Sequel: Summer Shadows

Winter Wakes

Thirty Six.

The confined space of my room felt utterly empty as I watched the light on my straightening iron blink. There was nothing but pure silence to taunt me, no voice, no threatened violence, no rustling of book pages. Maybe the occasional sound of my hitched breathing, or a sniffle, but nothing otherwise. The blue-gray eyes of the girl in the vanity met mine wearily; dark circles defined and unhidden, whites of her eyes pink and red-rimmed. There was no life to them; they were completely dull, void of any spark, any happiness. Over the shoulder of my reflection I caught sight of the window-seat once again; it was as empty as it ever had been. The figure I expected to see sitting there only existing in my mind. Apart from my presence, my room was desolate.

My head dropped, fingers knotting themselves in the hair that fell in front of my face. They were coming back, things I didn’t want to relive, but had time and time again over the past few days. I remembered staring out the window Simon had thrown George’s body and his mother from. I remembered the screeching silence after my screams had stopped. I remembered dragging myself, shaking, towards the opening, and looking down. In the dimming evening I had seen the figures scurrying towards the two bodies sprawled out in the snow below me. I had watched a near black substance seeping outward, expanding around the head of George Max and tainting the perfectly white ground as Caroline Dreyton’s lifeless eyes stared up at me, neck twisted at an awkward angle, arm turned so a pink-colored bone protruded from her elbow. Neither moved. A horrified shout had echoed somewhere below, triggering a chain reaction. I had just stared, unable to move, unable to process. I waited. I waited for him to move, waited for a figure no one else could see to shift and pull himself apart from the boy with the ever-growing crimson halo.

I felt the tears start again, a warm wetness against my palms. They had flown more often than not in the past two days. There was no fighting them, no holding back.

I had been taken to the hospital, with Caroline Dreyton and George Max. She had been pronounced dead on arrival. I didn’t remember much of the first few hours, drugs and shock overtaking my system, pushing me into a hazy spiral. I asked for Simon though, not just the nurse, but my father, and even Katie. They thought I was delirious, probably for the better. The next morning I had awoken groggily to my father at my side, Katie standing at the window. That was when they told me about Caroline. That was when they told me George Max had passed away two hours earlier, but not before waking up long enough to ask for the police and exposing the dark secrets of the Dean of Brown University. My dad had carefully informed me the police were waiting until I was awake to have a word with me about the situation. I barely heard him, the news of George Max’s death still ringing in my ears. It had been two hours, and Simon wasn’t there.

My chest felt tight as I pressed my palm into my forehead. It had been two days, and Simon still wasn’t here. It had been two days, and I wanted to do anything but face the realization that he wasn’t ever going to be here. I turned my head slightly, looking at my shut door. Every second, of every minute I had waited for him to appear, imagined his figure stepping through the door, into my room with that ridiculous smirk on his face before tossing some smarmy comment in my direction. But it hadn’t happened. Simon wasn’t there. All I had were the echoes of his voice playing like constant whispers in my ears, the image of him behind my eyelids, and the phantom tingle of the last time he had touched me, his cold lips pressed against mine. All I had left were memories of a ghost.

My breath caught in my throat as the tears poured, pooling in my eyes before trailing down my cheeks. This time there was no one to wipe them away, no one to lightly run their fingers through my hair, or tell me it would be alright. It was just me, and the inescapable memory of a pair of bright blue eyes. I was alone, waiting for the boy who wasn’t going to appear before me anymore. The one I hadn’t revealed my true feelings to. Simon Dreyton, the blonde, beautiful boy I had loved, but never told. I regretted letting him go without letting him know that someone had genuinely cared for him, someone would miss him when he was gone, someone would be heartbroken with his loss.

Shifting slowly, I pushed my hair away from my eyes, looking back at myself in the mirror. I lethargically pulled the hairbrush through my hair, the first time I had even touched it since the morning of the confrontation. My unmade bed could be seen over my shoulder in the mirror; this was the first time I’d been able to pull myself from its depths in two days as well. But I had something I needed to do; not something I wanted to. But the past nights of restless sleep, lingering guilt and regret screamed for it. If I even remotely wanted to ease my mind, I had to.

