Show Me A Reason – Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

Life is fragile. Life is so damn fleeting it’s ridiculous. So many people, myself included, take it for granted. I guess it’s because no one really sees themselves not waking up tomorrow. I wanted to die. I wanted it all to end. But is that because…I never expected that wish to come true? I wonder if it’s because I never expected God to care if I lived or died?

Nick didn’t immediately recognize his surroundings this time and it startled him, caused him to be more aware as he looked around. The air was cleaner than anywhere he knew of in Los Angeles. There was no faint smell of the ocean, so Tampa was out. He also happened to know Orlando like the back of his hand and this was not it. No, on this trip he was somewhere new. His first thought was Atlanta. Mainly because the Brian he knew rarely left there anymore. Even for recording new music it was more like pulling teeth to get Brian away from Georgia, away from the wife who hated Nick so fiercely. It was sort of ironic though because Baylee adored him, and Nick adored him even though he sometimes felt jealous of the time Baylee had with Brian. He knew it was wrong to feel that way but it didn’t change anything.

Those feelings were what helped drive so many arguments between him and Brian. It was why he hated Leighanne more and more as the years passed them by. While the two would never become bosom buddies Nick knew, deep down, that some of his feelings towards her might be unwarranted. He refused to admit to that. Brian refused to try and understand. All it did was help the fights get worse and worse. These days he felt like he barely knew Brian anymore. But even if he didn’t know they were here to see Brian, the feelings their new location stirred in Nick would’ve made him think of Brian immediately. Why, he couldn’t quite figure that out just yet.

“The reason…” Grace soft voice piped up from beside him, “You don’t recognize this place is because you haven’t been here in years. It should be familiar but nothing more.”

“So where are we?” He walked through the grass, enjoying the country feel though he’d never admit to it.

She tucked a curl behind her ear. “You might want to ask when are we first.”

He frowned as they continued through the grassy fields not really taking much notice as he enjoyed the crystal blue sky and generally peaceful aura. “I thought we were in 2006.”

His companion sighed deeply as they started maneuvering through a small crowd of people. Nick’s bright blue eyes skipped around the scene, noting everyone dressed in black and looking somber. Another glance around caught the tombstones scattered across the fields, along the trees and the many flowers set upon the lonely graves. A brow arched and he turned back towards Grace, who had stopped walking. “I decided in this case going to 2006 would’ve been a waste of time when what we needed to see wasn’t there.”

“So when and where are we?” He stepped up towards Grace but stopped short. A woman stood in his way, petite in stature and one he’d come to know quite well over the years. One he wished didn’t look so upset.

“May 18th, 1999. Brian’s hometown, to be specific.”

“1999? Why…”

“Think about it Nick.” She watched him carefully. “Think about why we’re here, where we are, and why I’d have to go back eight years.” Her eyes were gentle and filled with an almost otherworldly heavenly compassion. Never had she looked more angelic than in that moment.

“No. No, you’re not…I mean – No.” Nick dodged the people in an effort not to walk through them as he raced forward. It was an experience he wasn’t too fond of. Though to be honest he didn’t care in that moment. He wanted, no he needed to see who the funeral was for. All the signs were there, written clearly as if in the tones of the cemetery itself.

But no, no, no! His mind was screaming in denial, pleading to be wrong.

“Life is a path paved by choices.” She reminded him gently.

The coffin was simple in its beauty, carved from mahogany. Brian Thomas Littrell, a man who was once someone Nick considered to be his best friend in the universe was lying there. The undertaker had done a good job. But he still had a ghostly paleness to his skin, and a coldness to his look. He didn’t look like he was sleeping the way so many claimed the dead do at funerals. No. He looked dead. He looked dead and gone and Nick wanted to scream. How did his one choice to never join Backstreet kill Brian? It wasn’t fair. None of this was fair. Why would this cost the others like this? Why was he forced to even see this?

“Why Grace?! Why? How did this happen! Brian would’ve never been in the group if Kevin never called him! How the fuck did this happen! How?!” Nick shouted at her, filled with rage at a death that could be real if he went for the normal life he so desperately craved.

The angel shook her head as she reached for Brian’s cold hand and clasped it in hers. “Brian’s a man of passion; you know that as well as I do.”

“What the fuck does that have to do with anything?”

