Intro & Chapter 1-5

25/07/2011 17:08

Prologue

I close my eyes and let the music consume me… God, he’s got the most amazing voice. He never ceases to amaze me. And he’s mine. Forever.
“…They said it wouldn’t work but what did they know, cause years have passed and we’re still here today … ” He sang those lyrics that ring so true. He was singing our story. 
They said it wouldn’t work…? Everyone said for years that it wouldn’t. Hell, we said it ourselves at more than one point. Inside my head, I remember my mama’s voice, still so clear in my head.
“Baby that boy is no good for you! You deserve better…”
I open my eyes and eye off the shiny golden band on my left ring finger. Who knew that we’d ever see today? I certainly didn’t see it coming. 
I fight back the tears as he sings the chorus. Tears of joy…
“…and I promise to love her, for the rest of my life…” as he sings that line, he looks up at me and smiles, his eyes welling up with tears, like mine. And at that moment, I know that this - no matter how intense, dramatic or frustrating this is - is forever ….

Chapter One
“Val! Valeria! Your phones ringing! It’s … um…” I heard Sophia suddenly stop screaming up the stairs, instead giggling wildly as I rushed around my room, shoving my things into my purse. I laughed to myself. Keeping secrets isn’t easy. But we’re on the home stretch.

Shit. “Can you answer it babe?! Just make sure she doesn’t hear you! Come up here!”
I heard Sophia jumping up the stairs and into my room. She leant on the door as she closed it, and fell to the floor. 
“Damn boy you make keeping this party a surprise hard as hell.” Sophia breathed into my phone. I heard mumbling from the other end. “We’ll be there in thirty, tops.” 
My best friend hung up the phone, looked at me and smiled. She grabbed the glass of champagne I’d been sipping on and knocked it back like it was water. “It’s go time babe. Everything’s ready.” I looked out the window to see Isabel standing outside in my backyard, carefully handling the champagne glass in her hands. I turned around to see Soph at the window on the other side of my room.
“Car’s here. Lets go.”
I yelled out the window at Iz, “C’mon babe we’re going!” She looked back up at me, screamed and rushed inside. Soph and I made our way downstairs to see baby Isabel, examining herself from head to toe, twirling around in the mirror. She lifted her head, revealing her big brown eyes, sparkling with excitement.
“Do I look okay?” she asked.
We laughed together and grabbed her hands, leading her outside to the taxi. I turned around and winked.
“You look amazing baby girl.”
Isabel’s smile grew wider, bearing her bright white, perfect teeth. 

Soph and I were born only a month apart, but Isabel, she’s always been the baby. Born a year after us, we’ve always treated her like our little sister. And tonight we wanted to give her a night she’d remember. Tonight was our third musketeer’s eighteenth birthday party, our baby sister was turning into a young woman tonight. It was Kenji’s idea. They’ve been inseperable since the ninth grade; he really is the sweetest boyfriend Isabel could ask for. Isabel never wanted to make a big deal out of her birthday, she thought we were going to dinner at a fancy restaurant in the city. Fancy alright, but nothing she expected. Never mind the dinner idea, she loved a good party. 

As we got in the car, Soph started to hum the tune to that song from The Hangover.. Iz and Soph began to sing as the car moves onto the busy highway…Louder and louder:

We’re the three best friends that anybody could have, we’re the three best friends that anybody could have, we’re the three best friends that anybody could have and we’ll never ever ever ever ever leave each other…

While they burst into laughter and continue to hum the rest of the song, I turned myself away from them both and towards the window, discreetly pulling out my phone from my purse. I quickly typed out a message - Kenji get everyone ready. We’ll be there, no more than five mins.

We pushed the doors of the taxi open to see Kenji standing at the door waiting for us. Isabel ran to her boy, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. As she pulled away, she moved her head past her boyfriend to look at the building behind him. She whipped her head around to look at us. 
“This ain’t no restaurant ladies. What’s going on?” She shouted, her voice filled with curiosity. I smirked at Isabel laughing as we walked toward the couple, greeting Kenji and pushing a hesitant Isabel inside…
“Bitches…” I heard Isabel say under her breath, a silent laugh moving her body.

