I’ll Always be There

By Ashley Miller, Guest Writer

It was painful to watch; the way her hair sailed to the ground with the harsh sounds of the clippers ripping at her hair. She didn’t deserve this. The room was a dark blue-gray color, making her raven-colored hair seem like silky stands that had fallen from the night sky. The gray slick tile floor shined with a neon white hue, showing it had just been waxed; even though it didn’t help its cause at all. It seemed the damn machine only ‘enhanced’ the grime factor by tenfold. Her bright blue crystal eyes were glazed over with a hint of depression and grief, seeming like dull stars against the disgusting interior of the barber shop. I couldn’t fully understand what she was thinking, or how she was feeling but seeing her made me want to understand. Her body lacked its usual spunk, her eyes dull, and her now short hair was disheveled. She was a mess.

I ran my hand through my hair and held my eyes closed, wondering what I could do to make this better. The barber interrupted my thoughts, calling me over to see the final look – I knew no matter what, I’d still think she was the most beautiful women in the world but she wouldn’t be able to see herself as such. I braced myself for a destroyed woman whose tears I couldn’t calm. When I finally reached the old tattered chair she was sitting in, I glanced down at the floor trying to grasp the fact that her beautiful locks were gone.

It was unusual to say the least. I always knew her with her long raven-colored hair. Whether it was thrown into a messy bun or it was cascading down her back like an endless night sky, I never saw her any different. This was strange for me and this was horrible for her. I placed my hand on her back trying to reassure her but her eyes were frozen over with depression. No matter what I said, no matter what I did, and no matter what I tried didn’t matter. She was broken. My mind raced with things to say but I couldn’t materialize anything to say.

She didn’t move the chair at all. She slowly lifted herself out of the barber’s chair, her body movements enhancing her gloomy look. My heart stung with self-hatred and guilt. It should have been me. I held my hand out for her to take ahold of but she declined. I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my hoodie, sighing to myself. I was trying my best to understand her but nothing I did was right. It was like there was a huge town meeting one day on how to handle situations like this but I ended up missing it. Where was the damn instruction manual on how to handle women who were in the same situation like her?

I glanced up, examining myself in the streaked mirror, watching all that had happened – All that had caused this fly by me. The flashbacks made me regret ‘that’ decision even more; as if the guilt that was trickling in my veins wasn’t bad enough. My thoughts were interrupted by the greasy barber as he informed me I still hadn’t paid him for his services. I sighed heavily as I tossed twenty dollars onto the counter and watched him eagerly stuff the money into the register, as if we were the first customers in ages. I mumbled a cold ‘thanks’ then shuffled out the door as the barber exclaimed he couldn’t wait for our next visit.

Yeah, I can’t wait either, I thought sarcastically as I trudged on out of the barber’s shop. I glanced to my left to see Amelia sitting on a nearby bench. I plopped down next to her slouching a bit and she started to shift over. I gazed at her trying to see her beautiful face but it was covered by her side bangs and her desperation to get away. I sighed one more leaning crossing my arms over my legs and leaning towards the ground. Holding my eyes closed, I let the fond memories of her and me from the past play in my mind as if I was in a movie theatre.

“… Can we go home?” Amelia whispered, fumbling with her hands. She looked extremely nervous as if I were going to hit her or somethin’ – but since I knew what happened to her I could understand why she was acting like this. I wish it wasn’t to me though. I couldn’t give a damn if she acted like this with other people but to me? It was heart breaking. I was supposed to be her support, her knight in shining armor – but I failed her. With that failure, it brought a huge change in her. She wasn’t a happy bubbly person anymore. She was a grieving depressed person with no one to fully understand how she felt.

I flashed her a reassuring look but she ignored it and continued to stare out across the street. I sighed once more. People hurried on by trying not to waste a second of their time. Time was money to those people. Time was lost by me. I held my gaze on a certain window box – all the plants were dead but it seemed to resonance with me. The dull dead grass fluttered in the window and the decayed flower petals drifted away. I glanced over at Amelia, trying to figure out what she was staring at. I wondered if she was staring at the same thing I was – maybe she was hoping that she was light weight and could drift off into the sky without a care in the world.

I raised my head, fixing my eyes on a flock of birds above me. I wondered if Amelia felt trapped like a bird in a small cage in a dark place with no sunlight and with nowhere to go. I really didn’t know what to think. All I could do was wonder. I sighed once more and stood up, reaching my hands towards Amelia.

“Time to go, Amelia,” I mumbled out silently praying she would take my hand. She gazed at my hand for a few seconds, letting her face twist with anxiety. I let my hand fall back down to my side and watched her stand up, ready to go home. We started trudging towards the apartment in nothing but an unbearable silence. I started to let memories of us walking home hand in hand without a care in the world fly past me. It was peaceful and now it was gone. She walked with her shoulders slacked and her legs had no motivation to move as if she had just ran a marathon.


“Amelia, are you feeling all right?” I asked, curious if she was starting to feel ill now. She ignored me and kept on walking. I reached over and gripped her shoulder lightly.

“Amelia, are you feeling okay?”

