فصل 25

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فصل 25

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  • زمان مطالعه 21 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

فایل صوتی

دانلود فایل صوتی

متن انگلیسی فصل

FIVE YEARS EARLIER

Owen

I’m sitting on the floor of the hallway, next to my father’s hospital room. I watch as she exits the room next door. “You’re just throwing them away?” she asks in disbelief. Her words are directed at the woman she just trailed into the hallway. I know the woman’s name is Lydia, but I still don’t know the name of the girl. Not for lack of trying, though.

Lydia turns around, and I see that she’s holding a box in her arms. She looks down at the contents of it and then back at the girl. “He hasn’t painted in weeks. He doesn’t have any use for them anymore, and they’re just taking up room.” Lydia turns around and sets the box down on the nurses’ desk. “Can you find somewhere to discard these?” she says to the nurse on duty.

Before the nurse even agrees, Lydia walks back into the room and returns a few seconds later with several blank canvases. She sets them on the desk next to the box of what I now assume are painting supplies.

The girl stares down at the box, even after Lydia returns to the hospital room. She looks sad. Almost as if saying good-bye to his things is as difficult as saying good-bye to him.

I watch her for several minutes as her emotions begin to trickle out of her in the form of tears. She wipes them away and looks up at the nurse. “Do you have to throw them away? Can’t you just . . . can you at least give them to someone?”

The nurse hears the sadness in her words. She smiles warmly and nods. The girl nods back, and then turns and slowly makes her way back into the hospital room.

I don’t know her, but I would probably have the same reaction if someone were to throw something away of my father’s.

I’ve never attempted to paint before, but I do draw occasionally. I find myself standing up, walking toward the nurses’ station. I look down at the box full of various types of paints and brushes. “Can I—?”

The sentence doesn’t even finish leaving my mouth when the nurse shoves the box at me. “Please,” she says. “Take it. I don’t know what to do with it.”

I grab the supplies and walk them into my father’s room. I lay them down on the only available area of counter space. The rest of his hospital room is full of flowers and plants that have been delivered over the last couple of weeks. I should probably do something with them, but I still have hope that he’ll wake up soon and see them all.

After finding room for the art supplies, I walk to the chair next to my father’s bed and take a seat.

I watch him.

I watch him for hours, until I get so bored that I stand up and try to find something else to stare at. Sometimes I stare at the blank canvas on the desk. I don’t even know where to start, so I spend the entire next day dividing my attention between my father, the canvas, and the occasional walks I take around the hospital.

I don’t know how many more days of this I can take. It’s as if I can’t even properly grieve until I know he’s able to grieve with me. I hate that as soon as he wakes up—if he wakes up—I’ll more than likely have to go over every last detail of that night with him, when all I want to do is forget it.

“Never look at your phone, Owen,” he said.

“Watch the road,” my brother said from the backseat.

“Use your blinker. Hands at ten and two. Keep the radio off.”

I was completely new at driving, and every single direction that came out of their mouths reminded me of that. All but the one direction I wished they had given me the most. “Watch out for drunk drivers.”

We were hit from the passenger side, right when the light turned green and I made it out into the intersection. The wreck wasn’t my fault, but had I been more experienced, I would have known to look left and right first, even though the light gave me permission to move forward.

My brother and mother died on impact. My father remains in critical condition.

I’ve been broken since the moment it happened.

I spend the majority of my days and nights here, and the longer I sit, waiting for him to wake up, the lonelier it becomes. The visits from family and friends have stopped. I haven’t been to school in weeks, but that’s the least of my concerns. I just wait.

Wait for him to move. Wait for him to blink. Wait for him to speak.

Usually by the end of every day, I’m so exhausted from everything that’s not happening, I have to take a breather. For the first week or two, the evenings were the hardest part for me. Mostly because it meant another day where he showed no signs of improvement was coming to an end. But lately, the evenings have grown into something I actually look forward to.

And I have her to thank for that.

It might be her laugh, but I also think it’s the way she loves whomever it is she visits that makes me feel hopeful. She comes and visits him every evening from five to seven. Adam, I think is his name.