Chapter Two

I ran ahead of the group and pushed open the doors to the hall, where Isabel’s closest friends and were waiting with her parents. The lights switched on to reveal a hall filled with the people most important to her, clapping and cheering with excitement.
“Happy birthday Isabel!” The crowd shouted together, as her mother walked towards us with her arms stretched open. I turned to see Iz with her hands over her mouth, her eyes widening as she took in the surprise before her. She caught my eye and mouthed the words I hate you. I laughed it off, watching Isabel hug her mother.

Kenji and I walked in amongst the crowd, my head turning in every direction, looking at what he had created. A stage sat at the other side of the hall with a drum set sitting behind three microphone stands at the front. I felt a hand rest on my shoulder and I smiled.
“I got a band together Val,” Kenji said, standing behind me. He stepped past me and grabbed someone by the arm. “This is my boy Bruno. He’s our lead singer..Man this kid will blow your mind, he’s —”
Bruno punched Kenji in the arm. “Shut up I’m not —” He stopped mid sentence to see Kenji laughing at his friend. After shooting a dirty look at Kenji, he turned to me and held out his hand. “I’m not that great,” he said with a smile “I’m Bruno”
My eyes were fixated on his smile. Perfect…white…teeth. I felt my cheeks getting hot and I raised my hand to touch his. 
“Valeria.” I said, as I moved my hair behind my ear with my other hand. “So, you’re a singer, huh?” I realised my hand was still resting in his. I quickly drew my arm back towards my body, my temperature rising by the second.
He nodded, still flashing that beautiful smile. “Yeah, I’m tryna get —”
“Bruno!” His head whipped around and he waved at someone standing next to the stage. “I gotta go set up, nice meeting you Valeria” He moved closer and touched my shoulder, his hand running down my arm and holding my hand, letting go when he was too far away from me to hold it any longer. I played with my hair as he walked away, my heart racing as I relived our short encounter in my head. Kenji was still standing behind me, a smirk creeping across his face as he saw me still standing, staring after Bruno as he walked towards the stage.
——————————————————————————————————————
As Kenji, Bruno and their band stepped off the stage, I stood at the bar with my two best friends, unable to control our drunken laughter as we watched our friends move on the dancefloor to the music while trying to keep their drinks from spilling. Kenji stumbled across the dancefloor toward Isabel and lowered his head to hers. 
“Dance with me” he whispered, bearing an alcohol fuelled smile. Isabel smiled and finished her drink before allowing her boyfriend to lead her off into the crowd. 
Soph and I finished off our drinks too, dancing and singing our way into the middle of the dancefloor. I let loose, letting my body move to the music.
Man, those shots are getting to me … I think to myself as I snap my head up to see Sophia giggling and pointing past me. I follow the direction her finger is pointing and see Bruno, standing at the bar, looking at us. He flashes that bright white smile and me and tips his grey fedora. As he started to make his way toward us, I turned to face Sophia, but she was nowhere to be seen. I laugh at the situation she’s left me in, and feel a heavy hand on my waist. He spins me around to face him and pulls my body close as the song changes. The tempo slows to a sensual R’n’B beat and I feel myself slipping my arms around his shoulders. 
“Nice seeing you again.” He says, my eyes once again fixated on that beautiful smile. I giggle and let my hair fall over my face. I feel light headed and dizzy as I realise just how drunk I am, so I let my head rest on his shoulders as our bodies move together.
“I need … water.” I whisper into his ear.
Bruno laughs. “Let’s get you outside. Fresh air will do you good.” 

