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Contemporary Romance Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

I remember Caden Peitz.

Well, how could I not? How could anyone who’s ever seen or heard of Caden Peitz not remember her?

Many people know how she cheated at board games, or tutored fourth-graders. How she left class early, or was best friends with seemingly everyone. People may remember her ever-changing hair color, never a natural one, of course. She called them boring, and Caden never liked boring things.

She painted ghosts and flowers and scraggly-haired teenagers. She played guitar, and skateboarded everywhere she went.

I remember Caden Peitz.

But I remember her differently than everyone else.

I remember the soft curl of her hair when she left the shower, and the cool brush of her fingertips over my arm. Her favorite movies and flavor of cough-drops. How her chest would rise and fall as she breathed. My mother would cook her favorite foods when she would come over─almost every night.

I met her on my first day of junior year. I was just a lowly, red-haired loner, new from a small town. I was scared to move to New York City at first. It was only me and my mother, a team to the end, as she liked to say. I was small and fragile─I still am. And along with those traits, I was also incredibly paranoid.

But Caden changed that. She helped me let my guard down. She showed me how to trust, how to let go. Caden is who I thank when I speak at the Oscars. 

Thank you everyone, but I wouldn’t be standing here right now if it weren’t for someone very special.

And at every speech, I imagine my weary-eyed Caden Peitz, in her Nirvana t-shirt no matter the occasion, a red ring pop in hand. 

I like to think that I knew everything there was to know about her. I knew why she liked cats, and who taught her to swim. I knew why her hedgehog was named Patrick, and her playlist by heart. I knew anything and everything.

Or so I thought.

Although she seemed to be so open, Caden hid. She hid behind the bright exterior of a lively sixteen-year-old. We would go out in the night, and she’d find abandoned roofs to climb, and pull me up to join her on the shingles. We’d stay out until dawn, drinking green apple soda out of wine glasses. Occasionally she’d brush her lips against mine, the rose-colored gloss rubbing off. I’d get flustered every time.

And sometimes, I would think that it would be the last time I saw her. Bliss cannot last forever. Yet every night, she would pop up at my window, sitting on the fire escape tapping at the pane until I got up from my bed and joined her adventure.

Caden lived like there was no tomorrow, which is what I found admirable about her. She’d throw her shirt off in the dead of fall to jump into the ocean from the dock. When there was a chance to have fun, she took it, no matter what it was. And, in true Caden Peitz fashion, she would drag me along with her.

Me and Caden, Caden and me. That’s how people knew us. Ellie and Caden, best friends until the end. Nobody knew the truth. Hell, we didn’t know the truth. What we were was a mystery even to us.

I loved Caden, and I’m sure she loved me. She told me whenever we parted, no matter how small. After every phone call, every class, every escapade. I always said it back, and every time I meant it, but I would ask her sometimes, “Why do you say that every time?”.

And she would always answer “Just in case.”

And I never knew what she meant.

Until October.

October is an interesting month for me. On one hand, it’s the month where eerie decorations and carved pumpkins lace the streets, and any full moon is celebrated. It’s the month when Caden and I made our relationship official. It’s the month when I began borrowing her t-shirts and sweaters, and they ended up sprawled over my bed, never to be returned to her. They smelled like her. Some of them still do.

It’s the month when Caden began to chew that strawberry-lemon gum on every occasion, offering me some when she would take out the packet. The month of Halloween, both of our favorite holidays. October was when my first film premiered, and when I regained contact with my sister.

But.

October is the month that Caden began losing her spark. When it would be me to climb to her window, lending her an escape of that awful house of hers. It always smelled of beer, cigarettes, blood, and other things I couldn’t quite make out. 

Then November came around, and she ditched her t-shirts in favor of sweaters and long sleeves. When she ceased to receive As and Bs, and refused help with her Ds or Fs. 

That Christmas, she bought me a black ring. Plain and simple, with C + E engraved on the front in gold. She had the same. They were ours.

Years later, we turned nineteen. We speculated on our future on rooftops, holding each other until the sun peeked above the city. She seemed more tired as years went on, but she held onto something. Even her hair faded from bright colors to her natural brown. 

One night, she slept at my apartment. We sat on my bed, watching movies. Pitch Perfect, her favorite, and others I don’t quite remember. We stared into each other’s eyes, the green of hers dulling with time. I traced the freckles of her shoulders as we drifted to sleep.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

But then I began to worry that the ‘Just in case’ would come into play.

Caden turned twenty, and on March 18th, I took the last sweater of hers I ever would. It’s my favorite to wear. An album cover of a band she loved named Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Some people ask me in interviews if I like the band. Some days I smile and brush off the question, while others I fight the urge to tell them of Caden Peitz, and her sweater I took six years ago. Caden wasn’t the world’s to know of, she was mine.

Every night, she would tell me she loved me. And I would repeat it, and tell her how amazing she was. How lovely she made my existence, how beautiful she was.

Caden Peitz was tired of her life, and I knew it by then. There was only so much I could do to save her from herself.

Caden Peitz is buried with our ring.

As I write this, I fiddle with my ring. I’m aware of the tears rolling down my face as I think of what could’ve been. My mother passed shortly after Caden. She would always tell me to think of my regrets; to make sure I die with none.

But I will die with the regret of never calling Caden my wife, and I never will.

If there is someone you love that is close to letting go, I advise you not to waste the time you have. Spend every second you can with them. Because, yes, Caden and I never married, but the time we spent together is intertwined in every evergreen of this cold world. Of all the daisies that she loved, and every sunrise. Our love is something I will never regret.

And I, too, will be buried with our ring. I do not know what happens after death, but Caden was my life, and now that she’s gone, I’m gone too. My body just rests here, tired, and I will die an empty shell. Healthy, but not alive.

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I’ve done what I want to do in this world. All I want is my Caden back.

And I’m about to get my Caden back.

April 04, 2022 20:53

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5 comments

00:50 Apr 13, 2022

Love it😍😍 definitely gonna give it a like

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Ray M
00:37 Apr 12, 2022

This story is very heart warming. You deserve to win!!

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00:50 Apr 12, 2022

Thank you!! That means a lot to me :)

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Jessie Wesson
00:25 Apr 12, 2022

i cried reading this.

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00:26 Apr 12, 2022

sorry not sorry <3

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