Afraid of Darkness

DISCLAIMER: The following is of fictional work and should not be taken seriously or be accounted for actual facts in any way. It is not aim to confuse or mislead anyone for that matter. It is not meant to offend or disrespect any of the artists mentioned in the work either. Its purpose only serves to entertain and share with other fans who also like those artists. Thank you for reading.

*****

Bianca cradled the picture frame in her hands gingerly while the night wind swept into the luxurious office. An office renovated by her own hands many months ago. And the memories of their many conversations held there, planning for their upcoming wedding came flooding back as she picked up yet another item from the desk. Lingering on that item briefly, she soon let it join in with the rest of his belongings inside a box. She then reached for the engraved pen residing so securely on its own fancy stand. The paralleled empty spot belonged to a second pen. That pen was supposed to be Bianca’s. Yet they usually mixed the two up. Whether that constant mix up was accidental or on purpose, they no longer questioned it. Bianca’s pen was currently by Johnny’s side. She planned to keep it that way. As for his, she would always keep it by her side. Upon those stirring memories, her tears made its presence known once more, flowing freely down her face as she pressed the pen to her cheek. It took more than several minutes before she was able to pull herself together, unlike the last few times of lingering on some items just for the sake of reminiscence. Instead of tossing the pen inside the box like the other items, she pocketed it. She only tossed the pen stand into the box.

It was also then that Wallace entered the room. He stopped by the door, watching the crystallized tears making its way down Bianca’s face. Her once rosy cheeks were now covered with an ashen forlorn. But it wasn’t Wallace’s place to chide her. Because he had no right to. His grief stricken state wasn’t any better than her current devastation. And grief stricken wasn’t the only mood living inside him at the moment. There was also guilt rooting itself since the day it happened. The others did not blame him. But he blamed himself. If only he could just turn back the clock and undo the damage. If only he was given several more seconds to react then he would have chosen differently. If only he had been faster. If only…so many “if only” drumming themselves into Wallace’s head, chanting over and over again. Haunting his waking hours, and possibly dreams as well. Just if only.

“Bianca,” Wallace called out, his voice low as not to startle her.

Yet it didn’t make a difference. Bianca’s guard slipped back on with her rapid movement of wiping away her tears with her hands. Followed by the loud clearing of her throat as she turned to close the window behind her. Her desolated look was no longer on. No, it was still there, but it just subsided briefly to make way for her anger. “What are you doing here?”

Her interrogative tone didn’t discourage Wallace. He maintained his calmness and eyed the box Bianca was now holding. “I’ll help you carry it.”

Bianca’s expression didn’t soften. In fact, her irritation had heightened itself to another level. “It doesn’t matter what you do, I will never forgive you.”

With that, Bianca was gone, leaving Wallace behind with only the small fluorescent lamp by Johnny’s old desk to accompany him. She was done packing. She had been done since pocketing Johnny’s pen. It was that she wasn’t ready to part with the place just yet. Not until Wallace arrived and disrupted the atmosphere, spoiling her mood completely.

Wallace’s only reaction was turning around and staring after Bianca’s disappearing back. And blaming himself for the incident all over again. Even though the others didn’t blame him. Except for Bianca that was. But it wasn’t because she blamed him that he blamed himself. He knew it was his fault the moment his comprehension kicked in. After the initial shock had worn off.

Several days later, Bianca was standing in front of a shrine covered with flowers. However, she only stayed briefly. She had another stop to make. Johnny’s current resident. Also Angela’s current resident. Bianca lingered the usual half an hour since that day. Then the usual group of friends arrived to comfort her and drag her back to reality. She didn’t resist as strongly like the very first day. She had resisted less and less as the days passed by. Was time itself the healing catalyst? If so, then why was she still feeling like someone had ripped her heart out completely? That spot was now like a black hole. Absorbing in everything yet was never truly full.

Before Bianca could ponder anymore of her current mood, she spotted Wallace as she made her way back to her car. The others had stopped walking. It was like they wanted to give Bianca and Wallace a chance to talk, to sort out their past conflicts. However slim that chance might be. Indeed, this encounter was as hopeless as all past encounters. Because Bianca sent Wallace one of her usual disapproving glares before increasing her pace to her car. Not looking back even once. He was alone with his silent demons. Until the others joined him by the side of the road.

