I think this is the last chapter? I'm not sure. My brain refuses to tell me when this roller coaster will end. Apparently, without finishing this, Game, Set, Match to Love will not continue. Grr. Just finish it already, Brain.
Besides, you killed Steffi. scowls
Why, you ask me? I DON'T KNOW. Blame the brain.
On with the story.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Jake drummed his fingers against the steering wheel.
Logan stared out the window, his eyes tracing imaginary swirls on the car window. "Yeah, I'm sure."
"You don't have to, you know," Cam put in from the backseat.
"I think I owe Mrs. Campbell something...after all, I was supposed to bring Steffi home that night, remember?" Logan sighed as he refocused on the passing trees. Not that she would have let me after that little fight we had. It pained him to know that the last few words he had ever heard from her were bitter ones.
"You don't have to go over and help her pack Steffi's stuff away."
"She asked me to." Logan fiddled with his bow tie. "Besides. There's no point in you trying to talk me out of it. I already agreed."
His two friends fell silent, and Logan sank back into his thoughts.
"She's upstairs," Steffi's mother whispered when she opened the door and saw Logan standing outside. Logan didn't need to ask who: he just nodded quietly, feeling the mood in the room dampen his already low spirits. It just felt so..empty. So lost.
When he gently pushed the oh so familiar door open, he saw Anna, sitting on her younger sister's bed, staring at the multitude of pictures on Steffi's nightstand. She didn't seem to acknowledge Logan's presence, instead continuing to look at the small pictures Steffi had assembled.
Logan sat down on the bed opposite her, taking in Steffi's room, the room which he had helped his best friend decorate. He remembered it so vividly...
"Logan, stop wasting the paint," Steffi laughed as Logan flicked some at her.
"Think of it as...uh...well don't think of it as wasting." Logan grinned as he flicked some more at her. "Besides. This gets a lot more paint on the wall than us actually painting it."
Steffi yelped as the paint got onto her clothes. "Okay, you asked for it," she warned, brandishing her paint brush. She dipped her brush into the can of white paint she held in one hand.
Logan eyed her cautiously. "What exactly are you planning to do?" he asked suspiciously.
Steffi shrugged, a little too casually. "Oh, nothing."
Logan eyed her warily and turned back to the wall he was painting. Five minutes passed, before he realized that something was dripping into his hair. "Hey!" he yelped when he realized that Steffi had been standing over him as she casually dripped the wet paint over his head.
Steffi started giggling. "You really shouldn't be so stressed, Logan. All that stress seems to be turning your hair white." She started laughing as Logan treated her to a baleful glare.
Later, when Steffi's mother walked in after the two had disappeared for lunch, she wondered why the two of them had been covered in paint, yet the walls weren't even halfway finished.
"She didn't want to go to the dance that night." Anna's voice was hollow, jerking Logan out of the happy memory. "But I kept telling her that she needed to get out more often, she needed to enjoy her time with you." She tossed a picture frame aside and laughed woodenly. "I haven't been able to sleep the last few nights, knowing that I probably sent her to her death."
"You didn't know it was going to happen. Nobody could have known." Logan found his words coming out hollow, too, lacking confidence. The simple truth was, he felt like he needed to blame somebody for this tragic accident.
Anna ran her hands through her red hair, recently dyed and trimmed. "It's amazing how death separates people, but brings us closer, all at the same time, don't you think?" she mused thoughtfully, leaning back against the wall. She picked up the picture frames and ran her fingers over them again, brushing her skin against her sister's smiling face. "I never knew my sister had so many friends. The only one I knew was you."
They sat in silence for a while, before Anna spoke again. "I was never close to my sister."
Logan had to agree with that one. He'd always sensed that the two sisters got along, but they weren't the closest of friends... Steffi never talked about Anna, and he had a sneaking suspicion that it was the same for the older girl.
Anna looked out the window, musing. "We never talked, you know? I mean. I had my own friends, and I knew she had you, but I always thought that she was holed up in her room studying her scientific textbooks. I mean, she never went out. We talked about the weather. The weather. Siblings don't talk about the weather.
