It was the only thing that kept him going these days, and he needed it like he needed air to breathe.
So soon…but not just yet.
He just wanted, needed a little bit more time, even if it only meant having the right to remember how things used to be.
But life refused to cooperate, and the end came sooner than Acheron expected, and it was so much worse than he could have ever foreseen.
The anatomy of viral posts on social media always started with a fork in the road – those that were meant to inspire positive feelings…and those that weren’t. The happy ones: anything from cat videos to stories of Good Samaritans and the proverbial prodigal son – these almost always had an organic reach while the not-so-happy ones generated likes through paid boosts and advertising behind the scenes. The ones that inspire rarely had a quantifiable objective in mind while the other type almost always had a target.
The one thing both types of viral posts had in common was how it caused people to inevitably expose their true colors. Good or bad, posts were shared by people because it made them feel.
Some posts inspired people to become better, and they wanted others to become better, too.
Some posts made people feel envy, and misery always loved company.
And then there was that last kind of post.
Posts that were meant to hurt, to humiliate, and ruin other people’s lives.
People shared these posts, too.
Even if they didn’t have to, even if they had to lie to themselves and conceal their trails through private messages –
Sometimes, people couldn’t just help themselves.
It started as a fairly ordinary Sunday morning for the Joneses. While the continued absence of Acheron in their household was hard to miss and had long cast an unshakable pall over the whole family, everyone still did their best to find a reason to smile. Their family was no stranger to hardships, and no matter how things would eventually turn out between Acheron and Pippi they all knew they would be able to survive it.
What mattered was that they were together, and together they were unbeatable.
“Are you really going to wear that to church?” Rue asked with a wrinkle of her nose.
Pippi rechecked her appearance on the mirror with a frown. “What’s wrong with it?” She just had on her usual loose blouse and slacks, and they seemed imminently presentable to her.
It screams ‘I’m so heartbroken I don’t care how I look anymore’, Pippi’s youngest sister thought. But because even she knew it was just too soon to say such a thing, she cleared her throat and tried to be diplomatic instead. “We’re going to the beach after, remember?”
Oh. Right. A strained smile flitted over Pippi’s lips at the thought of being surrounded with azure skies, clear waters, and soft white sand. Isla de Flores’ postcard-perfect beaches might be a balm for the soul for others, but right now the mere thought of immersing in herself with such beauty made Pippi felt sick.
The mood she was in, she wanted her surroundings to reflect the emptiness in her, wanted to just curl up in a ball under the covers and pretend that everything was still okay between her and Acheron.
Having this huge, incomprehensible distance between them hurt so much that her mind had deliberately shied away from counting the days that had passed since she last saw him. Maybe, if a part of her had expected things to go downhill this soon and this drastically – maybe losing him wouldn’t hurt as much.
But because the sudden change in Acheron’s attitude had completely blindsided her, Pippi found herself lost and grasping for an explanation – any explanation was fine. Anything, that is, except what was right under her nose, demanding to be acknowledged.
Could he have really left her just like that, like nothing they shared meant a thing to him?
And all because he had spent one second too long in Amelia’s company and realized the other woman was and would always be the love of her life?
Why, Acheron? Why?
Why act like he could give Pippi his heart when he had never gotten it back in the first place?
Just the thought of it was near enough to cripple her, and Pippi unconsciously reached for the bedpost, fearing she would fall if she didn’t hold on to it for dear life. She turned to Rue, her gaze just a little blurred, and her voice just a little hoarse as she asked clumsily, “Do you think Mom would m-mind if I skipped…”
Rue quickly turned away and lowered her head as she began rummaging through her bag like she was looking for something. “I don’t think she’d mind at all,” she mumbled. “But it would make everyone worry.” While speaking, she kept her gaze fixed on her bag the whole time, knowing that if she ever saw Pippi’s tears start to fall, it would be the end of her, too.