Yes, terrible things happen, but sometimes those terrible things-- They save you.

-- Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, April 7, 2014

44: Can't Forget You

[Heyyyyy. Author's note. The scene with Ephrem and Aria was roleplayed, so it is omnipresent as opposed to limited as it usually is.

Sooooo, as I add that in, I also have to say thank you to Sarah. For writing this with me.]

Clark Rapture- YA

Veronica Rapture

Izabel, Kat and Taralynn Rapture

One Year Later

It's a simple truth of life that time goes on. People change and feelings evolve. It doesn't really mean that people forget, just that sometimes when it seems impossible, you have to push through it anyway. 

"Have you ever buried yourself so far down inside a vortex that you couldn't even see the tiny pieces of light that tried to break through? Like being on the wrong side of up and the bottom of the end?

That's kind of where I found myself. Stuck between what was right for me and what I wanted so desperately it made my soul ache."

 Baby 96, Ryleigh Stehsis

Babies 97 and 98: Shayla and Nikki Stehsis

And... Babies 99 and 100

Meg and Sarah Stehsis.


The rain fell in sheets. 

It was getting more and more overcast the closer it got to her wedding day. Which was only 10 days away. 

10 days and she would be Aria Stehsis. 

How fucking weird would that be? To be married? To belong to someone for the rest of her life.

Because, she was going to marry Ephrem. 

The last year of her life had been a blur. She never really expected things to turn out the way that they did. Her final 5 babies being born months after the first 95 and her having a ring on her finger courtesy of Ephrem.. Not Carter. 

One single birth, and two sets of twins. 

All girls.

And perfect in every way..

She was in love, and she was happy... But something always felt off. Always felt like it didn't quite fit. 

Like when you have two pieces of a puzzle and you desperately want them to fit.. They look like they should, and they almost do, but they don't quite secure together perfectly. So you take the two pieces and you change them, push them, shred them until, finally.. They lock into place.

Aria took the steps of the house she and Ephrem had bought two at a time, trying to avoid getting wet as much as possible. She opened the door, the quiet seeping into her ears. It always was almost silent, even with the twins, babies 99 and 100, still being children. It was like Eph's quietness had been passed on to all 5 of his spawn.

"Hey, you."

Aria jumped slightly, turning around. 

She scowled, tossing the keys she had been holding at his head.

"Don't DO that. You're like a shadow sometimes, I swear."

He laughed, ducking the keys and they hit the floor behind him with a metallic clink.

"You'll never be fast enough to actually hit me, ya know."

He smirked, crossing the room and pushing a clingy piece of her hair out of her pink eyes. 

"I missed you." 

The words left her lips and she knew it was true. It was always true. Even though today had been rough when it came to thoughts of the past. Of.. him. As hard as she tried, she still had those days when she wished maybe.. Just maybe.. he hadn't walked away. 

"I always miss you, Aria." 

He responded, his smile faltering a little. He always seemed so unsure. Like, beneath the surface. 

Maybe he had a reason to be.. 

"I know."

Her voice was almost breathless. Slightly guilty. She took a step back, and his hand dropped. She bit her lip, trying to shrug off that sinking feeling in her chest that she was disappointing him again.

"I think I'm going to go into Bridgeport tonight, I got a call from Taralynn about my dress.."

"You don't have to go. I can go and get it sometime next week.. Besides, you haven't checked on your car since you bought it. I don't want something to-"

Aria rolled her eyes, pulling her fingers through the rain-dampened tangles in her hair.

"I'll be FINE, Eph. You are way too concerned. It's not even that much of a drive to Bridgeport. I just want my dress, okay?"

She softened a little at the look in his eyes. She was far too short with him, for no reason at all. He had never done anything but care about her, but she was so wrapped up in the past most of the time that she felt like she was really only half there.

She honestly had no idea why he even fell in love with her. She knew she didn't deserve it. He deserved something better than half a person. Half a soul. Someone who could give him everything. But she was, in the end, a selfish creature who wanted him anyway.

"Yeah, Ar. Whatever."

There was a pause. Thick with tension and.. something else.

"You act like I am this big bad guy trying to give you a set of rules or something, Aria."

He pulled her to him, resting his head against hers, his voice light and his breath stirring a few strands of hair with his words.

"I'm not. I just want to keep you safe.."

He trailed off, a tinge of something else in his voice Aria couldn't place. 

Another pause.

Aria cleared her throat and lifted her head from his.

