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winnie

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#1
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winnie

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#2
morgan danvers

Eleven days.

It had been eleven days since Morgan had found out about the death of Joshua Wellington.

It had been nine days since she attended his funeral.

It had been five days since Morgan had proposed the idea to head to Joshua's cabin by the beach in order to disperse his ashes into the sea, like he had always wanted.

It had been only one day since Morgan began to drive herself crazy with theories as to what could have happened to her late friend.

Morgan didn't get much sleep on a daily basis as it was, and needless to say, after hearing about Joshua's death, her insomnia didn't get any better. So, she had put her sleeplessness to use by driving all night to get to the beach house. Fortunately, it was her semester break, or she would have been missing two weeks worth of college classes just to return to her hometown. The main reason she left was to leave everything behind. Although she made that promise to herself the moment she got accepted into college, she found herself crawling back a few months ago, and to the person she wanted to interact with least.

Ever since returning for the funeral, Morgan had done everything possible to avoid her father, and in turn, her brother, because meeting the former would mean receiving some dirty task that her father would want her to do in exchange for having her ass saved in college, while meeting the latter would only result in tons of guilt because Charlie didn't exactly know about Morgan's mishap at college, and, before any of that even happened, there had also been the issue of Morgan feeling betrayed since Charlie actually started working for their father.

Of course, to be angry about that now would make her a hypocrite, but to pretend like it didn't matter anymore would also raise questions. Morgan didn't exactly let go of things that easily. Which was probably why this whole 'week at the beach house' reunion was a recipe for disaster.

Nevertheless, Morgan tried to look at the bright side of things as she pulled up outside the beach house in her beat up car, just as the sun was beginning to rise. The redhead felt a bit of nostalgia settling in, as she hoisted her lone duffel bag with her across the porch and into the house, using the spare key Joshua's parents had given her. The place looked the same as the last time she was there -- and that had easily been around three or four years ago.

Not expecting anyone else to arrive just yet, Morgan took her time, trying to set the place up a bit. She dusted here and there, set out sheets and blankets in each of the four spare rooms. It wouldn't be enough if they all wanted a room to themselves, but she was confident they could all adjust for a week. Morgan would easily fit on the couch. In fact, that was where she collapsed when she was done tidying up. She figured she had a bit more time left so she decided to give sleeping another shot.



  
zachary dreschner

"Zach?"

"Yeah, ma?" The brown haired boy quickly abandoned the clothes he had been holding to head into his mother's room next door. She'd been discharged from the hospital a while ago, but that had only made Zach more attentive and determined to stick around the house. After high school, he hadn't opted to go to a fancy college out of state, even if he could have easily gotten a scholarship with his grades and 'other skills'. Instead, he opted to use said skills to just make a lot of money. He was doing pretty well for himself, and he'd managed to get his mother all the treatment she deserved. Things had been moving along relatively slow in his life, till he heard about Joshua's death.

Zach came to a standstill outside his mother's bedroom door, and he noticed that his little brother Brayden had beat him to it. The guy was supposed to be off at college. That was the agreement. Zach had been more than happy to stay back and look after their mother so his brother could try and lead a more normal life and pursue what he wanted to, but unbeknownst to him, a few days ago, after the news about Joshua got around, Zach's mother called her youngest son into town, all so Zach could go for that reunion to disperse Joshua's ashes.

Zach had been insistent not to go. Nobody would miss him if he didn't show up, and his mother needed him more. He had made up his mind until his mother forced him to change it.

"It's alright, I just needed my pillows fluffed," his mother explained with a small smile as Brayden attempted to do just that.

"Maybe I shouldn't go," Zach tried once again, leaning against the door frame.

"Zachary Michael Dreschner, if you make an excuse one more time, I will get out of this bed just to clobber you."

Zach chuckled softly but still felt a little uneasy. Brayden was perfectly capable of taking care of their mother on his own, but Zach would never be able to forgive himself if anything happened while he wasn't around to help.

"Shouldn't you get going?" Brayden asked, sitting down on the nearby armrest and looking at Zach. "You'll miss the bus."

Zach nodded. He had finished packing -- well, he had dumped some clothes in a bag and declared it as a job well done. All he really needed was his laptop because at least that way, work didn't have to stop even if he was going to the beach house.

"Remember, no matter what, if something seems wrong, you call me, okay?" He looked to both his mother and Brayden for a nod of approval and understanding on this and only then was Zach's mind eased, at least slightly. He had been so preoccupied with his mother and this whole situation that he hardly got time to properly digest the fact that Joshua was dead. It hadn't hit him at the funeral, nor had it hit him when Morgan suggested they all head to the beach house for a week.

No, it hit Zach once he was packed and ready to go and had taken his seat on the more or less empty bus. And he was glad it was empty because at least he could get his feelings out in silence.
 
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neptune

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#3
charlie danvers


It had been like any other day, Charlie was in his office, zoning out in the ergonomic desk chair, too lazy to even pretend to work, when his phone started to ring. The name at the top was more than familiar, though seldom seen. Joshua Wellington’s mother was a good woman, always smiling, often joking with their group whenever they all congregated in her kitchen after school. She never minded that they ate all the food or that he and Josh were loud and unruly. Her voice was different that day, strained, weak and Charlie felt like he was going to throw up when she told him. Somehow, someway, Josh was dead.

Life was short. Life was precious. Despite hearing both of those phrases from elders, grandparents and well-meaning assholes alike over the years, Charlie had never really grasped the reality of those words until death came for someone so young. This was different from his mother’s death—she got sick, she wasn’t old, but she had lived longer than just twenty-some years. Josh was healthy, the last time Charlie had seen the other man, he was talking about signing up for a marathon, all the while throwing back Bloody Mary’s like he was invincible. He should have been invincible.

That was eleven days ago. In that time, a funeral, a cremation and a rather uncomfortable wake had commenced. Then there was a will, or what could only be described as such. A journal page wasn’t exactly a binding legal document, but when it ended with a final wish for his ashes, for his friends to be there on the beach that they had all loved as kids. At first, Charlie didn’t think that it was going to happen. Their group had fractured since graduation, splitting off in different directions as connections were lost and some bridges burned. Morgan, however, took it upon herself to give Josh what he wanted.

