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Authors: Colleen Hoover

Regretting You (14 page)

BOOK: Regretting You
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The popcorn is stale.

I’m sure it’s because the concession stand was shutting down when he made me a bag. Can’t expect fresh popcorn at the end of the night. But it’s so bad that I’m pretty sure this popcorn is the reject pile that’s been resting untouched at the bottom of the popcorn machine since it was first popped this morning.

I’m eating it anyway.

I chose to sit in the back row in the corner because there are only two other people in here, and they’re in the middle. I didn’t want to sit in front of them because I planned on crying through the whole thing, but it’s actually an interesting enough movie to keep my mind off things.

I didn’t say it was a
movie. Just interesting.

At least, the main character is interesting. She’s a no-holds-barred badass with shoulder-length hair that whips and sways with her every movement. I’ve focused more on her hair than on the story line. My hair is long, down to the middle of my back. My dad loved my hair long and talked me out of cutting it off every time I got the urge.

I pull at a strand of my hair and slide my fingers down the length of it. I’m tired of it. I think I’ll cut it off soon. I’m due for a change.

“Hey,” Miller whispers. I look up just as he’s taking a seat next to me. “How’s the movie?”

“I don’t know. I’m thinking about cutting off my hair.”

He reaches into my popcorn and grabs a handful, then leans back in his seat and props his feet up on the chair in front of him. “I have scissors behind the concession stand.”

“I didn’t mean right now.”

“Oh. Well, whenever you’re ready. The scissors stay here, so just show up, and I’ll cut it.”

I laugh. “I didn’t mean I wanted
to cut it.”

“Okay, but fair warning. Steven is better at sweeping up popcorn and selling weed than he is at cutting hair.”

I roll my eyes, resting my feet on the back of the seat in front of me.

“New flip-flops?” he asks, staring at my feet.

“Yep. Did some real shady shit for these.”

Miller grabs another handful of popcorn, and we don’t speak for the next few minutes. The movie comes to an end, and the only other people in the theater get up to leave when the credits begin rolling. He digs his hand into the popcorn again.

We’re not doing anything wrong, but it feels like we are. Before he sat down next to me, I felt numb, but now my body is charged with adrenaline. Our arms aren’t even touching. I’m hogging both armrests, and he’s leaned away from me, probably to avoid any form of contact.

But still, it feels wrong. He’s sitting next to the one girl we both know he shouldn’t be sitting next to. And even though it makes me feel guilty, it also makes me feel good.

The credits are still rolling when Miller says, “This popcorn is really stale.”

“It’s the worst popcorn I’ve ever had.”

“It’s almost gone,” he says, indicating the bag. “Doesn’t seem like you minded.”

I shrug. “I’m not picky.”

More silence passes between us. He smiles at me, and a surge of heat rushes through me. I look into the bag of popcorn and shake it around like I’m trying to find a good piece because I don’t want to look at him and feel this for someone who has a girlfriend. I don’t want to feel this for anyone. Feeling anything remotely good makes me feel like a shit human considering the circumstances of the past week. But he’s
still staring at me and hasn’t made a move to leave yet, and since he’s blocking me from the aisle, I feel forced to make conversation.

“How long have you worked here?”

“A year.” He settles into his seat a little more. “I like it okay. I think the idea of working at a theater is more exciting than the reality of it. It’s mostly just a lot of cleaning.”

“But you get to watch all the movies you want, right?”

“That’s why I still work here. I’ve seen every movie released since I started. I look at it as preparation for my career. Research.”

“What’s your favorite movie?”

“Of all time?” he asks.

“Pick one from the past ten years.”

“I can’t,” he says. “There are so many great ones, and I love them all for different reasons. I love the technical aspect of
. I love the performances in
Call Me by Your Name
Fantastic Mr. Fox
is my favorite cartoon because Wes Anderson is a goddamn genius.” He glances at me. “What about you?”

“I don’t think
Fantastic Mr. Fox
counts. It seems older than ten years.” I lean my head back and stare up at the ceiling. It’s a tough question. “I’m like you. I don’t know that I have a favorite movie. I tend to judge more on the talent than the story line. I think Emma Stone is probably my favorite actress. And Adam Driver is the best actor of our time, but I don’t think he’s landed the role of his lifetime yet. He was great in
, but I’m not crazy about some of the other movies he’s been in.”

“But did you see the Kylo Ren skit?”

“Yes!” I say, sitting up. “On
? Oh my God, it was so funny.” I’m smiling, but I hate that I’m smiling. It feels weird to smile when I’m so full of sadness, but this is how Miller makes me feel every time I’m around him. He’s the only thing that seems to be able to take my mind off everything, yet he’s the one person I can’t really hang out with.
Thanks for that, Shelby.

It sucks. I don’t like thinking about it, even though we’re together right now. But when I eventually return to school, things will go back to how they’ve been. Miller will keep his distance. He’ll respect his relationship with Shelby, which will only serve to make me respect him even more.

And I’ll just continue to be in a depressing funk.

“I should go,” I say.

Miller hesitates before moving. “Yeah, I think my break was over ten minutes ago.” We both stand up, but I can’t get out of the aisle because he’s blocking my way, facing me, not making an effort to walk away. He’s just staring down at me as if he wants to say something else. Or
something else.

“I’m really sorry about what happened,” he says.

At first, I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but then it hits me. I press my lips together and nod, but I don’t say anything because it’s the last thing I want to talk or think about.

