• WORDS FROM AN AUTHOR •
Thank you so much for all of your help during release. To show my gratitude, here's the deleted scene from Kellan's POV! You may recognize what part of Waiting for the Sun it's from!
I walk down the hallway towards my math class and pause at the site in front of me.
Hannah’s head is ducked inside of her locker. Her spine perfectly curved, lifting and falling with her breaths. Her hand reaches up, still hidden inside her locker. Dammit, is she crying? Fuck, she is.
My instinct is to go to her. It’s always been to protect her. Ever since we moved here, Hannah has weaseled her way into my heart, becoming a sister to me. Brothers are meant to protect their sister. I couldn’t save Mia, but dammit, how often I prayed it would be me instead of her.
Now, I’ve failed Hannah as well.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I catch movement. Nick steps out of the bathroom, but I stay unseen with how busy the hallway is. He takes a step towards her, but pauses. Everything about him softens, like he’s desperate to ease whatever is paining Hannah. He doesn’t move towards her though. Instead, he watches her, taking in her entire body, shaking his head before he storms past me.
“What are you doing?” Nicole wraps her warm arms around my waist and peers around my body, only to release her hold on me. “Jesus, Kellan!” She smacks my chest as she passes by only to stare back at me. “You can be such an asshole sometimes.”
Nicole pulls me into a hug.
She’s right. I’m a fucking asshole. Jesus, it only takes a handful of seconds to watch them in the same room, even apart, to know how they feel about each other. I’m selfish enough to admit how their feelings for each other hurts me.
Mia had been my best friend since we were little. We were inseparable. I had been the annoying brother, but she always let me in on the fun, never once making me feel bad for wanting to be around her. She was my sounding board and my confidant. She loved me in a way a sister should. Protective to a fault. Especially when it came to my heart. She always said she’d do anything to make sure my heart had been protected.
“Kellan,” Mia calls out from her bedroom. Her voice is weaker than it’s been in weeks. “Come in here, please.”
My steps are slow, not ready to see her, to look her in the eyes and see the life fading. I step over the threshold and pause. Her eyes are sunken in and her lips look drier than they’ve ever been. I sit on the edge of the mattress right beside her, pulling open the bedside table drawer. Plucking the top off the Chapstick, I smear it over her lips. She painfully rubs her bottom and top lip together.
“Thank you.” She rests her head back against the pillow. “I need to ask you a favor.”
“Whatever you need.”
“You sure, because you’ve been avoiding me, Kell.”
“You know I hate that nickname.”
“It’s why I use it.” She laughs this beautiful laugh and I imagine what it will be like to never hear it again. “Grab a piece of paper for me.” She gestures to her desk and I bring it over to her. “I’m too weak to write, so I need you to do it for me.” She nods her head, silently trying to convince me to help her. Little does she know is I’d do anything for her. “Write it exactly as I say it.” There’s a pause before she begins with a sigh. “Dear Hannah…”
I stand from the bed. “No!”
“Kellan, I need you to do this for me.”
“I won’t do it, Mia. I know what you are doing and I refuse to. I will do anything for you, but I will not do this.”
“I need you, Kellan. Please.” She begs.
“I won’t write your death bed letters, Mia. I won’t. I can’t. You can’t ask me to.” I drop the pad of paper at her feet. “I can’t because it means it’s almost time and I refuse to acknowledge that. I refuse to believe I may wake up tomorrow and you won’t be here. If you don’t breathe, Mia, I don’t breathe.”
Her hand reaches out for mine. Her cool skin against my warm causes me to pause. She grips tight to me, and I fall to the mattress beside her, allowing my big sister to hold me as I weep into her shirt.
“It’s okay, Kellan. You don’t have to. You don’t have to, okay?” She runs her hand over my hair, over and over again until my chest no longer frantically fights for a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry.” I sit up, looking into her pure eyes.
She cups my cheeks in her hands. “For what, baby brother?”
“For not being able to take your place.” My chin quivers. “For not being able to protect you from this.”
“Oh, Kellan, no one could have saved me.” She nods her head, hoping I can find a way to understand. “I got to live. I had parents who loved me endlessly. A brother who did everything he could to make sure I was safe. I got to know what it felt like to be loved.” Tears stream down her face, matching my own cries. “I lived a better life than some are granted the privileged, Kellan. Know that, okay?”
“It’s just not fair, Mia. I need you here.”
“I know you do, but you are as lucky as me.” She runs her thumbs over my tears, washing them away. “You have a life worthy of greatness. You will get to do all of these amazing things and I’ll be there along the way. I promise. Every hockey game, I’ll be there. When you join the Army, I’ll be there. When you get married, I’ll be there.”
“It’s almost time, isn’t it?” I watch her through blurred eyes.
“I can’t hold on for much longer, but I need you to promise me something?”
“Whatever it is, yes.”
“Make sure Hannah is okay, Kellan. That’s all I need you to do. Promise me, you’ll take care of her.” Her eyes widen, desperate for me to understand how important this promise is to her.
“I promise.” I shrug, grabbing her hand and running my thumb over the thin, sensitive skin.
Once her mouth stretches into a deep yawn, I know she needs rest. Everything we just went through had been too much for her. She’s exhausted, struggling to hold on to this life she’s been blessed with. I’ve been blessed by having her by my side since the beginning.
My lips rest against her forehead. “I love you, Mia.”
“You’re meant for greatness, Kellan. Be great. Be the kind of man you can be proud of. Be an honest man.” She smiles. “Because I already love that version of you.”
Before I turn to leave, I pause at the door, watching her, memorizing the way she looks in this exact moment. Not because I want to remember her sick, but because for the first time since her diagnosis, she seems free from it all. She’s broken the chains that have kept her tied down. No more treatments. No more doctor visits. No more of any of it.
Freedom looks good on her.
Like she can sense me watching her, she lifts her head and smiles, blowing me a kiss as she bends forward to grab the piece of paper and pen, I left on the bed.
Whatever it is she needs to tell Hannah and whoever else the letters are for, I wanted her to have the chance to do so. I may not be able to write them, but she will if things are needed to be said.
“Be an honest man,” I whisper to myself, still standing in the middle of the hallway. My feet, guided by my sister, move me towards the two of them. “Hannah, did Mia ever give you a letter?”
“What are you talking about?” Hannah gazes up at me, sorrow imbedded into her eyes. It’s no longer a current mood. Sorrow is who she is now. Her loss of my sister, the burden of carrying around her and Nick’s lies, it’s everything she is now.
Tears still lick at her cheeks. For the first time, I’m seeing Hannah how I’ve always seen her. My sister.
Nicole releases her hold on Hannah, and trails the single tear on my cheek.
“I’m sorry.” My hand wraps around Hannah’s waist and I tug her close to my body, wrapping every inch of my body around hers, doing what I should have a long time ago. My hand grasps the top of her head, running soothing circles over her crown. “I have to go.”
I pull away, greeted by a stunned, wide eyed Hannah. She made the same expression when I stuck a frog inside her sleeping bag. She came face-to-face with it when she cuddled inside. We used to have slumber parties in front of the television to watch movies. Hannah always insisted I joined them, even after weeks of pranks.
I turn my back, racing from the hallway, through varsity hall, and out into the parking lot. I barrel over, crushing my hands into my knees, failing to catch a breath.
I pull out my phone and send a text to Nick.
Me: I won’t be at practice today. Tell Coach I’m sorry, but there’s something important I need to do.
Nick: You’re kidding, right?
Me: It’s important, Nick.
Nick: It’s your ass on the line. Not mine.
He’s right about that. I made a promise to my sister and I intend on keeping it.