Chapter 3

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That night, when we went home, the house was ghost-silent. I wanted to go upstairs and contemplate whatever problems there were left after Kayla's death, but mom whispered for me to stay with her. I guess losing a daughter was enough for someone to cling onto their other daughter.

We gathered around the coffee table in the living room. My mother held her head in her hands, and my father leaned back on the couch, expressing a sigh every few seconds. I stared at the ceiling, counting how many seconds I could last before my thoughts started to wander again.

We let the grief swallow us, and the silence overwhelmed us. We let the sadness wash over our shuddering shoulders and fragile hearts, and let our minds wander to either the horrific or the hopeful place. Though a hopeful place seemed rare in this instant.

"I'm going to sleep," Dad said, breaking the silence as he stood up.

His footsteps pounded against the floor as he treaded upstairs, absorbing my mind into something other than the vacuum inside my brain. When the steps finally silenced, mom was gone as well. It was as if they purposely left me alone, knowing nightmares would attack me during the night

When I scanned the room, I could almost feel Kayla's arms wrap around me, comforting me. Then, when I looked beside me, it was nothing more than the leather couch, mocking me for my senseless mourning.

Is this even considered mourning?

Maybe I wasn't bouncing around, but thoughts of Kayla weren't bouncing around in my brain either. Shouldn't I be thinking of her?

Yet, my brain was wiped clean of her. Or maybe I was just preabsorbed in the thought of losing someone, and the thought of losing myself when she left. Even mad at her for leaving me in this ruthless world, alone without her to navigate it with me.

How could I be so selfish and focus on myself instead of her? She was the one who shaped my personality and me. Why couldn't sadness absorb me instead of the emptiness?

If I died, Kayla won't be thinking about herself. Kayla would think about me and commemorate me, like how someone should feel after a death. How were you even supposed to feel after someone died? What were you supposed to think? Surely, the last thing you should think of was yourself...

• • •

"Hey, Kayla! Wait for me!" I yelled, looping my shoelaces.

"Coming!" Kayla yelled, crossing back towards my side of the road.

I stared down at the rich green grass, then at my dirtied shoelaces like it was the most important thing to me. So important that I wasn't aware of the crash in front of me until it was too late.

As the screech of metal and screams drummed in my ears, my head snapped up to witness the tragic scene in front of me. Kayla was sprawled on the ground, limp. Even with her severely injured, my first thought was still to scream, because it was what I wanted...

• • •

I sprang up from the couch. All around me was darkness except for a small glimpse of a passing car outside. Grabbing my phone from my pockets, I checked the time. 4:38 am.

The dream seemed to be tattooed in my brain, or like a fresh wound, throbbing and seeking attention. Kayla's scream replayed in my brain like a broken record, yelling uncontrollably as if trying to twist my brain so that would be the only sound.

I killed her. Both in the dream and in real life. I was so absorbed with my own dilemmas and didn't notice her. Yesterday, I held her back. If I had let go a second earlier, she might've been alive. It was all a matter of timing, and I was the one who screwed it up.

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