Original Stories Fan Fiction ❯ In My Time of Dying ❯ In My Time of Dying ( One-Shot )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

In My Time of Dying
 
--------From the diary of Riley O'Neal----------------------------------------------------------------- ----
 
I don't think I've ever been this numb before. Everything looks….empty. Colorless. Pointless…. How did this come as a surprise to me? I knew he was sick....so why did all this come as such a shock? And why am I having so much trouble coping?
 
I can't believe he's gone. Seems like just yesterday that he and I were having a bunch of bizarrely intense arguments over the finer points of football and the best way to make meringue cookies....and now I'll never talk to him again. I'll never get to hear him say my name again....or kiss him….or tell him how much I loved him....
 
I feel so useless. All I've done since he died is sit here in my room, staring at nothing. I can't think. I can't even cry. All I can do is sit, and wait for the funeral….and wonder why I haven't broken down yet.
 
----------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------
 
The day was clear and crisp, the sky the clearest of blues, and the leaves the many different hues of autumn. It was the perfect day for a funeral….or perhaps the worst. One can never be sure which.
 
Riley arrived at the church early, even before Nicholas's mother did. The sun was barely up in the sky, and it had yet to touch the ground and warm it. Riley's small, thin frame shivered in the cold—having always been small and thin, he felt its bite more than most. Today, however, he welcomed the discomfort as a distraction from the darkness that was gathering in his mind.
 
The church was dark, lit only by the early sunshine filtering through the stained glass windows. It fit the small redhead's mood perfectly, so he didn't bother turning on any lights or lighting any of the candles on the altar in the front of the church.
 
Living in a town like Milestone, Colorado, it was impossible not to have at least some semblance of a religion. Likewise, it was impossible not to find some sort of solace in the hallowed halls of the house of God. The quiet of the small building entered Riley's soul, taking the edge off the pain, although it did nothing to alleviate his grief.
 
Riley had always felt like he lived in a Footloose sort of town, where the reverend was, in essence, the mayor, and the people were nothing if not intensely spiritual. It was all well and good to a certain extent, but it didn't leave a lot of room in one's life for flexibility. Nicholas had always said he felt as though if he “kicked back, put his feet on the table, and had a glass of wine, the devil himself would rise up to take him down to the eternal fire.” Nicholas had made it his ultimate goal to open the people of Milestone up to the idea of accepting change in their little, close-knit community, and he had not lived long enough to see his dream come true. It just wasn't fair.
 
That thought sent a piercing pain through Riley's chest that felt quite unimagined. He had been fighting such emotions before now, but here in the confines of a place where so many people came for comfort, they seemed to sneak up on him so easily. It was so hard to think of Nicholas….and so hard not to think of him….
 
His movements almost mechanic and completely lacking in feeling, Riley moved to the front of the church and sat in the pew directly in front of the massive crucifix that was mounted on the wall. He stared at it without really seeing it as he fell into the clutches of the memory that had been trying to sneak up on him since his lover had been taken from him by a four-lettered abbreviation.
 
~`~`~
 
Riley had always hated hospitals. He hated everything about them—the scents, the sounds, the silence that continued on even in the presence of the noise….and the way they always reminded him of death.
 
Nevertheless, after his lover was placed in one, Riley shuffled down the hall every morning and afternoon without once thinking about turning around and walking out. To do so would be to leave his lover alone, and that simply wouldn't do. So he made that long trek down those seemingly endless halls day after dreary day, only to receive the same news as always at the end of them: no change.
 
But today was not like other days, and when the news was confirmed by three different and very reliable doctors, Riley began to curse himself for praying that Nicholas's condition would change.
 
“Hi, Riles,” Nicholas greeted him with a tired smile and a voice that was tinged with pain and depression.
 
“Hi, Nikki,” Riley replied, leaning over to kiss his lover's papery cheek and trying to hitch on a smile. It was even harder than it usually was today. “How are you feeling?”
 
“The same. Bored….have you ever actually watcheddaytime T.V.?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“It's awful.”
 
