✧･ﾟ: *✧･ﾟ:* ALREADY GONE *:･ﾟ✧*:･ﾟ✧
❝ To love them, you have to set them free.❞
xxii. twenty - wattpad link
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TWO MONTHS LATER
Even with two layers, a winter coat and a woolly scarf, I still felt chilly. The coffee cup in my hand did nothing to keep me warm. I was expecting it to snow but it's been a few years since we've had snow in December.
It's been about two months since we were all at Anne's and I think that day has been a turning point in just about everything.
Gemma and I have been speaking a lot actually, we've even gone out for coffee a few times. I have been back to Holmes Chapel a lot more too, I should probably start paying rent to Rebecca for her sofa. That also meant that I have been visiting my parents' grave a lot more and I still have mixed feelings about that. Anne has also been over a few times and while she and Rebecca have been on the wine, I've been babysitting which works for all of us.
Harry was rushed back to London for work after that weekend and he hasn't had time to be home but we still speak every day. He was currently in LA having meetings and whatnot about his upcoming tour in the new year.
Things have changed a lot between Harry and I. I couldn't put my finger on it. I have missed him though. It feels weird not seeing him for two months after spending a weekend together. It feels like I am right back to when One Direction took off.
I tried to not let it bother me. I mean, we weren't in a relationship. We're just friends.
I don't even get this bothered when I haven't seen Caroline in months.
However, Caroline is spending her Christmas Eve with her mum so she is coming a week early and staying with me for a few days then we'll head to Rebecca's for a meal. Oscar said he'll be coming up from Nottingham and joining her and her mum for Christmas Eve then they're going home to spend Christmas Day together before heading down south to see his family for Boxing Day.
I was out shopping this morning for some groceries for Rebecca when I found the most beautiful bouquet of Camellias which were my mum's favourite flowers so I thought I would pay my parents' a visit this afternoon.
I used to hate visiting my parents. I thought they wouldn't want me at their grave. The nightmares about them blaming for me their death still occurs but not as frequent now. I don't have a degree in psychology or anything but I have had many therapy sessions and what everyone has told me is that it's just my guilt manifesting itself and while I still think I am to blame — I know deep down that I'm not but I couldn't help but still feel guilty that they died because of something I asked them to do.
It'll take more than a few therapy sessions to fix what's going on in my head.
The cemetery was quiet. It usually is on a miserable, cold day like today. Nevertheless, I could still spot a couple of families paying their respects to their lost ones. I walked the familiar path towards my parents grave and passed many people's loved ones.
When you think about it, the concept of cemeteries is odd. I mean, a mass field of dead bodies? You are either buried next to your family or a stranger — never connected in life but stuck with each other in death.
It's also a sad place. Many people come to mourn, some even come to shout and blame the dead. Grief is an odd journey, no one experiences it the same. Everyone gets better at their own pace; some don't even get better. There is no set time for healing.
Nearly nine years later and I'm nowhere near done in my seven stages of grief. I have been through shock and denial and I'm over the anger and bargaining. Now, I'm working my way through pain and guilt and I don't see myself ever getting out of the depression. I know I'm not to be blamed for my parents' freak accident but I still feel guilty about it.
I don't think I'll be getting out of the depression stage anytime soon; losing my parents is the worst thing that has ever happened.
I hope I'll have my upward turn soon. I'm holding out for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow except in my world, it's still storming.
Once I reached my parents' headstones, I set the flowers down and gave them a soft smile, knowing they probably couldn't see me, "Hi mummy, daddy."
Sitting down on the damp grass, not caring about it getting my clothes dirty. I was wearing a black, waterproof winter coat which was easy to wash. I continued to speak to the stone with their names and cliche quotes engraved into it, "I miss you guys, but you already know that."
"Every day something happens that I just think to myself, I wish you guys were here so I could tell you. Then other days, I wish we weren't such a close family so it didn't hurt as much to lose you two. I don't think that would have worked anyway because you two raised me to be kind and selfless so regardless, I would be heartbroken over the loss."
Taking a deep breath, I tried to compose myself but I was already crying. I let out a humourless laugh before saying, "Look at me. I'm so pathetic. I still cry over you like a stupid baby. I'm sorry I let you down."
"I'm sorry for never getting into uni like you two want," I muttered the same apology as I do every time I visit their grave. "I am sorry for throwing my life away for drugs. I am so sorry for not being the best daughter I can be."
Of course, I was met with silence. Not that I expected them to talk back. They are dead and if they did start responding then I think I might need to see someone about other issues.