He lowers me gently onto the steps outside of the hall. I breathe in the fresh summer air, close my eyes and slowly let my body fall to the ground. I can hear faint screams of happiness from the crowd inside and laugh quietly to myself as I think about how well our night turned out. Isabel’s lucky to have us. Lucky bitch.
I feel someone sit down next to me, and rest their hand on my knee.
“You liked the little show we did?”
“Liked it?!” I shouted at him. “Kenji wasn’t wrong. Damn Bruno you got a set of pipes on you!” I lifted my body up and rested my head on my knees, curling my arms underneath me.
“You don’t have a bad set of pipes yourself girl.”
“I …what?!” My head snaps up to look at him, a confused expression appearing on my face. 
Bruno smiles and says “I heard you singing with Sophia,” he laughs a little before continuing, “I’d like to hear that voice when you’re sober.”
I feel myself blushing with embarrassment. Fuck this alcohol. I hate it when people hear me sing. I put my face in my hands and laugh at myself.
“Nooooooo chance!” I protested, letting my body fall back down to the ground, Bruno’s laugh breaking the silence.

By the time most of the guests had left, it was well past 2am. The last people to leave were the rest of Kenji’s band. One of them stopped at the door to turn to Bruno, who was sitting on the floor with Soph, Iz, Kenji and I.
“You coming with us man?” He called out to Bruno, tucking one of his thick dreadlocks behind his ear.
“I’ll see you in the morning brother. Studio at 1, right!” He shouted back.
He nodded, waved to the rest of us and disappeared behind the door.
Studio? He’s a real musician? I thought to myself as I realised that this was more than a hobby to them. I knew Kenji took playing the guitar seriously, and I knew that he played with a group of guys, but.. studio? Wow.
I heard my mother with Isabel’s mother, both of them bustling around the hall, picking up rubbish that had been strewn across the place by the army of tipsy young people throughout the night.
I lay against Sophia as we exchanged stories about our night. She moved her head down beside mine and murmured into my ear.
“So, what was happening there?” she asked, nodding her head toward Bruno who was lying on the ground with his hand folded under his head. He was humming, stopping every few seconds to smile before continuing.
“Bruno?!” Shit.Too loud Val. Bruno turned his head toward me.
“Mmmm?” 
“Why..um..Wh- What you singing?” I stuttered.
“Nice save..” Soph laughed quietly behind me. I pinched the top of her hand as hard as I could, satisfaction coming over me as she hissed in pain.
“Come to the studio tomorrow? You’ll see..” 
I felt my mouth form itself into a grin, my head nodding in compliance.. 

Chapter Three

“Daddy! Daddy!” The little girl screamed as the tall, dark silhouette moved swiftly away from her. She let herself fall to the ground, tears streaming down her cheeks like a waterfall. 
“Daddy…” she murmured, crawling after him. “Don’t leave me…” 
As she sobbed on the ground, cradling her knees, she heard footsteps behind her. Louder and louder as they moved closer. 
“Baby….” The little girl whipped her head around is response to the soft voice coming from behind.

My eyes flew open, tears fresh on my cheeks. Had I been crying in my sleep? I lifted my head to look at the clock on my bedside table. 10:13am. Ugh.
I dropped my head back on my pillow and pulled the covers over my head as Isabel walked into my room. She sat beside me and pulled the covers down.
“How you feeling Val? Ha. You had a big one last night” She whispered.
I sat up and looked around my bedroom. Bodies lying everywhere. Kenji was lying, fast asleep in a corner beside my dresser with Bruno’s head resting on his stomach, rising and falling with every breath.
“Everyone’s here…” I muttered under my breath as I twisted my body around me, to see Soph lying next to me, moving in her sleep. “Why is Bruno here?! I thought he was going home —”
“You don’t remember?! God Val, you were begging him to stay!” She put on a voice to mock me. “Bruno, Bruno staaaaay with us! Don’t go hooooooome!” She mused, putting desperation into her voice. I hit her arm before putting my hand to my head. I closed my eyes in embarrassment, the thought of myself acting like that in front of someone I had just met consuming me.
“Ahh shit.” I hissed.
“He had no way of getting home anyway. Don’t worry, I don’t think he saw what you were trying to do there.” Isabel winked before getting up. Standing beside my bed, she leaned over and hugged me tight.
“Oh, and thank you for last night,” she said. “I love you.” She kissed me on the cheek before tip toe-ing out of my room, waving her fingers at me as she shut the door behind her.