“Yes.”
 
Nicholas laughed….for all of four seconds, and then a heavy cough wracked his ever-thinning frame. Riley's face twitched, and he quickly poured a glass of water from the pitcher next to the bed.
 
It always started out this way—with light-hearted banter, followed by different manifestations of Nicholas's illness, and then more banter, and the cycle continued. But today, the cycle was to be interrupted by something entirely different.
 
“Riley….”
 
“Hmm?” Riley asked, taking the water glass back and placing it on the bedside table.
 
Nicholas looked lost for a moment, and then he patted the bed next to him. “Come sit with me.”
 
Riley smiled and climbed onto the bed, curling up against Nicholas's side. The taller man's arm—the one that didn't have an IV in it—came around the redhead's waist and held him as firmly as was possible under the circumstances.
 
“Nikki….what's wrong?” Riley asked quietly, his voice quiet and strained.
 
“Nothing, I'm just….” Nicholas paused to let out a cough, and then said, “Riley….I know I don't have a lot of time left.”
 
Riley didn't move, although a deeply depressed look came into his eyes. There was no disputing that fact….
 
“And I just….I didn't want to leave things unfinished with us.”
 
“What do you mean?” Riley asked, after a long minute of silence. “Things are fine with you and me….we're the only thing that is.”
 
“Are they?” Nicholas asked, so softly it almost seemed as though he were talking to himself. There was another long pause. “Riley….do you ever….regret….us?”
 
Riley stiffened. “What?”
 
“I just….sometimes I wonder if I made you grow up too fast….if I kept you from having a normal life. I mean, dealing with all this….the hospitals visits and the AZT side effects and….never….”
 
“Don't say it,” Riley said quickly, his face heating uncomfortably.
 
Nicholas laughed in spite of himself. “You're such a prude, Sandra Dee,” he teased gently. Riley laughed with him and it was a moment before the mirth died in another coughing fit that reminded them of why they were both there. The water Riley offered was gratefully accepted and then placed back on the bedside table, and the redhead moved back to his former position.
 
“I have neverfeltthat way,” Riley replied in answer to his lover's question. His voice held the strength that it had been lacking before now—both of them needed that strength at the moment. “Not ever.” The only reply he received was a light squeeze around his waist, and he burrowed even closer to his boyfriend's side. “I swear. I love you, Nikki. No one else.”
 
“No one else….?” Nicholas asked thoughtfully, sounding once again as though he were talking to himself instead of the redhead beside him. “Riley….”
 
Riley didn't look at him, but his hand rose to stroke his boyfriend's chest lightly. “What?”
 
“After I'm….” The taller man faltered to a pause. “….Riley, I don't want your life to stop for me.”
 
~`~`~
 
I don't want your life to stop for me. It was so much easier said than done….
 
Sighing, Riley stood and walked to the front of the church, standing in front of the row of candles there. If this were a Lifetime movie special, Riley would have lit one of the candles in Nicholas's memory and proceeded to sob out his frustration and misery over the burning flame.
 
But this was not a Lifetime movie special, and Riley could not cry. Crying required emotion and emotion was something that he just didn't have at the moment.
 
I don't want your life to stop for me.
 
But my life has stopped for you, Nikki.... How could you possibly have expected it not to?
 
~`~`~
 
--------From a Conversation between Jocelyn del Ray and Two Friends--------------------------
Bards of Bedlam [9:46 AM]: I really hate funerals….
BeckysTeddyBear1987 [9:47 AM]: -hugs- we all do. how're you doing?
supsicle08 [9:47 AM]: I really don't know what to do in this situation….
Bards of Bedlam [9:49 AM]: I'm fine, you guys. Just….really not looking forward to this. I'm so….totally numb. I wonder how Riley's doing….
supsicle08 [9:49 AM]: ….AIDS sucks.
Bards of Bedlam [9:49AM]: Thanks for that.
supsicle08 [9:50 AM]: Well I have to do something to keep you from snapping!!! You know I'm completely useless in these situations!!!
BeckysTeddyBear1987 [9:51 AM]: -hugs- i'm so sorry….can i do anything to help?
Bards of Bedlam [9:51 AM]: Will you two stop worrying? I'm fine.
 