“L-Let go of me!” She shouted, jerking and twisting her body away from my in an attempt to get away from me. I strengthened my grip, and glared at her.

“Amelia, I’m not trying to hurt you! I’m worried about you! You’re obviously are not well and I care for you a lot, Amelia! Please, tell me if you’re okay or not – I’m here to support you!” She lowered her gaze to the ground, trying her best to believe me – I could feel her shoulders shaking with fear. Could she trust me? Will she trust me? I could understand if she couldn’t trust me. I wondered if she remembered my answer – the one that sent her life down tumbling into hell. She slowly raised her gaze back at me.

My heart slowly began to decay at the site of her eyes – they were glazed over with grief, insecurity, and distrust. I wrapped my arms around her shaking body, holding her closely as she began to wail. Her pained cries vibrated through my body, making me cringe – I was disgusted with myself. I had caused her all this pain all because I said no. She continued to wail, oblivious to the stares we were getting. They probably thought I did something. I didn’t care though. They were outsiders and knew nothing of what Amelia went through.

I ran my hand over her back, trying to console her some more. After a few more minutes, she finally went silent. I felt a small sensation in my throat. I glanced down at her and noticed she had passed out from crying so much. Geeze, we were in public too. Guess she couldn’t wait. I picked her up bridal style, making sure I was holding her in a manner that wouldn’t cause people to question me. I started trudging back, holding Amelia close to me. She sure was light. I wished I could say the same for the guilt I was feeling.

Once we arrived home, I shuffled to the bed, gently laying her down onto it. I grabbed her favorite Hello Kitty pillow and black blanket, tucking her in. I watched her sleep peacefully for a few minutes. I wondered if she could ever act peacefully when she was awoke. I sighed and felt tiredness shower over me. I plopped down onto the bed, practically smothering myself with my own pillow. I inhaled deeply and slowly drifted to sleep, watching Amelia sleep peacefully.

“Dylan? Are you okay?”

“… Oh hi, Amelia. I’m okay, just focusing on this stupid paper I have to write for my one class. Need anything?”

“Well, you know how I applied for that full ride scholarship two months ago?”

“Yeah, you get any word back yet?”

“Yeah, I did! I got the scholarship!” I swiveled around in my office chair, feeling my eyes grow huge and my mouth agape. She beamed a bright smile at me. I jumped out of my chair, throwing my arms around her and embracing her. This was awesome! This was a dream come true! I pulled back a bit, unable to hold my joy back. We simply had to celebrate. I started rushing around the house shouting out I was going to take her out to eat dinner.

“Amelia, I’ll take you to that really fancy restaurant by the mall. I can’t believe this! This is simply awesome, Amelia!” I felt a hand press lightly onto my shoulder. I turned my head to see Amelia wearing a frown.

“Amelia, you okay? Aren’t you happy you got the scholarship? Many people don’t have the same luck as you.”

“… It’s just that… I have to move to Paris.” My whole body froze. She bit her lip, throwing her gaze to the ground. I couldn’t stop my thoughts from pulsating the words ‘move to Paris’ through my head. She looked back up me, trying her best to keep her composure.

“What was that?”

“I have to move to Paris. For the Scholarsh-“

“Why? Can’t you stay locally?” I reached my hands out, holding onto her shoulders. I don’t know if I could deal with her being that far away – actually scratch that. I couldn’t live without Amelia. She was my girlfriend- the perfect other half of me. I felt my heart constrict at the thought of losing her. My brain was going frantic. This wasn’t fair.

“The thing is, Dylan, the college I want to attend is over in Paris and now I have this scholarship! I can’t give it up, and I don’t want to leave you here by yourself, so I wanted to know if you’d come with me, Dylan.”


“Dylan, please come with me. I need you just like you need me. I’d appreciate it very much if you would.” I tightened my hands into fists. I loved Amelia very much but I couldn’t leave and run off with her. I had my own life going on at the moment. I had a well-paying job and I lived within twenty minutes of my family and friends. My life was perfect.

“I don’t think I can though, Amelia. I have my whole life here; my family and friends too. I can’t just leave because you got a scholarship. Can’t you figure a way out to attend somewhere locally?

“I already asked – it’s impossible.”

“… I’m so sorry, Amelia. I can’t.” I felt tears well up in my eyes. I couldn’t leave. She reached out hugging me. I wrapped my arms around her embracing her as hard as I could.


“Amelia, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m asking for a lot from you. I understand. I’ll just get someone else to stay with me. I don’t wanna be alone over there you know?” I felt my heart sting. I wanted to be there for her. I glanced down at her.

“Give me six months.”


“You go over first, and in six months, I’ll come join you. I just need to finish things up here. I can’t leave right not.” Her face froze for a few seconds then she smiled brightly. She clung tightly onto me.

“Thank you Dylan. While we’re gone, I’ll have my friend Elliot stay with me. He’s been to Paris many of times and even knows French. Don’t worry, he’s a good guy. Also, I only have eyes for you, Dylan.” She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I sighed.

“I want to meet him at least once though – I have to approve of him.” She lightly punched me in the arm laughing at what I had said.

“Oh geeze, you’re such a worry-wart. Don’t worry, Dylan. I’ll be okay.”