The car he drove was a company lease. The luxury vehicles were normally reserved for partners, bigshot lawyers who raked in money and clients, but Charlie was none of those things. On paper, it looked like he had everything together, life was going well from the outside, but he “worked” for his father’s law firm and collected perks that should have gone to someone else; what a failure.

Sitting in the Lexus, Charlie breathed a sigh as he looked at the darkened windows of the beach house. A beat up car was already parked out front, and the knot of anxiety in his stomach said that his sister was inside. The siblings had been close at one point in time, after the death of their mother but before their father stepped in to become a wedge. Charlie knew that his job was the reason for their falling out, but turning down the job and a steady income was out of the question at the time. He wished that Morgan could understand that.

Ten minutes must have passed before Charlie finally got the nerve and will to get out of the car. He grabbed his leather bag from the backseat and slung it over his shoulder. The smell of salt hung in the air and the sound of the ocean crashing against the shore relaxed him slightly as he walked up the stairs. There was no sense in knocking, and Charlie didn’t think twice about letting himself in.

“Hello?” he called, flipping on a light in the hallway. The interior of the house smelled fresh, and he noticed that many of the surfaces were free of dust. He wandered deeper into the space until he came to the living room, seeing Morgan’s sleeping form on the couch. “Wake up and greet me,” he propped, still her older brother at heart, “you’re always asleep on the job.”

If they were going to fight, they could do it in the morning. After that long drive, Charlie was just too damn tired.



  
olivia lennox


It was funny how time could change a person and the way they looked at the world. Just a few years ago, a small group of people had been her entire world. Olivia would have done anything for any of them, gone above and beyond what was expected of any friend just to see one of them smile, but it was different now. They had fallen out of touch, moved on with life and into new things and there was a part of Olivia that constantly questioned whether or not those four people had ever meant anything, or if they were just convenient at the time.

Hot and humid Florida had more or less faded into the background and Olivia found herself awake once again, still on the bus as the other passengers filed toward the door. Getting to Joshua Wellington’s beach house had been a task in itself, and after missing the funeral, there was a part of Olivia that thought she might not go at all. It wasn’t until Morgan had reached out did Olivia change her mind, feeling that it was better to face her potential demons and be there for Josh in death the way she had stopped being there in life. After all, she had moved the farthest away—didn’t that say something about her?

Collecting her things, Olivia left the bus behind and began to walk through the terminal. Like flights, bus rides could also be broken up into multiple parts. She had already changed buses once that day, but this was the last one. The blonde wandered the terminal slowly, keeping track of the time by the clocks on the wall rather than the phone in her pocket. The last bus had hit a patch of rough weather and had to drop speed, leaving her with just twenty minutes to catch the connecting one. Luckily, she made it to the next terminal with just enough time to stand in line.

Thinking about the bus was easier than thinking about what might be waiting for her at the end of the trip. Despite Morgan’s neutral tone on the phone, Olivia couldn’t help but feel that the other girl was upset with her either for missing Josh’s funeral or leaving town all together. Then there was her sister to think about, Heidi, their relationship had been strained for far too long already. If Charlie and Sean had an opinion about her, only one of them was likely to voice it and then there was Zach…

Olivia had always liked him the best.

Finally on the bus, Olivia looked for an open seat. Most of the window seats had already been snagged by the people in front of her, but she had to walk for a few rows before she found one on the aisle. “Can I sit here?” she asked without looking at the passenger, too busy trying to corral her duffle bag into submission. Once the blonde sat down, it was like the past had slapped her in the face. “Oh my god,” she gasped, “hi. It’s so weird, I was just thinking about you.”

Maybe it was a sign, seeing Zach again so suddenly, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad after all.
 

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#4
sean cullen

Josh Wellington was dead.

He had been dead for eleven days and it only now began to sink into Sean as his old Toyota Corola pulled up into the driveway of the beach house. Naturally, when he had first received the phone call and given the bare facts he knew it. Even at his funeral, he knew it. But now, sitting in the worn out seats of his car and looking at the beach front that he had sat and admired so many times with Josh before, was when he finally realized he'd never be able to see his friend again.

Sean turned the key to the ignition, shutting off his car before leaning his forehead against his steering wheel. He needed a moment to get himself together. Before he had even pulled into the driveway, he saw the lights were on and therefore someone had already made it. To be precise, it meant that Morgan had already made it in. It was her idea that they'd get together after all. And when she suggested it, he might have been the first and fastest to agree.

It was no secret that Sean Cullen didn't have a real family, for as long as he could remember he had been alone. Therefore, his friends had been the closest thing to family to him. And so losing Josh was like losing a part of himself. Despite having moved out of the town, he kept in contact with the man as he had often been kind enough to visit and help Sean when he needed it.

And now he was gone.

Releasing a tense breath, Sean removed his head from the wheel and unbuckled his seat belt. He couldn't spend all of his time within his car and moping. If there was one thing that could be perceived as positive that came out as the pass few days it was that it encouraged him to make up with his friends. To be close again with those that mattered. And ultimately, that meant truly speaking with Morgan.

Just as he exited his car, his eyes caught a blonde head staring at the front door to the beach house with a heavy looking suitcase in hand. It did not take Sean long to identify the girl as Heidi Lennox. How could he forget the girl that Morgan was always butting heads with. But even she, usually feisty, looked as somber as ever.

"What are you doing?" He called, cracking a soft smile as he approached her, bumping her slim shoulder casually. "Come inside." Sean didn't check behind him to see if she followed him inside.

As if it to add to his problems, it was just Morgan inside, but her brother. "It's the Danver siblings." He said somewhat playfully. "Morgan." he called her name softly. "Hi." He had missed her. Of course, he hadn't the slightest idea of how much until she was physically in front of him.



  
heidi lennox

Heidi wasn't sure whether she wanted to cry or punch someone. The past few days had been the most stressful days of her life. Well, second to the days and weeks she had spent watching over her sick father. But incredibly stressful nonetheless. It was more than Josh's death that bothered her, but her mother who would never leave her alone, not even to mourn.

Since the day Heidi had arrived to town Lilian Lennox hadn't given her a proper moment to merely sit with her own thoughts. The only time she had cried was on the bus to the funeral and not a tear had spilled from her eyes since. She realized it was for the best since it would likely be another thing for her mother to criticize. Her plate was full and it slowly became overflowed during her time at home.

