“Isn’t it weird how so much insanity could end up improving my life?” (Anon.)
I wasn’t even quite sure if I’d made up my mind about him or not. I didn’t know if my missing him was real, or if it was just missing being ‘with someone’. Everything was usually fine, until I was alone in my room at night. That urge to cut was stronger than ever. But, I had told myself that I was going to try to stop. For my own health, at least. I didn’t actually want to die.
I weighed my options.
If I got back together with him, it would probably make me happy – because I was sure I loved him. To an extent, at least. Remember, I was still new to this whole relationship thing. I didn’t know the amount of love someone could feel for someone; hadn’t even touched it. I was extremely naive back then.
But, also, if I got back together with him, everyone who told me to break up with him in the first place would hate me… potentially. Liz especially.
Liz didn’t particularly like Eric. And she loved to gossip, which didn’t help. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Liz, and she’s extremely smart. But, her hobby is getting into everyone’s business, and she believed everything she heard. There were many occasions that we fought over my relationship with Eric. Most of them went a little like this:
Liz: You saw the picture, right? How could you not believe that he is cheating on you?
Me: I don’t believe it. He told me where he was going and what he was doing that night. He told me he hardly got any sleep that night, and went home early to sleep in his own bed. It was the school’s sleepover.
Liz: That doesn’t excuse him from doing anything. It doesn’t prove that he didn’t do anything either.
Me: I know he wouldn’t do anything, though, Liz.
Liz: Why can’t you just listen to me for once!
Me: I do listen to you. I just don’t believe everything I hear.
Liz: You should believe me, I’m your best friend.
Liz could be unhappy with me all she wanted. I would just tell her that if she wasn’t happy when I was happy, she wasn’t a friend at all. If she was going to be unhappy for decisions that were mine to make, then she could go to hell. She didn’t control my life, and she wasn’t my goddamned mother.
Our fights never got us anywhere. They always ended up with her upset and me wondering if she was a true friend or not.
But I did find myself wondering: would he ever cheat on me?
I didn’t ever confess to anyone that I worried about these things. Especially with all of the friends he had of the female variety. I worried about it a lot. (I worry on a regular basis, probably 90% of the time)
I was insecure. Who wasn’t? Of course it made me jealous when he hung out with other girls instead of me. There were times he would blow off plans with me to do something with one of his other friends. I don’t know why I didn’t see these signs sooner – blinking brightly into my face. I truly was a dumbass back then.
I always wondered why he chose me to be his “labeled” girlfriend when he could have any girl he wanted. It was one of my main insecurities.
After worrying all night about what my decision would be, and still not coming up with a conclusion, I got a phone call. It was Alix.
“Hey darlin’! It’s my party tonight. You wanna come out?” She said excitedly.
I smiled into the receiver.
“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Meet you in an hour?”
“See you soon.”
It was a Saturday night, for God’s sake. It would be fun to get out for once – do some much needed socialization, along with maybe not moping around at home for once.
I met Alix at the park downtown. It was one of the best walking places, with a little duck pond. But I had also heard that it was one of the main places underage teens came to drink. She was standing in a group of her friends, probably four at the most.
Alix was standing, huddled into a warm circle, wearing the biggest fur coat I’d ever seen. The hood was pulled up over her face, and she was doing the ‘cold’ dance.
Tony and Chris stood on either sides of her. Tony, I didn’t recognize. He had a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth provocatively. Chris worked with Alix and I at the bar. He had a giant duffel bag on his shoulder. And Leslie, who stood beside Tony, had her hands stuffed into her pockets. She was one of Alix’s close friends, and I’d only met her a few times. As I walked up, Alix flung herself at Chris. Leslie looked at me with an exasperated expression. I giggled quietly and stood between Leslie and Chris, completing our little circle.
“You two are kidding yourselves.” She said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“What are you talking about?” Alix said innocently, as she released Chris from her embrace. Tony handed his pack of smokes over to Chris, who took one and lit it, sharing it with Alix, and handing the pack over to Leslie.
“Why are you not dating?” She asked.
Tony laughed stupidly.
“That’s so fucking dumb.” He said. I never really understood what he meant by that.