----------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------
 
But Jocelyn del Ray was very, very far from fine.
 
“God, everything I can think of to send sounds completely lame….”
 
Robert del Ray sighed and nodded in agreement.
 
“I mean….flowers, casseroles, cookies, cards….it's all been so done to death and none of it actually does anything for the family, anyway….” Jocelyn slammed the oven door shut in annoyance and threw the batch of cookies she'd baked into the garbage.
 
“Hey….I would have eaten those….” Robbie said, pouting and making a half-hearted attempt at humor. He failed miserably, however, and awkward silence fell on the kitchen once more. It lasted until he finally asked, “What time do you want to leave?”
 
“We should probably leave soon if we want to be there early.”
 
“Do you just want to go now?”
 
“Yeah….just let me go change.”
 
Somewhere deep inside, Jocelyn felt the urge to break loose. Scream. Kick things. Cry. Lose herself in all the emotions that she had kept dammed up inside of her. But she did none of these things. Instead, she simply took out her only dress—plain, black, and perfect for a funeral—and put it on without a single sign of emotion touching her face.
 
Jocelyn's was a face untouched by emotion. She laughed, smiled, pouted, or sulked….but she did not cry. It was not in her nature to cry.
 
~`~`~
 
--------“Angel” by Sarah Mclachlan---------------------------------------------------- -------------------

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
Fo
r the break that will make it okay
There's always some reason to feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction or a beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of the Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference, escaping one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of the Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

Y
ou're in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here
----------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------
 
The church was silent as the last chords of the music faded. It was beyond deafening, and it caused a few people in the church to squirm uncomfortably. The singer, however, did not notice as he stood and placed his guitar against the wall.
 
Connor walked quickly back to his seat, moving closer to his lover, Logan, for comfort and burying his face in the blonde's shoulder. So far, today had been an emotionally trying day, and while Connor was usually the type to shut himself off….Nicholas had been one of his best friends. If there was ever a time to break down, it was now. Logan's only reaction was to wrap his arm around Connor's waist and kiss his forehead lightly.
 
“Are you all right?” the blond asked quietly.
 
The younger man shook his head mutely, his hold tightening on his program and on Logan's hand until the knuckles were white. He couldn't even begin to sort out the whirlwind of thoughts swirling through his head. All he knew was that his best friend, and one of his only allies in the town whose prejudice they had fought, was gone from the world, and he just couldn't understand why.
 
He didn't understand anything anymore.
 
~`~`~
 
--------From a Conversation between Jocelyn del Ray and Two Friends--------------------------
 
BeckysTeddyBear1987 [9:55 AM]: are you going to say anything at the funeral today?
supsicle08[9:55 AM]: Oh God, I'd die….
Bards of Bedlam [9:56 AM]: Honestly? I have no idea. I thought I might, but I don't know if I could handle that….I'm having enough trouble holding it together as it is.
BeckysTeddyBear1987 [9:57 AM]: -hugs jocelyn- i get that
supsicle08[9:56 AM]: ….I've got nothing. -hug- That's about all I can do….
Bards of Bedlam [9:57 AM]: I don't know….maybe I should say something, but….I just don't think I could do it. I don't know if I could do Nick justice….
 
----------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------
 
 
“At this point in the service, I would like to invite Nicholas's many devoted friends to share a few words, if they so choose,” the reverend said, his voice quiet and solemn.
 
There was a moment of unsettled shifting and rustling of programs, the tension in the air magnifying tenfold, before a lonely-looking girl left her chair and walked up to the podium. Taking a deep breath, she turned slowly to face the crowd, tossing her unruly hair back over her shoulder and trying to meet their eyes with confidence.
 
