With each step she took, fear clenched her heart. Melanie was absolutely petrified. What if she was too late? She would be eternally scarred seeing the lifeless body of her best friend. Even thinking about it now sent shivers down her spine.
"Lisa?!" She called out, her words bouncing around the woods. She's screaming over and over, until she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning around, Melanie is stunned to see Lisa standing there.
There she is, the girl with her messy, dark hair and the dark bags under her dull-brown eyes. The most perfect sight in the world for Melanie. She wipes away her tears and throws her arms around Lisa, embracing her into a tight hug, as if she was afraid to let her go.
"You're crazy," Melanie cries out. "I thought I lost you. Please don't ever do that again."
"How did you find me?" Lisa asks softly.
Melanie pulls back, a clear pout on her distressed features. "You were seriously gonna leave me behind? Do you have any idea how much you mean to me? You silly girl."
Lisa's eyes well up. "Why would you waste your precious time looking for me, when you have your own life to live? I'm just a burden, and-"
"Just shut up!" Melanie snaps, holding onto Lisa's shoulders and shaking her. "You're my best friend, you're just like a sister to me - no, wait, you are my sister. For a moment, I thought I actually lost you and that felt like hell. Please don't put me through that again."
"I only have one purpose in life and that is to be with my family again. I don't see the point in living anymore," Lisa says, shaking her head.
"You can still fulfill your purpose - you have me. Aren't I your family? You can create your own family. You have your entire life to live. Things will get better. I know I've said this before and you didn't believe me, but you have to understand that you have your entire life ahead of you. Your best moments are yet to come. So please don't give up now. Don't suffer alone, I'm here with you. I know you love your mom a lot - you wouldn't want to take her gift for granted, right?"
"What do you mean? I don't take her gifts for granted, I treasure them all," Lisa protests.
"First of all, I think you dropped this," Melanie says, handing over the gold-plate pocket watch. Lisa's eyes widen in shock and she grabs it, hugging it tightly into her chest like it is the only thing that matters to her, with tears spilling down her cheeks.
"See how you're holding onto this gift? It's valuable, yes, but nowhere near as precious as the gift you received from the moment you were born. The gift that we all share - and that's you. Your life. Don't you see? Your life is priceless. So, if you can take care of all these gifts your mom gave to you, you should take care of the greatest gift of them all. The one gift your mom treasures the most."
Lisa stares at Melanie with her teary eyes. It is as if she can see crystal clear. In that moment, Lisa realizes that her life is truly precious.
"Thank you, Mel," she whispers, holding onto Melanie's hands and squeezing them lightly. "You saved me from making a mistake. I'll let God decide when it's my time."
With that said, the two girls hug each other tightly. It is warm and affectionate, soothing Lisa. She closes her eyes, enjoying the embrace, wanting to pause this moment. She finally feels genuine happiness, after so many years. Then she opens her eyes and she notices the tip of a rifle poking out from the bush ahead.
Only one thought strikes her mind. What have I done?
A loud gunshot echoes throughout the forest. Melanie jumps in fright. She pulls back and examines Lisa's jaw-dropped expression, seeing blood pouring and trickling down her forehead. Lisa's legs collapse below her and her body sways to the ground, while Melanie holds onto her.
"Lisa?" Melanie keeps crying over and over, horrified and stunned to the core. She believes this is a nightmare, as the situation feels too surreal. Yet here she is, holding the dead body of her best friend. Her arms are protectively wrapping around Lisa like a baby while she rocks her. She's throwing her head back, crying like an injured baby herself.
For a moment, all she can do is stare at the bloody hole in Lisa's forehead. Then she whips out her phone and dials the emergency number, calling for help. Meanwhile, the back of mind is screaming that she should leave. There is clearly someone dangerous lurking around.
Still, Melanie has finally found her best friend, and she refuses to leave her. No matter what.
Maybe she didn't want to die after all. Maybe I made a mistake.