It was a chilly, spring morning. The sky was dark, and anguish lingered in the disheartened air. It was the day of the first frost.
A thin sheet of white that covered the now weak and arid green. A stormy gray reached across the sky, and flecks of white showered down upon me. My eyes darted across the sky, watching the delicate snowflakes fall. I held my held my palm out to catch the small wonders, but the tiny works of art melted as soon as they touched my warm palm.
My eyes raked the field I stood in and caught sight of a lone flower which stood high above the rest. Its sisters and brothers were hidden from my sight beneath the thin layer of snow. Its yellow petals glimmered, yet there was no sun. There was no light. The gloomy day was filled only of darkness, similar to my past. My curiosity took hold of me, drawing me closer to this inexplicable plant against nature.
As I crouched down beside the extravagant flower, I realized that it was glowing, warmth radiated from the delicate petals. I peered into the center which shone like the stars. For a moment in time, I was reminded of my twin sister, and it was as if I was looking into my sister’s eyes. The flower mimicked her purity and innocence.
I stood looking to the sky for answers, a lot like I always did. My sister had always been there for me, years ago. Now she’s gone, yet they say she’s still with me, in my heart. They’re wrong. My heart shattered a year ago when her hand slipped from mine, her body falling from the edge of the cliff. Her screams haunted me for nights at no end. I will never forget the way her pained voice screamed my name, or the fearful look in her eyes. My heart broke as the one I loved most, the one that meant everything to me, left me forever.
I gently touched the flower, stroking the petals with my fingertips. I closed my eyes as I remembered my sister’s eyes. Her laugh. The scene changed, and I was swept into a explicit memory of my sister, one that I will remember forever.
The afternoon was warm, the sky was clear, and the sun shone brightly. My legs rocked back and forth at a quick pace as the swing broke into a rhythm.
“Ash!” I called to my sister by her childhood nickname who sat on the swing on my right, swaying slowly. She turned to me, a huge smile on her face.
“What?” She called as she laughed. Her laugh was like beautiful music.
“This is so fun!” I squealed. My six-year old self had always been fond of swings. Ashley nodded.
“Watch this, Emily!” She called. “I’m going to jump!” My eyes widened.
“But that’s dangerous, Ashley,” I replied to my sister. “You’ll get hurt!” She said.
“Never!” She yowled with triumph as she leaped from her swing. She gracefully landed, knees bent on the ground. I stared at her in awe. She had made it look so easy.
“Your turn!” She called.
“No!” I yelped.
“Don’t be afraid, Em. You can do it!” She encouraged. I closed my eyes, processing what she was saying. I slowly opened my eyes.
“Fine,” I mumbled. Ashley grinned.
I slowly turned, watching the ground underneath me. It was so far away, yet so close. I closed my eyes, hoping for the best. Without thinking, I leaping from my swing, and soared through the air. When I opened my eyes, I found myself inches from the ground, and my eyes widened in fear. I fell on my knees with an agonizing impact. My knees and every part of my body ached. It was like a fire raging through my insides. Even worse, other kids had gathered, and they all laughed at my failed attempt. Ashley on the other hand, had a look of horror on her face.
“You’re so weak! You can’t even jump from a swing!” I heard a kid say. I looked up and came face to face with a boy who looked like he was a year older. I whimpered as he continued to insult me with his friends. I felt the tears forming at the edges of my eyes.
“You! Why are you hanging out with this loser! Come with us, we can easily jump from swings and play fun games,” he bragged to Ashley. I closed my eyes and ears, hiding myself from the world. Ashley would obviously pick to go with them. Who would want to stay with me? I was the clumsy loser that couldn’t do anything.
I heard footsteps, and my eyes shot open. The boy and his friends were leaving. Ashley however, was walking toward me.
“I’m just a loser who can’t do anything,” I whispered. Ashley kneeled down next to me. She frowned.
“You’re brave. You jumped didn’t you? It’s my fault you got hurt, anyways,” She said softly.
“But why didn’t you go with them?” I asked. Ashley smiled.
“You’re my sister, and that’s means I’ll always be with you,” she said unselfishly.
“Forever?” I asked. Ashley’s eyes glowed with pure kindness, and her thin lips formed a warm smile.
“Forever,” she echoed.
I sighed, remembering the memories of my beloved sister. I smiled as I remembered her beautiful appearance. The scenes changed abruptly, and her cheerful eyes were replaced with those of fear. Her once jubilant face had changed to one of horror. I heard her screams once more. My eyes shot open and my hands covered my ears. My body shook. I tried to take deep breaths. Breathe in, breathe out. Unfortunately, my breathing stayed rapid and disoriented. I closed my eyes, waiting for the screams to cease.