She loved her mother, but the woman drove her up the wall in a very unhealthy way.

So, when Morgan had invited them all to the beach house to stay for a week and spread Joshua's ashes over the ocean like he had always wanted, she surprisingly agreed. Initially, Heidi thought it would be too stressful to remain in a house with Morgan, the girl who stabbed her in the back, her brother and Heidi's ex Charlie and to top it off, her baby sister, Olivia. Olivia who rarely ever called except for birthdays and holidays and never came home or helped out with their widowed mother.

However, they were brought together for Josh. Heidi could put her issues aside with each one of them just for Josh. He had been like a brother to him and she would give him the send off that he wanted even if it meant standing with people she rarely ever talked to anymore. Besides, she could hold her own with them more than she ever could her own mother.

Heidi had packed her bags and left the home she grew up in when her mother had went out to grocery shop. She had sent her a text and decided she would much rather deal with the backlash of her sudden ditch over the phone then in person. And she didn't mind walking to the beach house. It gave her time to think and decide how she'd confront the others.

Truth be told, she had a lot to say to some of them, but none of it was necessarily nice. And so,m she decided silence was the best option by the time she had made it up to the front door of her destination. She stared at through the windows and almost groaned a loud when seeing that it was the last two people she wanted to meet first were the ones inside. The blonde spent a whole five minute debating on whether to enter or wait for someone else to arrive, hoping it'd make things less awkward.

Luckily, Heidi didn't have to decide because Sean Cullen materialized next to her, greeting her and walking through the door. She noted he was even better looking than he had been in high school, maybe it was because he was no longer as skinny and even muscular. She sighed through nostrils and carried her suitcase with her through the door behind him.

"Hello," Heidi stood at Sean's side and glanced about the room. It was clean, clear of dust. Someone had been hard at work.
 

winnie

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#5
morgan danvers

Morgan's eyes snapped open when a light switched on. She wasn't particularly a light sleeper -- in fact, many would always joke she could sleep right through an earthquake, only to wake up and face the damage that had been done -- and while she hadn't heard the sound of the car outside, or the footsteps leading up to the house, sudden light definitely got her up. The redhead sat up from her previous position on the couch. She hadn't slept for more than ten minutes or so but she supposed it was something.

Morgan was faced with her brother -- a face she hadn't seen in a while, as sad as that was. She was much more willing to put the past behind them now, not just because they were here to honour Josh, but because Morgan was no better, really, having taken money from her father just to save her own ass.

Still, that was a conversation for later. Right now, it just felt good to see her big brother again, and of course, it wasn't hard for her to slip back into old ways, thinking back to the times when they'd been inseparable, after the death of their beloved mother. The smallest of smiles appeared on her face when Charlie spoke, and she got off of the couch only to move toward him and give him a brief hug. "I'm glad you came," she told him once she had pulled away. She didn't say that out of formality, but rather because she genuinely meant it. As upset as she had been with him before for choosing to work with their father, none of that mattered in this very moment.

She was about to say more when the door to the house opened once more, and she was met with another familiar face -- another face she had definitely missed, but had also somewhat resented for a portion of her life, mainly due to the way things had been left between them after their... moment. "Hi," she responded, her tone soft, her expression having shifted now. It shifted once more when yet another person walked in -- perhaps the one person Morgan didn't actually want to interact with there. She merely gave Heidi a brief nod, but for the sake of not making this trip worse, decided it would be best if she didn't make much eye contact.

They'd all been there before, but in case anyone needed any brushing up, Morgan began to map the place out for them. "There are two free rooms upstairs and downstairs," she explained, unsure of what else to say. "I'm happy to take the couch or the floor but I guess someone else will have to slum it up too since there are six of us." She would leave that up to them though because she didn't particularly mind. "The power's always been a little moody here so I'll go see if I can find some flashlights in the shed out back before we get stuck." Of course, this was just an excuse to get out of what was definitely an awkward situation. There was so many emotions in that room all at once that Morgan felt the place would combust, and so, after speaking, Morgan did as she said and slipped away from the group, heading outside through the side door in the kitchen.



  
zachary dreschner

Zach had spent a majority of the bus ride lost in his thoughts. It was a bit of a drive up to Josh's cabin, but one he was familiar with and most of the time, it went down the same way -- Zach tuning things out with his music, or reading a book. Or doing what he did best -- hacking people.

Well, he liked to call it snooping, but it was what it was.

Thoughts of Josh continued to probe his mind every few minutes or so, especially when a familiar song played into his ears that Zach was sure Josh had introduced him to. As much as Zach enjoyed listening to music, a majority of what he had on his phone were recommendations from Josh before Zach actually took the initiative to hunt down some songs himself. He wasn't the type to listen to the radio or go to concerts, so, despite being so much more tech savvy than anyone else he knew, Zachary Dreschner was not up to date with the latest in music.

He had been so consumed with his music and his thoughts that he had hardly looked up when he heard a voice beside him, asking to sit down in the free seat next to hi,m. "Oh, yeah sure," he nodded, currently busy with changing the song on his phone. He had just switched it when he realised that the voice had sounded vaguely familiar. it had been what caused him to look up, and he had to do a double take. What were the chances that he'd be on the same bus as Olivia Lennox, on their way to the same destination?

"Hey," he said, clearly pleasantly surprised. He had tugged his earphones out, letting the wires fall into his lap as he looked to her once she sat down. Olivia was easily the person he was closest to among their little group, not counting Josh. of course, the relationship he'd had with him had been very different to the one he'd had with Olivia. For the longest time, he'd had a crush on her. And now seeing her again, he was just reminded of all the reasons why. Much like everyone else, they'd drifted apart, but he kept in touch with her more than anyone else and if anything, she looked more beautiful than the last time he saw her.

"Well, I wouldn't say weird so much as a blessing," he told her with a small chuckle. "i was beginning to go mental, trapped with my own thoughts. Not to mention I was slowly growing more and more bored," he added. "How are you doing?"
 
