Sequel: Story of Another Us

Beside You

one of one.

I missed her. I missed the sound of her giggle, the way her eyes kind of squint as she laughs, the sound of her soft, delicate voice, her small, soft hands, just all of her. I couldn't wait to have her back into my arms and kiss her from her forehead to her small nose and her rosy cheeks. She was my whole world and I can't stand not having her around.

“You miss her?" Michael said, more of a statement rather than a question, with a smile as he was tuning his guitar. It was almost time to go on stage.

“More than you can imagine," I mumbled. It was hard being away from her when you're always busy with recording and touring. Sometimes, she'll be with me since she had my mum or the other lads’ mum's as company; but most of the time, she stayed back in Sydney. I was just glad this was our last show of the tour. Don't get me wrong, I love our fans; but I missed home a lot.

“Well don't you worry, Luke. She's gonna be here tonight, remember? She's gonna watch from the side of the stage," Ashton said, lightly drumming the coffee table with his long fingers. "And pretty soon before you know it, she's gonna be running back to your arms!"

Calum nodded in agreement, too busy looking at his phone. He was probably on Twitter from what I'm guessing.

“You're right, I'm just nervous cause she usually doesn't watch me perform. She's either waiting at the hotel or is waiting in some room like this." I fiddled with the light purple guitar pick. I usually had a black one; but ever since she came along, I got one with her favorite color along with her name on it so I had something with me whenever I go on stage.

“Come on, boys. It's time to go on," one of the crew members said. He was new, so I'm not really familiar with him.

“Let's go show 'em what we're made of!" Calum shouted, grabbing his bass off the couch where Michael and Ashton were sitting.

--


“Thank you, Los Angeles. You guys were a great crowd, goodnight!" I shouted into the microphone, slightly panting from all the performing. We didn't have a meet and greet tonight, so it was just my luck; but I did get a few photos with some fans and signed some stuff.

“Where is she?" I asked our tour manager as we got in the tour bus. We were gonna get some sleep in a hotel for the night, get some breakfast, and then head to the airport to go home. "I thought she was backstage?"

“Yeah, well, her and your mom headed to the hotel after the show because she was really tired," he explained, getting a bottle of water from the fridge. "She's sleeping right now, at least, that's what your mom told me just to check up on things."

I nodded, sending my mum a text just to check up on her. I get worried easily whenever I wasn't around her to protect her.

From: Mum
Don't worry, hun, she's fine.


“Worried still?" a voice from behind asked. I jumped, nearly falling off the couch from the back lounge. "Sorry mate."

“It's okay, Mikey. And yeah, but I was just checking just in case she was worried or anything."

“It's not her you need to worry about, it's you, Luke. She's doing fine now, she's not a baby. Besides, she's in good hands, remember? Your mum is with her, so nothing is gonna happen to either of them. Just relax, take a quick nap, you're deserve it."

“Who are you and what have you done to Michael?" I asked jokingly, though it's a bit strange listening to those words come out of Michael's lips. But at the same time, it's really reassuring to hear.

“Cal took my 3DS," he said, getting up from the black, leather couch. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna be stealing it back."

I chuckled slightly, getting up as well to go take a quick nap in my bunk. "Good luck with that, then."

--


Finally, we made it to the hotel. I honestly didn’t think I could go another moment without holding her in my arms. As they were checking in, I didn’t hesitate to sprint to the elevators and head to my room where she was. I didn’t care if I looked like a fucking maniac or if I was embarrassing myself by the fact that my band mates were shouting my name. I was just so excited to see her. To spin around in my arms and hear her laugh. Her laugh was music to my ears. I had to wait for the lads to get into the elevator with me since I didn’t know which room she we were staying in.

The ride to our floor felt like centuries but we finally reached our destination. I followed the boys to where my room was. Calum unlocked the door with the swipe of our room key as Ashton and Michael entered theirs. I suddenly felt apprehensive for some odd reason. My hand hovered the golden doorknob but I didn’t have it in me to turn it.

“What’s wrong?” Calum asked, waiting for me to open the door.

I sighed, staring at the door knob. “I dunno, I guess I’m nervous or somethin’.”

“Why?”

“Cause she didn’t get to see me play tonight. She’s probably gonna be upset and I don’t want her to be upset.”

His hand rested on my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Everything is gonna turn out fine.”

I nodded, slowly turning the knob. We both entered the large room. There was a tiny kitchen on our left and in the center of the room, a couch and TV. There were two doors, one on each side. I’m guessing they both lead to separate bedrooms. I quickly took off my shoes, running to the first room that was in the right side of the room. No one was there.

“You can take that room,” I said, walking out. Calum nodded, taking his bags into the room.

I walked into the second room, careful not to make a sound in case she was sleeping. I could see my mom on her cellphone, she was sitting on the right side of the bed. And there she was, sleeping safe and sound.

“Hi mum,” I whispered, careful not to wake her up. “How was Lottie?”