"Yeah.. I have to go, okay? I'll be back.. later."

She pushed her hair behind her ear, tugging the end slightly as her hand dropped.

Yeah. Still wasn't working for her nerves.

Ephrem gave her a look, colored with something she wasn't sure she wanted to place.


Just okay? Whatever.

She picked up her keys off the ground from where she had thrown them and looked at him one last time. His back was turned and the quiet was... nauseating. 

"Bye, Eph."

She spun, leaving before he could even respond.

Smoke billowed from under the hood of her Charger and she sighed, pulling it over to the side of the road. Ephrem had told her to take it in, but she hadn't listened. She never really did.

She pulled the key out of the ignition just as drops of water started splattering on the windshield. 

Fucking awesome. My phone's dead, my brand new car's broken and now it's raining. I just want my fucking wedding dress.

Aria sighed, leaning her head back on the top of the seat. Ephrem warned her this might happen if she didn't get the car checked before driving it to Bridgeport. Why did she always suck at listening to him?

She tried, once more to get her stupid iPhone to turn on, but it was useless. She had drained the battery long before she left. Being the genius she was, she had also left her car charger in Eph's Impala.


She threw the phone in the passenger seat, running both hands through her hair.

What the hell was she supposed to do?

Her eyes strayed to her glovebox, and she popped it open.. Searching for something, anything that could maybe somehow help her out in the situation. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Good job, Aria. Dumbass.

Whoa, but hey.. Cigarettes.

She grabbed one, and the lighter next to it and got out of the car, the flame barely coming to light against the rain that was getting heavier and heavier as time passed.She shivered slightly, she had forgotten a jacket. Figures.

She exhaled, the poisonous smoke mixing in with the descending water. Just as she put the filter to her lips once more, headlights popped up over the hill.

Wait a second, was her luck actually turning around?

She dropped the burning stick on the ground and was about to wave for help when she realized.. That was a Hummer.

No fucking way.

Her luck wasn't getting better. It just got about a million times worse.


The SUV slowed to a stop, the windows too dark in the downpour for her to see inside. The driver's side door slammed shut and then he was there. 

This was like a fucking nightmare.

"You can keep driving. I can wait for the next person who shows up. I'm pretty convinced they won't be a self righteous douche bag who thinks he is a knight in shining armor."

Aria spat the words, her heart rate picking up just slightly just at the sight of his face.

She hadn't seen him in a year. His hair was longer.. He looked different..

And he looked.. Tired.

Good. I hope he's exhausted and his life is nothing.

He approached her, crossing his arms over his chest, the rain soaking his shoulders in moments. He stood a few feet away, but his smirk was evident.

And Aria really wanted to punch him in it.

"Nice ring. Who'd you get that one out of?"

Aria was taken by surprise for a second. She stopped pulling at her hair instantly, dropping her left hand to her stomach.


She said, the word echoing in the night sky.

Carter's eyes widened slightly for a few brief seconds, and then returned to normal. But she caught it. She usually did.

"You mean.. You actually stayed with him long enough for that?

Call me crazy, but isn't your thing to string someone along til they fall in love with you and then leave them behind?

Surprised that the two of you made anything work.

Isn't he a little.."

He trailed off, taking a couple of steps closer to her. She backed up, hitting the metal of her now useless car.

"Uncorrupted for you?

I thought you liked them broken and easy?"

She glared at him, the words eating through her chest.

"You don't even fucking know him."

He sighed, taking another step towards her.

"I know enough."

Aria let out a huff, shifting her weight.

"Can you just get back in your car and keep driving? I told you. I don't need you."

Carter's expression faltered, going almost blank.

He closed the distance, his face inches from hers.

"You need me. You need me to make you okay. Why do you keep denying it? Do you think that it's a coincidence I'm the one who found you here? Or do you not believe in fate anymore?" 

Aria disregarded his last comment with a hiss. He was the one who destroyed her idea of fate.

"If I was as desperate as you seem to think I am for you to fucking fix me, don't you think I would have continued chasing you?"

Carter hesitated, seeming to try and choose his next words with care.

"No, because you found someone else to try to fix you. But he hasn't, has he?"

Aria's eyes flickered from the quiet raindrops on the windows next to her to the ring that seemed to be growing heavier and heavier on her finger. She didn't respond. she knew the answer to that question. She just didn't want to admit it. Not to herself. Not to anyone. Let alone Carter fucking Simon.

"Do you want to know why he hasn't, Aria?"

