Losing Hope:A Novel

By: Colleen Hoover

Chapter Two

“Will you look for her pink top and the black pleated pants?” my mother asks. She keeps her eyes trained on the paperwork laid out in front of her. The man from the funeral home reaches across the table and points to a spot on the form.

“Just a few more pages, Beth,” he says. My mother mechanically signs the forms without question. She’s trying to keep it together until they leave, but I know as soon as they walk out the front door she’ll break down again. It’s only been forty-eight hours, but I can tell just by looking at her that she’s about to experience it all over again.

You would think a person could only die once. You would think you would only find your sister’s lifeless body once. You would think you would only have to watch your mother’s reaction once after finding out her only daughter is dead.

Once is so far from accurate.

It happens repeatedly.

Every single time I close my eyes I see Les’s eyes. Every time my mother looks at me, she’s watching me tell her that her daughter is dead for the second time. For the third time. For the thousandth time. Every time I take a breath or blink or speak, I experience her death all over again. I don’t sit here and wonder if the fact that she’s dead will ever sink in. I sit here and wonder when I’ll stop having to watch her die.

“Holder, they need an outfit for her,” my mother repeats again after noticing I haven’t moved. “Go to her room and get the pink shirt with the long sleeves. It’s her favorite one, she’d want to wear it.”

She knows I don’t want to go into Les’s bedroom any more than she does. I push my chair away from the table and head upstairs. “Les is dead,” I mutter to myself. “She doesn’t give a shit what she’s wearing.”

I pause outside her door, knowing I’ll have to watch her die all over again the moment I open it. I haven’t been in here since I found her and I really had no intention of ever coming back in here.

I walk inside and shut the door behind me, then make my way to her closet. I do my best not to think about it.

Pink shirt.

Don’t think about her.

Long sleeves.

Don’t think about how you would do anything to go back to Saturday night.

Pleated black pants.

Don’t think about how much you fucking hate yourself right now for letting her down.

But I do. I think about it and I become hurt and angry all over again. I grab a fistful of shirts hanging in the closet and rip them as hard as I can off their hangers until they fall to the closet floor. I grip the frame on top of the door and squeeze my eyes shut, listening to the sound of the now empty hangers swinging back and forth. I try to focus on the fact that I’m in here to grab two things and leave, but I can’t move. I can’t stop replaying the moment that I walked into this bedroom and found her.

I fall to my knees on the floor, look over at her bed, and watch her die one more time.

I sit back against the closet door and close my eyes, remaining in this position for however long it takes me to realize that I don’t want to be in here. I turn around and rummage through the shirts that are now on the closet floor until I find the long-sleeved pink one. I look up at the pants hanging from their hangers and I grab a pair of black pleated ones. I toss them to the side and begin to push up from the floor, but immediately sit back down when I see a thick, leather-bound notebook on the bottom shelf of her closet.

I grab it and pull it onto my lap, then lean back against the wall and stare at the cover. I’ve seen this notebook before. It was a gift to her from Dad about three years ago, but Les told me she’d never use it because she knew the notebook was just a request made by her therapist. Les hated therapy, and I was never sure why Mom encouraged her to go. We both went for a while after Mom and Dad split up, but I stopped attending the sessions once they started interfering with junior high football practice. Mom didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t go, but Les continued with the weekly sessions up until two days ago . . . when her actions made it clear the therapy wasn’t exactly helping.

I flip the notebook open to the first page and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s blank. I wonder, if she had used the notebook like the therapist suggested, would it have made a difference?

I doubt it. I don’t know what could have saved Les from herself. Certainly not a pen and paper.

I pull the pen out of the spiral binding, then press the tip of the pen to the paper and begin to write her a letter. I don’t even know why I’m writing her. I don’t know if she’s in a place where she can see me right now, or if she’s even in a place at all, but in case she can see this . . . I want her to know how her selfish decision affected me. How hopeless she left me. Literally hopeless. And completely alone. And so, so incredibly sorry.

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