“She missed you,” she said, smiling. She looked at Lottie then back at me. “She was so excited to watch you perform, but she ended up falling asleep. She woke up about twenty minutes ago, asking if you were back. But then she fell back asleep.”

You see, Lottie is my daughter; it’s short for Charlotte. Charlotte Elizabeth Hemmings. Back when I was stuck with Capitol Records, I was forced to be stuck with Modest! Management. They made us their puppets; making us hang out and date certain people in order to gain more publicity for the band. I was forced to date a girl who I wasn’t in love with, a girl too toxic. But then I met Wynona, a girl who was interested in the real me, not the one that was all over the media and Tiger Beat magazine. We had to date in secret because Modest would have tried to break us up. Despite almost two years being in a secret relationship with me, we ended up breaking up because I was too afraid to openly hold her hand in public and scream her name to the world. By the time the band decided to cut ties with Capitol Records and Modest for a new label, it was too late to get Wynona back.

But nine months after our break up, her father dropped off a beautiful baby girl with no explanation. My mum wasn’t that upset with me because she instantly fell in love with Lottie just like we all did. I was never upset or angry because Lottie has been a blessing to me. She has become an inspiration when it comes to writing songs. I never did see Wynona again or heard from her. I heard from my mum’s friends that she moved to New York to work on getting her degree in fashion.

I chuckled at my mum’s statement, watching my sleeping five year old daughter. Charlotte inherited her mother’s soft, brown curly locks. She also had her freckles and her dark chestnut colored eyes, that reminded me of her mother whenever she was happy. They sparkled just like hers. She had my dimpled smile that radiated off her light mocha skin. It really is such a shame that Wynona couldn’t see our beautiful daughter.

Lottie stirred just a bit, cuddling closer to the pillow beside her. My mum and I shared a knowing smile, leaving the room and quietly shutting the door. Soon after, my mum left the hotel room, leaving me alone in the living room. I sat down on the red velvet couch, closing my eyes and letting sleep consume me.

--


I woke up, the sun shining brightly from the open certains. I slightly squinted, looking away from the light. I noticed a heavy weight on my body. I soon realized that it was Lottie, who was peacefully sleeping on my lap.

I grabbed the remote near me, careful not to wake her up. A few minutes of channel surfing and settling for a rerun episode of Family Guy, I could hear her tiredly yawn. “Hiya daddy,” she mumbled tiredly, hugging my body as I wrapped my arms around hers.

“Hi kiddo,” I said, my voice a bit raspy. I seriously needed some water.. “Sleep well?”

“Mhmm.” She nodded slightly.

I kissed the top of her head. “You hungry? We can order some pizza.”

“I want ice cream,” she whined, hopping off my lap.

“Love, don’t cha think it’s a bit too early for ice cream?”

The five year old shooked her head. “Nope, never too late for ice cream.”

“How about we have pizza now and get ice cream later? Then we can go play at the park and we can go to band rehearsal. Sound good?”

Charlotte pouted, giving in. “Alright.”

-=-


Charlotte was already asleep by the time the pizza arrived. I didn’t really have the heart or the energy to wake her up, so I just saved her a few slices (making sure they were out of Michael’s sight since the boys decided to hang out at our suite). By the time it was twelve o’clock, I thought that I should go wake her up so we could eat and leave since rehearsal was at 1:20. We had to go to some music award thing and Lottie was excited to be my “date of honor.”

“Hey. Wakey, wakey, pizza with no bakey,” I whispered.

She was still sound asleep on her stomach, the blanket only covering her lower part of her body and her pink shirt risen up. I noticed something a bit off as I stared at her back. She looked very thin, you could practically see her spine. There were some bruises on her back, and they didn’t look like the type of bruises you’d get from running into something or playing a sport. They weren’t the color of dark violet or the nasty mixture of olive green and golden; they were red, yellow, and purple. They looked so painful. And I also noticed a lot of tiny, red spots splattered all over her back.

A hand covered my mouth, trying to simmer down the possible scream or loud gasp. I backed away from the room slowly, as if I were in some horror film and found the dead corpse of a loved one. I couldn’t believe the amount of bruises on her back. I was too scared to even check if there were more.

Once I was in the living room, Calum gave him an odd look. The dark haired male put down his phone. “Oi, what’s wrong?”

“I-I...I just,” I stuttered out, my bottom lip beginning to quiver. God, I cursed himself, why did I have to be so sensitive? “Just go look at Lottie real quick.”

“Wha—”

“Just go.”

“Alright, alright,” he said, putting his hands up in defense.

I stared at the white tile patterned floor, millions of thoughts racing back and forth through my mind. I aggressively tugged the sides of my hair, feeling the need to scream and cry, wondering what I was going to do with myself, with Lottie. I could hear him suck in a breath as I kept imagining all those ugly colored bruises. I honestly didn’t feel like going to practice knowing that she was probably hurt from all those bruises.

When Calum had returned from the room, with that heartbroken expression and looking as if he was trying to hold back tears, he said nothing to to me. He only walked passed me to tell the other lads and our manager to cancel the rehearsal in hopes that I could fly back home to get her to a doctor soon.