“She’ll understand one day,” Sylvie reassured Wallace – like many times before.

Wallace nodded, his routine response – just like all the past times.

But that “one day” did not come. Because Bianca left them two days later without words. They didn’t see it coming because she had kept it under wraps really good. She had left everything up to her agent, Janet, to finalize all the details about the house put up for sale and the office that was to be leased. Janet had one other job, and that was to keep her lips sealed about Bianca’s whereabouts.

The others never expected Bianca to just drop everything and disappear. Bianca was always in constant fear of changes. At least the major changes like moving to another place out of the blues like this one. Angela, Bianca, Johnny, and Wallace grew up in this town together. Almost, because Johnny and Wallace were two years older than Angela and Bianca. Yet that didn’t make a difference. They were almost inseparable until that day. Until Johnny left with Angela. And if Johnny and Angela hadn’t left and if their group of four were still together, the ones most likely to leave were Wallace and Angela. Those two were similar in their adventurous and daring natures respectively. It wasn’t like Johnny was the type who couldn’t accept challenges, but because he knew Bianca’s fear so he had opted to stay by her side to accompany her – and protect her. In the end, the promise was broken and it had caused their dispersing. Still, they would expect Wallace to take leave first, not Bianca. Or was it because of Johnny’s departure that it had given Bianca the courage to walk away herself?

6 months ago

It was a breezy day in May. Breezy but not cold. The sun was shining over their heads. They were standing by the threshold. Bianca was shooing them out the door, but her beaming smile had suggested she was joking. Angela and Wallace had arrived to help Johnny and Bianca move. The plan was to transport all of Johnny and Bianca’s stuffs into the new house so they were ready and settled in after their honeymoon. The reason Bianca was acting so ungrateful toward her two friends was because the two hadn’t wipe their shoes before entering the house. Though Angela and Wallace were being shooed out but Johnny soon joined them by the door, claiming that they might as well make the last trip to Johnny’s house to retrieve the several last boxes. Sylvie and the others had arrived earlier to cover the first few rounds of transferring stuffs. Angela and Wallace were taking over for them since the last two trips.

“Be careful on that road,” Bianca yelled after them as they descended the stone steps leading out to the teal green gate.

“Yes, Lady Boss!” Wallace shouted, turning back to salute Bianca.

Bianca gave him a warning look but soon turned her frown into a smile. She was used to his teasing nature. She even followed them outside and witnessed all three getting into the car. Wallace took the driver seat. That also meant Angela was sitting next to him while Johnny played the considerate person, taking the backseat.

“Drive safely!” Bianca commanded, her voice serious yet her face still smiling to show them she was only concerned for their well-being.

“Last two trips had been fine,” Wallace reminded her. “I don’t think the last one would make a difference.”

“Still, be careful out there,” Bianca repeated, her voice firm.

Wallace saluted once again before buckling up. Bianca also stepped back toward the green gate. But she didn’t go back inside to wait for them. She watched as Wallace turned the car around and waved to them one last time as the car made its way down the dirt road.

Wallace had kept his promise to be extra careful on the way to Johnny’s house. He knew why Bianca was worried. She had every right to. The roads in the countryside were still being expanded so many places were tricky to maneuver around. The trickier part was the merge into the main roads leading back to the rest of the civilization – or what was known as the city.

On the way back, Johnny wanted to drive. He had insisted because it represented the last time. He was leaving this house for the last time. Understanding how much it would mean to Johnny, Wallace agreed. He handed Johnny the keys before getting into the backseat. Angela still stayed in front. She and Wallace were both responsible for holding a box in place on the drive, except Angela’s box was much smaller. Like the last few times, they checked to make sure everyone had buckled up before leaving.

