Fandom: The Last of Us
Characters: Ellie, Joel, Tommy, Maria, OCs
Warnings: PLEASE SEE NOTES ABOUT WARNINGS IN FIRST CHAPTER
Word Count for this chapter: 6048
Rating (for fic as a whole): R
WARNINGS for this chapter: This one's pretty heavy on the suicidal ideation.
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The next time the troubling thoughts popped up, those of the I-could-just-kill-myself variety, they didn't freak her out. Thinking about it doesn't mean I'm gonna do it, Ellie reminded herself. But realizing that she could, if she really wanted to... if the pain quite literally became more than she could bear... knowing that she had a solution gave her a sense of comfort, fucked up though it was.
Even though she still didn't want to talk, her housemates all thought she seemed better. She was simply more functional. She was like a robot, going through the motions methodically, joylessly. She ate with them (and stopped insisting on oatmeal only), she helped with cooking and dishes and laundry and whatever else she could. She plastered on a smile if necessary. Not a big-ass fake one or anything -- she didn't live with idiots, after all -- just a wee one that said 'see? I'm fine.' When asked how she was feeling, she would reply 'okay,' which was code for 'not currently feeling panicky or about to cry' (she did cry less than she used to, at least). For the most part, they didn't annoy her by trying to include her in their conversations.
Ellie tried to read the Buddhist crap Nana brought over. Half-ass tried, anyway. She skipped over all the historical stuff to get to the practices and beliefs. Meditation, she pretty much already knew about -- wasn't that what she was doing when she spaced out? It didn't fix anything. Concepts like awakening and enlightenment, nirvana and suchness -- that shit didn't make any sense to her. She should celebrate death and impermanence (i.e. people leaving her)? She was choosing to suffer? If she would just let it all go she'd be happy? Really? The only way she could forget everything that hurt was if some magical fairy came along and erased all those memories. But fairies are creepy. And buddhists don't know SHIT.
The only part she really liked about it was karma. That, she understood. All the sins of her past, the people she'd hurt or killed or let down or somehow wronged... she had to pay for it now. What is that old saying... karma's a bitch?
She was definitely paying for it. Every minute of every day, barely making a dent in what she owed. And yet, that wasn't all she did. One day when she didn't feel like doing any of her usual activities to pass the time, she actually found herself looking at the tapes Marcus had brought her. I'm just curious... at least I can tell him I tried, she told herself. It was selfish of her to hang onto them when others could be enjoying them, after all. Marcus had tucked little notes inside the cases, noting his favorite and sometimes least favorite songs on each, what the overall tone of the album was... she appreciated that, because she didn't want to listen to happy love songs and the like. The cheerful, perky crap she used to listen to didn't appeal to her at all now. Maybe something angry... or sad... she chose the one he'd labeled 'surviving pain.' It was by a female artist named Tori.
She lay on her bed and started listening through the headphones, marveling at how strange it felt to indulge in a former pleasure, and to find that even though there was, of course, 'no point' to listening to a melody, a beat, a stranger singing... she was kind of liking it. Fortunately, the cassette had lyrics in the cover (Ellie used to hate it when lyrics weren't included, or if a cassette was missing the cover -- it was impossible to know every single word without that!). Pretty words, ugly words, all poetry and riddles. She was fascinated. The singer's voice was melancholy and beautiful, as was the music. Lots of piano.
Maybe this woman hadn't gone through the same exact shit, and Ellie knew that whatever had happened to Tori, she hadn't earned her suffering the way Ellie had, through a series of fuck-ups... that Tori undoubtedly deserved better than her lot, whereas Ellie did not... and all the lyrics didn't exactly fit. But in spite of these things, Ellie still felt a sense of connection, of shared pain. That if she could talk to this person, she would understand. There was a song about a father-daughter relationship... another song about a person who reminded her of Joel in the first few months she'd known him, distant and reserved... songs that conveyed anger and despair, about being someone besides yourself, or how people only see pieces of you... there was even one, she was fairly certain, about a rape.
Ellie started listening to that tape somewhat obsessively, and totally fell in love with the singer. She wished she could ask her about all the lyrics: what did they mean and what had inspired her to write them? That was the problem with old world things -- Ellie could only speculate. She wondered if she should speculate with Marcus, next time he came by. But it was so... so very personal. How brave this girl had been to put her shit out there for complete strangers to listen to. Ellie didn't even know if she'd be able to talk to her housemates about any of this. Best to keep it private.