-=-


It’s been about a month and a half since I found Charlotte in that horrible condition. Originally, I was going to fly back to Sydney with Lottie and my mum but the boys decided to cancel the performance last minute to give our support, which I really appreciated since it was not easy for me to find my baby girl in that unfamiliar state. Once we landed back in Sydney, I quickly scheduled an appointment for Lottie to see if she just had some weird flu or something. We had to wait a few days and it was the most stressful three days ever. I was sure Charlotte had all her vaccines, but you could never be too sure in a time like that. However, I was told to observe any odd behavior and take note of anything that could be a symptom to an illness.

Those three days suddenly opened up my eyes, a rare occurrence for me if I had to be honest. And opening them felt as if it were some huge wake up call, almost. I started noticing how she was always tired, constantly taking naps and then falling back asleep when she wakes up from them. I noticed her sleeping with dozens of blankets and had to be by a heater due to chills, even if it was the middle of June. When she wasn’t busy sleeping, she didn’t go out to play because she would be tired. She was too weak at times to the point where I would have to carry her sometimes. The one thing that really worried me the most was the fact that she would get random nosebleeds. Mum said that the doctors told her not to worry about it once, but it became a bigger concern when she started having them more frequently. I never noticed until she had one during dinner. Fuck, I’ve never seen so much blood spill out before. Heck, I thought that with the amount of blood, it could be used for a cheesy scary movie.

And then the news finally came to me; my only daughter, my beautiful angel, my whole world, was diagnosed with Leukemia, blood cancer.

God, the two weeks that passed after hearing the news were just filled with nothing but agonizing sorrow and anger. Anger towards life for doing this to my baby girl. Anger towards Wynona for not being here in this time of need. Anger towards myself for not being a better father for Charlotte. If only my career didn’t take away so much time that I could have spent being with her and realizing this sooner.

“I’m a fucking horrible father,” I would say to myself.

“Stop it, you’re an amazing one,” they would say. Whether it’d be the boys, my brothers, my friends, or my parents. “It’s not your fault she’s sick, don’t blame this on yourself when no one had any control over it.”

I know it’s true, that this was something I couldn’t prevent unless it was a different kind of cancer. But it still hurts, knowing that my only daughter was ill and slowly dying and falling apart in front of me. I spent a week in constant denial, thinking that I was just getting punk’d or something by my band mates or even Ashton Kutcher. The week after was spent with late nights crying myself to sleep and praying to any god out there that could somehow in some way magically heal my princess. To be able to kiss her healthy forehead, rest easy, and spend more time with her without worrying if it would be my last. But life isn’t as fair as I wanted it to be and I can’t do a damn thing about it.

Even so, I’ve tried to stay strong for her and to make her feel as normal as possible. Charlotte knows that she’s sick, but she just doesn’t quite understand it. She doesn’t know that her illness doesn’t have a cure and she just thinks that she has a really bad flu. I try not to make her feel as if she were just some charity case, which is why I decided to take her out for ice cream along with the lads. The boys also are trying to stay positive around Lottie, despite it also hurting them as well. When I informed them of the news, they were heartbroken. The boys have been like uncles to her. For them, it was like watching a family member of their own dying in the process.

I shook my head to ignore the thought. “Lottie!” I shouted from my bedroom as I was putting on a red flannel. “Can you please go get ready before the boys come?”

“Okay, daddy!” she answered. I saw her steal my hair brush from my bed and run off to where I can only assume was the bathroom. As I was slipping on my Vans, I heard a loud scream.

“Lottie?” I asked, though it came out like a yell. “Are you okay, baby?” The five year old suddenly came running into my room, crying. She ran into my arms when I squatted down to her height. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

She didn’t say a word, she just kept crying and crying. I could feel her warm tears and her boogers stain my black shirt, but I said nothing. I kept whispering reassuring words into her ear, trying to calm her down so she could explain what happened.

Her crying slightly died down but she was still teary eyes. I ran my fingers through her hair, something she loved when I tried to calm her down. She mumbled into my neck, words I couldn’t quite understand, in which I asked her to repeat herself. “M-My, my...my hair fell off!”

My eyes widened as I stared at my shaky hand, a chunk of her brown curly locks in my fingers. She started to pull a few strands of her hair, showing how effortlessly she was pulling the hair out of her scalp. It was coming off like the fall leaves from a tree. More tears were beginning to slip down her cheeks, a mixture of fear and anxiety glistening in her eyes.

I told her to stop pulling her hair as I carried her into the living room. I quickly texted the lads, telling them about the situation as she was crying in my lap. They texted back that they were on their way.

A few minutes later, there was a knock in my apartment door. I slightly yelled that the door was unlocked and that they could let themselves in. The boys found us sitting together on the couch, Lottie crying as I kept rubbing her back gently. She kept commenting about how ugly she looked now and that she wasn’t daddy’s beautiful angel anymore. It shattered my heart hearing her utter those words to herself, knowing that this was something she couldn’t help since it was because of the chemotherapy she has been going through.