And then she got the news that she was dying, and I suddenly realized how much I missed my baby sister. The only one who came to my room when I was eight, wanting to know if I had recovered from my hives yet. I didn't know all this about her. I didn't even know that she redecorated her room, for heaven's sake." Anna swept her arm across the room. "But still. I couldn't bridge the gap between us. The gap that I had allowed to widen over the years...I could only bring myself to talk to her about you. It seemed to be the only subject I could talk freely on."
Logan couldn't stop a small smile. "Talking about me?"
Anna cracked a tiny smile of her own, a small ray of light that broke the gloom and grief that still lingered in this room. "Yeah. Surprised? Don't be." She paused, rubbing her eyes, before adding, "She really loved you, you know."
"Yeah? Could have fooled me." Logan exhaled, the memory of the night of the dance rushing back to him. "The night she died... she yelled at me. Told me that she didn't actually love me, that she was just using me. I didn't know what she meant then...I still don't."
The oddest flicker passed over Anna's face for a moment, before she rearranged her expression, but Logan saw it and heard what she said next. "Steffi, you moron, you actually did it," she muttered to herself.
"You knew about this?" Logan, was to put it frankly, shocked.
"I knew that she was planning on something about breaking up with you, and I told her not to." Anna met his gaze with a desperate attempt to exonerate herself. "I thought she agreed not to do it!"
"Why?" Logan's question was heavy with curiosity and desperation to know the answer. Finally, somebody who could provide an answer to the question that had been swirling around in his head since that fateful night.
Anna hesitated. "I don't know," she answered finally, those three words shattering Logan's hopes. "I never tried to talk to her much about it. All I said was that she shouldn't, and then I changed the subject. Okay?" She hurriedly hopped off the bed and slipped out of the room, leaving Logan alone in the room, shocked, confused, and even angrier than ever.
Anna popped her head back into the room as an afterthought. "Um, Logan? Your answer to your question?"
"You don't have it," Logan snapped. "I get it."
"No. I was going to say, Steffi was writing a lot in the days since she got the news about her cancer." Anna came back and pulled over the box that she had been packing and pulled out a spiral bound red notebook. "You should probably read it. Maybe it has your answers there."
They couldn't do it. They couldn't pack Steffi's things away. Every time one of their family members touched any article of Steffi's, any piece of clothing, they would shudder as memories swamped them, although their reactions differed slightly after that: Steffi's mother would break down, Anna would sniffle as she repressed her own tears, and Steffi's father hastened to the bathroom, but not before everyone noticed a strange dampness in his eyes.
Logan, for his part, had his own set of memories, but he was distracted by the fact that there was a small red notebook waiting to be read in his backpack. He itched to take it out and read it, but was too committed to the fact that he had a responsibility being here, to help his friend's mother pack away her stuff.
So when Mrs. Campbell finally announced tearfully that they would have to wait until another day to finish packing, Logan couldn't get out of the house fast enough.
So, I found out I was dying today. I got cancer.
Logan scanned the words, written by a certain girl on the day she found out about her signed death certificate. He read it over and over again, as if by reading her written thoughts he could summon her back to the realm of the living.
I'm not too sure how I feel right now...I know I'm supposed to feel sad, but in a way, I feel...calm. Like I knew that I...was going to...die. Like I knew that I was never meant for this life.
Oh, but Steffi, how do you know you weren't? Logan asked silently, thumbing the pages gently, curled up against the window of his room. If he had been with Steffi when she wrote this entry, he would have known that he was in the exact same position that she had been in, curled up, except that she had had a pencil in her mouth as she struggled to find words to put on paper.
He would have seen the way her eyes scrunched up as she contemplated what she wrote next.
I know I should probably tell Logan, but I don't want to. I know he's my best friend, but lately, I've been wondering if we're more than that. It's probably nothing, though. But I'm still not telling him. If I don't think about it, then maybe it won't seem so real...
That was it. The end of the entry. Logan closed his eyes as he recalled when she had told him about her dying, the rush of horror, fear, sadness, and longing to protect her from the darkness, all at once.
The next entry, when he finally turned the page, was short, but it still brought a smile to Logan's face.
So, he kissed me. I'm amazed. My first kiss. And it couldn't have been sweeter.
She rambled on for a few more sentences before finishing off with a, You know what? I suck at writing. He's the writer. Not me.
Logan turned the page.
