Fall Back Skyward (Fall Back #1)(2)

Written By: Autumn Grey



After parking the car outside my building, I grab my bag and the carrier, then lock the doors. I head for the main entrance and take the elevator to the third floor.

I unlock the door, step inside and kick it shut with my foot. I head toward the kitchen and drop the bag on the floor, then let Sirius out of his carrier and fill his bowls with food and water. I dig out the letters that I picked up from our private mailbox and set them on the counter.

When we moved to New York, Simon and I decided to rent a private mail box at the post office because we moved houses a couple of times during those first five years. We didn’t bother to cancel the subscription after we finally settled in this flat.

I head to my office and settle on the swivel chair behind the desk. I skim through the mail in my hands and frown, staring at the seven letters with my name carefully scrawled in all too familiar handwritings on the right. One word stands out of all of them: URGENT. It’s written in red and underlined three times. My heart beats faster as my gaze moves from Mom’s handwriting to my dad’s and finally to Nor’s on the envelopes.

My hands curl into fists to stop them from shaking as possible scenarios of what might be wrong flash inside my head.

I received the first letter from Nor two months after I arrived in New York. I have no idea how she had gotten my private box address and I didn’t care back then. I’d ripped it to shreds and thrown it away without reading it. She had continued to send more letters. Eventually, I asked Simon to get rid of them, because I couldn’t stand the heartache every time they showed up in the mailbox.

Dread clouds my brain and I close my eyes, taking deep breaths. When I open my eyes again, I’m calm enough to deal with this without resulting to panic. I haven’t spoken to my mom or anyone back home since that fateful day when my f*cking heart was ripped out of my chest. Leaving my home and family had nearly killed me and the only things that helped me get through my despair were throwing myself into my school work, the two jobs I was working at that time and the gym to get out the hurt and aggression. My aim was to work hard, get a good job and pay my student loans.

Glancing down at the letters, I let my curiosity take over. I flex my fingers to dispel the tension trapped in them, then pick up the letter opener from my desk and carefully open the first one.

Dear Cole,

Where are you? Is everything okay? This is the fourth letter I’ve written to you. I haven’t heard from you and I’m worried. Just, please. I need to talk to you. It’s Josh. He is not fairing on very well. Get in touch as soon as you can.

Love,

Mom

Fuck, no.

I toss the letter aside and snatch the next one. My heart is relentlessly pounding in my chest as the worst scenarios play in my head. Mom wouldn’t write if this weren’t serious. She knows the way I feel about Josh. About the place I left and never looked back at.

I hold my breath as I read the next one.

Son,

Get in touch with your mother or me as soon as you read this.

Love,

Dad

I drop it and dive into the next one, which is dated December 28th. Scanning it fast, I feel my heart shatter inside my chest.

Nor.

I shoot to my feet, my fingers clenched around the paper.

Cole,

Please read this. I know that things between us aren’t great and I don’t know where to start. I never heard from you so I assume you never read the letters I sent you. I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t important. It’s Josh. He needs you. The doctors say he doesn’t have much time left.

I’m begging you, not for my sake, but for your brother’s, Cole. Please. Come home.

Nor.

I grab the last letter on the table and rip the top open using my fingers. This one is dated January 20th. Three weeks ago. My mother’s handwriting, usually confident and flowery, is shaky at best. I’m terrified of the words written in there and yet, I can’t stop. I can’t even think. My head is completely messed up.

Dear Cole,

I miss my son. I’ve spent nine years wondering if I’d ever see you again. I need to know you are okay. God, I know how things are between you and your brother but his health is deteriorating fast. He was admitted to St. James Memorial last week. He needs you, Cole. I hope to God this reaches you in time. I’m losing him. I can’t lose you too. I just can’t.

Love,

Mom

Reaching up, I pull the beanie from my head and run a hand through my hair. Of all the scenarios in the world that would successfully drag me back home, I never expected this one. Whatever exhaustion I felt vanishes. My chest aches as dread finds its way through places I never knew existed before. I glance at the clock. It’s almost midnight back home. There’s no way I can wait until tomorrow.

I pull my phone out of my pocket, scroll down, stop on Simon’s name, and open a new text message.

Me: I’m going home tonight. Are you already in NY or still in Boston?

The screen lights up a few seconds later.

Simon: The f*ck, man? I was buried deep in *. What do you mean you are going home? Florida?

I would laugh if I could at his immediate response. He and I have known each other since kindergarten. When I moved to New York after leaving prison, he joined me a few months later.

I quickly type, If you’re distracted, that * is not worth a shit. Something came up and I need to leave immediately. I’ll text you as soon as I can and let you know what’s going on.

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