Calum and Ashton tried their best to cheer her up as Michael left the living room. We didn’t really think much of it, I just assumed he went to the bathroom to cry. He was the closest to Charlotte out of the three, of course it would pain him to hear her like this. But one we heard a door slam and the sound of an electric razor, the living room immediately went silent.

Soon, we heard the noise stop and the door open. Suddenly, we were met with a bald Michael. We gasped in shock, staring at his new look. We and even fans have made jokes and comments about how Michael would go bald sooner or later because he kept constantly dying his hair but we never imagined being face with a bald Michael now that he stopped dying his hair. Michael’s hair was what made him him, we couldn’t believe that he willingly got rid of the one thing about him that really made him stand out.

He came towards Lottie, squatting down and looking at her dead in the eyes. “Why do you think you’re ugly?”

She looked at him in complete awe, not answering until he asked her again. “B-because my hair is fallin’ out.”

He grabbed her small hand, playing with her fingers. “I shaved my head bald, do you think I’m ugly?”

Charlotte shook her head. “No, Uncle Mikey.”

“Well then, sweet pea,” he said, picking her up and spinning her around. She started giggling as he spun her. “No more tears, alright? You’re still a beautiful girl and you’re always gonna be a beautiful girl. And now that we’re both lacking hair, that means we can wear matching hats! Do you like that?”

She nodded her head in excitement, and we soon left my apartment to go get ice cream. The rest of the day consisted of eating ice cream and going to the mall to buy hats for Lottie. Let’s just say that she’s gonna have a drawer filled with beanies. The beginning of this journey was going to be tough now that Charlotte is going through chemo already, but knowing that I have friends like mine reminded me that we didn’t have to go through that journey alone.

-=-


I never hated a room more than this room. I grew to hate this plain, dull, lifeless room as the days go by. The way it smelled like medicine all the time, the was it was so chilly, and especially the way it lacked that homey feeling. Hospitals have never been, nor will ever be, my thing. For god’s sake, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to sleep on a bed thanks to the most uncomfortable pull out couch ever. I’ve slept in cheap motel rooms and beds on a tour bus that are more comfortable than that couch. But this will never be about my discomfort, everything I do now is for Lottie so that she can feel better since my princess always comes first (even if it means sleeping on a shit excuse of furniture). With that in mind, I was thinking up ideas to spend Charlotte’s sixth birthday that was coming up in a week and a half. Unfortunately, she would have to spend her birthday at the hospital instead of back home. But my mission is to make her party feel at home and enjoyable for her since she has been getting a bit stressed out from all the chemo and bone marrow transplant surgeries.

“That fuckin’ sucks!” Michael said, adjusting his dark gray beanie. His hair has been growing back since the day he shaved his head, which was months ago. “Why can’t we like...sneak her outta the hospital and go party back your place? Invite the boys and play like twister?”

“Because I would not have my daughter remember her sixth birthday as the day her dad and her ‘uncles’ got arrested for sneaking her out of the hospital without their permission.”

“Wow, okay, ouch, don’t need your sass, mate.” Ashton, Calum, and Michael’s girlfriend, Julia, laughed.

“Where is the little cutie anyway?” Julia asked, noticing the empty bed.

“She’s doing her chemo right now,” I answered. “She’ll be back soon.”

“I thought she was getting x-rays?” Ashton asked.

“Fuck, I dunno, I think she’s gonna get her x-rays later this week.”

“Why does she need x-rays?” she asked. Michael only mumbled under his breath about how nosy she was, in which he got a playful punch to the shoulder as a response.

“It’s her radiation therapy so that they can damage the Leukemia cells so they’ll stop growing.” She only nodded, obviously getting the hint that I didn’t really want to talk about it. “Actually, lads, I think I have an idea.”

“Oh? Do tell,” the bassist said.

And so I quickly explained the plan for Lottie’s birthday, assigning jobs to each of them as they all nodded in agreement. I made sure to ask the nurses if the plan was alright to do, in which they agreed, and even offered to help out if it was needed.

The plan was now in motion.

--


The week and a half passed by faster than we all thought, but who cares because today was the day of his sixth birthday party and I was ready to kick some a—

“Hello? Zoning out, I see.”

“Huh?”

“Dude, we’ve been trying to get your attention,” Calum said. “Anyway, so Julia went to go get Lottie from her chemo to escort back right here.”

I nodded, getting the stuff out of the plastic shopping bags and finish setting up the room. As sad at the idea of spending Lottie’s sixth birthday in the hospital, I was also excited because this was the first birthday in years that I’ve been able to spend time with her. I also missed her birthdays due to tour but now that the band is on hiatus for the time being, it’s given me a good opportunity to spend all my time with her.

We decided to kind of keep the party small. It was gonna be me and the lads along with their girlfriends, my family (my parents, my brothers, and some cousins), and some of the nurses that we’ve gotten close with throughout the journey. Originally, we were gonna have it in Lottie’s room but the staff allowed us to spend it in the hospital’s cafeteria so we could have more space and they even closed the cafeteria early so we could just have it to ourselves. I would definitely have to repay them for this!