I notice that when she visits, his other family members leave the room. I assume Adam prefers it this way so he can get his alone time with her. I feel guilty sometimes, sitting out here in the hallway, propped up against the wall between his door and my father’s door. But there’s nowhere else I can go and feel the same way I do when I hear her voice.

His visits with her are the only time I ever hear him laugh. Or talk much, for that matter. I’ve heard enough conversations come from his room over the past few weeks to know what his fate is, so the fact that he’s able to laugh when he’s with her speaks volumes.

I think his imminent death is also what gives me a little bit of hope. I know that sounds morbid, but I assume Adam and I are around the same age, so I put myself in his shoes a lot when I start to feel sorry for myself. Would I rather be on my deathbed with a prognosis of only a few weeks to live, or would I rather be in the predicament I’m in?

Sometimes, on the really bad days, when I think about how I’ll never see my brother again, I think I’d rather be in Adam’s shoes.

But then there are moments when I hear how she speaks to him and the words she says to him, and I think, I’m lucky I’m not in his shoes. Because I still have a chance of being loved like that someday. And I feel bad for Adam, knowing the kind of love she has for him, and knowing that’s what he’s leaving behind. That has to be hard for him.

But that also means he was lucky enough to find her before his time was up. That has to make death a little more bearable, even if only by a fraction.

I return to the hallway and slide down to the floor, waiting for her laugh tonight, but it doesn’t come. I scoot closer to his door and further away from my father’s, wondering why tonight is different. Why tonight isn’t one of the happier visits.

“But I guess I’m also referring to our parents, for not understanding this,” I hear Adam say to her. “For not allowing me to have the one and only thing I want here with me.”

As soon as I realize that this is their good-bye, my heart breaks for her and it breaks for Adam, even though I don’t know either of them. I listen for a few more minutes until I hear him say, “Tell me something about yourself that no one else knows. Something I can keep for myself.”

I feel like these confessions should stay between the two of them. I feel like if I were to ever hear one of them, Adam wouldn’t be able to keep it for himself, because I would have it, too. Which is why I always stand up and walk away at these moments, even though I want to know her secrets more than I want to know anything else in the world.

I walk to the waiting area next to the elevators and take a seat. As soon as I sit down, the elevator doors open and Adam’s brother walks in. I know it’s his brother, and I know his name is Trey. I also know, simply based on the brief visits he makes with his brother, that I don’t like him. I’ve seen him pass her in the hall a couple of times, and I don’t like the way he turns around and watches her walk away.

He’s looking down at his watch, walking in a hurry toward the room she and Adam are saying their good-byes to each other in. I don’t want him to hear their confessions, and I don’t want him to interrupt their good-bye, so I catch myself following after him, asking him to stop. He rounds the corner to the hallway before he realizes I’m actually speaking to him. He turns around and eyes me up and down, sizing me up.

“Give them a few more minutes,” I say to him.

I can tell by the change in his eyes that I pissed him off when I said this. I didn’t mean to, but it seems like he’s the type of guy to get pissed off by almost anything.

“Who the hell are you?”

I immediately dislike him. I also don’t like that he looks so angry, because he’s obviously older than me and bigger than me and much, much meaner than me.

“Owen Gentry. I’m a friend of your brother’s,” I say, lying to him. “I just . . .” I point down the hallway toward the room she and Adam are in. “He needs a few more minutes with her.”

Trey doesn’t seem to give a shit how many minutes Adam needs with her. “Well, Owen Gentry, she’s got a plane to catch,” he says, agitated that I’m wasting his time. He continues down the hallway and walks into the room. I can hear her sobs now. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard her sob, and I can’t bear to hear it. I turn and walk back to the waiting area, feeling her and Adam’s pain in my own chest.

The next thing I hear are her pleas for more time and her “I love you”s as Trey is pulling her down the hallway by her arm.

I’ve never wanted to hurt someone so badly in my entire life.

“Stop,” Trey says to her, agitated that she’s still trying to get back to Adam’s room. He wraps his arm around her waist this time and pulls her to him so she can’t get away. “I’m sorry, but we have to go.”

