Authors: Courtney Noel
19: <-- Breaking
“I don’t know. I kind of regret fooling around with him,” I tell Henry over the phone. “I don’t think I’ll go out with him again.”
“You know what they call those types of people? The ones that mess around with people just for a night then wake up the next morning regretting it?” He sighs on the other side of the line.
“What?” I ask stupidly, seriously not knowing what he’s thinking.
“A slut.” He’s so serious it shocks me. Me? A slut? Yep. He just totally called me a slut. My best friend. My brother.
And in that moment, I 100% believe him. I’m such a slut. I hate myself. I fuck up too much. No wonder everyone hates me.
ter 20: Watch Her Heal -->
I wake up Thursday morning to the sound of Becca screaming from downstairs. I jump out of bed and pull open the door of my bedroom. I run down the stairs almost tripping over my feet and run down the hall. When I reach the kitchen, I find Becca sitting on the floor with her back against the couch. She has her head tipped down and her hands over her face. Her shoulders are moving up and down – she’s sobbing. Lindsey is holding Becca’s phone, looking at the screen, with her hand over her jaw, which is dropped almost to the floor. I’m a little too scared to ask even what’s going on.
“What’s going on?” I ask. Becca doesn’t look up from her position and Lindsey just sits there, staring at me, frozen.
“Nothing. Kade, please drive Becca to school or else you guys will be late,” she says. She puts Becca’s phone down on the counter and walks back into her office. I stare down at Becca, not sure if I should move. Finally, she takes her hands off her face and raises her eyes to meet mine. Her mascara is smeared and her eyes are puffy and red. I feel a lump rise in my throat. She doesn’t take her eyes off mine. I reach my hand out to her, wanting to help her up. She ignores my offer and gets up off the floor and walks into the downstairs bathroom to fix her makeup. I run my fingers through her hair and sigh. Then I go back upstairs and change. When I get downstairs, David has already packed our lunches and Becca is heading out the door. I follow her out the door; my keys are in her hands.
She hops in the driver’s seat, and for the first time I don’t fight her on who gets to drive. I open the passenger seat door and slide in next to her. She doesn’t look at me when she puts the car in reverse and slides out of the driveway. We drive in silence, cars flying past us. When we turn into the parking lot, she parks then shuts off the engine. Again, she doesn’t say a word. She just gets out of the car, slams the door, and walks away. I’m left standing here outside my car, dying to get into her mind and know everything that bothers her.
I’m going crazy. It’s only fourth period and I’ve thought of about 300 reasons Becca could be crying as hard as she was this morning. I’ve come up with all types of crap. Maybe her non-existent boyfriend broke up with her? Or Carr died? Nah, that’s not possible.
She and Terance slept with me last night. Maybe her best friend called her a bitch? What’s her name? Chasity. Maybe she took a picture of herself naked and it went viral? With that body, it would sure as hell get a million hits in less than twenty minutes.
All I know is that whatever happened this morning freaked the fuck out of me. I’ve never seen Becca like that. That’s some scary shit. I mean, I’ve seen her cry as a little kid when my mom would have to say goodbye when it was time for her to go home. But nothing like she was this morning. I can’t get the look she gave me out of my head. She looked so helpless and in pain. It was the total opposite of what she looks like right now, in the halls at school.
I’m walking past her. Her chin is pointed up and she’s smiling at the group of people surrounding her. Some guy just pinched her stomach and she’s laughing and pretending to be annoyed. I want to punch something. I feel heat radiating off my body. I don’t get it. How can she go from falling apart at home just like five hours ago to being her “perfect” self so quickly? I just shake my head as we cross paths but it’s useless because she doesn’t even look up at me. I sigh and try to make it through the rest of the day.
: Healing -->
I drive Kade and I home from school and immediately go upstairs to wash my face and pull up my hair. I decide to shut off my phone for the day, not wanting to have anything to do with the outside world.
“Can we talk?” Kade appears in the door frame of the bathroom we now share.
“About what?” I ask, playing stupid.
“What happened this morning,” he says simply.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” I say. Which is true. If I try to tell him what happened this morning, I’ll have to tell him the whole story, and I so do not want to do that. He just stares into my eyes, trying to figure me out. He runs a hand through his brown locks and sighs. Not a bad sigh, but one of those where you’re thinking really hard about something and you just don’t know what to do.
“Will you at least come downstairs and do homework with me? I’m sick and tired of being lonely when I’m doing my homework,” he says. He sighs and runs his fingers through his brown locks. He always does that and it is very distracting. Like majorly. It’s sexy and makes me want to run my hand through his hair instead of his own hand. I can’t believe he just asked me to come and sit and do homework with him. I mean it’s not bonding time or anything.
“Sure,” I say. “Let me just finish washing my face and stuff.” He nods at this and goes into his room to change into his sweat pants. I’m still kind of in shock here.