I dragged myself out of bed and onto the balcony. Leaning on the barrier, I breathed in the fresh, clear air. I turned my head to look at the beach across the road. I let my head fall back as the chilly sea breeze washed over me. As I bring my head back up and slowly open my eyes, I see Bruno standing next to me out of the corner of my eye.
“Morning.” He said softly, his whole body turned toward me. I continued to face the beach, staring ahead, my gaze never leaving the view of the ocean. I smiled and took a quick glance at him.
“Have a good night?” I asked.
“Did I have a good night?!” He repeated. “I had a great night! Ya’ll know how to throw a good party, I’m impressed.” I felt his hand on my back. Shit. I’m blushing again. I brushed my long hair forward to hide my face.
“Ha. I’m glad you had fun.”
“Mmm. Did you have an okay sleep? You were kinda …” He stopped mid-sentence.
“Shit. What did I do?” I blurted out, with thoughts of what I might have done running through my head.
“You were kinda … crying. Sobbing .. in your sleep.” He answered quietly. “Bad dream?”
I sighed heavily as I remembered the dream. The image of my …dad. Ugh I hated that word. Dad. Why couldn’t he just get the fuck out of my head?
“I’m …fine.” I breathed heavily, my eyes starting to well up with tears. Again.Damn it Val. Don’t start now. Not in front of him.
Bruno moved my hair away from my face, revealing my glassy eyes, tears beginning to fall down my face.
“You’re a bad liar.” He flashed that smile that made me weak at the knees and wiped away my tears with the back of his hand.
“No I’m fine. Really.” I managed to say, faking a smile of my own. I’m so fucking believable. I thought to myself sarcastically.
“Alright..” He said, the tone of his voice hinting that he didn’t believe a word.

Downstairs, Kenji and Isabel were in the kitchen, one person standing in front of the other. Kenji’s arms were wrapped around her waist, as she flipped pancakes. Lots of them. Always the one to look after us after a big night. 
“How lucky are we, pancakes!” Sophia yelled, pointing at the stack on her plate as I made my way to the table. “Perfect hangover food…” She mumbled as she packed a large chuck into her mouth.
I nodded in agreement, sitting down to pour myself a glass of juice. I lifted Sophia’s hand to my face to read the time on her watch.
11.20am. How long had Bruno and I been talking on the balcony? Seemed like only minutes. Time flies ….
“Man, I need to get home and get some stuff before I get to the studio.” Bruno said, coming down the stairs and joining us at the table. 
“Have some food first boy!” Iz demanded.
“I’ll grab somethin’ on the way there. Thanks though birthday girl.” He replied.
“Ha. More for us man. My girl can cook.” Kenji bragged.
“Next time, brother. I’ll see you at the studio, yeah?” He asked, taking big gulps of juice before standing up to leave. Kenji nodded. Bruno turned on his heel to face me. “You still wanna come?”
I was fascinated by that word. Studio. I’ve always wanted to be in one, see how music is made…
“Val.” Soph snapped her fingers in front of my face.
“Huh? Oh. Yeah I’d like that.” I said, snapping out of my trance.
“Right, see you later then!” Bruno called out, already making his way to the door. 
I looked up to see Soph staring at me. 
Her mouth half full with pancakes, she grunted. “You’re an idiot. Don’t make him take the bus!”
I glanced over at Kenji and Isabel, still holding each other in the kitchen. She pointed her finger toward the door. “Don’t be mean. You know you want to —”
“I won’t make him take the bus!” I interrupted. I quickly made my way to the door and stuck my head out. He wasn’t too far away.
“Hey!” He turned around, his face lightening up. “You want a lift?”
Bruno opened his mouth to object but I spoke first.
“Not taking no for an answer! Just let me get ready first!” I left the door open for him and bounded up the stairs and opened my wardrobe. I pulled out my favourite jeans and a white tank top, throwing an oversized red checked shirt over the top. I pulled my long black hair into a bun and brushed my fringe out. I wanted to look effortless. Why do I care so much about what he thinks I look like… He’s already seen me at my drunken worst. I wondered as I grabbed my bag and rushed downstairs. I walked into the kitchen to see Soph still at the table, this time her mouth filled with potato chips.
“Lounge room.” She pointed behind me, referring to Bruno, Kenji and Iz who I found sitting on the couch watching cartoons. 
“Bruno!” I called out to him, my head nodding in the direction of the door. 
He quickly turned himself around to look at me, stood up and straightened out his clothes from the night before. His eyes widened, and I saw him examine me from head to toe. I felt confident. He made me feel confident. The way he was looking at me… 
“Soph we’re going!” I called into the kitchen, hearing a faint, byeee in response. “See you later, yeah?” I said to Kenji and Isabel as Bruno walked towards the door.
“See you later!” They replied together. I looked at Isabel who was mouthing the words good luck at me. She winked and waved me off.
“Smart ass.” I muttered as I followed Bruno out the door.