She allows him to hold her and I know it’s only because she’s so broken right now. But the way his hands move down her back forces me to grip the arms of the chair I’m in so that I don’t physically pry him off of her. Her back is to me, which means he’s facing me now that he has his arms wrapped around her. The smallest smirk plays across his mouth when he notices the anger on my face, and then he winks at me.

The bastard just winked at me.

When the doors finally open and he releases her, she glances back toward Adam’s room. I can see her hesitation as Trey waits for her to step into the elevator first. She takes a step back, wanting to return to Adam. She’s scared because she knows she’ll never see him again if she steps into that elevator. She looks at Trey and says, “Please. Just let me say good-bye. One last time.” She’s whispering, because she knows if she tries to speak louder, her voice won’t work.

Trey shakes his head and says, “You already said good-bye. We have to go.”

He has no heart.

He holds the doors for her to step on, and she considers it. But then in the next second, she begins to take off in a sprint in the other direction. My heart smiles for her, because I want her to be able to say good-bye to him again. I know that’s what Adam would want, too. I know how much it would mean to him just to see her run back into his room one last time and give him one last kiss and allow him to say, “I’ll love you forever, even when I can’t,” just one last time.

I can see in Trey’s eyes that he has every intention of stopping her. He turns to run after her, to pull her back, but I’m suddenly in front of him, blocking him. He shoves me, and I punch him, which I know isn’t the right thing to do, but I do it anyway, knowing I’m about to get hit in return. But one punch is worth it, because it’ll give her enough time to get back to Adam’s room and tell him good-bye again.

As soon as his huge fist meets my jaw, I meet the floor.

Goddamn it, that hurt.

He steps over me to run after her. I grab his ankle and pull, watching as he falls to the ground. A nurse hears the commotion and comes running around the corner, just as he kicks me in the shoulder and tells me to fuck off. He’s on his feet again and running down the hall, and I’m standing now.

I’m almost back to my father’s room when I hear her say to Adam, “I’ll love you forever. Even when I shouldn’t.”

It makes me smile, even though my mouth hurts and is covered in blood.

I walk into my father’s room and go straight to the counter where the painting supplies are stacked up. I grab an empty canvas and rummage through the box, inspecting all the other supplies.

Who would have thought that my first fight over a girl would be for a girl who isn’t even mine?

I can hear her still crying as she’s pulled down the hallway again for what I know really is the last time. I sit down in the chair and stare at the box full of his art supplies. I begin to pull them out one by one.

It was eight hours later and almost daylight when I finally finished the painting. I set it aside to dry and fell asleep until dark. I know she won’t be in his room tonight and that makes me sad for both of them, and even a little selfishly sad for myself.

I stand at his door for a little while, waiting to knock, wanting to ensure his brother isn’t in the room. After several minutes of quiet, I knock softly on the door.

“Come in,” he says, although his voice is so weak tonight, I have to strain to hear it. I open the door and take a few steps into the room. When he sees me and fails to recognize me, he attempts to sit up several inches. It looks hard for him.

God, he’s so young.

I mean, I know he’s about the same age as me, but death makes him look younger than he should. Death should only be acquainted with the old.

“Hey,” I say as I slowly make my way into his room. “Sorry to bother you, but . . .” I glance back at the door and then to him again. “This is weird, so I’m just gonna say it. I . . . I made you something.”

I’m holding the canvas in my hand, afraid to turn it around so that he can see it. His eyes fall to the back of it, and he inhales a breath and attempts to push himself further up on the bed. “What is it?”

I walk closer to him and point to the chair, asking for permission to sit. Adam nods his head. I don’t show him the painting right away. I feel like I should explain it first or explain me or, at the very least, introduce myself.

“I’m Owen,” I tell him after I take a seat in the chair. I motion to the wall behind his head. “My father has been in the room next door for a few weeks.”

Adam regards me for a moment and then says, “What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s in a coma. Car accident.”

His eyes become genuinely sympathetic, and it makes me like him almost immediately. It also lets me know that he’s nothing like his brother.