I must have been drunk yesterday. Or on drugs. What was I thinking?
I can't kiss him. We can't love each other. I'm dying, for heaven's sakes. If I die, and I suspect that I will, I would be taking him along to the grave with me. I can't do that. It would be like...murder.
No, I have to break up with him.
Oh, what am I saying? Would it be so wrong just to go along with love, just this once, see where it takes me? I've never felt this way about anyone before. I don't feel my stomach doing flips, I don't hear fireworks, angelic choirs, and anything else. All I can hear when I think of him is his laugh. All I can see are his eyes when they watch me, when they look deep into mine, that shade of blue, so like my own.
Is this love? If it is, why now?
Whoa. Logan sat upright, leaning forward as he read the words again.
The thing is, I know that I can't do this. I know that I can't just lead Logan on. I'm dying. Time is short.
This has to end.
Logan sat back,the events of the night of the accident flashing back in his mind.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me, okay?! You're just imagining something that's not there! You're nothing but a toy, don't you get it?!"
Logan swallowed painfully. So. She had been planning this all along. She'd deliberately set out to hurt him, deliberately set out to break his heart that night.
All because she didn't want to hurt him when she died.
Logan closed his eyes and rocked back and forth, trying to make sense of it all. He felt anger that she had hurt him that night, relief that she didn't actually mean what she had said, and grief at the fact that she was gone. He couldn't even confront her now, couldn't even hold up this piece of evidence and ask her why.
She'd gone too soon.
She hadn't even done what she had wanted to do.
He still loved her.
And he doubted that he'd ever stop...
It was an hour later that Logan finally reached the last few pages of the spiral notebook.
I don't want to go to the dance tonight, Steffi had written. Something bad is going to happen, and I don't think it's because tonight's the night that I have to break Logan's heart.
It's a gut feeling I feel deep down. I don't feel like going.
It's probably nothing...but I still don't want to go. Maybe if I fake sick?
Logan, despite his misery, had to repress a chuckle when he read the next entry.
Anna didn't buy it. She's insisting I go. I think she saw the hairdryer in the bathroom. I knew I shouldn't have left it there after heating up my forehead...
And that camera-that camera! I'm sick of her hovering outside my room waiting for me to come out so she can snap a picture of me. It's not like this is my last dance or anything..
Oh wait. It is. Yes. That was sarcasm. That was for you, Anna, if you're reading my notebook, which I know you do on a regular basis...
Logan shook his head at the thought of his best friend sitting at her table, a mischievous smile dancing across her face at the thought of her older sister shrieking about the latest entry. It just seemed so real somehow, like she was just in front of him writing in that journal.
One last entry was scribbled on the page, hastily penned, as if she had been rushing to finish it.
I really don't want to break his heart. Just the thought of him takes my breath away, and I want to guard that feeling jealously. I want to take it to my grave. I don't want to think of him during my last hour and remember him hating me.
I want to go remembering his blue eyes and his smile. The way his eyes dance when he laughs at me. The way he says my name. Not the hurt I'm going to serve to him on a silver platter tonight.
I just want to have a good night.
Too bad I'm not going to get what I want.
It's do or die.
Ugh, I just want this night to be over-
Oh no, he's here.
That was it. A quick full stop and it was the end of the entries. Logan gulped as he realized that this was probably the last entry she had ever penned right before her accident. He ran his finger over the blank pages, imagining Steffi with her pen, moving across the page with him.
Even when she was gone, she managed to speak to him somehow. Logan tried to find comfort in the fact that she had actually loved him, but the slap of her death made it difficult to find solace. He tossed the notebook to one side and covered his eyes, falling back onto his bed. "Why?" he asked the room. "Why?"
Even when he fell silent, the question lingered in the air.
Through the pin hole, see the night go
You're terrified of the light show
One more pill and you won't feel a thing
It's been three years since she died.
Has it only been three years? It feels like eternity.
Life's getting back to normal. Somewhat. As normal as normal can be, I guess.
School's been average. I still play b-ball with Jake and Cam.
Jake, as usual, is being dragged into all sorts of scrapes with Cam. Sierra just came back from England for a holiday, so I hear he's been spending time with her. I think they're friends now...just friends...but I'm not sure, I haven't really spoken to him lately. The few times I've seen him, he seems to have a glow in his eyes that wasn't there before. Then again, what Cam tells me about Jake and Sierra isn't to be fully believed. It's Cam, after all...