But if Joel was here...
Maybe. Maybe some of it, she could share with him.
If Joel were around, she might have wanted to attempt to play some of these on the guitar. He always said she had an 'ear' for music -- which meant she could sound things out herself and not need to rely so much on reading notes on a page. A good thing, since they didn't have a lot of those music note type pages in Jackson, and she wasn't very proficient at reading them. She didn't know how well these songs would translate to guitar... she could maybe figure out some chords and sing, at least.
But Joel wasn't there, and she couldn't play that guitar without him. No way.
Much to the surprise of everyone at the dinner table one night, Ellie did pipe up with questions about the singer. None of them knew much about her or were familiar with her work. Ed was the one who remembered her the best. He said she was one of the artists who had started the 'singer-songwriter thing in the 90s.' If the woman on the cassette cover was in her early twenties at the time, as Ed had guessed, she'd be in her sixties now. That was even older than Joel. A bit old for Ellie to have a crush on her! But Ellie wondered if she was still alive, out there somewhere in a QZ, maybe? Yet another thing she would never know.
Ellie's renewed interest in music didn't mean she was any closer to healing from everything. She didn't want to listen to anything else but that tape, for one thing. There was something satisfying about listening to it, but it also preserved her sorrow -- it even made her cry -- so it didn't feel disrespectful; it wasn't a huge betrayal of the dead, like it was too much pleasure. And she would never be 'healed.' Even Nana hadn't argued with that. She just said it would get better. But, if people thought she was better, they'd worry less about her, and that was a good thing. People weren't so hard to fool. A phony smile, some false cheer injected into her voice... it didn't hurt to use these tools from time to time to make them feel better.
And deceiving everyone gave her a sense of power, for some reason. Anything that made her feel powerful was fucking fantastic.
It was ironic, really, that once she started fantasizing about suicide, they worried less.
After she puked a few times and missed another period, they stopped referring to her plight as a 'possible' pregnancy. Occasionally, one of them -- usually Tommy -- would ask if she was ready to talk about the baby yet. Not to make any decisions, just to talk. Ellie always answered no. She patiently reminded them that the decision was already made -- no way in hell was she keeping it -- and she'd let them know when she was ready to discuss it further, but it didn't stop them from pestering her about it every now and then. They said they would support her decision, so she needn't feel like she had to defend herself or whatever -- but they were concerned about her bottling up her feelings.
I wish I COULD bottle them up... you can smash a bottle on the ground and be done with it! She couldn't smash the 'pain corner' of her heart, though.
She was placid as could be about it all, unemotional to a fault... even the time when Maria asked her if she was putting off talking about things because she was waiting for Joel.
"Why would I do that? He's never coming back."
"You don't know that, Ellie."
"You can't tell me that he IS."
"He might, he might not. We don't know. Tommy knows him best, and he truly believes he'll be back, in his own time."
"If he doesn't get himself killed first."
"Worrying about that won't do you any good. And remember... you know how tough he is. How hard to kill."
"I don't know anything about him. Except that he's not here."
Ellie had thought that she knew Joel the best, but the Joel she thought she knew wouldn't have left her. That man in her head was obviously too good to be true. As was every good thing in the world. She'd gotten too attached to him, and to Bailey. She wouldn't let that happen with her alleged 'family,' even though they continued to be super-nice to her. Reminding herself that they were only being nice to her as a favor to Joel, or perhaps out of pity, helped her keep her emotions in check there (although in order to do that, she had to ignore a niggling little voice in her head that said she was lying to herself).
Applying cold, hard logic to everything, and refusing to get emotional about whatever she deduced by such means, helped Ellie stay detached from the world, as if she were no longer a part of it -- because, in truth, she wasn't. She never left the house. Never made any meaningful contributions to society. Her only endeavor of any consequence was that of trying to make herself as small a burden on Joel's family as possible.
She still didn't want to see any visitors (and was, frankly, surprised that anyone still bothered to come by), but she would at least say hello if it was Marcus or Nana, and then tell them yes she was feeling better, don't worry about her, but no, she didn't want to do this-or-that, and didn't want to talk, 'thanks-for-checking-but-bye-now.'