We quickly got the cafeteria decorated, trying not to use too much decorations and take up too much space. We put up pink streamers and pink and white balloons. We had a long table with a Disney Princesses table cloth to cover it up and it was set with the cake Julia and Calum’s girlfriend, Chrissy, made for the party. We had some pizza and mum brought some homemade dishes since she knew we’ve been so used to eating hospital food and take out. The theme of the party was Disney princesses, and I was excited to see Charlotte’s reaction since doesn’t know about the party.

“Everyone, be quiet! Julia is down the hall!” Ben whispered, turning the lights off. We all got into our positions, the room suddenly getting quiet. I could hear what they were saying the closer they got.

“Are you excited now that you’re a big girl?” Julia asked her.

“Yup!” I smiled, I can just see her giving the lavender haired girl her famous grin.

“Alright, now close your eyes, okay?” My heart was beating fast in anticipation, I couldn’t wait to see the smile on her face. “Okay, you can open your eyes now, sweetie.”

And so she did, looking at the room in awe.

“Surprise!” everyone shouted, jumping out of their hiding spots.

“Happy birthday, beautiful,” I said, bending down to kiss the top of the birthday girl’s head. I then put a tiara that I got from Party City on the top of her head gently.

She giggled, wrapping her arms around body. “Daddy, why are you wearing a tutu?”

“Because we’re fairies!” Ashton shouted, throwing pink confetti and glitter in the air, dramatically. His girlfriend, Sydney, laughed, fixing the wings he bought.

Despite the fact that there was four men wearing tutus to a kid’s birthday party, we spent the rest of the time enjoying Charlotte’s birthday. We had her change out of her pajamas and wear the Tiana dress we bought her to wear for the party. She was so excited to wear it since it was her favorite Disney princess as well as Merida, so we let her play with a toy bow and arrow.

I don’t think the idea of Lottie spending her sixth birthday at the hospital bothered her as much as it bothered me. I think the idea of her being with the people she loved and cared for who clearly felt the same all while having fun with cake was what she really cared about. I smile at the thought of how carefree she is, I wish I could be like that at times.

_____


Some of the doctors and nurses have nicknames for her in the hospital. They call her things such as “the little miracle” because her cancer was slowly turning worse than they anticipated, but Lottie still kept going strong and still kept that positive attitude. She didn’t cry during chemo or when she had to do her bone marrow transplants. She acted as if this was normal, because to her it was normal. It was almost a daily routine: chemo, x-rays, transplants, sleeping, missing home.

No one had the heart to tell her that they didn’t expect her to live past eleven years old, especially me, as I had high hopes for Lottie despite knowing the true reality of it. Calum, Ashton, Michael, Julia, my parents, and my brothers already knew. Everyone knew. I already know, of course, but I just kept denying it.

So I’ve tried to make the next four years for Lottie worthwhile, if what the doctors have been telling me was true. When she was seven, I finally got to take her home and celebrate her birthday properly. We had a huge party, on my part, and I gave her a lavender acoustic guitar. I began teaching her how to play some of her favorite 5 Seconds of Summer songs and some other songs that she liked listening to. When she was eight, we took her to Disney World for the first time. She was so excited to meet all her favorite Disney characters, I remember us running around everywhere. She couldn’t really get on any rides but she still had fun nonetheless. We went to the beach as well, her first time in a long time. She didn’t swim but she enjoyed attempting to make sand castles and walking on the water, feeling the waves brush her feet and the sand between her toes.

When she was nine, she started being an active part of the band. She didn’t go to school and ended up being homeschooled, so when we back on tour, it was much easier for us to take her despite the risk of her health. However, we tried as much as we could to take her along since she always enjoyed going to shows. She’d come along tours when they were Australia, Europe, or UK tours. We had a hometown concert and I made sure that some of her favorite songs were on the setlist. We surprised not only the fans but Lottie by inviting her on stage to come singe with us. From the moment I saw her singing along to songs such as Don’t Stop, Girls Talk Boys, and Unpredictable, I knew that the stage was where she always wanted to be for now on. Having a large audience witness you live out your dream, jumping around and having fun with your best friends, feeling on top of the world; that’s what she wanted more than anything.

But once she turned ten, things got a little crazy. In more ways than one, really. I honestly thought I wasn’t gonna make it through, the sudden stress being put on me as I juggled life at home with being back in the music industry. For example, I finally had to be real with her.

“Dad,” she said, laying down in her bed. She was released out the hospital earlier that day, having to return in about two or three months.

“Yeah love?” I said, sitting on the edge of her bed.

“I wanna be just like you.”

“A boy?” I joked, trying to tuck her in.

“No!” she said, laughing and hitting me with a pillow. “I wanna be a singer, dad.”

“Ahh.” I smiled, sighing a bit. Was this the day? How could I possibly say this? “How come? Why me?”

“Cause you’re awesome and you have fun and I wanna have fun.”