Cam is still being the idiot that he was three years ago. He still talks a lot, still says things that he can't actually do, but at least he's toned down a bit. He's learned his lesson somewhat after some gangsters beat him up for mouthing off to their girlfriend...
The entire Campbell family is still under repair. I hear that Anna got a scholarship to Yale. Surprising, really. I never pegged her for the bookworm type..that was always her younger sister.
Steffi's parents are functioning, but they've never actually been the same since their youngest daughter died. They smile and laugh with each other, try to put up the facade of a happy family, a normal family. But I can see it. I can still see the cracks and holes that Steffi's death left behind. They laugh, they smile, they fool the world, but to those closest to them, they can see that Mrs. Campbell's laughter lacks something, Mr. Campbell's smile seems strained and Anna is missing her usual cheeriness.
As for me...well, I've changed.
'Cause you pushed me off in pieces
So you never feel the blame
Of a broken heart and all that it contains
I'm not the boy I was three years ago. I feel like I'm missing a limb.
People look at me and say that there's something there that wasn't there before. All I can really do is just nod along and pretend that they're right. And in a sense, they are. I've lost my best friend, and she isn't coming back.
And you don't know who you are
But you don't know who you are
I've taken to spending my evenings in the field where we first realized we loved each other-where we first kissed. At times, I think I can feel her around me, in the setting sun rays on my face. Sometimes, I hear her laughter in the wind that gently caresses the leaves and blows them all around; I can almost her sitting against my back, both of us not talking, just like we used to.
And then I lose myself too deeply into the fantasy, and I speak, and I realize that the wind is just the wind, and that I've been dreaming for far too long.
It's been three years, and I still haven't forgotten her.
You try to, but you can't move
As the windows crash around you
No one there to carry you away
Our pictures, our memories, have been tucked up in a small photo album up on my bookshelf somewhere, but I've come to realize that I don't need photographs to remember her smile, her giggle, the way she tilted her head to meet my eyes. Sometimes, I catch myself smiling for no good reason, and I notice that I've been thinking about her.
They said that it would take time to heal. They said that I'd be able to leave all this behind and move on. They said that that would be what Steffi wanted. I don't doubt that last claim- she hurt me just to accomplish that, after all.
And the photographs are falling
And they're shaking me to the core
You never did tread lightly
You want more
You know what's ironic? Steffi hurt me so that I'd be able to let her go when she truly died- but it didn't work after all. She hurt me alright- but three years, and I don't think I've moved on. Not even an inch. She's just too much for me to forget..
Steffi wasn't perfect.
She had her flaws, but she always did what she thought was right.
She wasn't perfect..
And I loved her anyway.
And you don't know who you are
But you don't know who you are
In the three years that followed her death, I haven't found anyone who truly reminds me of her.
Yes, I dated a few girls here and there, but none of them matched up to the kind of girl that Steffi was. Some people accused me of clinging to the past, but I see no harm in remembering a time of my life where a girl's laughter was warm, her blond hair smelled like strawberries and she had blue eyes that sparkled like the ocean on a sunny day.
Perhaps I'll never find a girl like Steffi.
Perhaps I will.
Perhaps I'll be capable of leaving Steffi behind one day and start a new life.
Perhaps, I'll open my eyes and see her smiling at me again.
There are so many perhaps, so many things that I'll never know.
Life doesn't always have happy endings...I know that now.
And perhaps, today, when I get on the plane and fly off to New York, I'll finally leave this town, and maybe, I'll forget the girl who stole my heart.
Come outside, take my hand
All the things you'll understand
And you will know
when you let go
I adore you.
But I highly doubt it...
I feel so dumb. Seriously. This took me forever to write. Brain chickened out and decided to quit, so guess what? I had to write this using my uh..limited capacity to think.
So that's it. Finito. Poor Logan. I like him. hugs
And yes, this chapter's pretty patchy. Mostly because I just started school and therefore, I'm being kept running around like an insane person.
So yeah. Read and Review.
P.s.- The song used here is 'Who You Are' by the Cary Brothers.