"Anyway, the last week has been very boring," I started to tell them, sitting with my legs crossed underneath me. I put the half-full coffee cup on the grass and traced the outline of their shared headstone with my finger. A soft smile graced my lips.
"I worked three days, training up the new starts then I've been back here with Rebecca, looking after her little rascals." A laugh escaped my lips as I recalled how the girls got into their mother's wardrobe and started playing dress-up while she was out doing the weekly shop.
"Rachel and Jane got into Rebecca's wardrobe and tried half of her clothes on. I thought she would have a couple more years before she had to deal with that," I shook my head, "Mum, remember when Harry and I got into your wardrobe during a playdate? I only remember the part where you came running up the stairs when Harry tried to put your bra on."
A full-blown laugh left my mouth at the image that was engraved in my brain. We were so innocent back then.
"You know Harry and I have been speaking all the time, texting whenever we have the chance or facetiming if we were lucky enough to be free at the same time," I confessed, my smile turning into a frown, "I hate it."
I blew out a breath before spilling everything I wanted to say, "I just feel like I'm right back where we were when we were seventeen. Him, constantly away recording for the band, doing promotional work for the band and eventually travelling the world with his band. Now, he's doing all of that but as a solo artist. We're not back together or anything but I feel like we can't deny that we're more than friends."
"I want nothing more than for us to be okay but we genuinely have too much history to go back to being just friends," I sighed, changing the positioning of my legs so I could pull my knees up to my chest for comfort. "Mums know best, sorry dad, but I wonder if you ever saw us getting together? I know Anne did and she was definitely our number one fan."
"I love Harry, I always have and I always will. I think I've even been in love with Harry for more than half of my life but I was just blind or completely oblivious to those feelings. Once you get a taste for it, it's hard to stop. I wish I could explain to you how good it feels to be loved by him and how much of a loss it is when you lose that feeling. I know what you two are thinking, that I should tell him the truth and maybe we'll be able to fix things."
Shaking my head, I groaned, "It's not that easy. I have spent years keeping this secret and now that we are in a much better place, why should I ruin things by dragging up the past?"
I finished the rest of my coffee despite it falling to the same temperature as its surroundings, coffee should never go to waste.
A breeze washed over me and I shivered, not enjoying the cold weather at all.
"It's nippy out here while you two are cosy down there. Couldn't we have been one of those families with a private mausoleum?" I attempted at making a joke to make myself feel better.
I sat for a while in silence, collecting my thoughts. Even though it was freezing, I felt warmth and comfort knowing I was with my parents. I knew they weren't physically with me but I could feel their spirit. You never lose someone you love, they always live in your heart. It took me a long time to come to terms with that.
"Oh yeah," A thought popped into my head, "I got my working holiday visa for Australia approved. Now I just need to book my flights, find somewhere to live and find a job."
A grin crept onto my face as I rambled absentmindedly, "I'm really excited. I think I want to stick with barista jobs but I've heard that it's easier to find office temping jobs. I've never worked in an office though and I don't fancy working on a farm either. I guess it would be fun if you were an animal person which you two know I'm not."
"I haven't told anyone else yet. Not even Rebecca or James. I mentioned to Caroline once that I was thinking of applying but I haven't brought the subject up since," I picked at my dry cuticles. Freaking winter weather. "I haven't told Harry either."
"Me being in Australia wouldn't be any different to now. I mean, Harry is always away working and we rarely see each other as it is," I justified, "Should I talk about it with him? I don't see what difference it would make to our situation now."
"I should definitely tell Rebecca and James soon though. I'll miss them and they're little rascals," I sighed, tears starting to prick my eyes again, "They'll grow so much in the year I'm away."
"Then I have to quit my job too, give up my flat," I listed, starting to feel overwhelmed with everything and everyone I would have to say goodbye to and escaping the comfort of my home to go live somewhere I have never even been before.
I don't regret my decision to move away for a year. Or at least a year. Maybe during the year, I would find myself and finally decide on what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. Maybe it'll give me the space I need to heal. Away from Holmes Chapel, a place that holds a lot of my happy and sad memories.
An orange leaf blew towards me and fell on the patch of grass in front of me. It was bizarre for coloured leaves to be floating about in December.
"Is this your way of getting me to do art again, dad?" I let out a dry laugh, picking up the leaf and analysing the veins and shades.
The last time I picked up a pencil was shortly after my parents passed away. I couldn't stop my hands from shaking nor could I stop the tears streaming down my face. Ever since that attempt, I haven't picked up a pencil or a paintbrush.
