Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 228 - Much Simpler Times

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:16:07]
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Keeley and her dad spent the rest of the day looking through old photo albums and watching home videos after they got back from the cemetery. It was rough. Hearing their voices on film made her break down crying again.

When was the last time they busted out the home videos before this? Her dad transferred them from cassette tapes to DVDs ages ago but she couldn\'t remember when they watched them. They were a lot more bittersweet than the pictures.

When Kaleb was a baby he couldn\'t say Keeley\'s name. Until he was about five, he called her Kiwi. Her parents thought it was hilarious but she was indignant about being called the name of a fruit she didn\'t even like. Sometimes he called her that just to annoy her when he got a bit older.

If he was still here, she was willing to bet he would still call her Kiwi and gently pull her hair while grinning at her like he used to. What would he have sounded like as a twenty-three year old? Kaleb didn\'t even live long enough for his voice to start cracking.

Her mom would have sounded the same. Robert\'s voice on film was identical to what it was now. But hearing herself so much younger and happier was a weird experience for Keeley.

There was quite a bit of footage of the Hall children playing around together. Kaleb was able to do a lot of things regular kids did but he spend far more time in the hospital for mucus-thinning treatments than any kid ever should. And being treated for the many, many lung infections he caught in his ten years of life.

One particular video really got to her from when they were nine and seven. Neither of them knew they were being filmed and Keeley was instructing him how to pop a wheelie on a bike.

Monica came up next to her husband with a frown on her face. "Shouldn\'t you stop them before they hurt themselves?"

"It\'s a valuable learning experience! If we prevent them from trying new things because they might get hurt they\'ll never branch out of their comfort zones."

All she did was shake her head at him and smile indulgently as he continued filming. Sure enough, Kaleb fell over and scraped his elbow so they immediately had to pause everything and disinfect it.

Keeley began crying because he got hurt and she was worried he had to go to the hospital again. Her mother was assuring her that it was just a scrape and it would be fine when Robert turned off the camera to go help.

Kaleb had been her favorite person in the world but she worried about him a lot back then. If she so much as had a cold she wasn\'t allowed near him until she wasn\'t infectious anymore. The first time she got him sick and he had to be hospitalized was when she was in kindergarten and half her class had colds.

What was a normal cold for her turned into bronchitis for her brother. She bawled like a baby for days, thinking he was going to die. After that if she even sneezed she immediately drowned herself in hand sanitizer and stayed away.

This put Kaleb out quite a bit because he wanted to play with his sister. He would try to sneak into her room and sleep with her at night because they weren\'t allowed near each other during the day.

After he caught pneumonia from doing this when Keeley had a cold Monica came up with a compromise. If Keeley wore a mask and gloves, she could play board games with Kaleb when she was sick.

He thought she looked like a mad scientist with them on and made fun of her even though he was glad to be able to play. She would simply roll her eyes at him and tell him that at least mad scientists were smart. Then he would call her a nerd and grin with his two missing front teeth.

Those were much simpler times.

"I wish they were still here," Keeley said quietly after the home videos finished.

Her father sighed heavily. "I know honeybun. I do too."

All that was left of them was memories and bones buried beneath the soil of the Brooklyn Cemetery.

Monica didn\'t get to see her daughter graduate from high school or college. She wouldn\'t get to see her get a PhD. Kaleb never even grew in all of his permanent teeth. He had so much life to live cut short by a horrible, selfish person looking for a fix.

The judge had sentenced the mugger to prison for life because he killed two people. The jury was especially moved by Keeley\'s heartbroken sobs in the courtroom. She hadn\'t been called on to testify but she insisted on being there with her father, who had. She didn\'t want him to be alone.

That man deserved what he got but it didn\'t bring her mother or brother back. Aaron must have felt the same way. He was only able to convict Lacy but he did rip Alistair\'s company out from under him and he died from the stress.

More than once in her two lifetimes had Keeley wished worse on her family\'s killer. Aaron must feel the same way or he wouldn\'t be out to get the people who hurt her still.

She couldn\'t even imagine how much willpower he must have. In this life he had to see those people regularly without being able to do a thing since he didn\'t have evidence of crimes from another life. If Keeley had ever come face to face with that mugger, she probably wouldn\'t have been able to hold herself back from beating the snot out of him.

Aaron kept popping into her thoughts today. Operating under the assumption that he hadn\'t mourned her death for so long, she had never thought about any of this stuff before.

He probably did all the same things she and her father did on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other significant occasions where you feel the hole left by people who passed before you. She was oddly tempted to ask and compare experiences though it would be super weird talking to someone about how they handled your death.