Carter leaned a hand against the car next to where Aria stood, causing her heart to stutter slightly.

"Because he's not me. I'm the only one who's ever going to fill that void. I'm the only one who is going to make you okay again."

He leaned towards her, the rain dripping down his hair and into his eyes. But he didn't blink it away, didn't break his stare. His words were slowly but surely eating through her carefully rebuilt defenses.

"You. I. Everyone. They know. I bet even he does. The only thing is: We can keep fighting it, until the day we die we can just stay away from each other. Or..."

He stopped, reaching out and pushing a strand of rain-soaked hair out of her eyes.

"Or we can give in for once in our fucking lives and love each other like we always have. Cause I don't know about you, but I am tired of lying."

His hand found hers and she could feel the warmth, his heartbeat, even through the icy drops of rain. 

"Because I love you, Aria.."

Aria pulled her hand away, crossing her arms over her chest. She chose to keep her eyes on the hood of his Hummer that was still idling behind him.

"You're so full of shit, Carter. You walked away from ME, remember? You let ME go. Threw me away. Or did you forget the last time we saw each other?"

Carter shook his head, sending water droplets in every direction.

"Let's get one thing straight: I fucked up. I fucked up big time on a million different levels. I've destroyed everything I was capable of destroying and burned every damn bridge... But, Aria, one thing always remained true: I could never get rid of the piece of me that belongs to you."

The rain barely contained the sound that escaped Aria's lips. Somewhere between a gasp and a scoff.

How do you take the word of someone who literally walked out of your life without a second thought? How do you leave the man you have fallen in love with for the one who gave you up?

There really isn't a simplicity to it. You don't wake up one day and decide to shatter reality. Love does that for you. It blows through your entire world and tears your plans to shreds.

Love is as destructive as it is beautiful. But it wouldn't be love if it wasn't.

That doesn't make it easy, but what choice that means anything at all, is?

Aria pulled the car up to the front of the house, turning the ignition off. She dropped the keys from one hand to the other, sighing softly. 

The fact that she had to drive this fucking thing in the first place was just adding more to the guilt that pooled in the pit of her stomach. Like what she had done wasn't bad enough. Like what she was about to /do/ wasn't bad enough.

Let's add insult to injury.

But it wasn't like she could have driven her own.

She pocketed the keys and jumped down, landing in a puddle. Of course. With her luck, she would.

The door shutting behind her in the house that they had shared for this long was so much louder than it should be. It echoed into the air like a gunshot.

Or maybe that was her guilt intensifying the noise.

Guess I'm about to do what I was always good at. Letting people down.


He heard the car door slam. 

It's not yours, but it's you. And his car.

Am I mad? Maybe. Am I worried? Maybe. 

He greeted her at the door.

"Hi. Where have you been, you didn't call or anything." 

If she would have just done that it would have been more of a relief than thinking she could be god-knows-where. But his gut was telling him that maybe he didn't want to know. 

Why did she have his car?

She studied his face. He looked angry already. At least a little. She was pretty sure that by the end of whatever this was about to become, it was going to turn into much more than a little. 

She could feel something like regret pull at the part of her chest where her heart was supposed to reside. She had decided a long time ago it wasn't there anymore. It fell apart before it ever had a chance to really be whole.

"I spent the night in Bridgeport. My car broke down."

Just like you said.

"I was stupid. I should have gotten it checked. I.."

Her words fumbled, her eyes finally locking onto his.

"Ephrem there's something I have to tell you."

Told you so. 

He relaxed his tense expression the best he could.

 "So why do you have Farter's car then? You called him?"

Something to tell me. 

He pinched his eyebrows together, "What is it?"

She couldn't help the tiny smile that the insult pulled to the surface. He was always good at that. Making her laugh..

 But then she remembered why she was there and it dissipated.

"No my phone died I couldn't call anyone, Ephrem. Or it would have been you."

Truth. Completely. Part of her almost wished her phone hadn't been dead so it could have been him. God, it should have been him. 

"He found me. On the interstate north of town. I.."

Youre an idiot, Aria. You can't even speak.

"Ephrem, I'm sorry."

That's all she could manage to get out before the tears started to spill down her cheeks. 

"I'm sorry okay."

He pushed himself off the back of the couch he was leaning on and ran his fingers through his hair. 

"So what? You couldnt use his phone to call me?" 

I knew it. I fucking knew it. 

"Tell me, was his bed a good refuge? Carter the hero. Of course." 

"God Aria. Seriously?" 