I turn on the warm water and splash my face with it. Then I take my loofa out of the drawer and scrub soap onto my face. I have one zit and I am determined to get it off. I usually have perfect skin so when I don’t it really pisses me off. I do not tolerate any big things on my cheeks. It looks like a big tomato and that’s just not going to work. So I’m scrubbing my zit off, then it starts to bleed. There is blood now flowing down my cheek out of the pimple. I hate the word pimple.
“Ahhh!! My face is bleeding!” I keep scrubbing it though. Kade comes into the bathroom and starts laughing at me, then puts his finger on the spot where the blood is. Um, is he aware he’s practically touching my insides? Blood is a very personal thing and I’m not too sure I feel comfortable with him touching my own.
“Blood is a good look for you,” he says. He smiles at me as his thumb strokes the sensitive, raw, bloody spot. I don’t want to look into his eyes because I’m afraid I’ll never ever look away.
“Thanks,” I say sarcastically then bend over the sink and rinse the soap and blood off my face. He stands there in the doorway watching me. He leans his hands on the white bathroom counter to the right of my sink. He’s making me kind of nervous.
“What are you looking at?” I ask as I dry my face off with a towel.
“You,” he says then walks back downstairs. I stand there with my hands gripping the counter, looking at myself in the mirror. Why does he make me feel so...different? It’s something I’ve never felt before and it’s freaking me out. I don’t do well with things that are out of my comfort zone. Who does? I walk downstairs and find Kade sitting at the bar doing his anatomy homework. I open up my AP Calculus book to page 97 and start my insanely hard math homework. I love math, I really do, but I’m starting to get burnt out. Can I really handle majoring in math and become a math teacher for the rest of my life? I might just go crazy. I look at the first problem and am intimidated. It’s like a whole page long. I don’t even think there’s a question in here. I don’t see a question mark. When I was little, I used to just look for the question mark and do whatever the question asked and not read the rest, but that doesn’t fly in Calculus. I rest my head in my palms and sigh. I catch Kade looking over at me out of the corner of my eye. I pretend to be concentrating really hard on my question but I’m just staring at my graph paper and trying not to look over at him. I don’t know why he looks at me all the time, or why I can never seem to look away from him. It freaks me out, but I can’t help it. I look up from my paper and over at him. His eyes are already studying mine searching for some emotion or any at all. He scoots his chair to face me. Did I mention the way he looks at me scares the crap out of me? He stares into my eyes and I get chills, and not the bad ones. The ones that feel like warm electricity is coming up through your spine. I get butterflies in my stomach.
“Why do you always run away from me?” He whispers. He deserves an answer I just can’t bear to even look at him. I look away. I have to. Tears well up in my eyes and I look up at the ceiling, fighting with all my might not to let one slip from my eye down to my cheek. I decide to be honest with him though because he deserves it. He deserves an answer and a truthful one.
“Because every time I look at you I want to break down and cry. You remind me so much of Cynthia,” I say. I wipe a tear that escaped from my eye. He sits there staring at me with his head resting on his hands.
“You remind me of her to, but it’s just something we’ve got to get through, Becc,” he replies. He’s the only one that has ever called me Becc and I love it. He takes my hands in his and looks me in the eye. “We can do this. It’s only for a little while,” he continues. What if it’s not? What if Cynthia and Rey have to live in Mexico forever and never come back? This makes me cry even harder. I hate the thought of having to get through this year with only a limited amount of phone calls and no visits. I rub my fingers across my collar bone, like I always do when I’m nervous. I shake my head, telling myself to stop crying. Stop crying, Becca. You’re making a fool out of yourself. But then again, what else is new? I can’t help it. I rest my head in my hands and sob.
“It’s not fair that she has to leave,” I say to him without looking up. “I’m so mad at Destiny,” I continue. I know I shouldn’t really be saying I’m mad at Destiny, because if I put myself in Kade’s shoes, I would be furious. I can’t help it. I am mad at her. She still hasn’t contacted anyone. Not even Kade or me. And that makes me insanely upset. Kade slides his chair over so his is touching mine and puts his right arm around me. He still isn’t crying, though. Why do boys not cry? I really wish they would sometimes so I wouldn’t feel like a total and complete idiot.
“We’re all mad at her. This will only make us stronger, though,” he says.
“Why do you always know the right thing to say? It pisses me off,” I say as I push his arm off of me and scoot my chair away from him. I cross my arms over my chest and refuse to look at him.
“I don’t always know the right answer,” he says. Not true. You always know exactly the right thing to say to help me get through it, but at the same time piss me off. That takes some talent. Asshole. I get up from the bar stool, walk down the hall, and out the door. On my way down the hall, I hear him calling after me.
