Counsellors were swarming the school. Everywhere, there were groups of students huddled together comforting each other, and drying each others tears. Teachers were withdrawn, they tried to stick to a lesson plan but with students sniffling, and randomly leaving to see a counsellor, they gave up and started talking to their kids. Teachers, Students, all the staff, were visibly shaken. Gavin sat in his desk, his face blank, even his tell tale eyes showed no emotion. He guessed, both he and Mariel had never realized the touch she had in peoples lives.

The counsellors hadn't left him alone until just before lunch time. Asking him questions, assuring him that they'd be there in a flash if he wanted to talk to someone about it. They constant questions put him into this state. He was cold, unfeeling, still processing this in his mind damnit, he didn't want counsellors in his face when he was trying to think. His best friend told him that she had something important to tell him, so important she had to say it in person and on her way to his house she got into a car accident and died two hours later at the hospital. Mariel. Was gone. She was not coming back. She wasn't going to phone minutes after he got in the door from work. She wasn't going to answer when he called her name down the hall. She wasn't going to be the smiling face he kissed when he turned 18. She wasn't even going to be at the Prom or the Graduation Ceremony.

She. Was. Gone.

Gavin's classmates jumped as he swore loudly and slammed his hand on the desk, stood up and walked out. A counsellor met him at the door, what? Were the stationed to catch kids running from classrooms so they wouldn't have to stumble around the halls to the counsellor's offices? Ignoring the questions the frazzled counsellor asked, Gavin walked to his locker, and took he bag out and then slammed it, looking at Mariel's locker. He could still see her sitting in front of it with her ridiculous bunches of paper. She was always writing, always. As he locked the lock, he realized that she had never let him read anything of what she wrote. A puzzled expression on his face, he continued walking to the door of the school the counsellor still following him and asking questions that he couldn't hear. Once he reached the school door and walked out he realized that the counsellor was gone, and the buzz of school chatter was gone. He looked around. This was not the kind of weather you had when your best friend just left forever. The sun came out early in the morning, though the grass was still damp with dew the blue skies were shining down with their puffy cloud accessories beckoning the Peer Gynt Morning suit to be played such as many cartoons play when they showed a paradise like this.

Slamming the door behind him, he looked both ways, and walked towards the gate of the school yard. He had only been in class a little while after lunch, so he had a lot of time before work. If he went in at all, one of the first calls he got was from Mr. Fairbuirn telling him that he saw what happened on the news and would completely understand if Gavin didn't want to come in that day. So he followed his own feet. Staring at them the entire way. "Only you know where I'm going, so take me someplace right" he mused to himself, lost in thought, that was lost to him. His mind was blank, there was nothing to think. Suddenly he stopped walking. He looked up.

Mariel's small, plain, two story house that she had lived in with her mom and brother stood before him. "Of course you would take me here" he thought angrily to his feet, but his feet weren't done for they walked him forward up the the path to the door where he stopped and stood there, staring at the door bell he had rung so many times before.

"Mariel hurry up! Come on we're gonna be late for the movie, answer the door!"

As Gavin lifted his hand to ring the doorbell, the door opened to show Mariel's brother's tearstained face peering out at him.

"Hi Gavin." the small voice said.

"Hey Tim." Gavin said, almost as quietly. "Can I come in?"

"Yeah" Tim said blankly, reaching up and undoing the chain across the door and letting Gavin come in.

Tim was young. He was only 10 years old. He was small for his age, continuously mistaken for a third grader in fifth grade. He looked every bit like Mariel's mini me. His hair was the same deep brown, his eyes were obscured behind held back tears, but they were still the same clear hazel as Mariel's.

"You okay Tim? Do wanna talk to me?" Gavin asked, the hush still in the room.

"That's okay, I've already had a million counsellors talk to me" Tim said, expressing the same way Gavin felt.

"Shouldn't you still be in school? Is there something you want?" he asked, sitting down on the couch and staring at Gavin where he stood.

"I don't know actually,... the counsellors wouldn't leave me lone either, so I left. I just followed my feet." Gavin sighed, putting his bag down at the side of the door where it might as well have had a plaque declaring that it was the bag's home.