The incident occurred during the turn back to the countryside. Wallace saw it first. He yelled too late. Johnny tried to swerve. He did with all his might. But it was useless. Then they collided. Everything was in slow motion at that point. It was like time had slowed down. Johnny had slid his hand across the seat to shield Angela seconds before the thunderous collision happened. But Johnny was too late because Angela had banged her head on the dashboard. What about Wallace? He had crashed against the box he was still cradling in his hands. The box had slid forward as part of the impact of the crash. He couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t stop his friends from glass shards flying their way. It was too confusing. Adding on to the confusion was the box blocking Wallace’s vision. He tried to push it aside as he was still able to hear Angela’s cries for help. But her voice was becoming quite distance. He was sure he wasn’t hurt. He couldn’t feel any pain. He had to focus. He had to get his friends out of there.

Soon, sirens were heard everywhere. Or was that a long time later? Wallace was no longer sure. But the world around him was swaying. The shining cop lights were morphing together. Then he was able to hear laughter everywhere. Johnny’s laughter. Angela’s laughter. Bianca’s laughter. His own laughter. The scenes from several hours back flashed into his mind rapidly. Their faces all glowing in the sun. Angela’s small face smiling and her hand hitting him for cracking such lame jokes. Johnny and Bianca were laughing at him for bringing trouble onto himself. Then those images dissolved as well. No, it didn’t just dissolve. It popped and crackled, taking one person by one from his view. He was alone in the darkness.

Wallace woke up in the hospital. At least that was his guess after blinking several times and was still getting white lights, white ceilings, and white everywhere. It took him several more seconds to recollect the events of the accident. It was then that he reacted and tried to get out of bed. But he wasn’t able to. He was restrained by strings and strings of ropes. No, they weren’t ropes. He shrugged and took another careful look at them to find those to be tubes to help him breath, tubes to monitor his heart, and whatever else the other tubes were needed for. Still, he wasn’t giving up. He yanked his hardest. However, it didn’t work. He was finally able to feel the pain that was absent during the collision. The rapid beeping of the machines surrounding his bed finally alerted the nurses into checking in on him.

“I have to get out of here!” Wallace bellowed, attempting to step down – but failed once again.

“Sir, you have to stay still,” One of the nurses warned, her strength surprised him as she pushed him back into bed.

Then he could see Bianca among the sea of faces stepping into the room. “Bianca! Where’s Johnny? And Angela! Are they in the other rooms? How are they?”

Bianca didn’t answer Wallace. She stepped closer to his bed. He had stopped struggling so the nurse had already let go of him and had stepped aside. It was also then that he was able to detect Bianca’s haunting look.

“Bianca…” Wallace called out again.

“How could you let it happen?” Bianca shouted, despite her grief stricken face. She soon reached for his shoulders. “I warned you to be careful! I trusted you!”

Then Sylvie and the others were rushing forward to pull Bianca away from Wallace. It took some of the nurses to restrain Bianca and try to calm Wallace down after some of the guys managed to blurt out the details of the story to Wallace.

“The police said that the seatbelts were loose as it already was so it couldn’t hold you guys in to reduce impact,” Brent provided the answer for the current consequences.

“I told you to get it all checked!” Bianca wailed from across the room. “How could you risk it like that?”

If it was any other circumstances, Wallace would had argued right back and said he planned to get all seatbelts checked the day after the move. But at the moment? It was his fault regardless. Yet he couldn’t bring himself to say those words either. After that lashing out episode, Bianca stormed off, declaring that she never wanted to see Wallace ever again in this entire lifetime. That was the day Bianca’s hatred for Wallace began. And it was also the day Wallace started hating himself.

The Present + 2 More Years

It had been two years since Bianca left. Wallace and the others still visited Johnny and Angela’s graves from time to time. It had become part of their daily routines. And even if the others visited less and less, Wallace still managed to come by at least once a week. It was also during one of those visits that Wallace received the call. He arrived at the police station to find all of his friends waiting outside and a distance away from the facility. They didn’t dare to enter or let on that they were intruding. Wallace was about to speak up, inviting Brent and Sylvie to join him inside for the news. However, he spotted Bianca. She was with Janet. Janet must have picked her up. Bianca still wore that intense look for Wallace. Her attires suggested she’d moved on. In a way, Wallace was glad. But he didn’t dare speak up. Not this time. He let Brent do the talking.

