I want to reach out to her, but I’m on one side of the couch and she’s on the other, and it’s best if I don’t. But when she’s in this fragile state, I just want to hold her close and keep her together so she doesn’t shatter into a million pieces. My only job right now is to be the glue that keeps her whole as best as I can. I almost tell her about my childhood and how fucked up it was but decide to keep it to myself for now. It wasn’t easy, so I understand.

“I know. I miss him too,” I offer. I miss our Friday afternoon beers and all the shit he’d give me when I was being a total asshole. He’d listen to me talk about things that didn’t even matter. I feel guilty for never telling him how much his friendship really meant to me, though I hope after all these years he knew.

Lennon unmutes the TV and continue watching this ridiculous show, but as I glance over in her direction, I realize how happy I am she’s here. Neither of us is the best company as broken, hollow shells of ourselves, but at least we have one another in some fucked-up way.

My phone vibrates in my pocket, and I see it’s Jenna again. I reject it and act like I’m watching the most interesting thing on TV and get lost in my thoughts. It buzzes again, and Lennon looks over at me as if I’m interrupting this shitshow she’s watching.

“If you don’t answer it, I might.” She smirks, but I can tell she’s serious. “Because after you answered my mother’s call, I kinda owe you one,” she quips, but the thought of her talking to Jenna has me pulling my lips into a firm line. Before Jenna can call again, because she will, I turn off my phone and stuff it into my front pocket. I feel Lennon glance at me, but I don’t dare meet her eyes. She swallows hard, and I wish I could read her mind.

Chapter Thirteen

Lennon

It’s been two weeks since Brandon’s death, and I’m trying to find my new normal without him. I promised everyone I’d take spring break to work through what’s happened, but I didn’t. I floated through the week with no concept of time. The days and nights blended, and instead of being twenty-four hours, they felt never ending. As if I were in my own personal prison. I’m in a constant state of sadness, and while the random bouts of tears still come, I’ve been able to maintain a sliver of control.

I talked to Mrs. Locke last week, and we reminisced about all the good times Brandon and I had over the past two years. She talks about him as if he’s here with us and just went on an extended vacation or something. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she’s in denial, but I get it because it’s almost easier to think about it that way.

I’m up before my alarm goes off as usual. My back aches from sleeping on the couch, but I can’t lay in our bed, the one we’ve shared for almost a year. A fucked-up part of me even wants to leave his dirty clothes and shoes on the floor from when he changed to go ride. Loose coins from his pockets are scattered on the nightstand, and everything is almost exactly how it was the last time he was here. It’s essentially a time capsule of our life together, and I don’t want to disturb it.

For the past two weeks, I’ve slept on the couch. I only go into our bedroom to grab clothes, but otherwise, I avoid it as much as possible.

The apartment is dark as I stumble down the hallway. As soon as I open my bedroom door, I turn on the lights and hurry to grab the things I need before going to the bathroom. As I stand in the shower, feeling the streaming water fall over me, my emotions start to bubble. Every morning, I used to sing as loudly as possible to start my day; however, I haven’t felt like it lately. Though I’m sure Hunter is thrilled since he hated it so much. Singing always made me so happy, but right now, there’s nothing to be happy about.

After I dress, I walk into the living room and realize how early it is. It dawns on me how clean the apartment is too, which is odd, considering I haven’t been keeping up with it. Hunter always had a disaster waiting for me in the mornings, and now he’s cleaning up after me.

The sun hasn’t risen yet, so I snatch my phone from the floor where I left it last night and see it’s barely past six. Instead of sitting around in a dark room, I decide to grab my bag and go to work early. Hopefully, today will go by fast, though I couldn’t be so lucky.

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