I am tormented by the last words I said to her. All she wanted was to love me, and to be loved by me. And I couldn’t give her that because I was too selfish. Or stupid. Most likely both, with a side of ignorance.
She loved me. If I had asked her to pick me up when I was out of my mind drunk at three o’clock in the morning, she would have. But I knew better than to ask her. She was too good for that, and I didn’t care about the money it took to get a cab or ask a friend to be a designated driver.
When I told her that I was engaged, she didn’t say anything. It seemed like she couldn’t say anything, like her brain shut down or her throat tightened up, keeping words from coming out. Every muscle in her body tensed, her shoulders stiffening, and the thing I noticed the most was that her eyes filled to the brim with tears. Those blue eyes looked even more blue when the whites of her eyes became marbled with red, and the sunlight reflected off those unshed tears.
I respected her in that moment, because she didn’t let me see those tears fall. I knew she was in pain, but honestly I didn’t know how to fix it or what to say to make the news easier for her. Had I missed all the signs that she had fallen in love with me long ago?
Evidently I had, because in that moment, I heard a voice tell me that I was engaged to the wrong girl. The girl right in front of me, with those baby blue eyes and that shy smile and all that beautiful auburn hair, was the one I should be engaged to. She loved me with every bit of her soul, and I was too stupid to see that. Those tears told me that. But what was I supposed to do, just drop my fiancé and ask Laura to marry me, right then and there? Tell her to wait for me while I broke off my engagement and that I would come back for her?
I had sincerely fallen in love with my fiancé, and she wasn’t comfortable with Laura always being around but I had never understood why. Laura was my best friend, she had always been there and was always trying to take care of me, kind of like my sister. But when I told her about my engagement, I realized that it wasn’t like a sister. She was taking care of me like a girlfriend or wife should take care of her man. When I was sick, she would come to my house after work to bring me whatever cold remedy she believed in at the time, along with some hot tea even though she knew I hated it, and whatever action movie was out that she thought I would like. She would invite herself into my apartment, put the DVD in while the water was heating on the stove and tell me to sit on the couch and cuddle up under a blanket. I hated the blanket part. But she made me cuddle under a blanket with her when she brought me the tea and most of the time, she was spot on when she picked a movie.
But that’s all beside the point. When I told her about my engagement, she looked nothing less than broken. Not just heartbroken, either; it was like her whole being had just been shattered. She didn’t say a word to me, just turned around and walked away. I caught up with her, offering her a ride home since her car was in the shop. But she wanted no part of it. She had wanted to walk.
She lived down a long country road, and there were a lot of people that liked to use the road that led to her house as a drag strip. Two idiots were racing trucks and one of them had rammed the other one. The driver lost control and slammed into the fence post that Laura was walking beside. She was pinned between the grill of the truck and the fence.
Apparently the driver got out unscathed and went to see what he hit. Laura was still alive, and would be for several minutes. The driver asked if he could do anything, and the driver of the other truck returned and called 911 to the scene. They stayed with her even after the emergency vehicles arrived and talked to her. She knew she couldn’t survive that. Her ribs were broken and blood was seeping into her lungs. She had to spit out blood several times and once she involuntarily coughed and spattered one of the drivers with her blood.
He tried telling her not to talk, but she had wanted him to give me a message. She handed him her phone and asked him to call me and tell me what happened. She also wanted him to tell me that she had truly always loved me and that she hoped I was happy with my fiancé, especially since my fiancé now had no threats that would steal my heart. But she had never had my heart, and she told him a bit about what happened.
She thought I never loved her. She knew I loved her for who she was, but she thought I had never wanted her to be mine. To some degree, she hated me when I gave her the news about my engagement. She asked the driver to tell me she was sorry for hating me and that she truly loved me and always would. She said she would be watching over me if she went to Heaven and rooting for me to make it into Heaven if she didn’t after all.
The driver relayed her story to me using her phone right after they laid her on the street to try to save her, but were forced to pronounce her dead. I thanked him for his courtesy and asked him to allow the police to take her phone and purse to give to her family. He graciously obliged and that was the end of the conversation.
Laura’s words haunted me for months, and I couldn’t even think about making wedding plans. My fiancé was a little angry, but did her best to be understanding. Eventually, I couldn’t take the stress and broke off the engagement and left her. I couldn’t live with myself if I had gone through with what had caused Laura to die that night. Maybe she would have wanted me to be happy with my now-ex-fiancé, but I couldn’t deal with it, and my ex-fiancé was pressuring me and being angry with me while I mourned, just because of who I was mourning.
May Laura rest in peace, and may her soul be in Heaven looking down on me with love and not resentment.