“Shut up, Tony!” Leslie punched him lightly in the shoulder, and he rubbed it, giving Leslie an irritated glare. She returned it with an equally aggravated grimace.
Leslie offered the half-smoked cigarrette to me, and I shook my head.
“Don’t smoke?” She asked.
“Not yet.” I said playfully.
“You will by the end of the night.” She said, grinning wickedly at me under the light of a streetlamp.
“Let’s just go.” Chris blurted out. “I just wanna get drunk.”
As we walked into the woods, Chris and Alix opened a Colt, and were drinking straight from the bottle. It was a peaceful night – silent, almost. I enjoyed the cool air against my warmth, and followed the others wherever they went.
We found a couple of rocks, and decided to sit. Alix offered me the bottle.
Again, I shook my head.
“I’m not drinking.” I told her. She looked at me as if I was insane.
“I just… I can’t. It’s wrong.” It was a stupid reason, I know. But it’s the only one I could come up with at the time. Like I said. I was extremely naive. And inexperienced.
I would never have even dreamt of drinking alcohol before. I mean, yes, I worked in a bar. But that doesn’t mean that I drank, too. Plus, Eric – who hated drinking, smoking, and most of all, drugs – would most likely kill me if he knew that I had gone out with friends who were going to do all of the above, let alone me doing them, too. Even though, we weren’t exactly what you would call a couple at the moment.
“Someone please convince Kate to drink.” Alix blurted out to the others. “What’s the point of coming if you’re not going to party with me? I invited you, remember?” She grinned at me mischievously.
“Come on, Katie,” Chris said with his baby face. I always loved that face.
“I’m sorry guys. I just can’t do it.” My vocabulary was awfully small that night.
“Don’t be a baby.” Leslie told me.
“I’m not!” I defend myself. I really felt as though I was more mature than the rest of these teens.
“You’re still the ‘Good Little Christian Girl’, eh Katie?” Chris teased.
Chris knew me for a little longer than the rest of the group, and knew quite a bit of my history. He knew that my mother was so called ‘religious’ and that I once was. I used to go on mission trips during the summer. And, he was right. I was pretty much the stereotype: the good little Christian girl. But, that was over four years ago. I had changed. And, I happen to take that as a big insult. Just because I was religious doesn’t mean that I still am.
“I am not a Christian.” I sighed. “Fine, you know what? Give me that bottle."
Someone handed over a bottle hesitantly – I don’t even know what it was, but it sure was strong – and I took a long swig of it before handing it back. I heard a daring ‘woo!’, and grimaced. Disgusting.
They were shocked.
“She’s not so good after all.” Tony observed. “Man, this girl’s awesome!”
“Go Katie!” Chris hugged me, and I shook my head.
“There’s a lot you guys don’t know about me.” I say proudly. And it’s true.
After that first drink, it was like a waterfall. The night seemed to get a little fuzzy. I guess that's what being drunk was supposed to feel like.
Leslie took out a baggy.
“Anyone got any papers?” She asked, probably louder than necessary. Tony shook his head, and started to complain. “Well, how the fuck are we going to smoke it?”
“Cans. Anybody got a can?” Chris asked. Someone handed him an empty cola can, and he took out his pocketknife from the duffel that was still hanging from his shoulder. He carefully poked a hole in the side, on the part that had the ‘o’, and they creatively created a bong.
“Hey, Katie, you going to try?” All of them looked at me expectantly. Sadly, this was my first time trying marijuana, too. Hey, I wasn’t a very experienced teenager, okay? And now that I was on my own, and potentially single, who gave a flying fuck? Plus, it wasn’t like I didn’t want to. I was ready for adventure – to be spontaneous and try new exciting and thrilling things.
“Yeah, baby!” Tony yelled.
Alix told him to shut up.
“We’re not being that loud, Alix,” I said.
“Someone’s going to hear you! Shut up!!” She whispered fiercely.
We began to walk through the paths in the dark, the woods a close blanket of warmth around us. The nights just seemed to be getting colder and colder.
“I want to go to Caleb’s.” Leslie said, more to herself than to us.
