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“The truth is the future doesn’t matter, and you shouldn’t worry about your father dying because there’s no such thing as dying. There’s alive and there’s dead. There’s only the here and now, and if we sit worrying about what happens next, we miss out on the best thing: being here with one another.”

“I’m falling in love with you,” he softly admitted, almost apologetic. He rubbed his shoulder. “Sometimes you cross my mind and I just want to keep thinking about you for the rest of the day. Because daydreaming about you is easier than thinking about cancer. I want to sit out in the woods, and think about you. I want to crawl out of bed, and think about you. I want to play music, and think about you. Because when I think about you the world seems better.

“Then I remember that my thoughts can’t be about you because you’re not mine. You’re nothing but a dream. And I’m not the guy who gets to dream. I only get the nightmares.”

He placed his hands against my chest, feeling my heartbeats. “Don’t do this to me, Art. Don’t let me keep falling for you. Don’t let me love you. Because everything I’d ever loved has a way of falling apart, and the idea of losing you is too much right now. Don’t let me keep dreaming. Make me wake up.”

His words were pained, raw, uncensored. I saw the fear and hurt that lived inside him. I felt it too.

It didn’t seem fair, the way life worked. While I was months from bringing a new life into the world, Levi was preparing to say goodbye to one.

I wished the current issues were mine instead of Levi’s. Nobody deserved to hurt as much as he did. He had been nothing but kind from day one, and the fact that his heart was breaking made my heart break too.

“Can we kiss again for a while?” I asked, wanting him to know that I was more than a dream.

He nodded. “I’d like that.”

Our second kiss was nothing like the first. As his mouth found mine, I cried. I could feel how sad he was when he kissed me and that made me sad. I felt his tears mixing together with mine as our lips pressed hard against each other. We were trying our best to live in the here and now, in the darkness together. We were so broken. We were so worn out from the lives we lived, but tonight we kissed with the broken pieces. We kissed with the fear. We kissed with the anger. We kissed with everything we had inside of us. And then we kissed some more. We grew tired together, creating our own kind of art. We became the masterpieces of the loneliest souls. The colors in both of our eyes bled out, knowing that sometimes the most beautiful pieces of art were created from the darkest of souls.

35 Levi

I woke up to find my arms wrapped around Aria. My mind started racing as I began remembering the previous night. The light shining through the window fell against Aria’s face.




I climbed out of the bed and scrambled to grab my shoes, hoping that—

“No need to rush, you’ve already been caught.”

I turned to see Mrs. Watson standing in the doorway with a mug in her hands.

“Mrs. Watson, I can explain…”

“Do you drink coffee, Levi?” she asked before heading toward the kitchen. I followed behind her, a little worried about entering a kitchen where there were many, many knives easily accessible. I cautiously ran my hand through my messy hair as I watched her grab another mug from the cupboard. “Cream? Sugar?” she asked.

“Both,” I answered cautiously, sitting down on one of the stools at the island. A few seconds later she passed me the mug and part of me wondered if there was a chance she’d poisoned it.

“I heard about your father.” She leaned against the island, across from me. “I’m so sorry.”

I shrugged, running my finger around the rim of the coffee mug.

“Your father and I used to date,” she said, making me almost spit out my coffee. She smirked. “It was a long, long time ago. We were around the same ages as you and Aria, so it’s a little strange for me to see you two so close. It’s pretty surreal.”

“I like her, Mrs. Watson. A lot.”

“She likes you too, honey, and I think that’s the problem. She’s going through so much. Aria keeps a lot to herself. There’s so much she doesn’t say. The worst feeling in the world for a parent is knowing that your child is hurting and being unable to help them. I just worry that her being so close to you could be some kind of way for her to avoid dealing with her deeper issues.”

“You want me to stop seeing her?” I asked, hoping the answer was no.

Mrs. Watson grimaced. “I don’t know, because last night when you showed up for the dance was the first time she actually looked…happy. Like her old self. I just—can you take it slow with her? Just friends?”

“Of course.”

“Which means no late night sleepovers.”

“I’m sorry about that. It was a really crappy night, and I had no one else to talk to. I didn’t mean to fall asleep over here, I swear. I’m sorry.”

She narrowed her eyes with a smirk. “You look so much like your father it’s scary.”

“Was he always like this?” I asked referring to Dad’s coldness and harsh personality. “I remember him being different, but I don’t know if I’m just making up those memories or something.”

She shook her head, going into the refrigerator and pulling out eggs and bacon. “Kent’s always been a little rough around the edges, but at the end of the day, every choice he ever made was made to look out for others. His tactics weren’t always the best, but the motives behind his actions were always from his heart. He doesn’t mean to be harsh.”