"Where's Nancy?" he asked, taking his jacket off and putting on top of his bag.

"The Police Station, or the Hospital with Mr. McNickles. Mom found out that he was the other driver. He's got broken bones and such but he- He didn't get the worst out of it." Tim choked on his words.

"Yeah... I suppose he didn't." Gavin mused numbly.

"uh... can I go-" Gavin motioned towards the stairs. Following his nod, Tim gaped sorrowfully at the stairs. In his eyes you could see the trip up the stairs to get his sister that he had taken so many times, the trip up the 12 stairs and to the door on the left. Closing his eyes Tim nodded and turned back to the tv.

Every step on the stairs pounded in the sudden silence. Sure the tv was still blaring in the background as Tim attempted to drown himself in cartoons, and the hum of passing cars was coming in from outside but silence was pounding it's drum loudly in Gavin's ear. Or maybe it was his heart, "that would make more sense" he told himself foolishly.

The feeling of impending doom you get when the lead character of a scary movie is going down a dark hallway, or going into a dark room filled him. "This is ridiculous, what do I have to be scared of?" he thought to himself as he tried to stifle the feeling. "I mean what? Is she going to jump out from behind with door at me?" he continued thinking, reaching the top of the stairs he stopped, "of course not... she won't be there, she won't be anywhere I can go again."

Everything was in slow motion as he turned and walked towards Mariel's bedroom. The silence pounding in his ears broke as he turned the doorknob and walked in.

The sun beamed through the sliding glass door to the terrace opposite him, the thin white curtains were giving a summery glow to the room as the sun passed through them. The closet that he so vividly remembered hiding in for her sweet sixteen surprise birthday party was to the left of it, and closed. In between him and the closet was the antique vanity and mirror that her mom bought for her. Across from the vanity was Mariel's single bed with it's light floral pattern comforter lightly gracing the pillow, an indent from where she was lying and talking on the phone to him still slightly visible. Beside the bed was a small nightstand with one drawer, a top it the bendy neck lamp that he gave her for one of her birthdays, and the cordless phone's base.

Taking shaky steps into the room, Gavin picked up the purple cordless phone off the vanity and sat on the edge of the bed.

His hand was shaking uncontrollably, his breath ragged and laboured as tears gathered in his eyes. He couldn't move the hand that he held the phone in anymore. Bringing his other hand up, he pushed the redial button. It was his number. Why he thought he had to check it was beyond him, he knew she hung up and went out the door after calling him but still it broke him. Hot tears streaked his face as he dropped the phone. Burying his face in his hands his racking sobs that he had held back for hours finally burst free.

And then, he stopped. Though his breath still ragged from sobbing, and his face now stained with tears he looked up at the still ajar door. Tim stood there, staring at him. His young face unreadable though the most likely now permanently lost look in his watery eyes.

"It's my fault she's gone." he said bursting into tears.

"What?" Gavin asked, hoping he didn't sound accusational or outraged.

"I let her go. Mom.. Mom was at work still and Mar was supposed to be watching me until Mom got home. B-... But I... I said I'd be fine. I-i... I t-t-t-told her to go" he struggled with every word, his sobs taking away the normal clarity he had when talking.

"Aww, T-man you know that's not true."(I'm the one she was coming to see...) "Come here" Gavin said, wiping the tears away from his face with the edge of his sleeve. These words were all the young boy needed, as Gavin held open his arms to him. Tim was to the bed side and buried in Gavin's comforting arms in a moment, the words he muttered lost into the fabric of Gavin's shirt.

Gavin had been there since Tim was born. Mariel came into class in grade three and told everyone with the biggest smile that she had a baby brother. Mariel always said that Gavin and Tim were her best friends. Gavin's voice was lost to him as he comforted Tim, when he looked back over at the vanity mirror. It's edges were hidden behind pictures of Mariel and Tim, and Gavin and Kyle and all of Mariel's other friends. At the top center was a picture of himself, Tim and Mariel.