Maybe trying to do art would be my first step of being okay before moving away to find myself.
"I don't even think I could remember how to draw or paint this," I murmured as my fingers brushed over the leaf, getting a feel for the texture.
I could hear in my head the praise my dad held for me, he would say, you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Over the last few months, my visits to my parents have gone from every few months to every few weeks and since I've been in Holmes Chapel more, they have become weekly and sometimes every few days. I feel like my more frequent visits have helped fill the gap they left behind and in a way, I feel closer to them now than compared to the last few years.
I suppose I have the new group therapy leader to thank for that.
They have really made a change in my life, pushed me to see things in a different light. Instead of avoiding my parents' grave out of guilt, I should visit them more and speak to them to rekindle that connection I used to feel with them. The first couple of times I struggled a lot with what I wanted to say, scared to say anything that I sat there in silence and just basking in the comfort of being close to my family.
It helped a lot.
I used to just bring flowers every few months and tell them I miss them and how sorry I was but now I sit down and tell them everything I would tell them if they were alive.
I told them about Caroline and Oscar, about their wedding and her plot to set Harry and I up. I told them everything that happened after that. All I talked about most of the time were Rachel, Jane and Jessica. I really wish my parents got to know them — Rebecca would have them as their godparents. I can just imagine the family dinners and family holidays.
If they were here, I wouldn't have turned out this fucked up, I guess.
I told them about Harry. A lot about Harry. If I wasn't talking about the girls, I would be talking about Harry. They would be so proud of him for how far he has come. He was no longer a little boy from Holmes Chapel. Harry conquered the world with his music.
I spent a lot of time gushing over the fact that he wrote songs about me. I still can't believe that someone would write a song about little ol' me.
It started drizzling and I took that as my cue to head back. I stood up and had to take a moment to wait for the feeling to get back to my legs, it was cold and the ground was not comfortable at all. I slipped the orange leaf into my bag and took the coffee cup.
"I'm going to love you and leave you both," I said, leaving a kiss on the headstone. "I'll be back soon."
As the rain started to fall harder, I jogged out of the cemetery to find shelter at the bus stop outside of the gates. Before sitting down on the bench, I threw the empty coffee cup in the bin next to it. I find it comforting watching the rain while I'm not caught in it. Brings the same comfort of watching two raindrops race each other down the car window.
I put my earphones in and enjoyed the voice of Adele in my ears while I waited for the rain to lighten up a bit so I could walk back to Rebecca's. I was staying over again tonight but I'm heading back to Manchester tomorrow. I should most definitely tell Rebecca and James about my move tonight. I want to be in Australia for March or April time I think.
Eventually, the rain went back to being a soft drizzle which I didn't mind so I started walking home.
How does one prepare for a working holiday in Australia? All I know about Australia is that their summertime is our winter and our wintertime is their summer. Aside from Melbourne and Sydney, I don't even think I know any other places in the country.
After a while, I finally got back to Rebecca's but to my surprise, the house was empty. I checked my phone and saw that I had a text from her explaining that they were at James' parents' house for dinner tonight.
I shrugged off my wet coat and hung it up on the stairs for it to dry. I took the leaf I had picked up from the cemetery earlier and just stared at it.
What do I do now?
A small part of me wants to try and draw or even pick up a pencil without sobbing. The rest of me doesn't want to look at art supplies and just wants to bin the leaf. I know I owe it to myself to try and do something I used to enjoy instead of punishing myself for enjoying life.
That's exactly what I was doing to myself.
I was punishing myself for living because my parents didn't get to. It was the guilt of losing them that pushed me to self-destruct.
I'm better now though.
I'm not the same person I was when I was fifteen.
The garage held a lot of my parents' old stuff that I never threw out. Rebecca left all their stuff in the garage for me to sort through when I was ready. Every few months I tend to go through it and decide if I should throw anything out. I normally couldn't get through very much of it before I started breaking down.
Upon opening the garage door, I was hit with nostalgia. I kept all of dad's art stuff in the corner. Half of the garage used to be his art studio and the other half was storage. We would spend a lot of evenings here painting together. Well, he painted while I annoyed him.
I could feel the tremor starting in my hands and I held them close to my chest, hoping they would stop. The unused canvas, paints, paintbrushes and pencils were still untouched from being dumped in here when Rebecca moved in.
The drawer unit dad put in to keep extra supplies have not been opened in years. I knew he kept some sketch pads in the top drawer so I opened that first and took one out for myself. Tucking the sketch pad under my arm, I grasped a few pencils I knew I needed from the pencil holder.
