I Can't Face the Dark Without You
Reserved for Dr Jekyll
Dreary forecast to say the very least. The sky was dark grey with clouds tumbling quickly overhead, but without so much as another thought the rain began that morning. Why had it been raining everyday since Tuesday? Today was Friday, and only three days after the accident that changed everything. Roland had been taken from them, and all it took was an idiot driving drunk down the wrong side of the road and a faulty set of brakes. It was all it took, and no one survived. James had barely hung on that night in the hospital before slipping away, and it was by far the hardest thing they would ever have to go through.
Claire Stephens, an 18 year old young woman with grey eyes that were usually nothing but bright and lively were darker, and almost a shade of ocean blue. The large house she lived in with her parents and younger sister, Cecelia was quiet and she felt the tears coming to her eyes again. Everything in her world came crashing down that day, and now all she could do was cry. She had spent an hour in the shower, sitting on the large linoleum tiles with her arms wrapped around her knees as she rocked back and forth. Today was going to be a long day for sure, but a day she had to go through indeed.
Her hair had since been dried and left down for the day, her eyes only bearing a small amount of make up. Her black, knee-length dress clung to her form and she had pulled on a loose-fitting beige cardigan over herself and looked herself over as she slipped into her black pumps. She wasn’t at all ready for this, and she recalled the call earlier in the week when she had been asked to play at his funeral. It was no doubt that Claire had talent when it came to music, she could play the piano by memory, sing along to any song in key, and she always, always, had her guitar in the trunk of her KIA.
She looked to the clock on her wall as she sat at her vanity. Ten til eleven, and the funeral began at eleven thirty. She needed to be off, and soon she picked up the duffle bag of her clothes, shoes, make-up, and some photographs and headed down stairs and into the garage where her car was parked. She had been in the process of moving out into a small studio apartment away from the good side of town where she lived. To be away from her parents and to finally have the privacy she so desperately craved. She had offered her friends the place to retreat to after the funeral, and she had most of it set up already, she had just stayed at her parents the last few nights to finish up packing and go to the funeral. It was closer after all.
She headed back inside and took a couple of her other bags, and looked at the empty room where only the bed, the dresser, and the vanity were left now. Her parents were paying for it to keep her away from the house because she was a disgrace in their eyes. She couldn’t help who she was or what she did, the medication she had been put on helped, but she could never actually control that part of herself. That damned voice, it was everywhere she was it seemed, and all she ever wanted was to be normal. Around her friends it was like she could be, especially around Roland who knew her every in and out, up and down… Bad and good. Her trip to the mental institution the summer after sophomore year had been hell, but Roland had covered for her. He told her friends that she was off on a family vacation and couldn’t call out. What a lie that was, but they seemed alright with it.
No one knew that her parents turned their back on her, that their neighbor, Mrs. Biggs had been raising her and taking care of her since she was eleven and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. Where it came from or what triggered it, no one knew, but after that she became a burden to her family. Then her sister, Cecelia came along and so far she was a perfect little girl. She closed her eyes and started up her car and headed down to the funeral home.
Her mind wandered as she drove though, to the day she first met Roland. That winter day in the forest just across from the school.
Her mind was fogged, as it had been nearly that whole semester. Her mind seemed to have been fogged ever since that day, just after she turned eleven. She was never the same, not after the voice came, but since her sister had started pre-school she had quit taking her medication, just so she didn’t feel so alone. The forest was covered in the thicket of snow that everywhere in Ash Lake had been covered in, and she laid in the at least six inches of snow in just a pair of jean shorts, a tank top, a button down, flannel shirt, and her converse. The fetal position had her body heat curling up so she didn’t freeze so easily, but the voice had led her here and begged her stay there like that until they were at peace.
Just a little longer, Claire. Just a little more time and you’ll be at peace. You’ll never have to worry about the cruel words anymore. I just want to protect you, protect us. it told her, and she only nodded. No one can hurt you now.
“No one can hurt me now,” she absent mindedly said after that and she continued to lie there, her bare skin already colored a shade of red.
Warm hands came over hers and pulled her up and she shook her head slightly to see someone standing there and she looked at him. A warm jacket had been placed around her shoulders, and she looked at the figure, curious as to why someone dare come near her. “You’ll freeze to death out here.”
No! Don’t listen to him, Claire! He will just hurt you, like everyone else does!
Claire remained silent and just stared at the boy before her and she watched as she smiled a bit. “I’m Roland, what’s your name?”
“C-Claire.” she shuddered a bit, and he looked at her.
“Come on, you can ride with me.” he had told her, gently leading her away from the forest and into his car. “You want to tell me why you were just lying there trying to freeze to death?”
“It’s a long story.” she spoke, though the shudder was still apparent from the cold. “One that will probably send you running after I tell you.”
“Try me.” he said to her as they headed up to his house and he quickly led her up to his room and let her lie in his bed after giving her some warmer clothes to change into.
She shook her head at the memory. It was the first time anyone ever listened to her, and it was the first time anyone actually cared enough to help her. Then she was brought into a group of people that she knew she could never live without now. And Roland, the young man who had brought her into said group, was gone and she wasn’t sure what she would do. In her memory, she saw she was at the funeral home and she quickly sucked in a breath and headed inside and sat at the piano without a word to anyone. She was already a little late, she needed to be playing music while people entered and when she sat at the piano near the back of the room, she felt her heart sink as she began playing the music. Most of it was just classical music, played in different keys and unabridged versions. She always loved classical music and Roland had loved to sit and listen to her play.
