- February 29th, 2012
After the funeral the 'top guests' - the name Amelie had tactlessly allocated to those closest to the dead, as if a greater loss was somehow something to be proud of - returned to the Turners' house for food and talk and music; it was like a sick joke, all the friends and relatives who had so readily cast Sophie aside during her life now coming together to reminisce, to coo over baby photos and talk about how beautiful and clever and special she was. A party for a dead girl.
Jack stayed inside for half an hour or so, smiling through gritted teeth, before it all became too much, stifled by the smiles and the laughs and the choked back tears and he hurried outside, nearly tripping over Maia on the doorstep as he did so.
She glanced up at him and flashed a strained smile, wiping furiously at the tears still streaming down her face.
'Oh, please don't ask me if I'm okay, Jack.' It broke his heart to hear her sound so old and weary at such a young age. 'I'm so sick of people asking me that. And saying it's all going to be okay, because it's not. She's dead, and that's never going to be okay - there's nothing anyone can say or do that'll change that.'
Jack sighed and say down beside her, taking her hand in his (it was awkward - they'd never exactly been close, what with her being three years younger and in with a very different crowd - but also weirdly comforting, holding someone whose pain must equal his own - someone who understood). She flinched but didn't pull away,her anger appearing to thaw a little.
'Sometimes I wish it would all just happen now. All the pain, everything and everyone I'm going to lose...it sounds awful, but it's going to happen, isn't it? I feel like I'm just waiting for everything to fall apart and it's a horrible horrible thing to want but sometimes I just wish it would happen, get it over with so I could just resign myself to being miserable all the time.' Se let out a long deep sigh, her free hand still dabbing at leftover tears. 'I'm miserable as it is, but I'm scared too - really, really scared, and I'm hopeful too and that's what scares me the most. I'm not sure I can keep on living with all this fear and all this hope inside me - I'm just not sure I'm strong enough.'
Her voice broke on the final word and she pulled away from Jack, burying her head in her hands while he patted her awkwardly, his mind racing through her words in search of a loophole - a flaw in her thoughts, something he could pull apart and fix her in the process.
'I think it has to be like that,' he said finally, lacking confidence in his words even as they tripped out of his mouth and into the ears of the broken little girl beside him.
'It gives us something to live for, doesn't it? Hope and fear. If everything was okay all the time, the special times wouldn't be as special and we wouldn't be motivated to do things or change things or work hard or help people because...'
'And is that how you feel now?' Maia sat up suddenly, the fire in her eyes making her suddenly resemble Sophie in a way she never had before, 'Now that Sophie's dead and everything's ruined? Really motivates you to make a difference, does it?'
'No,' he said finally, 'No, it doesn't.'
'I'm sorry.' The fire was gone and he could hear genuine remorse in her voice, the sweet and caring nature of the old Maia.
'You don't have to-'
'Do you really think it's worth it, Jack?' Maia interrupted, 'All the pain and the loss and the loneliness and the misery, all to be alive? All when you could just be dead and not feel anything or bother anyone at all.'
The thought had certainly crossed his mind, but hearing her say it shocked him nonetheless.
'You don't really think that, do you?'
'Sophie was messed up, Maia.'
'Do you really think that? Or doesn't it make a hell of a lot more sense to just end it all than to keep on suffering and suffering, all for the occasional little glimpse of happiness?'
'You say messed up, I say smart.' She smirked and gave a laugh so utterly devoid of humour it was practically a shriek. 'Matter of opinion, I guess.'
'Is that what you want, then?' He knew he shouldn't yell at her - not when they were both so fragile, not when she was his dead ex girlfriend's crushed little sister and hurting more than possibly even he could imagine - but he was getting desperate, terrified at the prospect of letting another Turner sister slip away. 'You've seen how heartbroken everyone is - all those distraught friends and family, everything they're going through, and you want to put them all through it again?!' Her lip was beginning to quiver and he knew he should stop but he just couldn't seem to help himself. 'That's fucking sick, Maia. I never saw you as the selfish type.'
Tear spilled down her cheeks, her whole face contorting into a pained grimace (how do you stop when you've already gone too far?)
He took a deep breath.
'I'm sorry, Maia. I shouldn't have said that. I just miss her so, so fucking much and the thought of losing you as well-'
She didn't say anything but let him link their hands again, and they sat like that in silence for a while - both of them wondering if life was ever truly worth it.