"Ah, sorry for bothering you again Axel, but I guess you must be really busy huh? Anyway, I was just calling to check if you got any of my messages and I really… I really do want to talk to you, if you could please call me back? We should catch up! It's the same number from high school so-"
The answering machine cut her off and Axel tood next to his home phone with a dark look on his face. That was the third time this week. She kept calling and- He took a deep breath to calm himself. It was okay. He didn't have to speak to her.
The urge to listen to the voicemails again was very real but he resisted. Violet could call and leave as many messages as she wanted. It'd been three years since they'd talked or seen each other, and she was obviously feeling nostalgic.
He sat on his couch, retrieving his phone from his pocket. Taking it out, he scrolled through his contacts until coming across her name. Clicking on it, his thumb hovered over the call button that laid next to her name. Violet White.
Axel flung his phone across the coach like it was acid, clutching his head between his hands in desperation. That wasn't the third time she'd called either. The whole month, his answering machine had picked up every single message, had made sure that it had picked up with painful clarity the sadness and nervousness that permeated every message.
He wondered how much money she'd spent on those calls. She lived somewhere fancy now, in an upscale apartment far away from their hometown of Dallas Texas, where he lived right now, in the same town as Mike and Cage.
The three of them were practically the exact same. Cage was a teacher and he was an author. The biggest change was probably the fact that Mike no longer taught football anymore, was no longer the coach for the high school team. Once Cage, Violet, and him had graduated, there just didn't seem to be any point…
So now the grey haired man spent his days wallowing in his apartment and living off of pensions, broken and miserable with nothing to look forward to after they all split apart. And it was all her fault.
First she messed up everyone's minds, way back in freshman year when she demanded to be put on the men's football team, because the school refused to make a girls team. If it wasn't for Mike giving her a chance, then she might never have met Cage and him, who'd she'd become best friends with once they'd realised what a force to be reckoned with she was.
And then she went and made him fall for her.
He grinned in a macabre, bittersweet fashion, with nothing mirthful about the twitching of his lips. It looked painful, and he had to admit it felt painful. Because that wasn't the worst part. In fact, it was probably the best part, because once they started dating, he could rip her footy helmet off and kiss her in the middle of the football field, her dyed pale pink hair a pinpoint of happiness.
That was when Mike's jokes and grins were real, after they'd dug him out of his shell and made their coach a person again. That was when Cage loved people, and could understand everything about them, when he could swear at Mike on the man's bad days to get him out of a funk, tussle with Axel no matter the setting, and get Violet to be violent no matter the occasion.
Now Mike, from what Axel had last seen of him, on a chance encounter at the grocery store, was hollow and even worse than when they'd first met him, with sunken cheekbones even through that ridiculous mask he wore. Cage… well he didn't know what Cage was like now but he knew when they'd last spoken, a few months after that awful, awful incident, he'd been a ghost of what he'd once been. Which to everyone else was sill overwhelming, but to them it was… a shallow impression.
He didn't know what Violet was like now but ever since she'd started calling, he'd been unable to write a word down, had been unable to look at the artefacts from a life that seemed so long ago, even if it was something as simple as a number in his phone.
Axel couldn't do anything, merely because of the simple fact that he'd heard her voice again and remembered how much he missed it.
A week after that, Axel got a call from Cage.
He'd been severely shocked. He hadn't spoken to Cage in almost three years. Needless to say, he was highly suspicious. Why was everyone from his past trying to contact him all of a sudden?
"Hello?" he answered grouchily.
"Axel." That's all he said. He narrowed his eyes, highly suspicious of the sombre tone the exuberant blonde had, absent of the usually cheerfulness that existed there even when he was sad.
"What du-?" Axel inwardly cursed himself, only just catching his slip-up. He wasn't going to call him that accursed nickname anymore. 'Dumbass' was what he called him when they were friends, not… whatever is was they were now.
He heard Cage suck in a deep breath and was surprised when it warbled dangerously. "You should have answered her calls." The blonde whispered.
Axel scowled, jaw clenching, "Why did you call me?"
The twenty-something year old heard sniffling on the other end of the phone. "Violet's dead."
The line was silent.
"Look," Cage swallowed heavily, audible even over the phone as he seemed to take in shuddering breaths, no doubt tears sliding down his face, "C-can you just come to the hospital?"
Cage didn't get a reply, but he didn't expect one. After all, when Violet left, the sun went out. What was to happen now that she'd… now that she'd…
Axel sat in the hospital chair with his hands shaking, his bangs; the ones he refused to let anyone but Violet cut. It hanged over his wide, tear brimmed eyes.
In front of him was a hospital bed. Next to the hospital bed was a litany of hospital machines, all off. On top of that hospital bed was a body that lay still, too still, with not even the barest of breaths keeping her body alive.
It was Violet White.
Axel took in a quivering, hesitant breath, tears freely flowing as he attempted to quiet his uneven breathing by biting into his fist.
She'd had it a long time coming, they said. A disease that had afflicted her bones for three years. They said they had records of her discovering the disease in that very hospital three years ago, on a day painfully close to the one that ripped his life apart.
Who was he kidding? That day could never be as bad as today. In a hospital she'd worked at in whatever town she'd been hiding away in for the last three years, they'd told her she only had weeks to live.
So she'd come home, because if she was going to be living in a hospital for the last few weeks of her life, it was at least going to be in the hospital she'd spent countless hours in, her hometown one. The one that had cured every single broken bone and bruise and fever the three of them had ever had. Since high school especially, the three had seen the rooms of this particular hospital a lot.