She winced but continued on. “He wasn’t just passionate about music. He was passionate about his wife. Incidentally…” Grace nodded towards a petite brunette sobbing while holding a sweet looking five year old son in her arms. The little boy was practically Brian’s miniature with blonde curly hair and bright blue eyes. He almost looked like Baylee, but those who knew could see the differences. “I find Meg to be sweeter and gentler than Leighanne. She loved him just as much as Leighanne did. Brian loved Tommy just as much as he loved Baylee in your world. And what did Brian always say he would’ve done if he’d never gotten Kevin’s phone call?”

“Gone to Bible College.” Nick muttered.

“Yes.” She placed Brian’s hand back inside the coffin, moving over towards Meg and Tommy. She rubbed Tommy’s back as he cried against his mother. It seemed to soothe him as he soon quieted down. “Brian was always passionate about God and that was just as true here. He brought life back into his old church here in Lexington. He helped it grow and thrive. He also happened to ignore the signs.”

“What signs?” He glared at her. “Brian here wasn’t touring around the world till it almost killed him. It never should’ve been a problem!”

Grace smiled as Tommy looked up at her before turning back towards Nick. “He also didn’t have four other guys who knew there was a problem watching over him, urging him to get the surgery.” She saw Nick open up his mouth to protest and hurried to continue. “I know you hate how you handled the actual surgery but you, Kevin, AJ, Howie…and Leighanne were the reasons why he got it in time to begin with. Meg tried once she realized something was happening. But Brian knew something was wrong and hid it. He felt too much was happening, he felt he needed to be there for his church and his family.” Here, her smile faded and grew melancholy. “He felt God would save him without realizing the signs he ignored…were God’s way of telling him to save himself.”

“So instead of saving him, God ignores him.”

“No, God gave everyone human free will, Nick. Brian had the signs and made the choice to ignore. This was where that path led him.”

Nick stepped up to her with tear filled eyes. Not a single one fell, however. “Is that it? Is this all you have to show me? Here Nick, here’s your fucked up life? Oh and here’s what happens if we fix it for you?”

“We’re not done.”

“No, we’re done!” Nick shouted at her. “We’re fucking done! Kill me! Obviously I can’t save myself so just kill me!”

The scene around them faded and there was nothing but darkness in every direction. A soft halo of light came from above but it was impossible to see the source of the light itself. “You don’t want to see what might become of your family?”

He laughed but it was bitter and hollow. “No. I mean they don’t care about me…”

“We both know that’s not why.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “Fine, maybe I don’t want to see how I fuck up their lives by changing one thing too! Maybe I don’t want to see someone dead like Leslie or Angel since Aaron’s alive and fucking around with Howie’s wife…”

“But you need to see one last thing.” She told him firmly. “Before we go back to the right time, to where you still struggle to live or die, you need to see your life.” There was other thing that needed to be shown but now wasn’t the time to mention it just yet.

“Why?! Why does it matter what happens to me? I don’t want it!” He roared at her, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her fiercely. “I don’t care!”

Grace pushed him off, albeit without much force. “You need to see it so you don’t ask yourself what if anymore. You need to see it because in the end, we all wonder. You still wonder, deep down, even though you know what the consequences might be. That’s why you’re so upset.”

“That’s not why.” Nick growled before turning away, gazing off into the dark abyss.

“Then why?”

“Because he’s dead, don’t you get it?!”

Grace slowly stepped around him to get back into his line of vision. Her voice was kind, tender, and quiet even in this soundless space they currently occupied. “The others might not have been dead but each had their problems. That didn’t upset you so much as this.”

“Yeah but they were still alive.” His voice caught in his throat. “Being alive meant they could fix all the shit they fucked up. Brian’s dead so…that’s it.”

“But you wouldn’t know him in this world.”

“That doesn’t matter!”

She nodded. “You’re right, it doesn’t. Life is important for every person in the world whether you know them or not. And as you pointed out, being alive means anything could happen, anything could change.” Her form began to glow, shimmering brightly as she reached for his hand. “That holds true for anyone Nick. Even you. I’m glad that as hard as it was for you to see this, you’re finally realizing that. Now, we’re going to see what might have been…if you had never chosen the Backstreet Boys.”

He took her hand. As the pair began to fade Nick could feel in that moment was fear.

Fear of what he might see. Fear of what he might feel. Fear of what that knowledge might make him choose.

Maybe I do deserve to go to hell.

Next Chapter

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