After a few minutes of exchanging the usual greetings, it was agreed that Bianca, Wallace, Brent, and Sylvie entered the station to meet with the officers. They were taken to a small investigation room. Several officers were present while the main detective talked to them. Wallace felt the same as the last few times they were in there, same old speech with “not the one but we were so sure it was the one”. Yet not this time. They caught the driver of that humongous monster truck. Wallace didn’t care to pay attention or remember what kind of vehicle it was anymore. He called it a monster truck because it had taken two of his friends.

“We also found something else,” The main detective spoke up after letting them take turns to see “the suspect” – if they wanted to – and seek some sort of closure at last.

Wallace couldn’t help but exchanged a look with the other three, not caring if Bianca was still indifferent toward him. But they didn’t have to wait long. The main detective gestured for the other officers to bring in some sort of television set with an old looking VCR. Wallace realized it was so different from those TV shows yet he thought it made sense that their local small police station hadn’t gotten the most hi-tech resources to show off.

“The new owner of the store at that corner found it while cleaning the place up and getting it ready for renovation,” The main detective explained as he popped the tape in.

They remained silent and still as they waited for the clip to play. Soon, the screen flashed on with some pictures after some static. It was the day of the accident – according to the date at a corner of the screen. The main detective fast-forwarded the tape some more before letting it play. Sylvie reached over to grab a hold of Bianca’s hand as she watched the images of the collision unfolding onscreen. Wallace was trying to stay calm, but he couldn’t after several more minutes of watching. It wasn’t because of the devastation sinking in all over again. It was only part of it. What made Wallace’s face turned pale was how his past self was reacting to the collision years back. He had remembered correctly about Johnny reaching over with one hand to shield Angela. But what he had a distorted memory of was after Angela’s head made contact with the dashboard. He was desperately freeing himself from the box that had served as his cushion and was struggling to pull himself out of the car. Because he was in the backseat, he had to smash the window. From where his strength came from, he wasn’t sure, but his effort was paid off and he had managed to drag Johnny a distance from the car before trying to go back for Angela. Though his strength was really failing him. Crawling and grasping at the asphalt didn’t help. He had passed out by the driver’s window.

“You let me blame you these past two years just like that?” Bianca asked in her usual demanding tone after the main detective had shut off the television set. “How could you let me believe you were the one driving?”

Wallace didn’t know what to say. He still didn’t react. He was able to see Bianca’s tearful face. Yet what was he supposed to say? It took him several more seconds to regain himself. “I was the one who didn’t get the car to the shop to check the seatbelts in time, remember?”

Bianca shook her head, her demeanor less threatening. “Only the driver’s seatbelt was having trouble, remember?”

Wallace did remember. And he knew too well who was driving on the way back. Yet how could he say it during the time of the aftermath? After he realized they had assumed he was the driver on the way back as well. It was his car. It was his responsibility after all. He couldn’t put the blame on Johnny – and condemn his friend like that. If anything, Johnny did try to save Angela during the last few seconds.

Before Wallace could say anything else though, Bianca leaped forward to hug him. It was also then that the spell was broken. He no longer hated himself. Because Bianca was finally willing to let go. And although he felt it was surreal that a couple of police officers were willing to show them an important piece of evidence, he accepted it and thanked them before leaving with his three friends shortly after. Perhaps they pitied him all these years?

Bianca moved back to town after that. She was done with her adventure. It was what Wallace needed at the moment. A true friend returning to his side again. He’d lost all three of his closest friends after that accident. One of whom was also his girlfriend. Now?  He still couldn’t undo the past tragedy to bring Angela and Johnny back. But Bianca had returned. He was given another chance.

Indeed, Bianca and Wallace reopened their shop, and continued on with their lives. The day they reopened the shop was also the day Wallace made a promise to take over Johnny’s duty of protecting Bianca. But like an older brother figure that was. Until she was able to move on and find her own happiness.

© Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

*****

*NOTES*:
*This was actually for a class assignment but couldn’t help sharing it here anyway.
*The song that inspired this story was “Afraid of Darkness” by Bianca Bai
*The reason for the usage of characters could be considered as an alternate story to “The Dating Game” saga

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