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neptune

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#6
charlie danvers


There was a time, after the death of their mother, when Charlie hadn’t wanted to speak a single word to anyone. It was particularly frustrating for his teachers at school, when they called on him in class and their questions remained unanswered, met with a stubbornly persistent silence. Remembering that time now, it seemed like a world away, but seeing Morgan asleep on the couch jostled those memories loose. He remembered staying up late with her, just the two of them watching TV alone in the cavernous house that their father called home and waiting for her to fall asleep beside him on the couch before he dared to open up. As an adult, Charlie knew Morgan to be a rather light sleeper; he had probably known it then as well.

Anxiety returned when Morgan opened her eyes and looked at him. They hadn’t seen each other in such a long time, going from talking daily to not reaching out at all after he had taken their dad up on his job offer. For a moment, the air was thick with tension and Charlie was ready to defend his choices for the umpteenth time, go around in a circle with his sister about the rock and the hard place had been stuck between when the chance to start over materialized out of thin air. Charlie didn’t think that she was ever going to understand what a struggle his life had been—and still was—but now he didn’t worry so much about paying rent.

That uncomfortable discussion never came, however, and Charlie felt himself relax when Morgan smiled at him before getting up from the couch. Maybe there was something besides the smell of the ocean in the air, of maybe it was the magic of Joshua’s beach house, the need to not disrespect his memory with petty drama, but Charlie accepted her into his arms without a second thought. She felt small in his arms, but warm and familiar and though he was too proud to admit it, he had missed her more than he could ever begin to say. “I am too,” he said after she pulled away.

Perhaps they could have talked more, gotten the apologies out of the way when they were both caught off guard and vulnerable, but the door opened again and kneecapped that idea before Charlie could speak. He looked over his shoulder, seeing two more familiar faces, one more welcome than the other. They were all friends in one way or another because of Joshua, but it wasn’t a secret that he had never cared for Sean Cullen. In his mind, Sean could live a thousand lifetimes and still never be good enough for Morgan; Charlie didn’t expect that opinion to change just because they were all back together for a few days.

Watching with a great deal of skepticism as Sean said hello to Morgan, Charlie gave him an acknowledging nod before looking toward Heidi. Much like everyone else in their old group, Charlie hadn’t seen much of her since graduation despite promising to keep in touch and take her on a few dates. Life had gotten in the way, laziness and ego, along with other girls—thinking on it now, Heidi probably wasn’t as happy to see him as he was to see her. “Hey,” he said anyway, noticing that she at least bothered to be cordial.

The sudden realization that he had some kind of problem with everyone in the room seemed like the perfect time for Morgan to make her exit. He frowned at her, the room assignments barely sinking in as she went to look for some flashlights just in case the power went out. It wasn’t a totally flimsy excuse, and Charlie recalled the lot of them being left in the dark with Joshua on more than one occasion. Regardless, it was an awfully convenient way to escape the awkwardness that had settled into the room.

“I’m not sleeping on the floor,” he announced with a scoff, the roots of his cushy life showing. Picking up his bag again, Charlie looked to Heidi one more time before leaving the living room and heading toward the back of the house. He didn’t care how big the room was, he just wanted to get out of there and get a second to breathe.



  
olivia lennox


With time, missing Josh’s funeral would likely prove to be one of the bigger mistakes Olivia had made throughout her life, but right now, it was just something that she was sad about. While it wasn’t quite the same as watching her father get sick and waste away, she still vividly remembered his funeral and lifeless in a casket wasn’t the way she wanted to remember one of her best friends. Showing up to his beach house and scattering her ashes with the people who had meant the most to him suited her better. She could only hope that the others understood, that they weren’t too mad at her for her decision and didn’t think of her as the world’s shittiest friend.

The pleasant look on Zach’s face said that he didn’t hate her, and it was more than a relief to Olivia as she took a seat beside him. They had drifted apart over the years, naturally, but she made more of an effort with him than anyone else from their old group of friends despite how much she had liked (most of) them all at the time. It was just that Morgan and Charlie always seemed so busy, and Sean had always intimidated her just a little bit—reaching out had never felt right. Her sister, Heidi, was another issue entirely, and she only talked to the other girl when it was absolutely necessary, usually about their mother and how selfish she was for not coming home.

All potential drama was still another hour away, and Olivia wasn’t going to start thinking about all of the things that could go wrong until she started to see sand on the sides of the highway instead of open fields and weeds. Relaxing back into her seat, she gave Zach a soft smile as he spoke, appreciating his optimistic take on their situation. As far as she could remember, he had always been that way, looking ahead toward the future rather than dwelling in the hardship of the past. It was part of the reason she had liked him so much, but she had always been too scared to say anything. Those fears of rejection seemed silly now, but that was high school.

The last few passengers filed onto the bus, slowly making their way down the aisle with their suitcases. It took a few extra minutes before everything was securely locked away and everyone had a place to sit, but the bus shifted into gear with a hiss and eventually lurched away from the curb. Olivia felt her heart rate pick up, but she settled back into her seat anyway, trying to get comfortable as she looked back to Zachary. She really had missed him.

How was she? Olivia didn’t really know where to begin. The last few years had been a whirlwind of change, of failed relationships and setbacks mixed with pushing herself out of her comfort zone and rising to new challenges. “I guess I’m okay,” she decided, though Joshua was creeping back into her thoughts. “I mean, I’m sad. I’m really sad about Josh, but I’m okay otherwise.” She hoped that she didn’t sound cold. At one point in time, Olivia was as sensitive as they came, but she had a hard time with emotions since her father passed away.

“How are you? You look good.” He certainly wasn’t the same scrawny kid she knew in high school, and just looking at him now, it seemed like life was treating him well. “What have you been up to?”
 

MaryGold

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#7
sean cullen

There was no helping himself from looking directly at Morgan. He noted that she looked well. As well as one could be in the circumstances that they were all facing. But more than that he could still sense she held some contempt for him for detaching himself from her. More so for ruining something amazing they could of had. He was reminded of it every day and more so when he was standing in the same room as her. It was almost impossible to breathe with her being so close. If he took a few steps forward, he'd be able to touch her, to hug her. Of course, he doubted that her brother ever let him do anything of the sort while he was around. But Sean could have cared less about Charlie Danvers and his opinions.

