A week before graduation, I cut ties with Dylan.

When I said yes to him, I didn't really think about the future much. We had plans to stay in our little city, even had wild dreams of running it someday. Couldn't even imagine him as a mayor but it was a dream all the same.

He eagerly asked me about our college plans, growing worried because I would no longer budge to contribute well over nods and a few "okay" to our conversations. Bit by bit, I withdrew. And day by day, it felt too much, too idealistic for me.

Ademar has nothing in store for me. With only one university that's overpriced and elitist, I couldn't stay. At least, when I wanted to bargain with the devil, I got the best deal I could.

So I dipped. No texts, no phone calls, just pure radio silence.

Spoiled my friendship with Loogy and Vi too, so there's that. They tried to mechanize a secret meet up for me and Dylan over the weekends, and I found out about it. Loogy always looked away when he lied, and out of all people, I least expected him to be the liar.

And then it was Mom. She knew all along despite me denying any sort of romantic connection with Dylan.

I don't know, but why does everything that starts with chaos end with it too?

The warmth of a hand on top of me roused me back to the present.

Mom gave me a bittersweet smile. "Maybe it's because you ran away?"

"I just can't talk about it with him, Mom. It killed me even just thinking about it." I rested my head on her shoulders, sniffling.

"It kills you because you chose to be silent, not because you can't."

"Dylan and I, we don't click with things like this, Mom. He wants me here, beside him. And I want to be somewhere else.

"Not because I don't love him anymore, but I have higher chances of becoming who I want to be out of this town."

"Elly, look at me," she called, shrugging me off her shoulder. "Look at me."

And I did.

She was still in her nurse uniform, looking tired from just finishing a 12-hour shift. But still, Mom's trying not to let her heavy eyelids get the best of her. I would give anything to make things easier for her.

"You are merited to make a choice, Eleanor. No one is entitled to reshape the future you'll choose - for you."

She gave me a knowing look in conversations like this that always made me weep.

"But allow them to feel, at least. Allow them to plead or beg or tug at your heart strings, whatever they want to do. What you want is to be listened to, even in silence, am I right?"

I eagerly nodded.

"My dear, not everyone speaks the language we speak. Screw the poets and the novelists, but it's true. We must say what we ought to say. We owe the people we once loved that much.

"And who even said things always have to work out? What we should care about is, I don't know, world peace?" She laughed, a melody I equate with a candle in the dark. "It's lame, I know, but accept it for what it is. Because if we do, by then, at least, in some way, the chaos we caused is overwritten."