I've never hurt so bad, been in this much pain, or wish to be put out of my misery like this, but I won't let anyone see. Even around all these people, I feel alone. My father recognized me today as a great hero. He gave me a pat on the back. So why doesn't this feel like a victory? The small, green ribbon in my pocket weighs me down. It feels like lead; the only thing holding me to the ground in case I'll fly away because I'm so empty inside.
"Hey 'Risse," Silena greeted with a smile on her face.
"Can't you see I'm in the middle of something?" I responded as I beat the living shit out of a training dummy.
"Nope!" she said cheerfully. "And don't you know that the correct response would be, 'Hi, Silena, how has your day been so far?' Pretty good thanks for asking. How about you? 'Not bad, grumpy as usual.'"
"Hey!" I protested with a laugh. "You know, you could try a less irritating approach."
She scowled. Must've gotten that from me.
"Well, anyway, I brought you something." She pulled her hands from behind her back, and in it, was a dark green string.
"A string?" I said exactly what I was thinking, with a confused look on my face.
"No silly, it's for your hair. So we can match!" She spun around, giggling the whole time, showing off the pink bow tying up her ponytail of flawless, silky black hair. "So? Do you like it?" Her eyes were filled with hopefulness.
I wasn't sure how to react. I don't do accessories. "Umm... that was a really nice thought, but-"
"You don't like it," she guessed. "I totally get it," she added, nodding.
I felt terrible. She was so crestfallen, and she had been so excited to give it to me just a minute ago. "Well," I said, snatching the green piece of fabric from her hand, "if I change my mind I'll wear it. I promise."
The smile reappeared on her face. "Okay, cool! I'll see you at the campfire? I don't want to sing all alone tonight."
"Great!" She bounced off, out of the arena.
I gripped the green ribbon in my pocket, smiling all the while.
The ribbon hasn't left my pocket since that day. That was the first day of this summer. The beginning of the end. It was the one of the last times I ever saw her so bouncy, so full of spirit. Then Beckendorf died, and everything changed for the worse. Silena was never the same.
Now she's gone. Never to be bubbly, bouncy, or buoyant ever again. The worst part is that I never fulfilled my promise. They seemed just like empty words three months ago, but now they are so much more.
A large group of demigods and minor gods pulled me out of my thoughts when I noticed the large group was forming around one of the lush, green hills. It was by far the biggest, most beautiful hill on Olympus. Annabeth was at the head of the group, speaking.
"These brave heroes lost their lives today to protect millions, and I believe that it is their right to be buried here. In complete peace."
What? They were going to bury Silena here? No. No, no, no, no, no, NO. I break out into a jog towards the crowd and it soon becomes a sprint. I push and shove my way through the idle people. Yells of protest begin to rise around me as I push harder. "MOVE!" I yell in outrage as they begin purposefully holding me back. My elbows and knees work on their own, removing anyone that gets in my way. Once I was finally at the edge of the crowd, I see her. Still clad in my blood red armor, she lies next to two other deceased demigods. Even though it was distorted from the Drakon's acid, her face is more beautiful than it ever has been. Her long hair is spread out like a fan on the ground.
As I take a step forward I feel a hand tighten around my wrist, holding me back from behind me, and another on my shoulder, from in front of me. I look behind me to find Chris with a sympathetic expression, and to my front where Annabeth stands with the same look in her stormy grey eyes. I know they mean well but I'm not stepping down. I elbow Chris, hard, in the stomach, and shove Annabeth's hand off my shoulder.
Carefully, I pick up the limp body of my friend, and I walk through the path that the crowd suddenly creates for me. It feels like an eternity as I hold her close in the elevator going down from the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. I walk to the chariot, everything around seems to be a blur, like nothing matters anymore.