He didn't have to worry about his intake of air any longer because Morgan launched into a small explanation and left them all alone. Sean's smile dimmed. While he felt no animosity toward Heidi, he wasn't very close to her and he could honestly say he was very distasteful of Charlie. And he knew the feeling was mutual. The man was a snooty ninny. And his response to the dilemma of sleeping and room assignments only assured Sean that that much had not changed about him whatsoever. But luckily, he didn't have to deal with him much longer either as he left the room.

"I'll take the couch." Sean announced, tossing his bag onto the cushion and sighed heavily. "Or the floor." It wasn't as if he hadn't spent most of the years of his life sleeping on the floor anyway. Having a couch to sleep on was practically a luxury. Though, he wasn't quite sure if anyone else within their group understood that.

"Excuse me," whispered Sean as he made his way to the kitchen, following in Morgan's steps.

Honestly, Sean would probably have an easier time sitting outside with her lame brother. He could happily accept the aversion that Charlie felt for him as he felt the same. Morgan on the other hand was entirely different. And Sean seriously doubted he could last a whole week, living in the same house as her being fully aware of her disdain toward him. It was too hard to even think about. How would he bear it when he also had to bear the fact that Josh was gone and no longer among them all. That they'd never see him again.

No, Sean could not. He had to reach some sort of common ground with the redhead. After all, it mattered not whether they were young. Death could take them at any moment and Josh was proof of that.

"Can I help with anything?" Sean asked pleasantly. His smile was more forced than it was tight. He had to shove his hands into his pockets to keep them from fidgeting.



  
heidi lennox

Heidi for one was glad to see Morgan gone. She wasn't at all sad to see Charlie leave either. And Sean leaving the room was blessing. She needed a moment. A moment to gather her bearings and decipher her next move. She didn't fancy talking to anyone else in that particular moment in time. But it was bound to happen soon. They couldn't all be trapped in a house together and not talk to one another. It was silly and ridiculous even with all the issues and grudges they held with each other. And Heidi had a lot of grudges. Most of them held toward one person in particular, but she promised herself to be civil and thoughtful for Josh and his memory.

First things first, Heidi was putting her luggage in one of the rooms to claim her place. The room she chose happen to be upstairs. The moment she swung open the door, she was hit by pure and raw nostalgia that brought back pain and happiness. How many summers had she stayed in this room, playing stupid conversational games with Josh? Breaking her diet with her good friend by eating chocolate and knowing how her mother would hate her for it? There was so many stupid, youthful and sweet memories not only in this room but the house. None of which she would get back. But worst than that, she would never get Josh back.

Tears began to fill her eyes. She had not been given a moment to mourn properly at all thanks to her mother. Now it was all hitting her at once and she sure she would crush underneath the weight of these feeling. It was enough to suffocate her. And suddenly, she couldn't be in that room, in this house where it was filled to the brim of memories of her closest friend. The one person she had been able to confide in and trust without having to contemplate.

She dropped her bag onto the floor and rushed down the stairs. She would not cry in this house. She would not cry in this house. She would not cry in this house. She would not be heard by Morgan or anyone else for that matter. She would know show such a vulnerability when everyone around her were nothing but vultures.

Therefore, Heidi choked back her tears and hurried out the back door, ignoring anything and anyone around her until she was standing at the shore. Once she was there, she doubled over and broke down. The tears and sobs that she had been holding back for eleven days broke like a dam.

Heidi wanted to stop, but she couldn't. Instead, she proceeded to hiccup and figured it was for the best. She didn't want Olivia to see her this way. She had been the sturdy and steel figure of their family since their father passed away. Heidi wanted nothing more than to keep up that image in spite of feeling nothing short of weak right now.
 

winnie

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#8
morgan danvers

Morgan had stepped out the backdoor in the kitchen, only to be met by the strong breeze outside, and the scent of the ocean. It was a scent she had come to love, despite her aversion to the sea -- or any large body of water for that matter. Even when they were all together and they came out here with Josh, Morgan never made it within six feet of the tide, and that was when the tide was low. She would bide her time collecting shells in the sand, while the others enjoyed the refreshing salty water in their bathing suits.

She remembered a time when she'd been sitting in that sand with Josh once, just talking about the future. Morgan envisioned that scene as she stared at the beach now, but it vanished the moment she heard a voice. Morgan was momentarily startled, and she turned briefly to face Sean, who had apparently followed her out to help.

Looking at him again only reminded her of all the good times they'd had. There had only been good times, even if Charlie and him had never been too fond of each other. The only thing to taint those memories had been how Sean cooled off after what Morgan had thought was an amazing kiss. A kiss that she had assumed was good for him too. But that was not the case, it seemed, and while she had never exactly resented him for not addressing the issue and just cooling off instead, Morgan could never forget it.

She wasn't petty to bring it up, especially not now, when they were here to remember Josh, but it was the only thing that ran through her mind as she looked at him now. That, and the fact that she felt something fluttering in her stomach by being there with him. Morgan hated that she felt that though, because it had been a good few years. She had told herself that she had moved on, but that fact was that Sean would always hold a special place in her heart, whether she liked it or not. She just had to deal with it.

"Um, yeah, sure," she nodded, beginning to walk now, leading him off the back porch and to the small storage cellar a few feet away. The inside was dusty, and this much could be seen once she turned on the lights. Morgan wasn't planning on bringing anything up, but she knew for sure that she wouldn't be able to hold back if, by chance, he was the one that did so. For now though, she settled for rummaging around and trying to stay busy. "We're looking for flashlights, batteries and anything else you think we might need for the night."



  
zachary dreschner

Zach didn't know where to begin when Olivia asked him the same question in return. Of course, he was happy to know that, apart from receiving this recent information about a dear friend of theirs, Olivia was okay, even if Zach picked up that that may not be 100% true. It wasn't the same with the others. Over time, he'd just gotten better at reading Olivia. Perhaps it was due to all those stolen glances, or because he just enjoyed talking to her more, but the fact was that he noticed these small things.

But he wasn't going to question anything yet because that was not what they were being brought together for. Surely they had plenty of time to talk about it later though, since they were going to be at the cabin for a while, and so there would be time for talking about slightly heavier things further into their stay. Zach supposed that they could also go deeper into his own issues during the stay, because on the bus was not the time to explain to Olivia that he made most of his money through hacking. Even if he had an actual, legitimate job.