After she discovered Tori, though, she did talk to Marcus for more than the usual ten seconds the next time he came over. She returned the other tapes to him, since she never bothered to go to the bookstore anymore. He seemed excited that she liked that tape so much, and she felt a little guilty: No, I'm not 'all better' now, she told him in her head. She was somewhat rude to him when he brought up Bailey's name. She just couldn't talk about him. And she realized then that if she hung out with Marcus, discussing this tape that Bailey never even had a chance to hear... had a discussion that he should have been a part of too... it just wasn't fair, and that would have been a betrayal. Besides, it wasn't like Marcus didn't have his family and friends to discuss shit with. He could talk to them about Bailey, about music -- whatever. He didn't need her. She didn't say all that, of course; she just said the usual crap about being tired and not wanting to hang out. It wasn't like that was a lie.
Tommy was there that day. He tried to talk to her after Marcus left.
"Ellie, he's jus' tryin' to be a friend. He's a good kid."
"I don't care. He was Bailey's friend, not mine."
"As I recall, the three of you were friends, all of you."
"Because of Bailey! I don't want friends. I'm not a friendly person. At least not anymore."
"Everyone needs friends. It'd be good for you to have someone to talk to."
"I do talk -- I talk to you guys every day."
"Barely. 'Hey' an' 'thank you' an' 'good night' don' cut it."
"What do you want me to say? 'Looks like it's gonna rain,' or... 'gee, I hope the next corn crop turns out better than the last one'?"
"Sure. Small talk is nice."
"Fine, it's bullshit. What you really need to talk about..."
"What? Being pregnant with a rape baby? My boyfriend getting killed in front of me and his mother killing herself over it? My make-believe father ditching me? All LOVELY topics of conversation."
"Don' matter how lovely they are. You can't keep your feelings bottled up forever, it ain't good for you."
"They're not bottled. I already talked to Nana."
"One time, for like ten minutes -- that ain't enough. You know you can talk to--"
"Yes I knooooow, you guys are here for me. I know, and... I'm grateful. Really. I'll talk when I'm ready."
"I'm jus' afraid if you take too long about it, you'll turn into my brother. How he was all those years."
"Well, maybe he had the right idea."
The more like Joel she became, the less she missed him.
And whenever she thought about it, she just couldn't figure out why anyone still cared about her. She wasn't a fun, happy, engaging person. She wasn't interesting to talk to. The only thing she was willing to do for anyone else was housekeeping type stuff, chores or odd jobs that popped up... was that enough to make her worthy of being cared about? Maybe, but only in a pragmatic sense. Like, one could appreciate having a microwave oven to heat things with, but one did not have feelings for the appliance. If it broke down, you could try to fix it; if it was unfixable, you could just do without. Not worth crying about.
If she were gone from the world, what would there be about her to miss, aside from the housekeeping? Wouldn't it be a relief that they wouldn't have the obligation to babysit her anymore? Worry about her? Deal with her having an unwanted kid? They might be a little sad, in a 'man, that's a shame' sort of way. But didn't they feel that way already? At least this time, there would be some finality to it. They could move on, at long last. If they missed her at all, it wouldn't be this version of Ellie they missed -- it would be the old one. The one they already missed, because she was already gone. Gone for good.
Just like Joel.
Maybe they'd feel sad for the unborn creature inside her. Because they imagined it as a baby, not the non-human black nothing that it was. Oh, she knew she wasn't supposed to think of it that way; she did stop thinking of it as a monster as the days went by, and she did make a half-hearted attempt to look at the book Maria had brought her. She glanced at the creepy pictures of what babies looked like in the early stages of development, but couldn't make herself read the text. Back in Boston, she'd sat through some lessons on the human reproductive system, and, like the rest of the kids, she'd giggled at the embarrassing stuff. She hadn't retained much of the pregnancy information.
Ellie wasn't going to keep the thing anyway, so why bother to learn about it? It was unwanted and unloved. Just like I was, until...
She couldn't go there.
She'd actually be doing it a favor if she prevented it from being born into this godforsaken world. It would never know pain and loneliness, sorrow and rejection. Finding happiness only to lose it. That was all the world had to offer. At least, for those stupid enough to keep trying to find more happiness.
There was no reason she could think of to not kill herself on the behalf of others -- sure, they'd be sad, but they'd get over it and get on with their lives, all the better without her dragging them down. As for herself... she'd be dead, a void, a black nothing... so she wouldn't be missing anything (technically, she'd be missing out on life itself -- like that was something good?! -- but without the consciousness to be aware of it, Ellie didn't think it counted). The nightmares would end -- the sleeping and waking ones both. Her suffering would be over, forever.
