunk of a tree, the texture tickling your skin.

I bask in the reality of it all, and slowly, begin walking down the path home.

My keys jingle in their ring as I unlock the door, and once I step inside of the living room I see dad with my cat asleep on his lap as he watches crime shows on our old TV.

"Como te fue?" He asks.

How did it go?

I drop my duffle bag on the floor and begin crying. Awfully, ugly sobbing that even when I know I'm saying "I'm sorry dad, I'm so sorry." Even I can't understand a single thing I'm saying.

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