"I'm good too, all things considered," he explained with a small smile, tucking his phone away into his pocket since he wouldn't be using it now. Olivia had his full attention -- she always did. That hadn't changed since high school, and he doubted it ever would, even if nothing ever happened between them. Since they left their teenage lives behind though, Zach had become a little more bold. A little more confident. And he was hoping that he could maybe put some of that to use in terms of speaking to Olivia. He had never had the guts back in school, and he blamed that for never having taken anything further with her. But maybe it didn't have to be that way forever.

"I'm an app developer now, and it's going pretty good," he informed her, realising that she didn't know his profession, since when they both caught up from time to time, it was mainly to check in on the other and their state of well-being, and those encounters rarely went into detail. It made him realise how much of Olivia's recent life he didn't know about. Maybe she even had a steady boyfriend. The thought made his stomach twist but he did his best not to think about it.

"What do you think we're in for once we get to the house?" He asked, figuring a change of topic was better. He didn't want her to ask questions about his job, because that would lead to having to blatantly lying to her, and he didn't want to do that. Not that hiding the truth was any better, but it was for both their sakes. "I imagine it's going to slowly result in a bloodbath."
 

neptune

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#9
charlie danvers


After finding one of the bedrooms at the back of the house, Charlie breathed a tired sigh and set his bag on the bed in the center of the room. It was a bittersweet feeling as he flipped on the light switch, able to recall the last time he had been at Josh’s beach house; it was just before graduation, a long night that felt like it could have lasted forever. Back then, they’d had the whole world ahead of them, just about every opportunity that anyone could have wanted, and now it was over for one of them before it had a chance to start. Frowning, Charlie ignored the tight ache in his chest and ran a hand back through his hair.

Standing there, he felt a lump at the back of his throat and Charlie was suddenly thankful for the privacy of the single room. He swallowed hard and shook his head, more annoyed with himself for getting choked up than anything. It was hard, though, overwhelming to be back in a place that had once been full of great memories, but was now just a gaping hole in a roadmap of what used to be. There was a part of him that regretted showing up, that thought it might have been better to finally abandon everything he used to know and put one foot in front of the other into the future. He thought of Morgan a moment later, how happy he was to see her in such a dark time; it was grim, but being there wasn’t a mistake.

Too tired from driving all day, Charlie didn’t bother to unpack. He left his bag on the center of the bed and was moments away from hunting down Morgan in the shed when his cell phone started to ring. When not at work, it was rare that Charlie answered a phone call, but something prompted him to check the caller ID. Just a glance at the name was all it took to further sour his already testy mood—the last person he wanted to deal with was his dad. Whatever it was, whatever the man was calling about, it could wait until the morning—or maybe he would just forget to call back and they could talk about it when he got back to the office.

In the end, Charlie ended up tossing his phone onto the bed with his bag, the missed call and voicemail icon lit up at the top before the screen went dark. Charlie turned his back on the room and didn’t bother to turn the light off as he walked back into the main part of the house. Morgan still wasn’t back from the shed, Sean was decidedly absent as well—which annoyed him—and he didn’t know where Heidi had gone off to. Shrugging, Charlie did the only thing he could think of when it came to awkward situations: make a drink.

The kitchen cabinets were somewhat bare, but Charlie knew the house better than most. He and Joshua used to come out to the beach and party most weekends during the summer before (and after) senior year. It didn’t matter that he was now legal to drink and could have gone down to the corner store and picked up whatever he wanted; nostalgia said that a drink made from a hidden bottle of cheap vodka was more appropriate.

At the very least, there was ice in the fridge and soda—Morgan must have done some shopping as well as cleaning up—and that first sip went down just as badly as it always had, "ugh. Gross." Apparently, vodka by the gallon was never going to be good. Charlie cringed and took another sip, setting the glass off to the side, he continued to poke around the house, getting reacquainted with the pictures on the walls and the memories that had been blacked from his mind.



  
olivia lennox


Hearing that Zachary was doing well was like music to her ears. Even back in high school, Olivia knew that his life had never been easy, that he didn’t come from money and a lot of his time was spent caring for his sick mother. She sympathized with him in that regard, knowing how draining it was to watch someone waste away by the day, stabilizing sometimes but never seeming to get better. If life was treating him well now, that was one less thing for him to struggle with. Of course, saying any of that felt condescending and Olivia kept quiet, offering a smile as he elaborated.

“An app developer?” she asked, surprised but interested. As far as she knew, he had always been good with computers, so it wasn’t out of the question that he was working in that field currently, but it was still impressive. There were many times in her own life where Olivia felt aimless, like college had been a big waste of time and she was never going to amount to anything. Briefly, she wondered if Zach felt the same before finding a steady job. Again, Olivia didn’t ask, feeling that it would have been impolite to get so personal after not seeing one another for years. After all, they were bound to re-open old wounds soon enough.

It was almost like Zach was reading her mind with his questions, and Olivia laughed softly as she thought of a way to answer. A bloodbath was sure to be a bit of an understatement, but she had been trying to look on the bright side since getting on the bus that morning. “I don’t know,” she shrugged, apprehensive. “I haven’t seen my sister much since she graduated. We don’t talk a lot anymore, and our mom isn’t doing well,” to admit that she didn’t help with her own family felt dirty, but it was the implied truth. “I’m sure she’ll have something to say to me.”

For the most part, she couldn’t recall him ever having drama with anyone else in the group. “I don’t think Morgan and Charlie talk either,” which was sad for siblings, but she liked both of them well enough. “Honestly, I talk to you the most,” and she didn’t even know the finer details of his life; even sadder. “How do you think it’ll go?” It was surely going to be bad, but how bad remained to be seen.

The bus started to pick up speed, and Olivia further settled in. They would be there soon enough, and she was nervous, but at least she and Zach could walk in together.
 

MaryGold

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#10
sean cullen

Sean followed Morgan without question or saying another word. His dark eyes locked onto the back of her red head as he thought of how else he could casually approach her after he assiting her with everything he could. So far, she had been quite amiable, but also quiet and that worried him. He never did get used to the uncomfortable silence he created between them when he turned her down in one of the worst ways possible. He didn't have much of a right to complain or any sort of self pity for himself. It happened years agao, but standing with her now, it felt as ifit had only been a few days ago. But he'd patch up their relationship somehow ... at the very least, he wanted her to not hold any harsh feelings toward him.