Chapter Four

I sat on the couch in Bruno’s apartment, turning my head in every direction as he bustled around in another room. It wasn’t a big place - just a single bedroom and bathroom, kitchen, lounge and dining all in one space. As I continued to look around the room, a set of pictures on the table beside me caught my eye. I picked up one of them, a picture of himself with his arm around four women. So beautiful..
“They’re my sisters,” he said, peering over my shoulder. 
“Do they live in LA too or …” I began to ask. I was surprised at my curiosity about him.
“Nah. They’re in Hawaii.. I moved here for the music thing.” He chuckled.
“They’re —.” 
“Beautiful? Yeah, runs in the family. Ha.” I turned around and gave him a cheeky smile.
“No need to be arrogant!” I shot back, laughing at how comfortable we were together. I lowered my gaze to the guitar resting in his arms, reaching out to touch it. He gently handed me the guitar and sat down next to me.
He looked at me with interest, and then down at the beautiful guitar on my lap. “Do you play?” he asked as I played with the strings.
“Little bit, my mum always wanted me to play.” I went quiet, becoming quite shy at the thought of playing in front of him.
“Play me something.” He said abruptly, eager to see what I would show him.
I hesitantly looked at the guitar and sighed as I propped it up on my legs and began to pluck at the strings. I stopped playing when I heard a gasp escape from Bruno’s mouth. 
“What?” I looked up at him, a little smirk creeping across my face.
“It was terrible.” He said with a ridiculous amount of sarcasm in his voice. He jumped off the couch to pick up a couple of notebooks off the kitchen bench and turned to look at the clock on the wall.
“Ha ha.” I laughed, copying his tone of voice. “So funny Bru—”
“Val. It’s almost 1. Shit, I told the boys I’d be there early..” Bruno interjected, grabbing my hand and leading me out the door.

1:04pm. I glanced at the clock in my car before getting out. Bruno rushed inside, leaving me standing beside my car, staring at the building in front of me.I thought studios were supposed to be modern and sophisticated. I thought to myself. This place was a small, plain building, tucked in a little street in down town LA. Bruno caught my eye. He was still standing at the door, holding it open with his back. Quite the gentleman… 
I walked past him quickly, looking at him out of the corner of my eye and smiling. We made our way into a large room at the end of a narrow, dimly lit hallway to be greeted by a large group of people - Kenji and Iz among them.
“Took your sweet fucking time man!” The guy with the long dreads joked.
Isabel sat on the couch opposite the recording booth, looking at me with a cheeky grin on her face. She discreetly pointed in Bruno’s direction and raised her eyebrows. I shot her a dirty look as Bruno introduced me to the rest of the band and his production team. 
“Val, these are my writing partners Phil and Ari,” he said, pointing them out as he named them. They each stepped forward and shook my hand as the guy with the dreads made his way to stand next to them.
“Phred.” He said, introducing himself with a gleaming smile.

Isabel and I sat on the couch all day, watching intently as Bruno and Phil stood in the recording booth, coming out occasionally to scribble into a notebook. Ari and Phred sat at the soundboard playing with hundreds of buttons that only they would know how to use but I.. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His voice was so … mesmerising. 
He carried one of the notebooks into the booth and began to sing the lyrics that he had written.