Even getting ready it was hard not to think about him, hard not to imagine him sitting in the window, or critiquing my hair or clothes. I styled it more carefully than I had before, chose my clothes with severe scrutiny. Today there would be no color. Today it was all black. I wasn’t just someone on the sidelines this time. I was a mourner, I was in pain, and I had lost something most people would never understand.

I tread slowly down the stairs, grabbing my purse of the banister where my father had hung it upon our return home. The leather straps were cold as I dug through my bag, producing my keys before stepping towards the front door.


I stopped mid-step, turning slightly. In the kitchen I could see my father standing over the counter, glasses perched on his nose as he watched me. In front of him were papers, and an open book I had seen countless times. He was in the middle of planning a service. My lips twitched downwards involuntarily; I didn’t want to think about who it could be for.

“I’m going out for a little while. There’s something I need to do. I’ll help you with that when I get back if you want, okay?” I said, fingers already on the cool doorknob.

“You sure you’re okay to go by yourself? I can come with you if you want, this stuff can wait, you know,” He replied, pulling his glasses off as he rubbed his eyes. He was worried, and he wanted to talk. I’d kept a lot from him, leaving him shocked and hurt when it had all come to a head at the hospital. Not to mention the evident concern over my behavior of late, more recently my desire to remain in my room the past two days.

I gave him a ghost of a smile. “I need to do this on my own. I won’t be gone long. We can talk when I get back, I promise. I love you, Dad.”

“I love you too, Maggie.”

The winter air outside bit at my cheeks like it always had, chilled car seeming foreign after two days abandon. She heated quickly, but not enough to make much of a difference, as the warmth had just coated her interior as I pulled up to my destination.

I could feel the burning pain in my chest growing as I stepped out of my car, and walked through the iron gates. I followed the sidewalk slowly, winter sun incapable of providing any heat. My heart began to race as I came to a halt, before stepping cautiously through the dissipating snow. I stopped a few feet back from a snow-covered headstone, the name it bore: Simon Dreyton. The sharp pain I’d felt suddenly became a hollow throb, the very idea of standing where I was, for the reason I was, seeming surreal, inconceivable.

I let out a strangled laugh, tracing each letter of his name with my eyes. “You idiot. Why’d you have to do that?”

There was no response, and hesitantly I stepped forward, brushing the hill of snow off the top of the gravestone.

“Why’d you leave me?” I asked softly. “You said you would always be here, you know that? Why did you lie to me? Why didn’t you stay around? You can’t just barge into someone’s life, and make them care about you, and then vanish. You can’t do that. You can’t make someone love you, kiss them, and leave. You’re cruel, Simon Dreyton. I loved you. I never told you that, but I loved you. I still do. Every day of my life I’m going to be looking over my shoulder, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of you, thinking maybe one day you’ll appear again, but you won’t, will you? Because something tells me if you were coming back, you’d have been here by now. You wouldn’t leave me here for this long by myself, would you?”

I swallowed hard, fighting back the urge to cry again. “How could you do this to me? How could you leave me alone? You idiot. You stupid, caring idiot. Why couldn’t you let me protect you for once, why did you have to go?”

My eyes stung as I blinked, fingertips lingering on top of the cold marble that stood above where Simon lay, saying the words he would never get a chance to hear. I had never felt as empty, as pained as I did then. Closing my eyes all I could see was him; his smile, his amused glance with a quirked up eyebrow, his clear blue eyes echoing with pain and sorrow I had never seen before as a few stray curls fell in front of them. He was in my mind, in my heart. He had invaded my soul, leaving lingering traces of himself in every corner of my thoughts, chasing me in the few restless dreams I had experienced over the past two nights. Simon was gone, and all I wanted, all I could feel, see, hear, was him. All I had were the memories, and the ever present pain he left me with. He was inescapable in the worst sort of way, trapped solely in my mind now. He was a tragic love. He was the one thing that would not let go, what I had lost when my only intention had been to save him.

I looked up towards a cloudless sky, exhaling heavily into the winter air. This was supposed to be my goodbye, my first step to letting go. But it didn’t feel that way now, if anything the pain had grown with my words, things I wanted to say, things he would never hear.