"Yes, ma'am." Sean quipped with an easy looking smile, but within he was feeling anxious and his smile was somewhat forced. But when he turned away from her to glance about the musty smelling cellar, his smile dropped and he released a deep but subtle sigh. Where on earth would he even begin in trying to make amends with her? He supposed he would focus on one thing at a time. And currently, his focus was on finding items of use for their stay within the beach house.

Glancing around the dimly lit room, Sean took his first steps toward a crowded shelf in hopes of finding the first thing Morgan named on her list. There were one too many things around and Sean momentarily got distracted with an item or two, memories coming back to him as he recognized an old cooler they used to hide their beers in or ball in which Sean used to hate due to the simple fact that he wasn't as fit as Josh or Charlie. Well, that obviously wasn't the case in longer but still ... The memories were pleasant as they were painful.

A soft sigh fell from his lips before he went back to looking and his eyes found not only flashlights but lanterns. "Oh. I think I've found what we're looking for ..." He raised his voice slightly and knabbed both items off the shelf. He looked them over once before turning back around to face Morgan, but as he did so, he noticed something not far from him at all, leaning against the wall and looking beautiful.

A beautiful brown acoustic guitar.

The very same one that Sean remembered playing so many times around their bonfires and on the living room floor because Josh would always insist that Sean play. He was one of the many people who recognized his talent when it came to music, but one of the only people who encouraged him. Looking at it now, Sean felt warm rather than cold.

"Damn," he walked over and scooped it up with one hand. "I can't believe this is still here." Still there and covered in dust.



  
heidi lennox

What interrupted and ceased Heidi's slowly quieting sobs was the buzzing of her cell phone in her pocket. The sudden vibration on her thigh both surprised and shook her. She froze, arms still wrapped around her knees, face hidden and buried her in her knees, too scared to move. For a moment, she thought she had been exposed, but it quickly dawned on that what she preconceived made zero sense and it was simply her cell phone informing her of a received text and therefore her alone time was over. She'd have to stand up, stretch, wipe any remaining tears from her eyes and dust away the sand from her bum.

The last thing Heidi wanted was to go back inside and potentially come back face to face with her old friends. So, she postponed her time by pulling her phone from her pocket and checking her newly received text. It was her mother. Why was she not surprised? But she was disappointed, she had been hoping it was her younger sister, but considering how strained their relationship was already. But part of her had hoped that Olivia would call after she acquired the news of Josh's death and when that didn't happen, she hoped to see her at the funeral but she missing there too. Then again, this wasn't the first time where Olivia ran away. Heidi wouldn't be surprised if she decided not to show up to the beach house at all.

Apparently, her mother was anticipating Olivia's visit more than Heidi did because her text asked of the younger Lennox's whereabouts. Heidi rolled her red-rimmed eyes at the text and marched back to the house. She didn't have time to indulge her mother, least of all about her ridiculously immature and selfish younger child. Her text was by far the worst wake up call and it showed as when she reentered the kitchen, she slammed the screen door shut behind her.

Heidi closed her eyes and inhaled deeply to calm herself as best as she could in this situation. She was simply on a rollercoaster of emotions and she wanted to get off of it instantly. But first, she would ice her eyes so that the swelling would go down and they'd be less red. Luckily, there happened to be ice in the freezer. So, she wrapped them within a towel and pressed it against her right eye first. Using her left eye, she directed herself out of the kitchen and into the living room.

Charlie was still around. And looking around, while drinking -- what was that? Vodka? Or some other kind of alcohol?

"Where'd you get that?" She asked without announcing herself and tightening her grip on her homemade ice pack.
 

winnie

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#11
morgan danvers

Morgan busied herself with searching for a while even if her mind was very distracted by being in the same room with Sean. Alone. As much as she told herself that she didn't want to think about it now, or bring it up, it was all that seemed to plague her mind. So much so that her gaze might have glossed over what she was looking for and she wouldn't have even noticed. She just couldn't stop thinking about high school, and how Sean and her had been so close once, and how all of that was ruined after a single kiss. A kiss that Morgan thought meant something.

She had been about ti whip around and speak about it, even though deep down she knew better than to do so, but before she could say anything, Sean beat her to it by revealing that he had found the flashlights. That was enough to get her to realise that bringing it up now was a mistake. She didn't want this whole trip to start off on a bad note and if -- god forbid -- the discussion didn't go well, then she would have to spend the rest of the days there avoiding Sean. She shoved the thoughts to the far end of her mind, and brought herself to smile when Sean turned around with the flashlights.

"Great," she said, visibly pleased. "I guess that's all we need so we can head back inside." Toward the end of her sentence, Morgan's voice began to falter and she watched Sean curiously because his attention seemed to shift away from her and to something else. Following his gaze, Morgan, with crossed arms, turned to see that he was looking at a guitar.

Slowly, Morgan followed him as he made his way there and watched as he picked it up with one hand. She remembered those bonfires where Sean used to play. She also remembered him being really good with the guitar. Morgan felt a little nostalgia, seeing him hold it again, and the guitar looked to be in pretty good shape. It was just a little dusty.

Getting closer beside him, Morgan reached out with one hand to run a finger along the guitar strings to hear the sound. Except for needing to be tuned, it worked perfectly well. "You should play," she told him, glancing up from the guitar. "Today evening. We could have a bonfire like we used to." It would be a good way to start off the trip and make sure everyone was on more or less good terms by the time the next day rolled around, which was when they were schedule to disperse Josh's ashes.



  
zachary dreschner

Zach listened to Olivia explain how things were going with her. From the sound of things, it wasn't too great, and Zach couldn't help but frown slightly, because it wasn't exactly what he had hoped to hear. Not when it involved someone from his past he actually cared about, which was more than many of the others could say while they were in the beach house. Everyone had beef with everyone and it was going to be awkward, but Zach had felt better knowing that he was more or less on good terms with most of them, and most of all, with Olivia.

Still, he didn't question it because he didn't know if now was the right time to pry. He knew he would back off the moment Olivia seemed uncomfortable, but considering they were already sensitive due to what they were even meeting up for, Zach figured that maybe questions about her relationship with her family could be saved for later in their stay at the beach house. They had plenty of time after all, and considering they were just reconnecting now after so long -- even with keeping in touch a bit -- Zach decided it was better for the both of them to keep the topic of conversation light.