When she grew weary of pondering reasons why she should do it, she began to fantasize about how. Gun to her head, like Henry... like Rachel? It seemed painful, but she'd been there with Henry -- he had died instantly. Like a light switch flicking off. Surely, experiencing a fraction of a second of excruciating pain to end a lifetime of it was a good trade-off. It was messy, though. She couldn't do it in her bedroom; that would be too rude. So, just like Rachel had probably done, she'd have to either convince her 'babysitters' that she was fine on her own, or sneak out. They did leave her alone sometimes now, for brief periods of time... but she found the idea of sneaking out of the house more appealing. That was what had landed her in trouble in the first place. It seemed fitting that her life should end that way, too.
She could find some remote corner of town to do it, for the sake of minimizing the clean-up. Hell, she might as well sneak out of town again, then there'd be no clean-up needed -- she could probably find the exact place she was supposed to have died, that night. When Pete should have shot her. She remembered feeling so relieved that he hadn't, right after. Why? Didn't I know I would never be happy again?
Oh, that's right -- I was thinking about Joel. She'd loved him so much back then. She told herself she didn't love him anymore... but she wasn't sure it was true, at least not yet, and she wasn't inclined to try to sort it out.
If she really wanted to stick it to Joel, she could go home -- or what used to be home. Their home. Maybe no one would find her there. She could leave a note announcing that she'd left town. Then one day maybe Joel would come home to find her cold, dead, rotting corpse sprawled on the floor. Bits of Ellie brains stuck to the walls. See what happens when you break your promises, Joel?
She knew she couldn't actually do that to him. But it was a satisfying little fantasy.
As for less violent means... maybe she could get her hands on poison of some type. What would happen if she smoked a bunch of dope, then binged on alcohol until she passed out? Too much risk that she'd wake up, though -- she had no idea how much it would take to kill a person. Although... even the gun had risks. If her hand wobbled for just a split second and the bullet didn't pass through her brain, maybe she wouldn't even die right away. She and Joel had seen some of their enemies survive some deadly hits... they'd needed a little extra help to die. Who would give her such help?
Right, LESS violent... she could hang herself. Where -- in the shower? No, she could do it outside, that would be more considerate. Find a strong tree branch. Would she die right away, or struggle to breathe for a while first? She could also slit her wrists in the bathtub. There was something romantic about that idea. Just letting the life bleed out of her while she peacefully fell asleep... it doesn't hurt that bad, does it? And it wouldn't make a mess, with all the blood contained in the tub, easy to wash away. But then, who would find her?
No matter what she did, that would be a problem. Of the three others in the house, she thought Maria would handle it best. Her first pick had been Ed, as he'd spent the least amount of time with Ellie, but he was like... a sweet old grandpa. It might give him a heart attack. Tommy... he would be disturbed at first, but... no, don't think about him. The pain of imagining him to be the one to find her threatened to prick through her protective cold-hard-logic-only bubble. It can't be Tommy. Maybe it was just his connection to Joel? -but she felt closer to him than the others. Still, she really didn't want it to be Maria, either. Maria had dealt with her mom's depression for so long, and she'd been so kind and patient with Ellie.
If she went and shot herself somewhere random in town... what if some kid was the one who found her? Maybe even a kid who'd never seen a dead body before. Would it traumatize him or her so much that it induced nightmares? All the more reason to do it Outside, where it was way less likely to be a kid that would find her.
There were worse things in the world than seeing a dead body, though. It was something everyone would have to learn to deal with sooner or later.
Thinking such things had been mildly alarming to Ellie at first, but the more often she indulged these thoughts, the less abhorrent they became. She could plot her own death with the callousness of a seasoned hunter. It really did make her feel better, for whatever reason. It was all purely hypothetical. She would never actually go through with it. ...right?
-Of course she wouldn't. They're just fantasies, she always reminded herself.
She started to doubt that as the days went by and the thoughts continued. If her life was over, why was she still alive? It made no sense. Killing herself did make sense. It was like... setting things right, the only way that she could.
If she could remain stoic and logical and detached about it all, she would never feel motivated enough to actually take any action. But she couldn't -- not after a nightmare, or a vision... a flashback... a panic attack. No matter how many of these horrors she endured, they never failed to shake her to her core. Each one added legitimacy to the case for killing herself.