The crunch of the snow behind me sent me into a state of alertness I hadn’t experienced in the past few days, a wistful thought crossing my mind momentarily, causing my heart to jump into my throat as I turned quickly.

“I certainly didn’t expect to meet you here.”

James Dreyton and I shared a long, hard stare. His light blue eyes cutting into me like freshly sharpened daggers, reverberations of images that belonged to a being that should never have been, and now no longer was shooting through my mind with alarming pain. This man, who had had nearly everything ripped away from him, and me the girl who had unveiled the dark truth to the world about his son’s murder by pinpointing his wife before she had hit the snow-covered ground below the window of her office, standing mere feet away. Caroline Dreyton, and George Max had not been the only ones lost in the incident, like the media constantly sold to the unknowing audiences across the nation, did he know that? It was one his ice-colored eyes reminded me of.

James had lost much more than I, suffered a grueling truth concerning his family, and now the bank he ran was under severe scrutiny. Yet there I was, feeling the pull of a new kind of sorrow on my heart and somehow expecting pity from that unfortunate man as we stood there. I wanted to see some kind of sorrow in his eyes as he looked at me. Some things would never change; emotionally selfish was still one of my most defining features.

But, other things would never quite be the same. That was one thing James Dreyton and I certainly shared. James had lost a son, a wife, and probably his ability to trust. With a wife who would put her own son in a grave rather than risking the secret embezzlement of school funds she’d been behind being found out, who could blame him? Anger, resentment, and somewhere under that perhaps even heartbreak lurked. Despite all of the obvious damage Caroline had caused, heartbreak still seemed like a plausible response. She had hurt him, in both her actions and her death. A “logical” thought didn’t seem to fit this situation though. How could he not be heartbroken, if he had been with her so long? The pain that had yet to even vaguely dull in my chest threatened to pull another stream of hot tears fro my eyes, like it had quite often over the past few days. The stinging sensation at their corners, and the wetness that clung to my eyelashes was no easier to control than the other times. If I felt this way after knowing Simon for such a brief period of time, how could this man not feel anything? He had to.

“Tell your father I don’t want a big service.” Any traces of emotion were masked behind his business-like tone. I nodded, trying to swallow the ball of sobs that was slowly forcing its way up my throat.

My fingers wrapped around the clutch of my purse as I prepared myself to walk away. Keeping my legs from shaking as I went to turn was beyond my abilities, the heel of my left boot scraping loudly against the cement path as I reached it.

“So he’s really gone, isn’t he?”

James Dreyton’s words froze me mid-step. I stared down at the dirty gray path below me. The slight breeze that pulled a few strands of hair into my face had no effect on the warm, clear drop that fell from my eye, splattering below me.

“There’s no reason for those tears to be for me, or my wife,” His gruff voice carried up to me. “You’re here at his grave. I know my son. He wouldn’t visit his own grandparents’ graves. I know he wouldn’t visit his own.”

I sighed, closing my eyes. “Simon hated graveyards. He was moody, irrational, ridiculous and so damn hard-headed. He was so frustrating, but what could I do? Sometimes I really thought I hated him, Mr. Dreyton. Sometimes I wanted him to just disappear. But underneath all of the bullshit, cocky behavior there was someone who cared what happened to me, what happened to anyone he loved. When he should have been the one depending on me for help, I was the one leaning on him, always needing him in some way. If he hadn’t saved me he would still be here. It’s my fault he’s…”

Only now the horrible word I had thrown in his face so frequently became incapable of passing my lips. After all the times I had so lightly thrown it around in front of him, taunting, tormenting in a feeble attempt to make him hurt for all of the sharp comments he had directed at me. Now though, it was like my mind couldn’t process it, and it didn’t want to. Not his name and that dreaded word in the same sentence. I harbored resentment towards myself for saying that to him so often.

“If he really saved you from Caroline, I doubt he would want to know or be happy about the fact you’re crying over it, Miss Walton.”

I turned slowly, fixing my blurry gaze on Simon’s father. He stood next to his son’s grave with the same look he had been giving me the entire time holding fast to his face.

“My son wasn’t much of one to worry about others.”