While riding in silence, I get the impulse every once in a while to start a conversation with Silena, but then reality gives me a cruel stab in the heart over and over and over. I want to say, "Do you want to see a movie? I'll finally see The Notebook if you really want." And, "You know that free makeover coupon you gave me for my birthday? When we get back, I think I'll use it." And most of all, "How about you go get that pink ribbon of yours so we can match? And everyone at camp will know that we are best friends, until the end." Why did the end have to be so soon? Tears sting at my eyes and I let them fall. What does Silena care if I cry. She's seen it before. She always knew exactly what to say. She understood me for me. Not the bully everyone else sees.
The thing is, she's not here. I'm riding in this chariot alone.
Camp Half Blood is quiet when I arrive; not a demigod in sight. Once in the woods, I walk the familiar path that is etched into my brain so well that little light is required to find my way my favorite spot. Our favorite spot.
The sun was shining through the trees, creating speckles on the forest floor. I smiled at my friend as she picked flowers in a dream-like trance. "Charles smiled at me again, today," she said.
"If you keep picking flowers there will be none left the next time 'Charles' smiles at you. You do know that he smiles at a lot of people, right?"
"Make fun all you want Clarisse, your not going to get me out of this mood." She flopped down into the flowers with a content sigh, completely lovestruck. "These flowers are beautiful, aren't they? More beautiful than anything I've ever seen." She held one to her nose took a big sniff and then sighed once more.
"You're ridiculous, you know that?" I smiled at her, glad to see her so happy.
She hadn't picked the flowerbed dry that day because there it was, emanating pure beauty. I place Silena off to the side and entrust a couple of tree nymphs to watch over her while I’m gone. I run, as fast as I can through the woods until I find myself near the campfire area, the cabins surrounding me. Soon I am in Cabin 10 looking around for the one thing that I need. Where could it be? I realize that it must be someplace obvious, and of course it was hanging over her bed post. I grab the pink ribbon and begin my sprint back to the woods.
The nymphs are still standing "guard" around Silena's body. I take her in my arms for the last time, and I tie the ribbon in her hair, carefully. It almost makes her look normal again. Almost.
For an hour, the nymphs and I work until I deem the grave ready. I gently lower her onto the dirt, and then I line some violets around her, her pink ribbon still showing.
"Do you, uh, think I could have a moment?" I ask the nymphs. They disappear into the woods almost immediately. "So, Silena, I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me. I know I never told you this because I was too busy making sarcastic and rude comments, but I just wanted to tell you that you are the best friend anyone could ever ask for and that you were the most important part of my life. And-" I am lost for words. What am I supposed to say? "And... I'm sorry. For everything." A single tear falls. "I know you said that these flowers are the most beautiful thing that you've ever seen, but you are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. On the inside and the outside. I hope you're happy in Elysium."
After she's buried, I spread violets over the mound of dirt. This place is much more special than Olympus could ever be.
I reach into my pocket, pull out the green ribbon, and I tie it in my own hair.
"Now- now, we match-" The words come out as choked sobs as I drop to my knees and bury my face in my hands. I stay there for a while, not wanting to leave my friend, even though I know she is not really here.
The next day, we burn her shroud, my green ribbon tying up my hair. Before, I kept our friendship on the inside, but now I want everyone to know. "Silena Beauregard is best friend and I'm proud of it," is what I would like to say, but instead, the ribbon speaks for me. People notice it but say nothing about it, silently acknowledging it.
Like when it never left my pockets, the green ribbon never left my hair. Not one day did I go without it. It was my piece of memory that kept a part of her with me everyday.
When I am upset I tend to run blindly through the woods, daring anything to come at me. Somehow, I always end up in the same place. The violets that cover Silena have long since died and now. There are new one's growing. I will spend hours in that spot, talking to myself, working out my problems like I used to, with Silena. I always sit in the spot we had always sat in on cool summer mornings, but I would never sit in the middle. I always leave a vacant spot to my left, awaiting my friend that I know, deep down, will never come back to me. She is my other half, one that cannot be replaced. She is the pink ribbon and I am the green ribbon. A matching set.