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Happily Once

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Kyra was always lonely, it seemed. Sure, she had visitor after visitor who came to the spa, requesting a painting of some sort, but all of the conversations she had were empty. They were void of anything that made them real. These people who were visiting her were all void of anything that could make her feel less alone.


Kyra had sunk into the realization that she would die feeling completely and entirely alone when a boy she used to know showed up with food and without a request. He ate lunch with Kyra in silence, and when she didn’t speak to him, he bid her farewell. Kyra assumed he wouldn’t return.


He came back the next day, once again bearing food and staying to eat with Kyra. This continued on, and it was a week until Kyra spoke to him.


“Why are you doing this?”


It took him a few moments to answer. “I guess I know how it feels to be lonely.”


Kyra wasn’t sure she believed that. He was the sheriff’s son, after all. There was no one who didn’t like Sheriff Flynn, and therefore, no one who didn’t like Sam.


“Surely everyone at school is lining up to be your friend?” Kyra questioned.


“People are lining up at your door for paintings,” Sam pointed out, “and yet I believe you still feel alone.”


Kyra remained expressionless for a few seconds before nodding. He had a point. “Thank you,” she finally said.


“For what?”


“Realizing I’m lonely and trying to help.”


Sam smiled, and Kyra felt less alone for just one moment.


Sam continued this tradition most days, bringing food for both Kyra and himself. When Kyra was busy with people who begged for her to paint, Sam set the food down and left. When Kyra was painting alone, Sam would sit beside her and eat in silence. He never watched Kyra, as he could tell it made her uncomfortable, so his presence was nice.


And then one day, Sam was smiling. Every day that Same had come to eat with Kyra, he had never once been smiling. He always looked distant… lonely.


Was he not lonely anymore?


Who made Sam smile?


Kyra’s questions were answered, but not by Sam. She was attempting to draw something for Mrs. Morden, but she had ripped up every attempt so far. She knocked over her paints in frustration and proceeded to open her notebook to a blank page, grab a pencil, and sketch until she forgot what she was supposed to be doing.


Kyra didn’t remember anything about the drawing, but the next day, Sam brought a boy his age with him and Kyra recognized him from her drawing. Sam introduced the boy with red cheeks and hands fidgeting in his pockets. Kyra didn’t remember his name - it started with an R? - but she remembered his face. She remembered his smile.


She remembered a time when she used to be able to smile like that.


Sam didn’t tell Kyra he was dating the boy; he didn’t have to. Kyra already knew. The closest he got was saying, “I’m scared to tell my dad,” after lunch one day.


“It’s okay to be different,” Kyra told him, “but if you feel like you’re the only different one, try reading the stories. It helps me feel less alone.”


Sam seemed to think about Kyra’s words for a long time before he finally said, “I guess... I just… I feel alone in Lost Creek, and I sometimes feel like the world beyond Lost Creek doesn’t exist.”


“Me too.” Kyra sighed. She stood up, and walked over to a table covered in drawings and writings. After shuffling the papers around for several minutes, she returned, clutching a sketch, which she handed to Sam. “I guess we just have to believe a world beyond this exists. Consider this my farewell present.”


“Farewell?” Sam questioned. “Are you going somewhere?”


“No, but you are.” Kyra pushed the paper into Sam’s hands and stepped back from him. “I know how this works. You’ve found a friend without a diagnosis, a friend who’s like you. And you’re going to choose him over me now, and that’s okay. Just don’t forget that I’m more than my paintbrush.”


“I’m not going to abandon you, Kyra,” Sam looked at her like she was crazy. “I might have a… I might in a relationship, but I’m not abandoning you, okay? Look at me.” Kyra looked up at Sam. “I’m not the kind of person to forget I have friends as soon as I’m in a relationship. If you want me to keep coming back here to eat lunch with you, I will.”


Kyra wasn’t sure what made her do it, but she surged forward and pulled Sam into a hug. Maybe it was the fact that he was the only person since Corey who was trying to look past her diagnosis, or maybe it was the fact that Sam was the first person who had really talked to her since Corey moved away. “I’m glad you’re happy,” Kyra said.


“You will be too,” Sam replied.


But Kyra wasn’t so sure.