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The air hung heavily around me, worn sheets sticking to my skin. My college venture was postponed by two weeks due to a recent national tragedy and the weather showed no sign of cooling down. Jason’s scent lingered on my pillow. I raked my fingers through my hair and forced my body out of bed.

While moving carelessly down the stairs, I was greeted with a vision I hoped never to encounter. There, on the same couch from which I witnessed mass tragedy, sat the mother and father of the dearly departed. A poor distressed woman and a man who tried desperately to hold it together were being comforted by my mother. I had tried with much effort to keep my distance from them after the accident. I didn’t want to be further entangled in national news, and I mostly still didn’t want to realize that it wasn’t a dream.

My mother gazed upon them sympathetically.

“They say he was the one who did it all, who started this whole thing,” Mrs. Weizstein choked back melodramatic but understandable sobs.

“Erica!” her husband called to me, “We’ve got something here for you…my son wanted you to have it.”

All it was was a letter.

Erica,

I made the decision to return to school a few weeks earlier so I can use the lab. These numbers and constants and elements are all too revolutionary to keep waiting. These “things” can get dangerous, though I highly doubt anyone will get injured. It’ll likely just be me, working alone, a slave to science as always.

Regardless, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve always cared deeply for you. I wish you the best of luck in school, life, and all.

Sincerely,

Billy

It wasn’t much of a breakthrough. I felt a tinge of pity for myself brewing in my chest and not much else.

With a pleasant nod and empty stare I told them thank you and offered my apologies. He was good kid, he didn’t deserve this, stay strong. They looked grateful and I ran up the stairs.

The lock gave me a resounding click, some small comfort that I could salvage during this stretch of chaos. Hiding in the bathroom to save myself from reality was, admittedly, irrational. The kind of thing Billy would lecture me on. But who cared? He was gone and it felt right. His death seemed far, far away, and I waited with a hesitant heart for it to sink in.

All the pipes lurking under the sink taunted me. They were simple, sure, by some standards. But they were the work of many centuaries, of exponential growth. They were innovation. Billy was always one for innovation.

Wiping tears from my eyes, I unlocked the door and it was the most unnerving sound in the world.

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