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Emily lay sprawled out on her bed as the morning sun cut into her room like piercing blades of pure, blinding, light. “When will the sun just go away?” Emily wondered as she enveloped herself in the warm, plush blanket, hoping it would block the sunlight from getting to her. The bright neon light that displayed the time on her clock morphed from 11:20 to 11:30, to 11:40, time passing her by as she lay in bed, but she didn’t care; she wished she could stay dreaming for eternity, where she wouldn’t have to remember everything. “It would be so easy to just lay here forever and and never have to face the truth…” her mind offered. Emily flopped out of bed against every part of her will.  She was dragging her legs over to her vanity, when the calendar on the wall caught her eye. She walked over, and counted the days without the most important person in her life. “2 months, 1 week, 3 days, 10 hours, 31 minutes, and 45 seconds,” she said to herself, a small amount of time that seemed like an eternity. "That's 1,460 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds," she calculated as she put on her makeup - covering the bags under her eyes with concealer, and hoping no one could tell that she got no sleep last night. Her open closet presented her with different outfits of all different colors and styles, but she only wore black. "It's been 2 months Emily," her friends would say, "Don't you think it's time to let go?" but she wasn't ready. Every moment she remembered how much better things would be if only she were here... "Emily you need to come eat breakfast," her dad said, the sweet, delectable smell of pancakes and bacon wasting upstairs. Her dad was always trying to fill in, but it wasn't the same. “I’m not hungry,” Emily called back. “Eat something,” her dad said, “Fine,” she replied, grabbing a pop-tart from the pantry. “Where are you going?” her dad asked. All she wanted was to for him to leave her alone, but no. “Out,” she replied before throwing the door open and cutting off any potential conversation.

As soon as she got out the door Emily threw the Pop-Tart in the trash, and walked off her porch into the warm, sweet smelling air and bright sunshine of late spring. The streets downtown had crowds of people mingling and window shopping so tight that Emily had to squeeze through them. Everyone was enjoying the beautiful day - well everyone except for Emily. She had no idea where she was going, but her legs carried her to her favorite park. She sat under her Mom’s favorite Maple tree, she found the park packed with the sound of people laughing and having picnics - way busier than usual. In fact, the whole town was busier than usual. “I wonder what’s going on…” Emily started, but something struck her. It was a weekend, the second Sunday in May to be exact. “Mother’s Day,” Emily whispered. She couldn’t hold the memories from taking over anymore, it was too hard. They all came flooding back as fast and vivid as the bright sunlight shining from the sky. The memories of growing up with her, walking and having picnics on sunny days like these, which were her mom’s favorite. One memory came back stronger than any others. It was of her and Emily on mother’s day, having a picnic under this tree. Emily had given her a bracelet with a charm for every special thing they had done together, from playing hide and seek to having picnics in the park, to taking walks on warm sunny days, which were her mom’s favorite days. Her mom had a present for Emily too, even though it was mother’s day. It was a silver necklace with a turquoise locket holding a picture of her and Emily. “So you’ll always remember me,” her mom said as a joke, but Emily saw the sincerity in her eyes. Her mom had cancer, and she had little time to live. Emily remembered the last time she had been to this park - it was a cold but sunny day in early March, but regardless of the weather Emily, her mom and her dad were sitting under the maple tree having a picnic. It was her mother’s dying wish to have one less picnic there before she died. Despite the air of finality, it was almost normal, like a normal family just going out for a picnic. Until her mother’s condition plummeted, and an ambulance took her to the hospital where she died an hour later while holding Emily’s hand. All these memories came back to her, and Emily, the girl who had cried all the tears she was able to cry and showed no emotion, sobbed. She sobbed quiet, heartbroken sobs, and people noticed and stared. Emily put her face in her hands, and ran. She couldn’t see where she was going, but when she stopped running, she found herself somewhere she hadn’t been since her mother’s death. A big, flowery gate with the words Flower Valley Cemetery loomed above her. She took a deep breath and walked forward until she came to the maple tree her mom lay under.

She sat down and leaned against the trunk, looking at the sky. “Happy Mother’s day mom,” she said, “I don’t know if you can hear me, but it’s real nice outside, you would’ve loved it. I went to the park today and visited the maple tree for you.” Emily stuck her hand in her purse and fished around until she found a small, wooden box. She took it and placed it on the ground. “You forgot something. I shouldn't still have it, you should have it back,” she said, taking the charm bracelet out and hanging it on a sturdy branch of the tree. “I miss you mom,” she said, and her voice cracked, but she tried to stay strong. “Dad’s tried to do the best he can, but It’s just not the same. My friends keep saying I need to move on, but I can’t. I…” she cried, “I want you to tell me it will be okay. I want to see you one more time. Just one more time. I… I want my mom. I wanted you to… can you hear me mom? Are you there or am I talking to nothing?” There was no reply. Emily cried, not caring if there was anyone seeing her. “It’s been 5 million 270 thousand seconds since I’ve seen you last mom, and now- now- YOU’RE GONE!” Emily continued to sob until she was startled by someone tapping her on the shoulder. She took a deep breath, wiped her eyes the best she was able, and turned around. “What do you want,” she snapped, looking at her intruder. It was Justin, a new guy at her school, “Justin?” she said, surprised, “I-I’m sorry I didn’t mean to snap at you I’m just… Not used to people seeing me like this.” He chuckled, “You’re fine, I  get where you’re coming from. Can I sit here?” He asked, “Ya,” Emily replied, still skeptical of his eavesdropping on her. “So what are you doing here? A cemetery’s not the happiest place to be” she asked. “Visiting family,” he answered, looking at the ground, “What about you?” “Well, it's mother’s day and I thought… I would say hi. My mom died of cancer a couple months ago.” Justin’s response took Emily by surprise, because he said nothing. No heartless “That must be hard,” or “I’m so sorry for your loss,” like everyone else said. Instead, he took her hand, and they sat in comfortable silence, knowing they understood each other - no one needed to say anything. After a couple minutes Justin spoke, “You know, even though it seems like they’re not here - regardless if they actually are - they’re still in your heart. And if you listen, it’s almost like they’re still here. You don’t have to move on, you don’t have to let go, you have to move forward.” “You-you’re right,” Emily replied, amazement in her eyes, “I’ve never thought of it that way before.” Justin smiled. “It’s lunchtime,” he said, “I would love to stay, but I should get going.” “Ya I should go too, I didn't tell my dad where I am,” Emily said. “Can I walk you home then?” Justin asked. “Sure, Emily said, “Just gimme a second.” “Sure,” he said before walking off. Emily turned around and faced the maple tree with the bracelet glittering in its branches, for once grateful for the warm sunshine. Emily decided that for every second she lived without her mom, she would live one more with her in her heart. She took one last look at the tree where her mother lay 6 feet underground, then turned and ran to catch up with Justin. “Maybe the sunshine isn’t so bad after all,” she mused.


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