“I didn't want to speak today,” Jocelyn began, her voice stronger than even she'd expected it to be. “I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do Nicholas justice. But then I realized….I'm not really here to do him justice, am I? No one here is. I came because he was my friend and funerals are supposed to bring closure to the friends, right? That's why some of us are here. But….most of you….you're not here for that reason, are you?”
 
The silence of the funeral attendees grew tenser. In the front row, Connor and Logan seemed to sit up a little straighter, and Ms. Kingsley almost looked as though she were about to smile. Riley, though, didn't even seem to notice that anyone was on the stage at all.
 
“No….you're all just here because you're expected to be. And….why is that?” She paused, wondering if she should continue, and then plunged on. “Why is it that only five of the people out of this entire congregation look like they're about to break down?” Another long pause, but it was for a different reason this time. Formulating the next bit was a bit difficult, and when she next spoke, her voice was quieter. “Nicholas was….different from the rest of us. For so many reasons. And all he wanted was for those differences not to get in the way of how this town saw him. All he wanted was to be accepted by all of you, and he never got his wish. He died without seeing any real change, and he always told his friends that all he wanted was for things to change in this….this stupid, Bible-thumping hamlet.”
 
The preacher looked for all the world as though he had just been force-fed an entire lemon.
 
“Was that really so much to ask? Is acceptance so hard for all of you to give? And have you ever really asked yourselves why it's so hard for you? So….Nicholas was gay.”
 
An irritated murmur went through the room at these words.
 
So what? From day one, I was always taught that God loves all of his children. I was never taught that God loves all of his straight children.”
 
“Now hang on—” the pastor tried to interject.
 
No! Don't you get it? I'm tired of `hanging on'. We all are. We're tired of hanging on, we're tired of fighting, and we're tired of giving in. Nick never got to see any change happen here. I don't want that to happen to the rest of my friends. And by doing my damnedest to make sure his dreams come true, I think I am doing him justice. It's the only way I can. So….I'm done taking it. I'm done lying down and trying not to take sides. I'm taking a side now. And it's not with my mom, or my brother, or with the congregation….because I know you all hate everything that Nick stood for, even though Robbie was Nick's friend and the rest of you are here showing your support. My place is with Riley and Connor and Logan….and Nicholas, may God rest his soul.” She was silent for a long moment, and then she said softly, “I hope he really is in the arms of the angels….and far, far away from here. He wasn't ever truly happy…. Sure, he had happy moments, but….he always seemed like he felt his life was missing something. So I hope he really is in Heaven, and I hope he's happier now than he ever was here.”
 
~`~`~
 
The last time Camilla Kingsley had seen her son alive and conscious, she had been reading to him (and the group of friends who assembled in his room on weekends) from a diary she had kept as a girl.
 
Nicholas was lying back against the pillows, his face ashen and covered in a light sheen of sweat, but he had smiled and laughed along with his friends as they all listened to the various entries, which ranged from angry to ecstatic to depressed to satirical to completely silly. It was just what they needed to lift their spirits.
 
Riley was curled up against Nicholas's side, as he usually was, and Connor was sitting in Logan's lap in a chair next to the wall. Jocelyn sat cross-legged in the seat next to him, with Robbie standing next to her with his arms folded and a solemn look on his face, though he laughed with the others when the situation called for it.
 
“I can't believe how many guys you crushed on,” Nicholas commented after an entry that was mostly spent describing the intense blue of a high school boy's eyes. “You were….I have no words….”
 
Ms. Kingsley laughed. “I was a young girl who only wanted to experience life.”
 
“….Never fall for that line, Robbie,” Jocelyn said, grinning.
 
Soft laughter resounded through the room.
 
“Well, Igot lucky,” Nicholas stated, grinning as he squeezed Riley's waist lightly. “And Iwas never that obsessed with anyone.”
 
“Yes, yes, you're a saint and your old mother is Mary Magdalene. Is that what you'd like to hear?” With this, Ms. Kingsley gave her son a light tap on the head with the diary in her hand. “Miscreant….”
 