“I was driving,” I add.

I don’t know why I clarify that to him. Maybe to show him that even though I’m not the one dying, my life isn’t much to envy.

“Your mouth,” he says, making a weak effort to point at the bruise that has formed since my scuffle in the hallway last night. “Were you the one who got into a fight with my brother?”

I’m taken aback for a moment, shocked that he knows about it. I nod.

He laughs a little. “The nurse told me about that. Said you tackled him in the hall when he was trying to stop Auburn from telling me good-bye again.”

I smile. Auburn, I think to myself. I’ve been wondering for three weeks what her name is. Of course it would be Auburn. I’ve never heard of anyone else with that name; it suits her perfectly.

“Thank you for that,” Adam says. His words come out in a pained whisper. I hate that I’m forcing him to talk so much when I know it hurts him.

I hold up the painting a little higher and look down at it.

“Last night, after she left,” I say, “I guess you could say I was inspired to paint this for you. Or maybe it’s for her. Both of you, I guess.” I immediately look up at him. “I hope that’s not weird.”

He shrugs. “Depends on what it is.”

I stand and walk the painting to him, turning it around so that he can see it.

He doesn’t have any type of reaction to it at first. He just stares at it. I let him hold it, and I back away, a little embarrassed that I thought he would want something like this. “It’s my first attempt at painting,” I say, excusing the fact that he probably thinks it’s horrendous.

His eyes immediately meet mine and the expression on his face is anything but indifference. He points to it. “This is your first attempt?” he says in disbelief. “Seriously?”

I nod. “Yeah. Probably my last, too.”

He immediately shakes his head. “I hope not,” he says. “This is incredible.” He reaches to the remote and presses the button to lift the head of the bed a few more inches. He points to a table next to the chair. “Grab that pen.”

I don’t question him. I hand him the pen and watch as he flips the painting over and writes something on the back of the canvas. He reaches to the nightstand beside his bed and tears off a sheet of paper from a notepad. He writes something down on the notepad and hands me both the painting and the piece of paper.

“Do me a favor,” he says as I take both of them out of his hands. “Will you mail this to her? From me?” He points to the slip of paper in my hands. “Her address is at the top and the return address is at the bottom.”

I look down at the slip of paper in my hands, and I read her full name.

“Auburn Mason Reed,” I say out loud.

What are the chances?

I smile and run my thumb over the letters in her middle name. “We have the same middle name.”

I look back up at Adam, and he’s lowering his bed again with a faint smile on his face. “That could be fate, you know.”

I shake my head, dismissing his comment. “I’m pretty sure she’s your fate. Not mine.”

His voice is strained, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort for him to roll onto his side. He closes his eyes and says, “Hopefully she has more than one fate, Owen.”

He doesn’t open his eyes again. He falls asleep, or maybe just needs a break from speaking. I look down at her name again and think about the words he just spoke.

Hopefully she has more than one fate.

It makes me feel good to know that as much as he loves her, he also knows she’ll move on after his death, and he accepts that. It even seems like he wants that for her. Unfortunately, if this really were fate, we would have been placed together under different circumstances and with way better timing.

I look up at him again, and his eyes are still closed. He pulls the covers over his arms, so I quietly back out of the room, painting in hand.

I’ll mail this painting to her, because he asked me to. And then I’m going to throw away her address. I’ll try to forget her name, even though I know I never will.

Who knows? If we’re meant to be together and fate really does exist, maybe one of these days she’ll wind up at my door. Maybe Adam will, in some way, be the one to make that happen.

Until that day comes, though, I’m pretty sure I have something to keep me occupied. I think with the inadvertent help of her and Adam, I may have just discovered my calling.

I look down at the painting in my hands, and I flip it over. I read the last words Adam will ever write to her.

I’ll love you forever. Even when I can’t.

When I turn the painting around to face me again, I run my fingers over it. I touch the space between the two hands, and I think about everything between the two of them that is pulling them apart.

And I hope, for her sake, that Adam is right. I hope she does have a second fate.

Because she deserves it.

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