Epilogue

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In the Sun

One hour later...

I can't remember what it feels like to breathe.

The icy air cuts into my throat and strangers swarm around me like ants in a nest, circling me as though I am their queen. They look at me strangely, eyes creased and lips tight in a way that says – I'm sorry this happened to you. They don't stare for more than a few seconds at a time and, when they meet my eyes, they jump and look anywhere else, like they're surprised I am sentient.

Snow continues to fall, wrapping this strange world in its blanket, but the silence it offered has disappeared, replaced by a low hum of conversation and the howling cries of Evelyn Cartwright.

I grit my teeth so hard it hurts. I wish I could find a way to cover my ears, to stop hearing her screams, but the paramedic keeps asking me questions and won't leave me alone for more than two minutes. She's wrapped something around me and I'm starting to feel the tips of my fingers again, but over there – just by the carpark – a crowd is forming.

And I feel like I'm going to be sick.

Red and blue lights highlight their wide eyes and pale faces. They must have been woken up by the sirens, because most of them are wearing their pyjamas or are wrapped up in blankets.

I close my eyes tight, green orbs swirling behind my lids. Someone is speaking to me, but their words are impossible to hear over the thoughts running wild in my mind. What am I supposed to do now? How does anyone get over something like this?

It feels like a dream. All of this does. A part of me is convinced that any second now, I'll wake up in bed at Crystal Lake, the night before my plane to Woodcreek and excited for whatever journey is about to begin. But when I open my eyes, I am still here.

And there he is.

Dark, tousled hair. Bottomless black eyes, burning against the snow. I watch as the white, crystalline flakes drift gently down. Several land and melt in my blanket, but I don't notice nor care. He doesn't see me yet and icy air travels through my lungs, freezing me from the inside out.

Wesley stands behind the police tape, pacing against it as he searches for a way in. He leans over the side, running his hands through his hair like he's worried about me – as if that boy could feel anything more than pure hatred.

My lips feel glued together as he shakes his head, scanning the various faces before jumping the boundary line and striding in.

He only takes a few steps before he is stopped. Wesley argues with the policeman, their voices rising against Evelyn's cries. For an awful moment, I think he'll make it to me. His eyes rise over the man and he finds me and screams my name.

It juts through the air like a shard of ice, shooting right through my chest and piercing my heart. I feel blood pouring over me from his words, hot and thick and impossible to heal. There's a second that passes where I struggle to breathe, darkness invading me like a cloud of mist.

I look at him from my seat in the ambulance, at how his face distorts with anguish, and release a hollow breath.

I shuffle deeper into the van.

Over by the lake, which is only a two-minute walk but feels like a lifetime away, a policeman asks the divers if they found anything. Drenched in water and lips inked with blue, a man dressed in a wetsuit shakes his head. The pair look at each other, unsure of what to do next.

One week later...

Crystal Lake is different than how I remember it. In my absence, Mum has found the time to redecorate the house. My grandmother's room is no longer a relic of the past, but has been transformed into a reading room – one of my Mum's long time desires.

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