It felt like I had been hours before I heard a sound that wasn’t my sister’s screams. “Em!” I heard my older brother’s faint voice pierce through the imaginary screams of my sister. I heard footsteps, and then warm hands on my shoulder.
“Em!” I heard my brother say again. “It’s not real, you’ll be alright,” he said. The screaming ceased, and I blinked my eyes open. I tried to speak, but all I could manage was a weak whimper. I was pathetic, I couldn’t speak, I wasn’t strong. I was nothing my sister ever was. I was nothing she wanted me to be.
I blinked back tears as I looked up at my brother. “Will it ever stop? I should have been the one that fell that day. It would have been so much better. Everyone blames me for her death, anyways. They would all be so much happier if it had been me who died,” I whispered.
“No, Em. I know it wasn’t your fault. C’mon, let’s go,” Ryder said, his voice comforting. He started to walk away and his shoes squished the moist grass making loud, wet, noises. “Don’t let what they say get to you,” he said looking over his shoulder as his sharp eyes met mine.
I sighed. “It already has,” I muttered under my breath before rising to my feet to follow Ryder. The snowflakes continued to fall at a slow, yet steady pace.
“Where are we going?” I asked softly.
“Home,” Ryder responded. I narrowed my eyes, before commanding my feet to halt.
“I’m not going home, I don’t want to,” I replied adamantly. Ryder turned around.
“Emily, this isn’t good. You’re rarely at home, and you barely get enough sleep. You don’t eat much, and you’ve been in a bitter mood every day. You’re not living life,” he said, his voice stern. I glared at him.
“That’s because I’m still mourning my sister! Is it wrong to feel depressed about her death?” I responded, my eyebrow raised.
“It’s been over a year!” Ryder’s voice was escalating, and my voice matched his.
“That doesn’t give you an excuse to forget about her!” I shouted.
“I’m not forgetting about her! Stop being so stubborn! Don’t you understand that I’m trying to help you?” Ryder’s last line was softer than his others.
“You’re not! You’re not helping me! You’re not letting me grieve my sister’s death!” I replied stubbornly. Ryder justs swung his arms out in frustration.
“Emily! You’re not being radical! You’re being so selfish!I’ve had enough of it! Enough! I’m done with you! It’s been more than a year, and this time I’m done! I’m done, forever! Done!” Ryder screamed bold words in my face before he raced away from my sight. Only after Ryder had left, only then, did I realize what I had done. My brother and I had lots of fights, but this was by far so much larger. I felt the acrimony, I knew this fight had meant so much more. Ryder had meant every word he had just said. My brother, the only person who believed me after my sister’s death, had left me. My brother was truly gone, forever, and it was all my fault.
I ran. Ran to a place I never thought I would go again.
The tip cliff was bare and lacked vegetation while the ground was cracked and dry despite the large forest on the mainland. The elevation dropped by hundreds of feet. A desert stretched across the lands below, few cacti in sight.
I stumbled back in fear, as I recalled the the night I lost my sister.
Ashley and I sat at the verge of the cliff, our legs dangling off the edge. Our legs rocked back and forth, swaying with the whispering winds.
“It’s beautiful,” Ashley said, her voice as soft as a feather, her eyes concentrated on the starry sky above us. I nodded in agreement, my eyes on the stars.
“I wish sometimes our lives were simple and easy. It could have been just us,” Ashley said, her voice barely audible.
“What do you mean?” I asked, not understanding.
“Our lives, everyone’s lives, they're all full of hatred, cruelty, and violence,” her voice was gentle, yet fierce at the same time. “I wish that each life was full of love and peace.” It was then that I was reminded of an angel. Her voice was mellow, her skin was a pale and ghostly color, and her eyes shone like the stars above.
“If our lives were simple, we would all be the same. Each and every detail is what makes our lives unique, like how each of those stars are different,” I spoke with integrity. Ashley’s eyes flitted to mine.
“Well said,” she said with a grin. I smiled back before watching the stars once more.
I felt cold, wet, droplets drench my smooth skin. I looked up to see elegant droplets of water falling from the sky. Rain.
“We should go soon,” I said quietly. Ashley nodded, and just as she was about to get up, boisterous thunder rocketed across the sky, catching her by surprise. She slipped from the edge, and I caught her hand just in time. Her body dangled across the edge, and a fearful, ghostly expression adorned her face.
“Thank you,” she whispered softly. The rain intensified, decreasing my line of sight. I attempted to pull my sister up, but Ashley’s position only deteriorated.
“There’s too much rain,” I heard Ashley’s voice.
“No!” I argued. “There has to be a way!”