“I thought we already have enough fun?” I asked her, reminding her of all the things we’ve done over the years.

“Yeah, but,” she said, obviously trying to figure out the right words. “But I don’t wanna be sick anymore, I wanna do what you do.”

I could feel that punch in my heart, that pang of hurt and utter sorrow killing deep inside me. I just had to come out with it. “Love, I’m afraid it’s not that easy.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, noticing the sudden change of emotion. We’re way too close for me to tell her there wasn’t something bothering me. She knew me too well, she was too smart, especially for a kid her age.

My eyes were beginning to water, my vision slightly getting blurry. With one hand, I held her pale, cold hand and with the other, I wiped away the tears that were beginning to race down my cheeks. “You know how you’re sick?”

“Yeah..” She gave me a look of confusion. As if, “Where was he going with this?” She’s known this for four years already, but it was time for her to really understand the reality of it. It was time for me to understand the reality of it.

“Baby, um...the doctors don’t think you can get better, you’re getting worse.”

“But why?”

“You have a sickness called cancer. It’s, um...it’s not like a flu or a cold. It’s a bit worse?” I started off, not knowing the right way to put it in which she could understand. “There are different types of cancer, people get it from doing bad stuff like smoking or tanning too much or they just get it. And you, um, you just randomly got it I guess.”

“So what kind do I have, dad?”

“You have what’s called Leukemia, which is blood cancer. And your cancer can’t really be healed, hun. That’s why you have nose bleeds or you’ll throw up blood a lot. So, um...t-the doctors say you might not make it.”

“Daddy, why are you crying?” she asked, letting go of my hand and placing it on my face. “What do you mean?”

“I-It means I won’t get to see you anymore.”

“So where am I going?” She was beginning to get nervous.

“You’re going to a better place, baby,” I said, my hand on top of hers. “A-And you’ll be in the clouds where you won’t be sick anymore.”

“I don’t wanna go, I wanna stay here with you!” She began to cry herself. “Don’t ever leave,” she said to me.

“Baby, I know, I know. But I promise that I’ll be there with you. Always.”

“Pink promise?” She stuck out her pinky, staring at me with teary eyes. I sucked in a deep breath, linking my pinky with hers.

“I pinky promise, love.”

--


After the talk we had that night, it somehow brought us closer. She was a bit more clingy, as if she was afraid to lose me any minute now. That’s what I hated despite the fact that I liked that she wanted to be with me more, I made her scared of living her life rather than letting her continue having fun living it. I constantly tried to distract her mind with fun activities that we could do, which slightly seemed to help, but at times it really didn’t.

It made me upset as well that it has always just been me and Charlotte, she didn’t really have a mother figure that she could confide to. Sure, there was my mom, Julia, and the other gals but someone who could really help her. Especially in this time of need. It not only bothered me but the boys as well, so they’ve been trying to set me up with a girl since I haven’t been in the dating game since after my breakup with Wynona, which was years ago.

I announced to Charlotte that I was going on a date, just so see her reaction. Secretly, I was hoping that she would beg for me not to go and stay home with her to watch movies. Instead, she got excited and insisted we had to make me look good for my date. Although it was a bit exciting to finally go out, I was still apprehensive because I’ve been so used to being and taking care of Lottie that leaving her for something unrelated to work was strange.

We went to the mall to go buy me a “hot outfit,” as Lottie would put it, for my date. I tried my best to distract her by taking her to other stories but she finally caught on and made me get nice suit to wear for the fancy dinner that we had planned to have. Once we bought the suit, Lottie allowed me to spoil her by buying her some new shoes, a dress, and a few books.

--


The day of the date came and I was a bit nervous. It’s been a long time since I left home for something not music related and my first date in a long time time. Lottie was excited for me, which I still didn’t really understand why since I’d assume she’d be jealous, but it was nice to have my daughter support me. I was all dressed and ready to go, we were meeting up to some fancy restaurant at 6:30. It was already 5 o’clock so I thought why not hang out with Lottie for the time being?

Around 5:20, there was a knock on my apartment door. It was weird, it couldn’t be my date, right? We agreed to meet up at the restaurant, I doubt she would know where I live. Unless it was Jack, who volunteered to watch Charlotte as I went to the date.

I opened the door, “Hey, come on in—Wynona?”

There stood an angel that I haven’t seen in ten years. She didn’t really look much different than the last time I saw her. Although she had a silver septum piercing, she still had her same curly locks (though it was short and ombre), the same rich mocha skin that looked beautiful in the hallway lighting, those pink plump lips, and that contagious smile. I only stared at her, god damn, Charlotte really did get her beauty from her mother now that I’m finally face to face with her again.

“Hey Luke,” she said, making strong eye contact. “Are you busy?”

“What makes you say that?” I asked, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

“You’re dressed formal.” She looked away, clenching her long, black coat closer to her body. I noticed she was wearing a tight fitting grey dress that wasn’t too revealing but was also not too sophisticated. I wanted to comment back but I didn’t see a point. “I can always come back if you are—”

“Why are you here?” I blurted out. I didn’t mean to be rude but I needed answers. I closed the door behind me, stepping out into the hallway.