“Really? You’re upset about this? Oh my gosh. You are freaking impossible,” he yells. Yep, I might be impossible, but right now, that’s all I’m comfortable being. How can someone make me want to push him away but at the same time cry into his chest and have him hold me until I fall asleep? I shake my head as I walk out of the house, grabbing my keys on the way out. I hop into my maroon BMW three series, and put it in reverse. Yes, I have a super nice car for a seventeen-year-old. Welcome to Orange County, California. I call Chasity on the way.
She picks up the phone. “Hello?”
“Meet me at the tennis courts in five,” I demand. Who the hell cares, though? She’s my best friend, I can boss her around when I want and she can fucking suck it up. Plus, I’m in a pissy mood and probably PMS-ing so she can kiss my ass. She does it to me all the time; we are even.
“Gotcha. I’ll take my bike down,” she says. As little kids, we used to bike from Chasity’s house to her community’s tennis courts and play. We were horrible tennis players back then, and we still are today. But that’s okay. We enjoy playing together and it gives us time to talk one on one. After about the fourth time we went down to play, we realized that it’s a really good way to get our aggression out. So now, we always play together when one of us, or both of us, are pissed off. Today, it’s my turn to hit the ball like it’s someone’s face. And that feels fucking amazing.
“Okay,” I say then hang up without even saying goodbye. I press the button on my wheel to hang up the Bluetooth. I am so against texting and driving you have no idea. I continue to drive three blocks to Chasity’s community clubhouse. I park my car in the spot closest to the tennis courts. I turn the ignition off and put the emergency brake on, then open the door and get out.
“Hey. What’s up Becca?” Chasity parks her bike at the bike rack next to the pool gate and walks over to me.
“Just send him over to my house. He’s yummy,” she says. Oh God I might puke. Chasity is so gross. “Is he being a dick?”
“That’s the problem! No! I just get mad for no reason and I feel bad,” I say as we walk toward our special tennis court – the one that doesn’t connect with any others. When we play on a court that connects to another one, we always hit balls over to the other court. It’s really embarrassing. So, now we always try to get here early and get the nice court so we can be alone.
“Then I don’t see your problem here, Becc,” she says. Out of everyone, shouldn’t she see the problem here? She’s my best friend, she should really see where I’m coming from. Yet, I don’t even know why I’m mad, so I can’t really hold it against her.
I shake my head as Chasity swipes the key-card over the scanner and opens the court’s gate. She holds the heavy door open for me and I slip inside. Chasity takes the tennis bag off her back and opens it up. She hands me my favorite racket, the one with the batman logo on it, and takes out hers. She has a light-weight one that she got from this cute boy she flirted with one time we were here. He just gave it to her and said she could keep it forever. The boy never even glanced at me. Chasity has always been really good at flirting with guys and being sexy. I can flirt, I think, but I cannot be sexy to save my life. It’s really frustrating, too. Especially when I see Chasity in action and I’m just standing there at her side all awkwardly.
Chasity hands me one bag of tennis balls and keeps another one for herself. I walk over to the side facing the sun, since I’m the one with the sunglasses and take a ball out of my bag.
“We’re going to need to play baseball style,” I say. Chasity nods. I back up all the way to the gate and hit the ball like my racket is a baseball bat. When we’re really mad, we hit the ball as hard as we can and swing the racket really hard. It really helps get my aggression out in a healthy, physical way. Over the years, my parents got tired of me throwing and breaking things in the house, so they made me find ways to get my aggression out. Tennis helped. Plus, I get to spend time with my best friend.
“He’s too nice,” I tell her. I hit the ball as hard as I can and it lands all the way to the right of the court. Opposite of where Chasity is standing. Her shoulders sink as she walks across her side of the court to get the stupid ball.
“Too nice? Is that possible?” She reaches down and grabs the ball. She swings her racket and rockets the ball off toward me. I try to hit it back when it comes to me, but I swing and miss. She laughs.
“Yeah. Henry was too nice. Well, until things changed. But before things changed, don’t you remember me saying I didn’t like him as more than a friend because he was too nice?” I pick up the ball I missed and hit it back to her. This time, she hits it back to me. I try to rally it back, but I miss. Again.
“So you’re saying you like Kade because he’s too nice?” Does she mean “like” like? Oh gosh.
“NO! That is sooo not what I meant. Kade just always knows the right fucking thing to say. He knows exactly how to push my buttons and I hate it.”
“Still not seeing the problem here.” This time, when she hits the ball to me, I hit it back. She hits it back to me, and I do the same.
I sigh. “I know, Chasity. I guess I’m just kind of having a hard time in general,” I say.
“That’s understandable,” she says. “With Cynthia moving and Kade moving in and all. I would have issues too, so don’t beat yourself up.” I nod at this. Damn, she knows the right thing to say to me, too. It’s creeping me out. I slam the ball against my racket as hard as I can. It goes far, then bounces on the ground and goes so high it goes on the other side of the gate.
“Really!?” Chasity screams at me. I shrug. She always gets mad when I hit one over the gate because her dad is really big on coming back home with the same amount of balls we started with.