A year back their families had gone to the carnival together, Tim was half hidden behind a the giant teddy bear Mariel and Gavin had pooled their tickets together for. Mariel was on her knees to be the same height as Tim her arm around his neck, and on the other side was Gavin. He was sitting with his knees pulled to his chest, a cheesy smile on his face to match Mariel and Tim's. Gavin may have been an only child, but Tim had always had a big brother.

Gavin's eyes scanned the vanity as Tim started to calm down. Then something caught his eye. Mariel's writing book.

She always had that book. It was attached to her, and her to it. Yet whenever Gavin mentioned reading something in it, Mariel would blush profusely and hide the book from him telling him to drop it.

Looking back down at his arms, he realize that the child he held in them had fallen asleep.

"Probably didn't sleep at all tonight, not that any of us did" Gavin mused to himself, scooping up Tim's legs and carrying him to his room and putting the small child into bed.

Closing the door to Tim's room, Gavin's mind was lost in thought again. "What now? Might as well go home, Nancy won't be home for a while and Tim's gonna sleep for a while." He thought blankly, stretching off the same sleepless night Tim had.

Wandering through the house, Gavin turned off appliances and lights. Turning off the tv, suddenly as tired as he knew he should be, Gavin walked to his bag and picked up his jacket. A sleepy lull overcoming him with as he put it on, picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder.

Yet through the sleep lull, something was still nagging on his mind.

"Well of course something's nagging my mind, I just lost Mariel"

Then like a window shattering, the lull was broken. Mariel's book. It was just a book full of her writing. Sure she had never let Gavin read it, but was that why he wanted to read it? Or was this just his concious' last stab at convincing him that he didn't want to read it because she told him not to? Not that it mattered, his bag was thrown down and Gavin was half way up the stairs.

His mouth was very dry as he reached forward. In front of him was the small leather bound book, on top the pen he gave her for Christmas. Gently sweeping it to the side to lay with her hair brush and make up, Gavin curled his fingers under the the book and picked it up. The same feeling the took him when walking up the stairs swelled as he lifted the cover.

SLAM

He made himself jump as he slammed the cover of the book shut.

"Later" he thought to himself firmly, tucking the book under his arm and walk downstairs to his bag.

Gavin rolled over and cracked his eyes open. It was 2 in the morning. His mom had let him keep sleeping when she got back from work. The moon shone through his open window into his room illuminating, among many other things, his nightstand. Mariel's book sat in front of his lamp. If he had taken it, why couldn't he bring himself to open it? Let alone read it. Granted all he had done was stare at it for a couple minutes before he let himself succumb to the sleep that was calling him, but still he couldn't bring himself to open it right now.

Finally, Gavin tore the book off his nightstand and flipped the cover open.

"Dear Gavin,"

He shut it quickly and dropped the book, tears forming in his eyes. His name was on the first page, in letter form and addressed to him. "Why are you scared?" He asked himself. "You saw her buy this book a year ago, and you know a couple weeks ago Mar was talking about needing a new book soon... then Kyle said something that really seemed to annoy her... what was it?" Gavin's thoughts scattered as he attempted to figure out why his name was in her book without actually opening it. Giving up, Gavin bent down and picked up the book again.

"Dear Gavin,

My thoughts are more complex than able to explain, but please, please just let me have the chance to try.

I have to let you know how I feel, and you know me I stumble over words and butcher the spoken language into choppy little half sentences that make little to no sense when I'm nervous. So here I am. I'm putting the pen to paper; I'm just letting it flow. So maybe somehow I can let you finally see how much you mean to me.

I love you, you know that. You're my closest friend I have; and ever have had... but lately thoughts have plagued my mind about maybe I love you a different way.

Your smile, your hair, your laugh and your touch drive me insane. I don't know what it is. I didn't know what would happen if you found out, which is why I didn't really want to tell you. But just the magic that was there when you were around, I loved it so much and the ecstasy of your touch was better than anything. But if you found out..."

As the book dropped the floor Gavin's world, which was already at a crawl, came to a complete, crashing stop.