“I’m so sorry if this is a bad time,” she whispered, looking back at me. “I was in the area and I just wanted to see how you guys were doing.”

You guys?

“You and Charlotte, I mean,” she said. I noticed that she was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable by my attitude. “I keep seeing you guys on Instagram and you two just look so happy that—”

“Instagram?!” I shouted, causing her to jump. “Do you follow me on Instagram?”

“Yeah, but—”

“So you’ve been caught up with the shit going on with us, huh? The fact that my daughter has fucking cancer!”

She sighed heavily. “Luke, you mean our daugh—”

“Since when was she your daughter, Wynona?!” I asked, or well shouted. “Just cause you gave birth to her doesn’t make you her mother. Where you were, huh? Where were you when she walked her first step or spoke her first words? Where were you when she got fucking sick? When she needed a mother?”

Wynona started to cry, something that always hurt me to witness but today I felt no pain. “I’m sorry, Luke! I’m sorry that my parents took her away from me because they wanted her to be with a parent who could financially support her. I’m sorry that I never called or even DM’d you on Instagram because I was busy trying to be somebody and to be able to help you. I’m sorry that I caused you so much stress and Charlotte so much pain. And, and I’m sorry I got her sick!”

“What?” I asked, taking a step back at her words.

“C-cancer runs in my family. A lot of my family members have dealt with all these types of cancer and even though it skipped me, I gave it to that poor girl who, w-who didn’t deserve it.” She covered her face in her hands, sobbing hard. I suddenly felt a pang of guilt, despite my anger towards her. I stepped towards her thin frame, taking her into my arms to reassure her. “I’m sorry, I really am sorry.”

I’m sorry too.

--


Of course, I had to cancel my date with the mystery girl, but it wasn’t a big deal. I invited Wynona inside my apartment after I put Lottie to sleep, in which she grew upset that I didn’t go on the date after all the time we spent at the mall looking for my outfit.

I brewed up a pot of coffee for us to share. I took the time to catch up with Wynona, telling her all about what me and Lottie were up to, avoiding all the cancer talk for the sake of both of us. She told me about how life was going for her, taking up a degree in fashion and starting her own clothing line, modeling, all that shit. At first, it was weird between us but I started growing more comfortable the more we started talking.

Then Wynona had to leave, but we exchanged numbers so we could meet up again. “Hopefully with Charlotte, if that’s okay.” I agreed, but before she left, she sneaked into Lottie’s room. She gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead, her hand gently caressing her head. Then we parted ways for the time being.

Lottie kept asking me if I was gonna try to reschedule the date after that night, but I decided against it after seeing Wynona. It made me realize that I still wasn’t ready to move on. A week after that night, I told Lottie that we were going on a lunch date with a special friend and that she had to look her best for said special friend. Of course, she was excited for the lunch date, wearing the dress we bought at the mall.

Soon, we arrived to the little cafe that wasn’t far from my apartment. Lottie and I always enjoyed going there, especially with the lads. Michael showed her how to play Pokemon there, we’ve played small acoustic shows that she enjoy attending. It was a place filled with happy memories, and I was hoping that this lunch date would be another addition to those happy memories.

Wynona was already there, sitting down at a small table outside the cafe. She was wearing a light blue sweater/crop top and brown, plaid dress pants with indie looking sunglasses that hid her beautiful eyes. She smiled and waved at us, I could feel Lottie’s hand pulling mine closer to the table.

She stood up from her spot, taking off her sunglasses. She gave me a hug, complimenting my outfit (which was really just a Weezer tank top and skinny jeans). She bent down, giving Charlotte a smile. I squeezed her hand, anxiety taking over me as this was really the first official meeting (other than her birth, of course). “Hi, you must be Charlotte right?”

“You can call me Lottie, that’s what dad calls me!” she said, letting go of my hand to shake hers. Wynona smiled at the action. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Wynona, I’m an old friend of your dad,” she said. “And I hope we can be friends too.”

“I’d like that.”

_____


Wynona started to become a part of my life again, much to the dismay of my band mates and my brothers. However, my parents (especially my mum) were a bit more open to the idea. She insisted that it was time that Charlotte got to know her mother, especially in the little time she had according to the doctors. Wynona and Charlotte often spent time together, talking and doing god knows what. Wynona sometimes told me of the things they talked about like boys and dolls, but sometimes she didn’t because Lottie made her promise to keep it a secret between just the two of them. Apparently, “it’s a girl thing, Luke.”

I don’t know if Charlotte ever realized that Wynona was her mother. I never bothered to tell her because I felt that it was something so rushed and spontaneous that it would have confused her. I don’t think Wynona ever told her either, she tells me she’s worried that if she ever did that Lottie would just push her away. But I think deep down, Charlotte knew that Wynona was her mother. They just seem to click the moment they met. They’re so much alike and they look so similar, it’d be hard not to tell that they were mother and daughter.

