Jocelyne swung her legs over the side of the bed with a soft groan. Her back was starting to ache from tossing and turning so much. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to get to sleep.
Of course, she was no stranger to sleepless nights. Ever since she’d moved back home to Windenburg, she found herself plagued with bouts of insomnia. Jocelyne would awaken night after night from the same dream – Her brother, standing beside her bed and watching her as she slept. But no matter how hard she tried, she could never seem to reach him in the darkness.
But this was different.
Jocelyne replayed her conversation with her grandfather again and again. She couldn’t believe she’d spilled her soul to him like that. It was so embarrassing… But it got her thinking too. Was she really pushing Mark away because of her guilt? Would talking to Luc actually help? And would he even be able to hear her from wherever he was?
She bit her lip as she stared down at the ornate urn in front of her. Jocelyne tried not to dwell on it much, but it was so strange to think that her brother was inside there – his body burned away to nothing but ash. And just a few feet away, Hazel too. Mark had said it wasn’t right to separate them, so he’d allowed the Rosebrooks to keep her ashes here, beside Lucas’. Jocelyne couldn’t help but wonder how long the family would hold on to their remains. When would they finally let go? Maybe they never would…
At last, she cleared her throat, a sudden warmth coming to her cheeks. “Uh… Hi, Luc.” Jocelyne mumbled. It felt so foolish to stand here in the dark, talking to no one. “I know this is probably stupid. I know that, if you really are out there somewhere, you’re probably worlds away from here. But Opa thought talking to you might be a good idea…” She shrugged. “And I’m just feeling so stuck, and I kinda don’t know what else to do. So I figured ‘why not?’”.
Jocelyne paused, almost laughing for a moment. “Wow… I just realized that this is probably the most I’ve said to you in years. God, remember all those awkward Christmases? I think we were lucky if we said even ten words to each other… But I guess it didn’t have to be like that, did it?” She shook her head. “Every year I kept telling myself I’d let you talk to me. I knew how much you wanted to. I could see it. And I wanted to talk to you too… But I was too scared, I guess. Better late than never though, right?”
She took a slow, deep breath. “You hurt me so much back then, Luc. You were acting so selfish, and cruel. And I’m still kind of mad at you for it. Maybe part of me always will be. You and Hazel helped drive a wedge between me and our family. You were a big part of why I lost the love of my life. It broke me. I wasn’t the same anymore.
“And I used to blame you for how sad and miserable I was after that. For distancing myself from our family, and from Mark too. But that part wasn’t your fault. It was mine.” Jocelyne paused for a moment before continuing. It was the first time she’d ever admitted her blame aloud.
“You may have helped drive me away in the first place, but I’m the one who chose to stay away. I’m the one who chose to ignore all those letters and phone calls… And for what? What was I waiting for? An apology?” She shook her head. “You already tried to give me dozens of those. And I just refused to listen.” Jocelyne could feel tears beginning to form in her eyes.
“I think I was… comfortable being angry. That sounds so fucking stupid, but I don’t know how else to say it. I was just so used to being bitter and holding a grudge that I didn’t want to change. And it wasn’t fair to anyone. Not maman or Papa. Not Mark. Not you. Not me… It just made it worse for all of us.
I don’t think any of us could have guessed this would happen to you. And maybe there’s nothing we could have done to stop it. But maybe I could have at least told you all this while you were still alive to hear it.” Jocelyne wiped away a few stray tears that had begun trickling down her cheeks. “All I can do now is say that I’m sorry I never listened to you. I’m sorry I never let you apologize. And I’ll do everything I can to take care of Zayne for you. It’s the least I can do.”
Jocelyne hung her head, fighting back her tears. “I’m sorry I hung up on you on our birthday. I should have listened to what you had to say. And I should have told you that I love and miss you too. Because I do. No matter how mad I was, or how much I tried to convince myself I did, I never hated you, Luc. I love you. And I wish I could have told you that when I had the chance.”
She closed her eyes then, finally letting her tears fall. Each soft sob shook her entire body. There had been something so freeing about finally speaking those words out loud… But so sad and empty too. If only her brother had been able to hear them.
As she continued to weep, Jocelyne felt a slight chill very slowly begin to wash over her. It was not shocking or unpleasant, but oddly refreshing – like a gentle summer breeze. Jocelyne could not be sure where it was coming from.
“I’m so sorry. For everything. And I know you are too.”
The voice was soft, like a whisper. It seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere, all at once. “So how about we call it even?”
Her eyes snapped open. “Luc?”
There was no one there, yet her brother’s voice remained.
“Promise me you’ll stop blaming yourself, okay?” The voice seemed to be moving farther and farther away. “Just be happy, Joce. Please…”
“I love you.”
She stood in the silence for a long time, listening. But it was no use.
The voice was gone.