I wish that this night would never be over …
There’s plenty of time to sleep, when we die…
Let’s just stay awake until we grow older..
If I had my way we’d never close our eyes .. 
Our eyes .. Never 

Bruno walked out of the booth with a satisfied smile on his face. He looked at me and asked, “What do you think?”
“This is what you were humming last night?” 
He nodded.
“Bruno, I … It’s great!” I said in awe of the talent that he displayed.
He rubbed his shoulder in appreciation as I felt Isabel’s elbow digging into my side. As I tipped my head back to rest on the couch, I heard a little giggle escape from her. 

Isabel and I sat on the bonnet of my car, waiting for the boys to come out to join us. The warm summer breeze washed over us as I remembered what I’d witnessed today. I was impressed. So impressed. I felt a tug at my shirt and turned to face Isabel.
“You two …” She laughed, shaking her head at me.
I acknowledged her observations of us both, as thoughts of Bruno and I together began to take over. I snapped out of it when the boys burst out of the studio, laughing and hi-fiving each other.
“I think we got a good one today boys!” Bruno shouted at them, his arms stretched open in happiness. He spun around on his heel and joined us on the car bonnet.
“We’re down for some drinks tonight, you two comin’?” 
I looked at Isabel and raised my eyebrows. “It’s up to you babe.”
A large grin took over her face as she nodded her head excitedly and jumped in the back of my car, where Kenji was already waiting for her.

The drive to the bar was filled with joyous singing, coming from Kenji and Isabel in the back. I found it hilarious. They were hilarious. And so ridiculously happy. I looked at them through the rear view mirror and smiled. As I quickly brought my gaze back down to the road, I saw headlights out of the corner of my eye, racing towards us. Before I could floor it and get us out of the way, the sounds of tires screeching, screams and cries filled the air. I felt Bruno’s hand holding mine before my body was thrown forward over the steering wheel, and the sound of raining glass echoed in my ears as an airbag exploded in my face. Bruno.. I screamed inside my head, as everything faded to black.

Chapter Five

Isabel
Valeria is like the big sister I never had. Her and Sophia. The thought of life without them has always been unbearable. I can’t live without them. I need them in my life. They’re my best friends. My sisters. I can’t even begin to explain the nightmare I was living after that crash…

Valeria’s mum slowly shuffled into the room where her daughter was lying. The quiet beep of the heart monitor was the only thing that broke the silence. Her hand rested on my shoulder as I felt the constant knot in my throat get tighter. I let the tears fall as her arms slipped around me. Sophia sat on the other side of the bed, sleeping as she held Val’s hand.  
“She can hear you, you know. Keep talking to her baby girl. She’s listening.”
She kissed the top of my head, and sat beside me.
“Wake up Val… It’s been more than 24 hours, just wake .. up..” I struggled to speak through my sobs, the cuts on my face stinging with every tear. “Please..” I begged, whispering into the hospital blankets. 
Kenji came in and held my hand. 
“Let’s get some food babe. Everyone’s downstairs.” He lifted me up and held my waist. I winced at the pain that shot through my body as he held me.
“Sorry,” he whispered, loosening his grip on me. 
“Babe what if she wakes up?” I murmured, “I want to be here when she wakes up.”
“Five minutes to eat something Isabel. You need to —”
He stopped talking as I pushed myself out of my chair and limped out, holding my breath with every step to ease the pain. 
Why am I okay? How could Kenji just walk away, and Val be in a coma? Just…why? I had a million questions running through my head, which no one could answer. The only question I had that could have been answered was, what the fuck was that other driver doing? But no one had told us anything. I was beyond frustrated and emotionally exhausted.
Sophia
I woke up still holding Valeria’s hand, hoping that she’d be smiling at me when I opened my eyes. Nothing. Her mother was fast asleep in the chair on the other side of the room, occasionally muttering Val’s name in her sleep. I felt for her, I really did. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how hard this is for her, let alone her best friends.
I wished I’d been in that car with them, I hated myself for not being there with them all. Now look. Isabel’s leg was shattered in three spots, her body was covered with cuts and bruises. Valeria hadn’t woken up since the crash. Kenji is devastated, it was like his ever present positivity was just thrown out the window. My best friends’ worlds were falling apart, and I had to be the one to hold them together. I looked up to see Bruno sitting in his wheelchair at the window with a nurse standing behind him. He was staring at us, tears streaming down his face, like mine. I managed to give him a weak smile, wiped away my tears with my shirt and got up to see him outside.
“No change?” He asked, his face torn up with fear.
I looked down and shook my head. “How are you feeling?”
“Broken ribs, a bit of whiplash and a couple cuts and bruises, can’t complain. I was lucky.” 
I remained silent, merely placing my hand on his shoulder for comfort as we both began to cry again. I looked up to see two police officers walk into Val’s room and walk out with her mother. They disappeared around a corner, leaving Bruno and I to make our way in to be with our girl.
“I just met her Soph. I can’t lose her yet..” He said quietly as the nurse stepped aside to let me wheel him into the room.
Ester