“I should have said that the other day. At the funeral.”

“It’s fine,” I say. “I’m fine. Or at least I’ll
fine. Eventually.” I sigh. “Hopefully.”

He’s staring at me like he wants to pull me in for a hug, and I really wish he would. But instead, he turns and walks out of the aisle, toward the exit.

I stop at the restroom on our way out. He grabs a trash can and starts to pull it toward the theater we just came out of.

“See ya, Clara.”

I don’t tell him goodbye. I walk into the restroom and don’t even bother pretending things will be the same between us the next time I see him. He’ll avoid me while being all faithful and shit, and
. That’s okay. I need to stop interacting with him anyway, because as good as it feels when I’m around him, it’s starting to hurt when I’m not. And I don’t need another painful thing added to my already existing pile of excruciating feelings.

When I get home, I expect my mother to be waiting up for me, pissed and ready to argue. Instead, the house is quiet. Her bedroom light is off.

When I get to my own bedroom, I’m surprised to find my cell phone on my pillow.

A peace offering. That’s unexpected.

I lie back on my bed and catch up on my messages. Lexie wants to know if I’ll be at school tomorrow. I wasn’t planning on going back so soon, but the thought of being in this house sounds way worse than school, so I tell her I’ll be there.

I open Instagram and browse through Miller’s profile. I know I said I needed to stop interacting with him, and I will. But first, I need to send him a message. Just one. Then we can go back to how things have been between us for the past year. Nonexistent.

Just wanted to say thank you for the free movie and the shitty popcorn. You’re the best sibling I’ve ever had.

He doesn’t follow me, so I expect it to go to his filtered messages and take him a month to read, but he actually responds within a few minutes.

Miller: You got your phone back?

I grin and roll onto my stomach when his message comes in.

Me: Yeah. It was on my pillow when I got home. I think it’s a peace offering.

Miller: She sounds like a cool mom.

I roll my eyes.
is being very generous.

Me: She’s great.

I even put one of those smiling face emojis to make my response more believable.

Miller: You coming back to school tomorrow?

Me: I think so.

Miller: Good deal. I should probably stop talking to you here. I think Shelby knows my password.

Me: Wow. That’s like next level. You proposing soon?

Miller: You love to make fun of my relationship.

Me: It’s my favorite pastime.

Miller: I guess I make it easy.

Me: Has she always been a jealous person? Or did you do something to make her that way?

Miller: She’s not a jealous person. She’s only jealous when it comes to you.

Me: What?! Why?

Miller: It’s a long story. A boring one. Good night, Clara.

It’s a boring story?
The fact that Miller has a story that includes me in the narrative is going to be the only thing I can think about for the rest of the night.

Me: Good night. Make sure you delete these messages.

Miller: Already have.

I stare at my phone, knowing I should stop, but I send him one more message.

Me: Here’s my number in case you get your heart broken again.

I send him my phone number, but he doesn’t respond. Probably for the best.

I go back to his page and scroll through his pictures. I’ve looked through his page before, but not since I’ve actually had a conversation with him. Miller is good with a camera. There are a few pictures of Miller with Shelby, but most of his pictures are of random things. None of him by himself, which I like for some reason.

The picture that catches my eye is a black-and-white photo he took of the city limit sign. It makes me laugh, so I double tap the picture to like it.

I’m still scrolling through my feed when a text comes through from a number I don’t recognize.


His text makes me laugh. I honestly didn’t like his picture with any ill intent. I genuinely thought it was funny, and for a minute, I forgot that me even liking it could send him back to the interrogation room with Shelby.

I immediately save his number in my contacts. It makes me wonder if he’s going to save my number under my real name or a fake name. Shelby would flip if she knew he had my number in his phone. And I’m sure if she has his Instagram password, she probably goes through his phone.

Me: You saving my number under a fake name so you don’t get in trouble?

Miller: I was thinking about it. What about Jason?

Me: Jason is a good name. Everyone knows a Jason. She wouldn’t be suspicious.

I smile, but my smile only lasts a fleeting second. I remember the last thing Aunt Jenny texted me.
“You don’t want to be the other girl. Trust me.”

She’s right. Aunt Jenny was always right.
What am I doing?

Me: Never mind. Don’t save me under a fake name. I don’t want to be Jason in your phone and I don’t want to be your fake sibling at the movie theater. Call me someday when I can just be Clara.

The dots appear on my phone. They disappear.

He doesn’t text me back.

After a few minutes, I screenshot our messages and then delete his number.



I’ve just slipped into a light sleep when I hear a banging on the door that startles me. I sit up in bed and reach over to shake Chris awake.

His side of the bed is empty.

I stare at it, wondering when things like that are going to stop. It’s been less than two weeks since they died, but I’ve picked up my phone at least five times to call him or Jenny. It’s so natural that I just forget. Then I’m forced to relive the grief.

Another pounding on the door. My head swings in the direction of the noise. My heart rate picks up because I’m going to have to deal with this whether I’m prepared to or not. In the past when something happened unexpectedly in the middle of the night, Chris would always take care of it.

I pull on a robe and rush to the door before whoever it is wakes up Clara. The pounding is so incessant it’s starting to make me angry. It better not be Mrs. Nettle from next door here to blame me for something. She once woke us up at two in the morning to complain about a squirrel in our backyard tree.

BOOK: Regretting You
13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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