How she would miss him. How she would always have a void within her that would never fill up, not so long as she was alive.
Pit, pat. Pit, pat. Pit, pat. Pit, pat. Tyler had been listening to the rain hitting the roof of his family’s greenhouse for the last fifteen minutes as he browsed through it. His family owned the local floral shoppe, but his father was a businessman. That often had his mother and father heading away to areas for many days and leaving the shoppe in the charge of his older brother, Thomas. That was a joy, but at least he never had to pay for floral arrangements, and with the extra money he had made from working at the local grocery store, he was able to get the necessary work done on his car. He and Roland had meant to go for a ride the day before yesterday, just after he got it out of the shop the see if it was going to hold up, but that day never came. The day did, but the events never did. With a sigh, he finally selected a few more flowers for the day and placed one of the particularly dark red roses in the middle of the arrangement of brightly colored flowers.
He headed inside after that, and quickly showered and dressed for the day in a pair of black slacks, a nice white shirt and a blue tie with a black blazer over it. He felt polished, but inside he was broken. He had cried for the last few days, and had been with Claire, Adam, and Heather every chance he had. He had lost someone dear to him just as they had. He could recall the day that he met Roland with vivid accuracy.
They were just bullies, at least that was what Tyler Rhodes told himself as he pushed his glasses up from his nose as his books were yet again knocked out of his arms. He couldn’t help that his parents made him take advanced placement classes, even in middle school. He didn’t want it, but he was academically inclined and all he knew was to study and get smarter. No one ever wanted to be his friend, simply because he was so quiet and no one knew him. He was an untouchable then, but it never stopped the eighth graders from picking on, scrawny, little sixth grade Tyler Rhodes.
“You gonna cry to your mommy, Rhodes?” one boy teased.
Tyler shook his head, and soon he could feel a sting in his arm as they began pushing him around.
“Why not pick on someone your own size!” a taller boy in his class came up. Tyler only remembered his name briefly as Roland. They had been paired up in gym class at one point and he seemed nice enough, and soon Roland had scared off the bullies and helped Tyler pick up his things. “Don’t listen to those guys. They’re assholes.”
Tyler gave a small chuckle and Roland handed him his books. “Thanks. I’m Tyler Rhodes.” he introduced himself to get a similar introduction in return as he and Roland walked to the cafeteria together. It was nice, to have someone stand up for him, but Tyler felt so puny around him.
That puniness hadn’t lasted long though, the summer after sixth grade he grew a few inches and just before freshmen year he hit his growth spurt and now stood at a steady 6’2”. He was easily the tallest in the group, though he was sure that Adam was still slightly taller than he was. Still, he looked to the small bouquet of flowers he had made up and picked them up along with his car keys. A beat up ‘87 Chevy. He didn’t care though, he had paid for it himself, and all his extra money seemed to go into. Sure, his parents had given him money to run on, but he didn’t like taking it from them. He guessed it was them trying to compensate for not being around like they should have been.
“Thomas!” Tyler called to his brother, “I’m heading out, might be home tonight, call you if I’m not going to be!”
He took up his overnight bag. Tyler had no intentions of returning home tonight, knowing that Thomas’ girlfriend was over, and the moment Tyler got in his car he sighed. He wanted to do something more for his friends, he really did, but he didn’t know what. Claire had already offered her new apartment for them to sit around and talk, even stay the night at, after the funeral. She had always been kind like that it seemed though.
Adam was the support system of the group, and he knew that Adam would be the one that they clung to now. If they clung to anything. He had been trying to get a hold of Claire since yesterday afternoon, but after seeing her Wednesday, she just quit answering calls. She was broken and anyone could see that. He could remember her, throughout all of school. She was the one who was in school one day and after middle school started it was like she was gone halfway through the week for extended periods of time and then back like nothing ever happened.
Tyler shook his head and took up his phone as he started up his car and tapped the keys on it. Finally he got up the nerve to call Heather. He didn’t know if she had a ride or not, or if she would even accept his ride or not, but he decided that offering was better than not offering.
“Hey, Heather, it’s Tyler. Just wanted to know if you wanted a ride.” he spoke into his phone. He lived up the street from Heather and Adam, Claire, by far, living the furthest away. Still, he sat there in his car, watching the wind shield wipers move to keep his windshield dry. Needless to say it wasn’t exactly working the greatest, but he looked at the rain as the flecks on his windshield began appearing more rapidly.
A black KIA caught his eye as it headed to the funeral home. He had been asked to be a pallbearer and he could recall Claire telling him that she would playing the music today. It was morbid that she was playing the music at one of her best friend’s funerals, but then again, Tyler also thought it was morbid that any of them had to go through this. Still, he was trying to be a man about his feelings and keep from crying.
He hadn’t done well in that department the past few days, and he looked down to his hands after receiving an answer from Heather and just sat in his car a little while longer. He didn’t know what else to do, but he knew that the weather was going to be wet, just as the last few days had been. He didn’t want to think about how the weather suited the way things felt, but he also didn’t want to think about the fact that Roland, the whole reason he had such amazing friends, was gone forever.
He shuddered and took off down the road, heading to Heather’s house to sit a moment while he waited for her. He didn’t know if she was going to ride with him, but he knew he would much rather follow someone familiar to the funeral home so he didn’t completely miss it. With the state of mind he was in now, he likely would.
[Sorry if this is a little long, I got into it]