The quicker she could switch her brain over to suicidal fantasy mode, the quicker she could recover her composure. It was fucking bizarre. And it made her feel like suicide was her destiny... ultimately. Maybe not yet, but someday. Otherwise, why would thinking about it have such a soothing effect on her?
She wondered if she would see the mother she'd never known, when she died. She didn't think she would. Heaven was a nice idea and all, but it was a fairytale. No more real than Santa Claus. She thought she would just become... nothing. Wiped from existence. As if she'd never been. Like Bailey. Or is he actually with his mother? She hoped they were together. Remembering the letter her own mother had written her made her angry. No, Mom, life is NOT really worth living. And fuck you.
Ellie wanted to read about suicide. Methods, people who had done it... anything. Joel's family might have been happy to see her taking an interest in reading if she announced that she was going to the bookstore, but what if they insisted on going with her, and got all up in her business about what she wanted to read? Or, if she did go alone, what if some nosy busybody saw what she was looking at, and tattled on her? She'd never be left alone for one second ever again.
And she was alone in this. Being physically in the presence of a sympathetic body didn't constitute sharing. No one could share her pain with her... not even Tori (because although Ellie liked to think of her as a comforting friend, she was only just another fantasy).
Since people did leave her to her solitude when she desired it, she was able to toy with her pistol whenever the mood struck her. She would just hold it, most of the time. Caress it. Run her fingers over the polymer... the pebbly grip, the smooth slide. Sometimes she'd lift it up to her temple, or push it into her cheek, her chin -- wherever it wanted to wander, her finger near (though not on) the trigger... but she was just playing. Reminding herself she wasn't powerless. Wondering if she ever would reach the point where she could actually do it.
One day, she had a particularly horrific nightmare: in the end, they were there, hurting her, while the monster in her belly (and it was a monster in the nightmare, not a baby) doled out its own share of pain from within, and Joel was there, too... watching. In the dream, she was confused... she couldn't understand why he wasn't helping her. She screamed for him and he just looked at her, cool as could be, seemingly oblivious to her distress, and then waved goodbye. Ellie woke up, feeling like she'd been screaming his name, but as usual, she was alone; if she'd made any noise at all, it hadn't been loud enough to beckon anyone to her room. Her face was streaked with tears, like she'd been crying in the dream and it had leaked into reality. He left me. He doesn't care anymore, and that hurts worse than anything those two assholes could ever do to me.
She pulled herself into logic mode, and decided to set a date. She told herself that if she was still this fucking miserable on that date, she would go through with it... even if she wouldn't actually do it. That way, she could tell herself 'I only have x more weeks/days to live through' -- there would be an end in sight. Exactly what Nana had said she couldn't do -- put a timetable on her grief. You just watch me, Nana! Joel's birthday came to mind as a suitable date, because there was something poetic about dying on the same date Sarah had -- and the day was already ruined for him, thanks to that, so it wasn't like it was an especially cruel thing for her to do. It was downright thoughtful of her, even, not to ruin a second date for him. Too bad it probably wouldn't work out; she wasn't sure what the current date was, but she was thinking that either his birthday would have already passed or it would be coming up too soon. Once she'd figured out a good one to use, maybe she could do her notebook 'x's kinda in reverse: counting down the days, marking them off.
She continued to listen to her tape -- until she got to the point where she was afraid to play it because it started fucking up, unspooling itself into the innards of the machine... this was fixable, sometimes, but she couldn't risk breaking Tori permanently. If only she'd paid more attention when Bailey had fixed it the last time! For once in her fucking life, she wanted to have the ability to not break or lose or completely destroy something important to her -- and to not have to rely on anyone but her own fucking self for shit. She made do with hearing the music in her head, staring at the lyrics to keep the songs in focus in her mind, even though she'd memorized a lot of them by then. She found herself improvising, making up her own words and even varying the melodies.
Maybe I could have written beautiful sad songs like hers, too, if things were different. Too bad she'd never find out.
With only a week to go until the random date she'd selected (she'd learned that Joel's birthday had indeed come and gone, so no 'poetic justice' for her), Ellie got an excited feeling about actually doing it -- even though she still didn't really intend to do it, so... that was kind of odd. She decided she didn't need to do any location scouting, because she liked the idea of ending her life in the place it had been meant to end, the night of the Incident. If the hard snows would just come a little early, maybe she could hide out there and simply allow herself to freeze to death. Being cold was uncomfortable, but it didn't really hurt, right? It would leave her body intact, whereas a gunshot wound to the head would be a gory mess. Same with starving. It was clean, but... no, THAT would hurt. I know what that feels like. And it would be too torturously slow.