Not wanting to spend any more time than necessary being surrounded by my parents' belongings, I left the garage and locked it behind me.
I set up my own station on the dining table with my sketch pad in front of me and the pencils lined up next to each other on the side. Next, I placed the leaf above the sketch pad and then I just stared at my setup.
I took my phone out and had a message from Harry. I decided to put off drawing to read what it says.
Hi sunshine, I hope your day has been good. I hope you've been good. I am having a coffee right now and I must admit, it does not taste half as nice as yours.
I couldn't help the grin that spread across my face as I replied.
You cheeky fucker. I feel bad for the person that made you that. I had a good day, went to see my parents. Now, I'm thinking of drawing.
A few moments after I sent the text, my phone started ringing and I had an incoming Facetime call from Harry.
I slid to answer and his grinning face filled my screen, "Angel!"
"Haz!" I replied in the same tone.
"You're drawing?!" He exclaimed, wide-eyed.
I flipped my camera around so he could see the setup I had going before I started talking, "Well, I'm looking at it all right now. I found this leaf — more like the leaf found me and I think it might be a sign from dad that he wants me to create some sort of art."
I could see him nod before he answered, "Talk me through your set up then! I'll let you go be artistic afterwards but you have to show me the end product."
"Well, this is the sketch pad," I pointed at the blank page in front of me before talking through the rest of the stationery, "Here, I have an HB pencil, perfect for sketching. I picked up a couple of pencils of different shades of oranges and reds plus a yellow one. Then, this is the leaf I'm talking about."
"That must be some magical leaf if it's inspired you to pick up a pencil after eight years," he teased.
"Yeah, yeah," I rolled my eyes. "What have you been doing today?"
"I had some Gucci photoshoots," he smirked but just as he was about to say something else, his name was called off-camera.
"Eh, got to go, Mitch made dinner and it's ready now but I'll talk to you after. Let me know how the art goes," he rambled.
"Enjoy dinner," I smiled, giving him a wave. "I'll let you go then, love you, bye."
I immediately ended the call after I accidentally told Harry I love him, not even giving him the chance to respond.
The phone fell out of my hands out of shock and I slapped myself across the face for being so stupid.
I glared at the phone as if it had betrayed me, "You are one dumb son of a bitch."
Of course, I have told Harry I love him, as friends, before but not since we've rekindled our friendship and I wasn't sure where we stood with the L word. The last time I told him I loved him was when we were in a relationship.
The screen of my phone lit up with a text from Harry.
Love you too and bye to you too :)
I scowled at the text. He clearly didn't realise I meant it in a more than friends way because he's not freaking out. I suppose that's a good thing though. I don't want to fuck up the friendship.
The facetime call did help with calming me down a bit. I didn't feel as nervous as I thought I would be when I picked up the pencil.
My hands were still shaking a little bit but that was to be expected.
When my pencil made contact with the sketch pad, it didn't feel that bad. I was still shaking and riddled with nerves but I wasn't crying which is a start.
I tried to calm the shaking down so I could sketch an outline of the leaf without my pencil flying all over the page. My focus was solely on drawing this — I shut out every single unrelated thought because I was determined to do this for myself.
I was determined to take back what I used to enjoy.
I wanted to stop punishing myself over something I had no control over.
The guilt will always be there but I think that's just me as a person. However, I need to stop letting it control me.
I missed the sound of the pencil scribbling against the paper. I miss how the sketch pad felt against the bottom of my hand. I miss getting lost in my art for hours with just some pencils and a sketch pad. I miss it all.
By the time I was finished with the outline, my hands were more still than before. Letting out a shaky breath, I put the pencil down. The outline was nowhere as neat as it should be but I did it. I drew something and didn't break down over it.
I took my phone and snapped a picture before going onto my iMessage chat with Harry and sent him the picture with the text, I did it! It's a bit of a wonky leaf but I fucking drew that!
Seconds later, I received Harry's reply.
I am so proud of you. Beyond proud. Well done. You'll get better with time. Maybe one day, you can finally paint me like one of your french girls.
I laughed at his text, it was so typical of him. He has always been pestering me to paint a nude of him but we were like fifteen. I'm pretty sure that's illegal and besides, who wants a nude painting of their prepubescent self? Well, of course, Harry would. He's a narcissist.
I went and retrieved my earphones from my bag then plugged them into my phone. I resumed playing Adele then put the phone down and continued drawing my leaf.
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