I felt my body jump at the sound of the doorbell. I glanced over at the clock. It was nine O’clock in the evening and no one knew where Amelia and I were. Who was at the door? I felt my stomach churn with anxiety as I stood up and walked over to the door. I glanced around the room, trying to find something I could use as a weapon. The only thing I saw was a knife in the kitchen. I took large steps towards the kitchen, grabbed the knife and slid it into my back pocket. I approached the door again, taking a deep breath and opened the door.

Two burly men in matching suits and sunglasses holding up badges stated from the Government. It was the FBI. I sighed in relief as I welcomed the two stoic men into the apartment. They walked out the apartment, checking out every little thing. The one took the knife out from my back pocket, examined it then called the other guy over.

“This couldn’t take us down, son.” The first FBI agent said, passing the knife over to the other FBI agent. The second one nodded in agreement. I sighed.

“I don’t have a gun or anything though – I have to make use of what I can.”

“We understand that. We came to inform you and Amelia we’ll be staying in the rooms right next to yours incase anything arises. Do not hesitate to come get us at any time. Is that understood?” The first FBI agent sternly said, stressing the importance of Amelia’s safety and mine. I shook my head and placed the knife back on the counter, wondering if I really couldn’t protect Amelia. I felt like a loser – unable to protect the girl I love. I met the first FBI agent’s gaze, and gave him a serious look.

“I’ll make sure to get you if anything happens – even if it is a paper cut,” I lightly punched the FBI Agent’s in their arms. They didn’t respond so well to my joke – neither did my self-confidence. They stood there, loathing my joke. I laughed it off awkwardly and sent them out the door. Before I could close it, the second FBI agent turned towards me and pressed his hand gently on my shoulder.

“Tomorrow morning we’d like to ask Amelia some more questions. You know, about the whole ordeal she was involved in. We understand she has amnesia but maybe some of her memory has been restored and she can tell us more about the sex-slave trade and what she went through,” He kept rattling on but I couldn’t help my face from twisting in disgust. The words “sex slave trade” danced around my brain, making me dizzy. He finished talking but I didn’t hear the end of what he was saying. I waved him off and shuffled back into the apartment and closed the door.

I sighed loudly, ambling around the apartment. I was nervous as hell about tomorrow. What if Amelia had an episode tomorrow? I held my hand over my guilt ridden heart. I wish I could tear my heart from my chest, place it into the sink and scrub away all the guilt I felt. I wish I could do the same to Amelia. She was defiled, ridiculed and abused. I wish there was something I could do to purify her body, mind and soul – but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? I plopped down on the couch, cradling my head in my hands.

“…Dylan?” I snapped my head up towards the bedroom door. Amelia was staring my down with a worried look. I forced a smile.

“Yes?” She shuffled over to me, sitting down slowly. She eyed me up and kept her distance on the couch. I felt my heart pang. She yawned to herself and stared straight at the bland green wall in front of her.

“I feel like I know a bit more about myself.” My ears perked up. I faced her.

“About yourself? Care sharing anything?” She bit her lip and curled her hands on her lap. I patted her back trying to relax her. I felt her tense back muscles start to loosen up. She took a deep breath and started talking. I listened as she poured out memories of us, about her life – anything that was on her mind. She slowly scooted towards me, placing her hand over where my heart was. I felt her warmth through my shirt. She slowly traced a heart on my chest.

“You know, if the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off.” I glanced at her, raising an eyebrow. She kept tracing a heart on my chest. I raised my hand and ruffled her hair slightly.

“And what do you mean by that?”

“We’d all have easy, boring lives, Dylan. No conflict, no pain – Everything would be too perfect. People wouldn’t get hurt – people wouldn’t learn from their mistakes. Life would continue to cycle around spewing out the same life forms and the world would let the float around in their eternal ignorance,” I felt myself ponder at her words. Why was she telling me this? I raised my eyebrow at her, trying my best to convey that I was confused. She stopped tracing a heart on my chest and raised her gaze to meet mine. “Please stop blaming yourself. It isn’t your fault.”

My heart seemed to halt and my eyes were flooded with tears. I clung to Amelia, hugging her tightly.

“I’m sorry, Amelia. I’m so sorry,” I hugged her tighter, trying to get her to understand how guilt ridden I was. Even if she said to stop blaming myself I couldn’t – it was my fault. I planted my head onto her shoulder and took a few deep breaths. She gently patted my back.

“If we don’t experience some type of pain, we can’t fully enjoy our lives to the fullest. I remember some parts of what I went through – and it was total hell… but, I’m not going to let this cripple my life. I still have you here to support me, and you have me to support you. I may not ever get my memory restored all the way but we can create new memories together, Dylan.” I squeezed her once more.

She was precious to me and I was precious to her. I released her from my grip and let her sit next to me. I held her hand and she smiled at me. I smiled back and squeezed her hand. Maybe over time, this whole thing wouldn’t even be a thing we care about anymore. It’ll just be a thing that happened and Amelia and I will have moved on with our lives. I sighed lightly, glancing at Amelia’s face as it radiated with a tiny passion for living