He did comment when she spoke about keeping in touch with just him though, and he tried to ignore how happy the thought made him, even though it also filled him with sadness because it was more or less the same with him. The others hadn't really kept in touch since high school, and it was an upsetting thought. "Yeah, you're pretty much the only person I stayed in touch with so that should be proof enough that you're the person I talk to most too," he explained with a small chuckle, looking down at his hands as they began to fiddle in his lap.

"I honestly think that it's going to be terrible,"
Zach admitted, biting down on his lower lip and lifting his gaze to look at Olivia again. Their surroundings outside had changed, and Zach knew they would be at their stop soon. Most of the other times he travelled to the beach house by bus, it stopped on the main road very close to Joshua's place, so he knew that there was no hope of trying to get more time to himself by waiting for a cab to take them where they needed to go. It was just a five minute walk from where they would be dropped off. Instead of thinking more about that though, Zach continued. "Maybe not today. I guess everyone will want to just settle in and try to process the fact that Josh isn't going to be there with us. But tomorrow..." he faltered, not wanting to continue to beat down the idea. He thought it was a good one, but he also thought that it wasn't going to end well.

The bus was slowing to a stop soon enough, and Zach looked outside to realise that they had reached. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he got up from his seat and waited for Olivia to shuffle out before he followed, helping with both of their bags, till they stood on the side of the road, and the beach house could be seen not too far away. There were already cars parked out front, which made Zach think that most of the others, if not all of them, had already arrived. "Well," he said, shouldering his duffel bag. "Here we go."
 

neptune

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#12
charlie danvers


Sure, it was the place that Joshua and the rest of them called a second home, but the cabin by the sea didn’t belong to their old friend. His parents owned the place, and some of the decorations, as well as the pictures on the walls reflected that. It was difficult to tell how much you were going to miss someone until they were gone, and lost in thought and bogged down by emotion, Charlie regretted the fact that some of his closest friends were just a phone call away, yet he never called. That uncomfortable realization went double for his sister; Morgan had once been everything to him, the first person he wanted to tell good news to and the first person to reach out whenever something went wrong. Charlie missed that, the closeness.

One picture on the wall held his attention more than the others. It was an old polaroid that didn’t quite fit into the thick, white frame that hung on a similarly paneled wall. The sun was shining, and the water sparkled around a fair-haired toddler whose grin looked to be one of the purest things in this world or the next. The date at the bottom, written in harsh cursive, indicated that Joshua was only two when the photo was taken. Charlie rarely thought that far back, or that far ahead and he worried that life really was as short as the older people in his life claimed. Now that Joshua was gone—however tragic—who would be next?

There wasn’t much time to dwell on those unfortunate thoughts, because Heidi had made a surprise appearance. She was carrying an ice pack, and her eyes looked a little red, but she wanted to know about the drink he had made for himself. “The cupboard,” he explained, gesturing to the open bottle of vodka that was still sitting off to the side in the kitchen behind them. “I guess it was left over from one of our summers out here.”

If that was the last thing any of them had to remember Joshua by, it was pathetic.

Turning, Charlie picked up his drink once more and took a long pull from the glass. “Want one?" He didn’t wait for the blonde to answer, and just assumed that by the state of her, she was in need of something to dull the pain. He had never been the best with words, not even when it was really important, and the only way for him to not feel totally useless was to put ice in a glass and pour some cheap liquor over it. Once that was done, he handed it off to Heidi and leaned against the counter.

“How have you been?” he asked, probably a stupid question, but they had a history and he didn’t want to just walk away from her. “You look…nice.” She was still pretty, though that observation didn’t seem appropriate when she was crying.



  
olivia lennox


It wasn’t like Olivia had been trying to stay positive about seeing everyone, but Zachary’s outlook on everything had her worried. She turned in her seat, leaning one elbow into the soft padding of the headrest as he talked. “You really think so?” she asked, cautious. It made sense that everyone would be on their best behavior that night, but they had all burned different kinds of bridges with one another and there was bound to be shouting at some point. Olivia knew who wanted to fight with her, and after not giving the time of the day to Heidi or their mother, the older girl wouldn’t have been completely out of line.

Breathing a sigh, her cheeks puffing out in exasperation, Olivia settled back into her seat. “I guess we could always leave,” she suggested, and silently wondered if it was too late to catch a bus all the way back to the city, “you know, if it gets too bad.” She sincerely hoped that it didn’t come to that, that they could all come together and rally around the good memories they had of Joshua rather than let their personal issues destroy what he stood for. “I’m even more nervous now.” Saying it out loud didn’t help to overcome her fears, unfortunately.

They continued to talk here and there for the remainder of the bus ride, but as soon as the wheels slowed to a stop, Olivia felt her anxiety spike. Outside the windows, the shore was dark and slightly unwelcoming and that same feeling lingered as she stepped out of the safety of the bus and into the salt-kissed air. Shoulder her bag that Zachary had been kind enough to help her with, she looked down the road at the familiar house in the distance. There were cars outside, but none she recognized—though the fancy one had to belong to Charlie. “Are we the last ones?” she asked, looking to Zachary for confirmation. That wasn’t going to make her look any better after missing Joshua’s funeral.

The bus pulled away from them, its red taillights eventually fading in the distance before Olivia got up the courage to move. It was now or never and she nodded to Zachary before leading the way down the road. Coming to the beach house used to excite her, the very idea of taking a trip with her friends made her feel like a grown ass adult and now it just made her nervous. Were her old friends going to be angry with her? If they weren’t, did their group have anything in common anymore? Were all issues meant to be laid bare for everyone to scrutinize collectively?

That was a question to answer later.

The lights were on inside but Olivia couldn’t see much of anything besides her and Zachary’s reflection as they climbed the wooden stairs. “Are you ready?” she asked, though the chance to back out wasn’t exactly real. Having placed one hand on the doorknob, Olivia took a deep breath before twisting and pushing the door open, giving them access to the house that had once been something to look forward to. “Hello?” she called out, feeling awkward, “anyone home?”

“Hey…” Charlie stuck his head out from around the corner, presumably from the kitchen, “you guys made it.” Way to state the obvious.