Her tears weren't helping. Yeah, He was hurt but he still fucking loved her. She had him wrapped around her finger and she just shattered everything but yet here he was, standing here, wanting to hold her like a fucking jackass. 

But it's done.

"Yeah. Like that would have went over so well."

She managed, the sarcasm barely sounding through her tears. 

I was pathetic. I couldn't handle anything. It was always the same. Something happens and then I become an emotional freak.

And this was all on me. All of it.

"I don't know what you want me to say, Ephrem."

Her eyes fell from his face to the ring that was still on her finger.

"You know I love you. You have to know that, right?"

What the fuck is wrong with me?

"I just..."

She twisted her hands together, pulling it off.

"I can't marry you. Eph. I.."

She held the ring, just staring at it.

"You have to know that I love you."

You have to. I'm stupid. I'm a mistake. But I do love you.

He scoffed.


"You love me? That is not love. You cant love two people at the same time, Aria. No matter what you think. It's always been him," 

I was nothing more than a distraction. 

"What you do, it's not love. I would have understood using his phone to call me. But you didnt."

His eyes flitted through emotions Aria had never really seen before. Like there were secrets there even she didn't know..

"Keep the ring. What am I gonna do with it?"

"You can't say that. Why would you say that?"

Her voice rose slightly, cracking at the edges.

"I have loved you for a long time, no matter what you believe."

All they ever did was disagree. On pretty much everything. But she still did love him. Part of her did and probably always fucking will.

"I should have just called you. You act like you don't know that I'm stupid."

I should have left you alone from the beginning. I should have left them all alone, cause I've always known better. But did I ever do that? No.

"So what now.. What.. I don't know what to do. I.."

I should have never done what I did. Choosing him over you?

When you would have never walked out on me.. You would have never let me go.


I couldn't even excuse it to myself when he wasn't clouding my mind.

"I walk away. Something I never would have done. Something I don't really want to do. But you were his way before I got into the picture. You always were. And no matter how much I love you, and how much you say you love me, he always wins." 

He made things harder for himself. Always. He walked over to her, his hard expression not masking the pain in his eyes, and wiped a tear off her cheek.

"I hope you get everything you've ever wanted, Aria. I'm sorry I couldnt give that to you," He kissed her forehead, "take care of yourself." 

I'd have a friend get my stuff. I didnt want to be here anymore. I couldnt. I open the door for the last time. Look at you for the last time. Leave this house for the last time. 
Make a vow to myself that I get close to someone, love them, 

For the last time.

Aria could feel the sting of tears in her eyes; her throat thick with regret.

It didn't matter what she said, this was going to cause an indeterminable amount of pain. 

She had now broken the heart of every man who had ever loved her. 

The quiet that had fallen over their living room was so thick with tension it was almost as if she could hear his heart breaking as he walked out the door. 

It started to dawn on her all at once:

This wasn't their living room anymore.

She wasn't getting married anymore.

She wasn't going to be Aria Stehsis.

She was giving up the man getting in his car right now for the one who always walked away.


Happy.. Was that possible for me? I never thought it was. I never thought in a thousand years that I could ever actually be truly happy. That I could find peace in myself or within myself.

I never thought I would get married. Or have children with my best friend.

I never thought that even getting a happy ending was in the cards for me.

Because in my life.. I learned over and over.. There's always heartbreak. There is always an end to a beginning. Some one always, always gets hurt. No matter what you do. No matter who you love, how you love, there's always a complication.

Until there wasn't anymore.

I hurt so many people. I caused so much trouble and broke so many fucking things into pieces I could never manage to repair them all.

But that's the thing. Stuff happens. Life happens.

But what is meant to be, WILL be. 

Even if it takes years to get there. Even if it takes pain, and suffering, and tears.

If it's meant to be, it will find a way.

And it did.

God, did it.

So, as the end of my story appears and the legacy that is sure to follow me, begins..

I just have one last thing to say.

No matter what you think, no matter how bad things look.. There is always a light at the end. There is always sunshine that follows the darkness. A rainbow to follow the rain.

Whatever you do, don't give up.

Don't let the bad outweigh the good. Don't let them bring you down.

And for God's sake, DON'T LET IT GET YOU.

You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are worth more than any words could ever allow.

I hope if my story does anything for you, it shows you that there is always hope.


Never, ever give up on life. On love. On being who you are.

I love each and every single one of you. Thanks for sticking with me.

---Aria. <3 <3 <3

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