“Am not!” Nicholas replied indignantly, coughing lightly and turning his face away quickly as he did so.
 
“Are too.”
 
“Am not.”
 
“Don't play childish games with me, Nicholas Robert Kingsley. You know I'll win.”
 
“Yes, ma'am.”
 
Riley laughed and placed a kiss on Nicholas's shoulder. “You're a smart man.”
“….You doubted this why?”
 
“And so modest, too!” Logan said, grinning. “You raised a great son there, Ms. Kingsley.”
 
Ms. Kingsley smiled fondly as she watched her son kiss the top of his boyfriend's head. “Yes….yes I did,” she replied, almost as though she were speaking to herself.
 
~`~`~
 
“….You know….you really shouldn't be spending today alone,” Ms. Kingsley said conversationally as she sat down next to Jocelyn on the park bench on which the woman had found her hours after the funeral.
 
Jocelyn didn't look up from where she was studying her hands….or rather, the silver crucifix necklace that she held in them. A few minutes passed in silence until the girl finally said, almost in a whisper, “I'm sorry.”
 
“For what, dear?”
 
“….For….well….you know….”
 
“No, I'm afraid I don't.”
 
Jocelyn didn't say anything.
 
“Jocelyn, look at me.”
 
No response, but after a few moments, the girl did as she was told.
 
“You did nothing wrong. You said what was in your heart. And you said….what Nicholas was never able to force himself to say. What none of us was ever able to force ourselves to say. I'm very grateful for that. Nicholas would have been, too.”
 
“….How can you do that?”
 
“Do what, honey?”
 
“Talk about Nick so easily….when he just died. I mean….you were his mother.”
 
“Well, I still am, dear. Death doesn't change that.”
 
Jocelyn seemed at a loss for words.
 
“Of course I'll miss him, and I've cried my share of tears over him, I can guarantee you that. And the tears aren't done coming, and probably won't be for a long time. But that doesn't mean my life has stopped. I knew this day would come. And besides, as I said, I'm still his mother, and we still have the same bond. Death doesn't break the bond between people, Jocelyn. It just becomes more of a long-distance relationship, that's all.”
 
More silence as Jocelyn considered this thoughtfully.
 
Smiling slightly, Ms. Kingsley patted the girl's knee and stood. “Come on. Your friends are waiting for you at my house. I have something I need to show you all.”
 
~`~`~
 
The sun was setting as Jocelyn entered the Kingsley living room and sat down in front of the couch at her brother's feet. Connor and Logan shared the couch, as well, with the former curled up in the latter's lap. Riley sat in the corner with his arms wrapped around his legs, and he didn't seem to be taking note of anything that went on around him. The group sat in silence for a few minutes, until Ms. Kingsley came into the room and sat down in the chair by the window.
 
“When my husband died, I didn't quite know what to do with myself,” Ms. Kingsley stated suddenly, after the group had been sitting in silence for a minute or two. “I was so lost and confused that all I could do was lie around in shock and let life pass me by, and I swore to myself that no matter what, I would never be reduced to that again. But I didn't really know what to do to make it easier on myself, so I went to the preacher. Back then it was….Daniel Hawthorne, I think. Anyway, I went to him and he told me what he'd done when his sister passed away after a bout with leukemia. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I followed his advice, and now I'm passing it on to you.” At this point, she held up the objects she'd been holding in her hand during this speech and started to pass them around—six plain, ordinary looking notebooks, each with a name written on the front in small, neat script. “I bought these right before Nicholas died. There's one for each of you and one for me. From today onward, whenever you think of something that reminds you of Nicholas—the good, the bad, and the ugly—just put it in your notebook….pictures, poetry, short stories, diary entry, whatever you want to put in it. Anything that helps you remember Nicholas and your friendship with him. It will make you cry, in the beginning, and everything you put in at the start will probably be depressing, but….it does help with the….with the grieving process.” Ms. Kingsley's voice finally sounded close to breaking.
 