I snorted at the statement, a laugh gone awry after choking on my sob-induced hiccups. The corners of James Dreyton’s lips twitched upwards slightly.

“The only things in this world I’ve ever seen him protect include the ball on the lacrosse field and his brother.” The last two words came out with a new found softness. The man’s head turned, eyes leaving my own to gaze down at the grave by his side. “Those were the only two things that boy seemed to cherish. But I’m starting to think that in the last little bit of his existence he found something else he wanted to protect, whether he realized it or not. Maggie, if anything you shouldn’t feel sad that he’s gone. Be proud and happy you were able to give him something that could move him to action. The only other person that could do that was Oliver. I have no doubts you meant more to that boy than you could possibly imagine.”

I couldn’t avert my gaze from the pale blue eyes that were the basis for Simon’s.


I didn’t resist the pain that brought a fresh stream of tears. Simon’s last words would haunt me until the day I died. I covered my mouth as I stifled a sob. I couldn’t take it anymore. I knelt down onto the sidewalk, hands coming up to cover my face entirely. Even in death Simon could break me like no other. But the guilt of his demolished existence cut through me like a rusty knife. If I hadn’t wanted to confront her without his knowledge of the situation, this may not have happened. She would still be alive, and he would still be around.

A sharp ringing cut through the air on that wintry morning. I ignored that it could have been my phone.

“Hello?” James’s voice carried up to me. “Yes, speaking.”

For a few seconds the sound of the wind rustling the dead leaves was the only thing to be heard. I pretended its cool touch was Simon’s fingers in my hair, a sharp fresh ache with the mere thought.

“Yes, thank you. I’ll be there shortly.” There was a loud click followed by hasty footsteps and a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Maggie. I have to go.”

I looked up, giving him a short nod, only to freeze in shock. The look on James Dreyton’s face was one I was unfamiliar with. Eager excitement danced in his typically stern eyes. It was a sharp opposite of the previous façade.

“Mr. Dreyton?” I stared uncertainly at him through tears as he stood.

“The hospital just called,” He stated, our eyes locked. “Oliver just woke up.”

I stared after the man as he walked way. My breath caught in my throat as the shadows of the leafless limbs danced along the sidewalk in the winter breeze.

He stopped momentarily, turning only slightly to look back in my direction. “Ms. Walton, expect a phone call in a few days. I have a proposition for you; it concerns the bank, and a matter of inheritance.”

With that his figure retreated for good. I stared after him, a fresh new feeling rippling through me, growing as the time passed and the wind tugged at my clothes and hair. It was something else I had just seen in James Dreyton, it had danced in his tone, gleamed in his eyes at the news of his son’s awakening. It numbed the pain a little, giving me a silly, ridiculous idea that seemed to bring a little more light to my eyes. I lingered on the selfish, bogus thought, glancing slowly over at the name scrawled on the gravestone James Dreyton and I had been standing over. It was a crazy wish, an insane dream that filled my head, and it was completely and utterly selfish. But in that moment it was what I needed; something pure and simple.

♠ ♠ ♠
Traces of light, linger around
As laces of white fall to the ground
The softest of sounds for the heaviest things
And the pain that it brings...

-The Afters

I cried. I'm not going to lie. I fucking cried. Probably because, 191 pages, and two and a half years later, the first story I've ever truly invested myself in is over. I've had this final chapter (partially) written since the very beginning. It's been staring at me sadly ever since then. Now I don't know what to do, or how to feel. I loved writing this. I loved the characters, dearly. But this is my baby. This is my first. I love you guys, and I just wanted to say, thank you for sticking with me until the end, all of you.

If you'll notice up top, there's (kind of) a surprise. Summer Shadows, the sequel. I can't say when I'll update that one, honestly. But it has a plot, and scribbles of chapters, and potential to actually have substance any day. But I need a break after this. Just a few weeks. Just time to emotionally recover. This has been a major part of my life for two and a half years, and I don't know how to cope with this. Also, do remember this is just a first draft. One day, I will submit it to a publishing company . Maybe after one revise, maybe after a few. Who knows.

Also I've made a separate tumblr just for my writings. The link to it is on the profile page.