We Have To Find Courage

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
We have to find courage. I have to find courage. Courage to be strong again, Courage to stay alive. It’s not just me, it’s everyone.

Peoples loved ones are falling to death overnight and no one knows how to stop it. It’s heart wrenching and terrifying. The only thing we know is that anyone under the age of eighteen is unaffected.

I turn eighteen tomorrow.

If it works how I think it does, tomorrow I will leave my ten-year-old sister with no other family. Every day I cry, thinking about how she won't have anyone besides River.

River promised me he would take care of her until his birthday, in which he would then pass her on to a respected owner. I can’t imagine being handed off like a lost cause. I only hope that she can handle it.

I've been crying all day. People would say I’m wasting my time. People would say I should be saying goodbye, but I only have two people to love. Only two people and soon after I die I’ll have one.

Rivers birthday is a week after mine and I pray every day that I’ll see him again because the truth is...I love River.

He’s been there since my mother died. He’s been there since my father passed. He’s been there to hold me up when I feel like I’m going to fall. He keeps me sane in this crazy world.

“You know, maybe you’ll make it out.”

I glance over at River, who is playing with a Rubix cube as he leans on my bed frame, “No one gets out of it River. You know that.”

He lets out a long sigh as he completes the Rubix cube for the fiftieth time.

I sit up from my position on the bed so I’m leaning on my elbow, “You don’t have to stay here. You can go. Take Meredith with you. She needs you from here on out.”

He shakes his head vigorously, “I told you I’m not leaving you.”

My heart flutters, and I know it shouldn't. Nothing about this is romantic.

Shakespear would be proud though.

I toss my head back onto the pillow and groan, “I hate that you’d do that for me. I don’t want you to-”

I flinch when he throws the cube across the room, “See you dead?! What? You think I WANT to see it?”

My heart aches as he yells at me, and I struggle to swallow past the lump that's forming in my throat, “no that’s not what I-”

He bites his lip, and I see his eyes begin to water, “I do not, Want to see...The love of my life die. That’s not something I wish to experience, but it has to happen. This is how it is Aspen. Nothing’s going to change.”

With that, he turns to lean back against the bedframe. His head is tilted upwards and his eyes are closed. I’m the love of his life.

When I turn to face the window I catch sight of the moon and my glance shifts to the clock.

11:55 pm. Tomorrows my birthday. In five minutes I will die of an unexplainable death.

11:56. I need to say something, something that he will remember.

11:57, “River please look at me.” I plead, moving closer to the end of the bed

11:58, “River please!” I shout crawling down to sit in front of him. His eyes are still closed, but I don't miss the tear that trickles down his face.

11:59, “Please River...” I whisper, desperate for him to look at me with his sage green eyes.
“Please.” I sob, tears running down my face. I close my eyes and wait for the pain. Is it painful? Will I see my parents again? My grandparents? Everyone I’ve ever loved? I try to ignore it but no matter how hard I try I can’t, my thoughts are swarmed with him.


I want to see him again. In a week, on his birthday I want to see him and I want him to look at me because right now he’s refused to. Something I know he’ll regret.


Death. It’s something that we await our whole lives. However, when our lives are cut shorter than expected we do everything in our power to stop it, instead of enjoying it. Instead of enjoying the last minutes that we have with the people we love. We push to find something to cure it. Something to stop a fate that has already been sealed. We find the courage to keep trying. We keep trying until finally there’s no time left.

12:01 I’m dead. Or at least I think I am. I’m floating in a galaxy like abyss where there seems to be no up or down. No side to side. Just a point in which I am being held.

I don’t know what time it is now...I just know that I’m being asked a question. A question that could change my life.

Forward or back.

If I choose back I will see River again. He will be there for me when I wake up. Will he have the same option? Or am I special? I don’t know, no ones answering me.

If I go forward there is a possible chance of being happy again. Being rejoined with the people I love. My family.

Forward or back
Forward or back
Forward or back

Forward. Forward. Forward. I will see him again, I know it. There is no reality in which I will not be with River because I love him.

There is no reality in which I won’t see Meredith because she is my sister and I love her.

There is no reality in which I won’t see my family, because they are my world and I love them.

But...going forward would be easy. Everyone has taken the easy route and it only leaves people in pain. So I will not choose forward because I don’t want to hope anymore. I’m tired of praying and wishing.

There is no reality in which I would give up and leave people that I love behind because they are more important than the people who left me behind. Who left me in pain, with a broken heart and an infinite amount of tears. No. I will not go to them. I will go back to the person that loves me. The person who felt so much pain that he couldn’t even look at me. Yes. I will go back to him. I will find the courage to ignore the easy way out. I will find the courage to struggle in order to stay with the people who love me.

Time. Space. Movement. It’s happening all around me. A gust of wind sweeps my hair behind me and I close my eyes.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I should have- I should have-”

I’m being held by him. Held by the person I came back for.

“River.” I whisper.

His eyes pop open and he freezes. His sobbing stops and all that's left are tears sliding down his face, “Aspen?”

I swallow and nod my head. His eyes light up in the way I’ve seen them do before. When we would swing on the swingset, or have tickle fights. This is the person I came back for...yet, I almost destroyed him.

“Oh my god. I love you. I’m so sorry I should have-” he stutters, but I cut him off.

I shake my head and smile softly, “ I love you River.”

Shock is written all over his face as he stares at me. A smile that I’ve never seen soon spreads over his face. Relief.

“I love you too Aspen.”

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