Maybe if she concealed herself well enough, her body wouldn't be found for so long that it would decompose to the point where she'd be unrecognizable anyway. Would it be better if they didn't know? Or would not knowing -- having no closure -- hurt them more?
Truth would be best. She mentally practiced writing her suicide notes, pondered when to physically write them, where to leave them, if she should entrust them all to one person to dole out, how each person might feel upon reading her final thoughts of them. She debated the merits of simply writing one note versus multiples.
She decided Joel would get his own note no matter what. Writing his would be the most difficult. This one, she actually put pencil to paper to work out. She intended to write a rough draft and then copy it over to the real thing once she'd perfected it. His was the most important. Even though he'd probably never see it. She tried to imagine how Joel might feel if he did actually come back and read it at some point. How much time would have gone by? Enough that he wouldn't really care anymore?
Her first attempt sounded too angry. Too guilt-trippy. She ripped out the page and slowly tore it into pieces, scattering them around her on the bed like flower petals. The note needed to forgive him. Even if she didn't actually forgive him (so much for truth?!). It wouldn't matter once she was dead, so she should be generous. There was a good chance he'd feel somewhat responsible, and maybe her words could ease some of his pain, assuming he felt any.
She hadn't thought about Joel's pain since... God, when was it? And if this whole thing was her fault to begin with, then she was the cause of his suffering... how could she be angry with him for leaving? If she'd just been a better daughter...
These thoughts were dangerous. They led her to the dark, bottle-less place in her heart where she'd shoved all the pain when she couldn't stand feeling it. She was getting so good at sending the pain back there, every time it started to wander out of the corner and into her consciousness.
She started over.
The real 'main reason' was not nearly as altruistic as that -- it was to end her own suffering. But that might make Joel feel guilty (because he couldn't fix her, if for no other reason). She wasn't sure he even understood how much he'd hurt her -- that leaving her in his brother's care was not beneficial to her, just because Tommy could provide a roof over her head and meals and clothing and security as well as Joel could. She'd made Joel feel like she didn't want him around, after all. He probably figured it was all the same difference to her. Why wouldn't he? Although, if he'd bothered to discuss it with her first, maybe ask that she release him from the promise, he would have known better. Maybe she would have even granted him that. If he was that miserable, being stuck with her, wouldn't it be better for her to let him go? If she truly cared about him. And she did, back then.
Fuck me, I still do. Motherfucker!
Ellie chewed on the end of the pencil (where the eraser used to be) and thought hard about what else to put into the note.
"The time that you were
She wasn't even good at writing the 'I love you' -- that should have been easy! She decided she liked "more than anything" the best... it was her first instinct, and it felt honest and real. What the hell do I say after that?
Ellie hurled the notebook at the floor in frustration. Fuck! I can't do this. She couldn't write it properly without accessing all the suppressed pain. Perhaps she shouldn't write Joel's note until the very end. Yes, that's what she would do. Feeling all that shit would give her the courage to go through with it...
...which was what she wanted to do. Not just fantasize.
I'm so confused!
She sat on her bed with her back against the wall and idly played with the paper flower petals. She moved them around with the barrel of the gun. You're in control, Ellie. You got this. And don't fucking cry, for God's sake. She poked randomly at her arm with the gun, pushing the barrel in hard enough to hurt. She closed her eyes. You stupid, weak, pathetic cunt, she chastised herself nastily. Calling herself names helped, somehow. Like it made her steel herself to whatever sorrow threatened to reach her. You don't deserve to take up space on this planet. Joel and Bailey and Rachel are gone because of you. You're such a bitch you even say 'fuck you' to your poor dead mother, who never did anything but love you. If you don't appreciate life, you shouldn't be living it.
And then she must have spaced out, because she didn't hear the soft knocking at the door. Didn't hear it creaking open.
This, she heard... but didn't quite believe. I must be dreaming. She opened her eyes, blinked them into focus on the person standing in the doorway --
She wasn't dreaming: it was Joel.
~ ~ ~ ~
A/N: E-cookies to anyone who recognized the album Ellie was listening to as Tori Amos' "Little Earthquakes." (LJ readers had the advantage of seeing some lyrics in the cut text... but e-cookies anyway, because so far no LJ readers exist? Ha) And they were a little off on the age... Tori would be 72 in 2035!
~Continue to Chapter 13~