A heavy silence descended upon the group. Connor moved closer to Logan and buried his face in the blonde's shoulder, looking more innocent than anyone could ever remember seeing him. Jocelyn stood and went to lean against the wall with her notebook in her hand, while her brother remained as still as a statue, just as he had remained for the entire day. Riley, for his part, simply sat and stared at the notebook in his hands, his face still an emotionless mask.
 
“Oh….I forgot,” Ms. Kingsley said suddenly, her voice strong once again. “Connor, can you hand me the envelope in the drawer there?”
 
Connor nodded and opened the drawer, handing the envelope he found inside to Ms. Kingsley before settling back to lay his head on Logan's shoulder. Logan brushed his lover's hair back and kissed his forehead lightly.
 
“Nicholas gave this to me right before he died. He asked me not to read it until after the funeral, so I don't know what it says, but….he told me it was for all of you and not just for me. When I asked him what it was, he told me it was the only version of a will that he knew how to write. So….I guess it's time for all of us to see what it says, hmm?”
 
There was a general murmur of assent, and Riley slowly uncurled and moved closer to the group. Then silence fell as Ms. Kingsley began to read in her strong, deep mother's voice.
 
The letter was….perfect. It was so filled with sarcasm and humor and love and it absolutely screamed Nicholas's name. It brought them all to tears, and several went home crying, but with lighter hearts and a fraction less grief.
 
~`~`~
 
Years later, Milestone, Colorado had nearly forgotten about the existence of Nicholas Kingsley—or at least, many tried to. The few people who did want to remember him had left Colorado. As such, the tiny, conservative town had forgotten one of the strongest, though nearly invisible, forces for change in its history.
 
But for every death, there is at least one person who is affected by it. One person whose life simply….stops.
 
Nicholas had six.
 
And while the way he died was far from preferable, the love he was surrounded by during his life certainly was not. The life was what made the death bearable. Not everyone in the world is so lucky, but Nicholas Kingsley was.
 
There was not much that Nicholas could say he had. He and his mother didn't have much money and they were far from being at the top of the social ladder. But the one thing that Nicholas could say was that he had truly lived every day of his life. He had “danced as though no one was watching, sang as though no one was listening, loved as though he'd never been hurt before, and lived as though Heaven was on Earth.”
 
Given half a chance, he, alongside the friends he had now left behind, could have taught one small part of the world to do the same.
 
~`~`~
 
--------The “Last Will and Testament” of Nicholas Kingsley-----------------------------------------
 
To those of you who care:
 
From what I've seen in movies, it's customary to start letters like this with, “If you're reading this right now, then I must be gone,” or something of the sort, and since Riley always told me that you don't monkey with tradition.... If you're reading this right now, then I must be gone. And I know how much that sucks. Let me guess....you guys are all sitting around my living room, looking all depressed and pathetic. Well....stop it. It's all well and good for awhile, but....guys. IT GETS OLD. And it gets old real fast.
 
If I sound irritated, it's because I am. Morons….I'm the one who's dying....and you're the ones who get to be sad about it. If I get depressed, I get accused of throwing a pity party.... Well, no, that's not true, but I really don't want to be any more depressed about this than I already am, so....let's move on, okay? I've got something to say to each of you, and I don't know how long this pen (and my hand) will hold out.
 
So….Mom. You first. Let's see….you're doing me a huge favor just by making sure this letter gets to my friends, so thanks for that. I'll add this favor to the list....right under the one that says “gave me life.” Don't you feel special? ….Okay, seriously, Mom….I have so much to thank you for, I can't even think of a way to start the list. Besides, you'd probably dig up my body and beat it black and blue and call me a “miscreant” or something if I tried to thank you, so let's just skip that part and get to the point. I love the hell out of you, Mama. And you'll always be my mother, even after I'm gone. Don't forget that, okay?
 