Cage walked in then, going to her side of the bed and hovering his hand over her own. It looked too petite. Her hands were supposed to be clenched and angry, or gentle and careful. Never so… still.
Cage wiped at his eyes, sniffing loudly. "Ya know…" he began gently, "She left because she found out she was sick. She didn't leave because…" he gulped loudly, pausing to take a deep breath, "Violet didn't leave because she didn't love us."
Axel tries to ignore Cage's imploring, sad, ocean coloured eyes. He knew Mike was standing outside the door right now, and that Cage considered that as him actively participating in the conversation. He knew he was pretending to read those stupid books, hiding the tears slipping down his gaunt cheeks.
Cage continued, his voice scratchy and broken, "She left so that we wouldn't be so sad once she died. Violet had rather gone thinking we hated her, so that we wouldn't mourn so much. She knew she was going to die." His voice cracked, and Cage looked up to see tears streaming down his face, "But she changed her mind. Violet wanted to die in her hometown, with the people she loved, rather than surrounded by strangers. She was planning on never coming back, did you know that you asshole?"
Axel flinched at the nickname, trying to discreetly wipe away some of his tears. "No," he croaked.
Cage grimaced and threw something to him. Axel caught it, and Cage went on to say, "She tried to tell you Axel. When she found out she only had a few weeks to live, she called you. And you fucking ignored her!"
Axel stared in abject horror at the object in his hands as Cage stormed out of the room, punching the doorway with a stormy look towards him as he left. It was her phone. That stupid phone she'd had since high school, with the same stupid case. White and Grey....just how she lived her life.
Axel clenched it harshly, biting his lip before flipping it over. Turning the phone on, he was met with her locked phone. Slowly, he tapped in his birthday and then heard the 'click' that signaled it was open.
The background photo made his vision blur. Of course. That stupid, girl. It was a photo of all four of them. Mike was wearing that stupid bandanna around his eye to cover the black eye he got that day, a hand on both Cage and his pubescent heads in an effort to separate them as they pulled faces at each other. Crammed in between them all, a remarkable effort considering they wore their football gear, besides the helmet, was Violet, grinning cheekily at the camera as she held up the trophy they'd just won in the biggest game of their careers.
Axel forced himself to look past it, and opened up her contacts list. It had the exact same people as it had in high school. And, at the top, was his name. He clicked on it, finding their previous text conversations.
In the box, not yet sent, was a long paragraph, detailing everything Cage had just told him. It was written;
Hello! We haven't talked in so long- you haven't been picking up your home phone! :P And I'm too nervous to call your mobile, so maybe texting you all this will do? Although I really do miss your voice. And Cage and Mike and just YOU. I miss Dallas, and football and being able to laugh without a sharp pain. You don't know anything about that though, do you? I really should explain then huh… I left. You already know that though. But the reason I left… well the truth is, when I found out I had a disease that would kill me in a few years, I panicked. I knew you guys would never stop grieving if I just announced I would die like that. So I left and I wasn't ever going to return, so then you guys wouldn't know if I died, and there'd be nothing to mourn right? I was wrong :') So very wrong. So I came back to Dallas. I tried calling to tell you that but I don't think you got my voicemails. SO I'm lying in a hospital bed right now, and I actually can't breathe very well right now, and I don't think the nurse is going to realise in time… So the next time you see me, I'll have to say hello from the other side, probably. In fact, by the time you read this I'll most likely be gone so… I love you, so very much and wish I became your wife. I love Cage and Mike and Dallas and football and… because I can't bear to say goodbye… I think I'll just greet you from the other side, from heaven… So… Hello :)
Tears streamed heavily down his cheeks and Axel crawled in on himself, wishing he could take back the past three years. They would have spent three years in marital bliss, then, maybe. And Mike would've been a real person, who could've walked her down the aisle, and Cage would've been the happiest person of all, who maybe would have ended up a godfather, and they would have argued and laughed merrily about whether he should be the maid of honour or best man.
But she was gone now.
Axel could see it now, even as he curled up in the foetal position like a child.
Mike would most likely commit suicide after spending countless hours at the graveyard, mourning both his old friends who'd died many years ago, and the girl who'd been a part of the trio that had revived him. A rope would most likely be his end.
Cage would most likely start vandalising property again, like he had when his mother had died, except this time he would get caught, and rather than go to jail he would have a dramatic moment where he would put a gun to his head, snot and tears running down his face, but without Violet there, he really would pull the trigger this time, for she was the only woman left in his life who cared, but now she was dead.
And Axel? Well, he would probably never get out of the flunk he'd been in since Violet started calling, and his editor and publisher would give up on him, and he'd go bankrupt and become dirt poor after blowing all his inheritance money on the drugs that made the hurt numb slightly. But he'd make sure he died while sober of such substances, for he wanted to die while remembering his fallen comrades. Maybe he'd go with a gun, like Cage, or with a knife. He'd probably do it on the school oval, where their favourite trophy picture was taken, where they spent countless hours having the time of their lives, with blood, sweat and laughter. Or maybe he'd break into the school and do it in front of the trophy case, where their trophy lay.
Axel sighed heavily and stood up to leave, wiping at his tears before smiling macabrely. "We love you too Violet," he whispered, before turning and walking out of the room where Cage and Mike were standing outside, leaning against their own walls respectively.
"You leaving us will result in us all saying 'hello' much too soon, Violet." He murmured, stealing one last glance at her still body before closing the door with a soft 'click'
"Hello? Hello! I'm so rude you guys, jeez I forgot to ask; how are you? That's so like me, I'm sorry- How have you been these past few years?"