We had a few days left until Charlotte had to go back to the hospital for more treatment, Wynona knew this so she got the idea that we could go on a little fun trip before she had to go back. Just the three of us would go on the trip, and we decided to stay at Wynona’s vacation house down in Australia somewhere. It was a small house, that was more like a hut, but at the same time it wasn’t. It looked like a livable green house. There was a lot of plants around, especially cacti. There was only one bedroom and bathroom with the dining room and kitchen in the same area. It was small but we didn’t want to be too much, simple was nice. And it was right on the beach.

We spent the first two out of the four days playing in the beach and going to all the local farmer’s markets; ending the nights with bonfires and s’mores. It was like a cheesy film, but much greater than that. The third day, Charlotte was feeling tired so we decided to stay at home and play board games. The more games we played, the more we noticed how fatigued she was. We asked if she was feeling okay, but she insisted that she was just tired.

As night rolled around, we decided to put Charlotte to sleep in the queen sized mattress. We were going to head to the store for groceries until Charlotte refused to let us leave.

“Please don’t go,” she whispered, suddenly getting emotional.

“Baby, don’t cry,” Wynona whispered, holding her pale hand. “We’ll be back, okay?”

“No, please stay, both of you,” she plead. “Stay with me, sleep with me.”

“Okay love,” I said.

Both of us got into the same positions as we have been the past three days. Charlotte was in the middle, I laid on the right side of her as Wynona laid on the left side of her. “I love you, g’night.”

“We love you too, hun, good night and sweet dreams,” her mother said.

“Love you, darling, rest easy now,” I said.

Then we suddenly fell asleep.

--


Charlotte never woke up after that night. We immediately drove to the nearest hospital. The doctors told us that the cancer just took over her and she died in her sleep.

The following weeks, I just lost it. It pained me so much; losing my treasure, my heart, my princess, my only daughter. God, I wish I could have done as much as I could to keep her alive. She had so much to live for. She still had dreams to chase and capture, she still had so many adventures to achieve. She just didn’t have enough time. Time wasn’t spent the way I wished I could have spent it.

I ditched music for awhile. I didn’t write any new music or tried to continue the album we were working on. But after nearly a year of coping with Charlotte’s death and waking up at 3 am with random sayings in my head, I finally picked up a journal and began to work.

Today was the first day of tour after so long and I knew that I had to make this show extra special. The show was coming to an end and I just had one last song to sing. I felt that I was ready to sing this.

“This last song, it really means alot to me and I’ve seen a lot online that it means alot to you guys too. I would like to dedicate this song to all the lost loved ones who are gone but not forgotten. But most importantly, I would like to dedicate this last song, to the greatest gift I’ve ever loved and cherish. This is from our new album, Lottie. I dedicate this song to my daughter, who died of cancer nearly a year ago. This is called, Remember Me.”

I was alone on stage, all lights off except that spotlight on me. I adjusted the microphone, taking in a deep breath and then strumming the chords on my new lavender acoustic guitar.

“I know it hurts me to say
That you’re gone and my world is grey
Why did you have to disappear?
Losing you was my greatest fear

“I’m sorry I wasn’t as strong
I’m sorry I was wrong
I have you on mind everyday
Would it hurt you to let me know
That you remember me, remember me
Cause I can’t forget about you

“The windows in heaven haven’t opened
But I’ve been scared to let them in
I hear you singing to me every night
I feel you holding me very tight
Like you would
I wish you could…
Come back to me

“I’m sorry I wasn’t as strong
I’m sorry I was wrong
I have you on mind everyday
Would it hurt you to let me know
That you remember me, remember me
Cause I can’t forget about you
Do you still remember me, remember me?
And things I did for you

As I did the slow guitar solo, I noticed that the fans were putting the flashlight on their phones. God, it looked so beautiful as the lighting changed from white to purple, Charlotte’s favorite color.

“I guess it’s for me to grow up now
And I’m sorry that I never let you go
It pains me how much I life cut you short
Wish that I could take your place
But even now that wouldn’t be fair to you
To put you in the pain that I am going through
But baby, darling, don’t you worry
Cause I’m gonna see you soon
Just rest easy

“I’m sorry I wasn’t as strong
I’m sorry I was wrong
I have you on mind everyday (everyday)
Would it hurt you to let me know
That you remember me, remember me
Cause I can’t forget about you

“And when I hear you in my dreams
I smile when I hear the words
“I do.”

The crowd roared, clapping and cheering louder than they ever have before. A lot of them cried, the lyrics touching their hearts and feeling that connection of losing a loved one. The overwhelming reaction made me dramatically fell on my knees, crying in a mixture of joy and sadness. I thanked the crowd, sending out all my love and leaving the stage.

And as I left, I pulled out that purple guitar pick and kissed it, because even if she wasn’t here, she would always live in my heart forever.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thank you for reading this! If you're interested, I hopefully writing a sequel to the story (?) that's mostly focused on the events before this, so just Luke/Wynona's relationship. It's called Story of Another Us if you're interested! // Shitty song in the end is obviously written by me, haha.