Saving Grace

Grace took a deep breath as she sat down on her bed, the canvas in her lap, a pencil in her hand as she began to sketch the rough design of Piper’s face. Her red wild curls, her ice-blue eyes that usually had so much life in them — that were beginning to show life again — even the freckles that dotted across her nose and dusted her cheeks.

It was usually this girl that sat before her that was the one going out on adventures, taking risks and connecting with new people. It was always Piper who dragged Sam and Grace out to different things going on around campus.

It had been Piper who encouraged her, who made her feel more confident in herself.

Because Piper had always been confident, she oozed confidence. Only now, wasn’t it Grace who was doing that for her? Being her shoulder to lean on? Being the confident one?

“You know you can always talk to me right? About anything,” she commented as she continued to sketch, but Piper had returned to silence.

“You were hanging out with Connor today.” It wasn’t a question, more of a statement, but in looking up at her, Grace could see the wide grin that had formed on Piper’s face, that same knowing grin she usually got when she had figured out something about Grace before she herself had realized it.

She shrugged, “I needed to get some fresh air. We went to a park and talked for a little while.”

“And you road his motorcycle on the way back,” Piper giggled and Grace couldn’t help shaking her head with a small smile. Sam must have told her.

“Yeah, it was definitely a different experience. I guess you could almost say it’s like flying but without wings.” Before today, she never would have even thought of riding a motorcycle, much less asking to drive it. Piper would have been all over it…and yet, she was the one that came up with the idea — not Piper or Sam or Connor.

“Like you were free,” she nodded again as Piper spoke, beginning the process of painting Piper’s pale skin as they continued to speak about what it had felt like to ride the motorcycle, along with her conversation with Connor, though Grace kept out the part about her dreams turning out to be reality.

Piper continued to laugh and ask her questions, becoming more and more animated as time went on, as if the week before had never happened — the attack had never happened — and they were just picking up where they left off.

“Sam doesn’t like him,” Grace murmured, speaking about Connor. Piper rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter what Sam thinks, you were the one that had the conversation with the guy. You said it yourself that you doubt the rumors are true.”

She leaned forward, trying to get a glimpse of the painting but Grace lifted up, out of view.

“No peeking.” Piper stuck her tongue out. She could be such a child sometimes; Grace couldn’t believe how much she had missed that. How much she had missed having her best friend back. After losing her once, she knew she wouldn’t let anyone take her from her again.

“Grace, trust your gut, okay? Connor sounds like a good guy, and he’s been good for you.” There was something about the tone in Piper’s voice that sounded sad. Grace kept her eyes down on the canvas; feeling that, for a second, she was staring into a mirror at her own reflection. For a moment, she was Piper. “And keep your chin up. Don’t let anyone get you down.” Grace narrowed her eyes, wondering why it seemed like Piper was saying good-bye. They were roommates, it was not as if she was going anywhere! She finished the last piece of the painting and held it up for her to see; however, when she looked across the room the blankets that had Piper had wrapped around herself like cocoon were an empty heap on the bed.



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