My baby girl Valeria was a responsible driver. Always careful, never reckless. I thought that we wouldn’t ever have to deal with this. Seeing my daughter, barely twenty years old, lying lifeless in a hospital bed is something that no parent should ever have to see. Waking up to a phonecall from Isabel’s mother to say that our children had been involved in a car accident was the biggest shock of my life, and the thought of losing my only child consumed me. I didn’t think I could make the two hour drive to this place. I dreaded seeing her in the state she was in.

As Sophia and her friend sat outside looking at Val through the window, I heard the door behind me open.
“Ms. Mendez?” I snapped my head up to see two police officers standing in the doorway.
“I’m Constable Stanley,” one of them said. “I’m the leading investigator for this case, and we’d like to speak with you outside about what happened to your daughter.”
Until that moment, we hadn’t know for sure what had caused the crash, and why Valeria was bedridden. I found it hard to focus on what they were saying to me in the hallway. It was too difficult for me to process. The image of the two officers was blurry as I tried to see through my tears.
“The other driver ran a red light,” I tuned out when I heard her say that. Constable Stanley’s voice was just a noise in front of me as my rage began to build. Ran a red light. Fucking idiot. Look what happened to my daughter because of —  “…she was killed on impact.”
She was killed on impact. I repeated in my head. My rage left me and turned to intense regret at letting my emotions get the better of me. The other driver waskilled. The rest of the conversation was a blur. I was overwhelmed at the fact that someone died in this crash. 
“Ms. Mendez, your daughter is very lucky. Take care, we’ll be in contact.”
With that, they left me standing against the wall, unable to comprehend justhow lucky Val and her friends were.

Bruno
As Soph and I sat in silence at Val’s bedside, her mother quietly walked in and sat herself down, her head in her hands. She was muttering something to herself through her sobs, unable to control her emotions.
“Ester,” Sophia whispered from her chair, getting up only when she received no answer. She propped herself up on the arm of the chair Ester sat on and lowered her head to speak quietly into her ear.
“The other driver was killed … instantly.” She said slowly into the silence.
Hearing that made me realise just how lucky we were. To all have survived. Well… hopefully all of us. It was so hard not to think of the worst..
More time passed before eventually a nurse came to the room and stood behind my wheelchair.
“Bruno, I have to take you back to your room. You need to rest, and visiting hours are over.” I reached out to touch Val’s hand and gently pressed her warm skin to my lips.
“Wake up soon. Please.” I asked her before the nurse wheeled me out of the room.
Closing the door behind her, she began to wheel me back to my room when I heard a shout from inside. Sophia flung the door open and stepped outside, the tears flowing freely from her eyes. She began to smile as she called a nurse over.
“She’s awake!” she cried, her emotions coming over her as she ran her hands through her hair.
Thank you Val…I knew you could.. I closed my eyes and smiled as I entered my room.
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I struggled to breathe properly as I opened my eyes. All I saw was white. Everywhere. Where was I? What happened to me? As I raised my arm to my forehead, my hand brushed past an oxygen mask. Hospital? I’m in a hospital?
My breaths began to get shorter and quicker as the fear took over. A shadow leaned over me, my eyes widening as it moved closer to my face.
“Baby,” my mama said, brushing my hair back to comfort me. “You’ve been in an accident, but everything’s going to be okay.” 
Although I started to relax at the sound of her voice, the fear hadn’t left me yet…