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The past twenty minutes had been a blur for Hatty. The recollection of a relieved and worried voice calling out his name made him shiver slightly in his current pathetic state. He could vaguely recall the familiar warm and comforting touch of his best friend before they hefted him up and carried him away from the murderous felines. He remembered being confused. After all the awful and horrible things that Hatty had done his friend still insisted on carrying him on their shoulders. His friend had still gritted their teeth and managed to carry all his dead weight no matter how many times he had put their life at stake. The realization that his friend still cared about him made him sick to his stomach. He had done nothing a friend was supposed to do in their hellish time at the theater and here his friend was, lifting Hatty onto a boat and placing him down like he was made of glass onto the wooden floor.

“Hatty?”, He heard them call out that damned name that made the felines put the cursed hat on his head in the first place.

The distress and compassion laced into that accursed name made him want to reach through the recesses of his mind that swirled with the howling voices of those attached to the hat and a deep pitted guilt that coursed through his veins and scream. Scream as loud as he could and as long as he could until the pain went away and he could be happy again as he had been before he suggested this awful trip.

But he didn’t make a sound. He just continued to weep in silent agony with hollow eyes as his dear friend looked at him with such heart-aching worry before they walked away swiftly, a panic in their step.

Mom has always been his best friend. They were kind and gentle and always was there for Hatty in times of need. They were the walking definition of a perfect friend, something that Hatty had always strived to be. Mom had always made him smile and laugh and for Hatty to repay them by stabbing them in the back when they needed him the most made Hatty feel like he was drowning. Drowning in the guilt of abandoning his own friends and in the voices of bellowing spirits who had dreams and hopes once upon a time. He was melting slowly; an ooey-gooey mess that was welding together with the flurry of ghosts the loomed with the hat that seemed to welcome him to the party.

“Hatty, please.”

There they were pleading again with the worry he just couldn’t stand.

“Please give me some sign that you can hear me.”

He felt the warmth of those comforting arms encircling him into a hug that he would have once enjoyed but now just made him want to sob. He didn’t deserve this.

“I made you hot chocolate. I know how much you love this stuff”
He didn’t deserve Mom as a best friend. He didn’t deserve their worry. He was just a dead weight.

“Hatty I really need you.”, They pleaded, their voice shaking as they obviously held back tears.

He tried his best to open his mouth, to let out noise or words but nothing came out besides those same tears.

As his internal struggle continued, he looked on helplessly as Mom’s mouth quivered and their shoulders shaked. He felt his world crack as Mom opened their mouth and let out an agonizing cry.

‘Please don’t cry’. He had wanted to say. ‘Please stop worrying about me. You need to let me go’. He wanted to scream.

But he didn’t. The only thing Hatty could do was watch his perfect friend that deserved the world and all the good things the world had to offer wail.

The blood on his hands, the howls of broken dreams, the mind-numbing guilt, the wails of his best friend. He just couldn’t take it anymore.

So with strength and ability that he wasn’t aware that he had, he leaned back and fell over the railing and into the cold ocean that seemed to welcome him with open arms.

So this was it. He was going to die; a fate that with a same ending as his that he had left behind friends except with a much less gruesome process that he didn’t deserve.

As he was sinking, sinking, sinking into the deep dark sea he couldn’t help but smile bitterly inside as the hat seemed to follow him down. A thin cloth top hat such as that one should have been able to float on the surface but the suffering that was in it must have been dragging it down. Dragging it down to it’s next but certainly not final victim.

As Hatty felt the surface of the sandy bottom and his lungs burning for air he thought about his best friend still on the boat. Mom. Too perfect for words and too perfect for him. They certainly wouldn’t come down and save him from his self-inflicted fate and he didn’t blame them one single bit after all he had done. He needed to stop dragging Mom down like he always did.

But what was Mom going to do now that they are alone on that boat? Surely they will mourn the loss of so many friends and feel shaken at the grotesque things that they were forced to do back in the theater. They would probably have nightmares alone while sailing on the ship alone in the cold dark night.
And who was going to hug Mom when they cry and feel scared in that lonesome moment? Who was going to tell Mom of a better future in front of them and melt away the ebbing guilt of all of those they couldn’t have ever saved. Who was going to hold them in the night when they started to shiver? Who was going to wipe away their tears when it all became too much?

Nobody. Nobody was going to be there to do that and as the realization hit Hatty the guilt that gnawed and twisted inside of him seemed to inflate. His best friend who deserved the world would have nothing. They would have nobody.

And nobody just wouldn’t do. Nobody was not who Mom deserved. He needed to go back and stop looking at the past and start looking at a future.

So Hatty blinked and curled his hands into a fist and just before he could attempt to swim back to the surface he saw a distant figure move towards him. Through his bleary vision he saw his best friend who needed him just as much as he needed them swim towards him and grab his hand.

When the two of them reach the surface and climb on the boat they both sputter for air before Hatty lets the words come tumbling out.

“I-I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Mom”, Hatty says with a sob and his friend just shakes their head and wraps their arms around him.

“You have nothing to be sorry about Hatty. Just please stay with me”, Mom says with tearful eyes and Hatty smiles the first smile he has let out in a very long time.

“Yes. Of course Mom, I won’t leave your side ever again.”

The two look out at the vast sea that lay ahead of them and smiled. Yeah, they can definitely make it through this.