Short-Story Survival   by: Sarah Hopp   
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I want to wake up now. I want to see Darin's face. I want him to smile at me and tell me it's all going to be okay. On look into his hazel eyes with the black flecks glittering; burning into me like dark fire could easily make me escape this hellish nightmare. Come on Chelsea, wake up.

"Ashes to ashes; dust to--" the priest recited as he loomed over the human-sized box, which was situated upon a metal stand.

No, he can't be dead -- he's just playing a joke. Any minute now, he's gonna jump out of the box and yell, "Gotcha!" Good ol' Darin. Just like the old times.

A deep, masculine voice from behind startles me from my thoughts. It's my father, telling me that we have to go now.

"Dad," I reply, "we can't leave yet. I have to wait for Darin."

"Honey, Darin is dead," my father replies, so softly I can barely hear him.

Dead. The work echoes inside my head, sounding very similar to a broken record. Dead. Dead. Dead.

The soft, fall breeze blows on me. Into me. Through me. It chills my very soul, as I stare at him in disbelief, and recognize the sadness in his eyes. Looking all around, I notice all the tear-stained faces for the first time. My eyes must be betraying me, and I want to wake up NOW. No more of this. Darin can't be dead. We are going to prom together, and then we're gonna graduate. Darin is going to be valedictorian, of course, just as he ahd always been destined to be. Then, after graduation...

Someone is shaking me. It's my father. His voice seems light years away, and I don't even listen. My eyes, and my mind, are glued to the casket. The sun is reflecting off of the red mahogany, and all I feel is hatred. Hatred for that worthless damned box that has captured my best friend. I can't lie to myself anymore. Darin is dead.

My head suddenly feels abnormally light, and the bright light is blinding me. As I attempt to take a step forward, the ground swirls into a single mass of bright light, and then comes up to meet me, as everything goes red, then black.

My eyes feel like they weigh 200 pounds each, as I attempt to open them. My struggle is not in vain, but when the bright white light hits my eyes, I wish I would have never opened them in the first place.

The small room I am in is empty, but I can smell the hospital anesthetic quite clearly. There is an IV stuck deeply into my hand, and there is a dull (Darin is dead) ache. What am I doing here? Where is my family? As I call out, my voice sounds strangely groggy, and there is a sharp pain in my mouth that I never noticed before. I feel sharp wire against my tongue, and the taste of metallic blood.

"Mom? Dad?" I call out dazedly. "Is anyone here?"

Instantly a nurse pokes her head through the doorway, and then out again. Minutes later, my parents enter the room, and I feel strangely happy, yet empty, and I don't know (Darin is dead) why. "Mom," I croak as I look up at her, "why am I here? What happened?"

"Honey," she replies, her eyes filling with tears, "after the funeral, you started to talk strange. Not like yourself. You started talking about prom and graduation, and then you just...fainted." She paused; then went on to contiunue. "Sweetheart, you were talking just like Darin was there; like he's still..." she trailed off, as sobs racked her petite figure.

I sit here dazed; not knowing what to think. "What about Darin, Mom? Is he here? Has he come to see me? Please bring him in--what were you waiting for??" I reply, smiling against an unknown pain. I want to see Darin.

My father takes a step forward, his voice cracking with emotion as he says "Chelsea, four nights ago, Darin was killed in a drunk driving accident. He was on his way home from our house, when some drunken kid side-swiped him." My father was crying freely now; his hands lightly on my mother's shaking shoulders. "Baby, he didn't feel a thing. The doctors...they say the impact...," he took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "Honey, the impact broke his neck. He probably didn't even realize that he got hit." His head drops, as the tears roll down his face.

My mother speaks up, her voice shaky, but determined. "Chelsea, the doctors say that you are in a state of shock and denial. You don't seem to believe that Darin is dead. When you fainted," her voice cracked, "your father caught you, but not before you bit into your ckeek. You needed seven stiches, and..."

I'm not listening anymore. My thoughts keep turning back to Darin. It finally sinks in that Darin is never coming to see me. In fact, I'm never going to see his face again--the same one that could shift from a smile to a pout in less than a second, or the eyes that told me everything would be alright. He didn't even have to say a word. I knew. I simply knew that he loved me, yet took it for granted. I took his love for granted, and never had the chance to say that I loved him back. I'd give anything up just to see him one last time and tell him that I love him; that he was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now it is too late. Darin is gone. Dead. Dear Diary,

It has been several weeks, now, since Darin's death. My friends at school are still coming up to me and asking if I am alright. I always give the same reply, "No, but I will be. For Darin."

The school days are gradally going by, and although I am behind in my schoolwork, thanks to my caring parents, I am on my way to graduating. Prom came and went, and I never did go. It would have been too painful. The only reason I am even going to the graduation commencement is because I know that Darin would want me to.

I have started extensive therapy to help me through this, and that is how I got you. My therapist, or counselor, or whatever, suggested that I write all my feelings out, and that will make me feel better. So far, so good.

I still dream of Darin at night--of his arms protectively around me. I can hear his deep, throaty voice in my sleep, telling me that he loves me, and will always watch over me. Perhaps Darin is communicating with me through my dreams, Sometimes, when I wake up, I feel warmth from my waist up; just as if he really was holding me.

I would never tell anyone this, because then they would start to worry, and these feelings are almost too much for me, much less anyone else. So dearest Diary, I am here to confide in you, because you will always listen when no one else can, you'll always understand what no one else can comprehend, and I know you'll never break the code of silence.

Although some days are worse than others, I always picture Darin smiling at me from above, and I have a feeling deep in my soul that everything is going to be okay, just like he always promised.

I know that Darin loved me, and every once and a while, I get this unexplainable warm feeling in my heart, and my entire being know that it is Darin, telling me in his own way, that he loves me. I pray every day that he knows that I love him, too. I will always love you, Darin. I live my life for you now.

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