“Em,” she said wistfully. “There’s no deterring it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. Please don’t panic, I need you to be strong now. I need you to be strong forever.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay,” I said softly. “I love you.”
Ashley smiled. “I love you, Em. I promise you, I’ll always be with you,” she said.
“Forever?” I asked.
“Forever,” she agreed. At that moment, fate decided to intervene and the rain fell harder on our grip. Her hand slipped from mine, and her body tumbled down in the seemingly endless air. Her screams pierced the air, drowning out everything else. I glanced over the edge, and my eyes met my sister’s. Her eyes were dull, yet they stared at me, and it was almost as if she was looking at the stars. They were brimmed with fear, and I knew that she was afraid.
I fell to my knees, my eyes closed. I couldn’t watch my sister anymore. Her screams disappeared, and I heard a rambunctious crack, the sound reverberating through the desert. I huddled my knees together, and cried, knowing that she was gone. I screamed for as long as I remembered.
My sister had promised that she would always be with me, yet she had left all too quickly, leaving me in a world that wasn’t for me. A world lacking the one thing everything required. Love. I knew that promises were only made for the time being, only to comfort someone. Promises were made to be broken. Yet I hoped that one day, promises would be made to be kept forever.
I sighed, deliberating whether or not I should remain for the night. I had messed up substantially with Ryder, and my parents had never been fond of me. There was nothing for me elsewhere, so I settled on staying.
The sun was almost down, and the sky was just starting to darken. I curled myself into ball, and closed my eyes. Soon, I found myself falling into a long and dreamless sleep.
I woke up to see the sun just rising up the horizon, and vivid colors filling the sky. I heard a voice from the edge of the forest behind me. I quickly shot to my feet, and climbed up a tree by the edge of the forest.
“Ashley… I’m joining you. I can’t stay here any longer,” the soft voice was unmistakably Ryder. As soon as he came into sight, I gasped at his appearance. His eyes had large, dark circles underneath them, and his messy, dirty blonde hair was all over the place. The only explanation was that he had stayed up the entire night.
Ryder walked straight to the edge of the cliff, almost to the drop. I quietly climbed down from the tree to get a better look.
I saw him close his eyes, and take one step closer to the edge of the cliff. He was almost off. No… I hadn’t even apologized to him yet. He took another step, and before I knew it, I was running.
“Ryder!” I called as I ran up behind him. He turned around, and this gave me just enough time to tackle him so he can’t jump.
“Emily!” He grumbled. “What are you doing here! I told you to stay away from me!” He scolded. I sighed.
“I’m not letting you commit suicide,” I replied.
“But there’s nothing left for me here. Ashley is gone, and no one else needs me,” he said.
“What about me? I need you,” I replied. His eyes turned hard.
“No, Emily. You’re selfish. You don’t even care about me. I’ve had enough of you, so get off and let me jump,” he said. I felt tears forming at the edges of my eyes.
“But, I’m serious, Ryder. I’m not selfish. I saved you from dying!” I said.
“For yourself. You saved me so that you could still have your brother in your life. You don’t love, nor do you care! I wish you had died instead of Ashley, you deserve it!” His harsh voice had rose to dangerous levels. I felt the tears tumbling down my cheeks.
“You were the only one left who cared for me. Do you mean it, Ryder?” I asked softly.
“Yes.” Ryder’s voice dripped with venom, and his eyes were clouded by anger. “I would forgive you for everything too,” he added as his eyes turned slightly softer. I nodded as I weighed my options. His offer seemed better just thinking about it.
“I’ll be free from the world, and forgiven. Thank you, Ryder. ” I said as I turned to the edge of the cliff. “Just let me say my last words.”
The torrid, dry, and vast desert stretched across the landscape below me. Even though it was bare, free of vegetation, it was pleasant. The sky above me gushed with vibrant colors, and half of the sun was below the horizon. The view was beautiful.
“Ash,” I started, my bold voice spoke without hesitation for once in my life. “This is the way to fix my mistake with Ryder,” I said. “I know you’re out there, and I thank you, for everything you’ve done for me.” I took a deep breath, aware that there was no going back. I had made my choice, and this was the end. I leaped from the cliff, knowing what happened next.
“No, Em! I didn’t mean it!” I heard Ryder’s faint voice. “You’ll be in my heart forever!” I smiled, knowing I had fixed my mistake. I may be gone from his life, but at least I will be reunited with my twin sister. I let my bold voice speak to Ashley, because I knew they were the last I would ever say.
“ I know that you’ll always be with me as I will you,” I said as I fell through the air, my light body swept by the wind. As I closed my eyes, remembering my cherished sister, I spoke my final word.