Connor, I think you should be next. You were the first one of us to come out to the rest of the group, if I'm remembering right, so I guess that means you should be near the top, right? Hmm....I don't really know what to say to you. We only knew each other for….a year? Two? It's all so fuzzy now…. I mean, I saw you around before that, but we didn't really get to be friends until that….disaster known as eleventh grade English. God, I was so horrible at that class…. Anyway. I guess I just wanted to thank you for making the first move. It changed all our lives and I don't know if that was all for the better or not, but….I still think you need to be thanked for it. But I also want to give you some advice. You've spent so much of your life closing yourself off. I know you have your reasons for that, but….well, they're just not good enough, ya selfish ass. So I'm asking you to stop shutting yourself off and start opening up to the world. Logan got you started, but he can only take you so far. You've gotta get the rest of the way on your own.
 
And speaking of Logan….well, what is there to say about you, Logan? You taught all of us at one point or another, and I can't help wondering if that's what's gonna end up making or breaking most of the others' educations.... You were definitely the most….lively teacher at Milestone High, that's for sure. You made life interesting for all of us, no one can dispute that. But I think your biggest accomplishment was what you did with Connor. (I don't even wanna think about the look Connor would be giving me right now if I said that to his face….) Yeah, you definitely started bringing that kid out of his shell, and all I'm asking of you is that you keep doing it. I want you two to be together and happy. So my advice to you both is to keep your relationship alive. It'll get you through the bad days and make it easier for you to enjoy the good ones.
 
Let's see….Jocelyn. God, what can I say about you? There are no words, really….oh, here, I can think of some. Witty, sarcastic, hyper, odd, a little insane, a complete caffeine addict….and shyer than she'd ever admit. You've got so many opinions, but you seem so scared of sharing them with the world. So now I'm asking you to put those fears aside and just go with what's underneath them. There's so much that you haven't said yet, and it's all stuff the world needs to hear. So please….let them hear it.
 
Robbie, I know you're not very happy with that idea. Most of your sister's ideas are completely foreign to you. You always tried to be a good friend to me out of loyalty to Jocelyn, and I can't fault you for that—you're a good brother. But in the end, I know our beliefs are completely different, and I can accept that. I don't really have any advice to give you, besides this: Take care of your sister. And Jocelyn, take care of your brother. In the end, it doesn't matter if you share the same beliefs, as long as you share the same belief in one another.
 
And now….the hardest goodbye of all. Riley....everything I have to say to and about you would take more time than I have left, so I'm just gonna wrap it up in three simple words….I love you. I love you more than I've ever loved anything, and I know that sounds like a line (and maybe it is) but it's also the truth. I love you and I'm sorry I've made your life so hard. But I'm not sorry I knew you. You're one of the only things that made my stupid life in this stupid town worth fighting for, and don't ever forget that. But I can't just let you off with a bunch of mush when I tried my best to give everyone else advice, so here's my bit of wisdom for you: I meant what I said that time in the hospital. I don't want your life to stop for me, and it shouldn't have to. Sure, our time on Earth together is going to be over by the time you read this, but….well, like Westley said in The Princess Bride....“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a little while.” If what we have is true love, we'll find each other again. So don't spend forever dwelling on me. And….damn, Riles, I wish I could make this part go on forever, and just write “I love you” over and over and over for pages and pages and pages, so that you might understand just a fraction of what I feel for you, but….well, I'm already about to cry, and….damn it, I don't care who knows it. So I'm ending it here….with one last “I love you.” More than anything, Riles. More than everything.
 
Okay, I think I got everyone....which is lucky, because this damn pen is starting to run out, and my hands are starting to act like they're on acid or something. So I'm gonna wrap this up and go to sleep for awhile.
 
….How to you wrap up something like this? How do you say goodbye to the only support group you've ever known? And how do you do it knowing that it's going to be forever? I really have no idea, so….how about we don't say goodbye?
 
Yeah….that sounds good to me.
 
All right, you guys know who I am. But just so you never forget….
 
This is the amazing, wonderful, gorgeous, memorable, and absolutely perfect friend of your youth, and he is signing off. (Being amazing is exhausting, and I need to get some rest.) So goodnight, guys. Goodnight, and good luck.
 
Nicholas Kingsley

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