“Who the fuck is Caleb?” Alix asked Tony.
“I don’t fucking know. He’s having a party tonight.” He answered.
Alix turned back to Leslie, and laughed.
“You just want to see your man!”
“Well, duh, Alix. I haven’t gotten laid in like five days.” She said matter-of-factly.
Suddenly, Chris stopped us, his hands extended forward. We went silent.
“Alix, you’re drunk. It’s a bad idea.” Apparently, we had to cross town in order to get to this ‘Caleb’ what’s-his-name’s house, and there was definitely a chance of getting caught by the police for public drunkenness. “We’d definitely get caught.”
“What’s it matter? You’re always getting caught.” She told him back, a childish whine in her voice.
“It doesn’t matter. Your parents would murder you. Mine don’t give a fuck.”
Alix gave Chris her best sooky face, and he shook his head.
“No. We’re not going.”
“But, I told John I’d see him there!!” Alix moaned again. John seemed to know every single thing that walked and had breasts. As you can probably tell by now, he got around.
“Fine. We’ll go. But if we get caught, you can’t say I never told you so.”
“Whatever!” Alix said as she grabbed his hand and pulled him down the street. We all had to run to keep up with them.
The party was thick and crowded. The atmosphere smelled like alcohol and hormones. Leslie had vanished with her boyfriend, and the rest of the gang had gone to smoke another joint with some friends. I sat on the couch next to a couple who were too busy with each other to even give notice to me. Parties really weren’t my thing.
Then, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned.
“What’s up?” John asked me as he made his way around the couch and sat next to me – closer than usual.
“Hey, John. I’m good, you?” I lied.
He turned his whole body so he was facing me.
“Tell me the truth. You hate parties.” Somehow, John could always tell.
“You’re right.” I grinned. “How do you know?”
He tapped his head, indicating his brain.
“I just know.”
Then, he raised his eyebrows, took my arm, and dragged me from the couch.
“Where are you taking me?”
“I need a smoke.” He answered quickly. I followed like an obedient dog. He sat on the deck railing, and I decide to sit next to him, despite my fear of heights.
“You smoke?” I ask, surprised.
“I don’t.” He said as he searched through his coat pocket. “You want one?” I laughed at him, and nodded.
“We can share.” I say as I’ve seated myself comfortably. He takes out a cigarette, lights it, takes a drag, and passes it to me.
“Thanks.” I hear myself say.
We sat there for quite a while, enjoying the night, staring into the night sky, and smoking. John’s presence was calming, and relaxed. I liked it.
He seemed so comfortable with me – not like he usually is. I mean, we’re friends at work, but I can’t seem to picture us together, as a couple.
“Is there something on your mind?” I ask, and immediately after, I feel dumb for saying anything. I just wanted to know why he was looking at me so intently.
Before I could take back what I said, he said to me:
“I really want to kiss you right now.”
His dark brown eyes pierced into my own on an intimate level. My heart sped, and I stared back at him with a crazy, spontaneous feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“Do it.” I said to him, surprisingly.
And then, he leaned in.
And his soft lips met mine.
It wasn’t a peck, and it wasn’t a French kiss. But it was a long, lingering, melt your knees kiss that made me feel slightly dizzy. He smiled when we parted, then cocked his head to the side, watching my reaction.
His head turned toward the street, and he took another drag out of the never-ending cigarette.
“I like you, Kate.”
“Huh?” I said, still feeling a little dumbfounded. I mentally kicked myself. Why was he making me choke up?
“More than as a friend. I’ve liked you for a while.” He turned his face toward me, and smirked.
“Are you serious?”
It hit me like a brick wall.
“Yeah.” His fingers reached up to caress my cheek, and pull my chin toward him, our lips meeting again – this time a little more intimately. I paused for a second after the kiss, and looked him square in the eyes.
“I think I like you, too.” I blushed, but in the darkness you wouldn’t be able to tell a difference.
I wasn’t lying about liking John, either. There had always been some sort of attraction to him.
Alix showed up at that exact moment (nice timing, girl), and told me we were leaving. Chris happened to be in trouble with a couple of guys, and was going to get battered if we didn’t bolt.
So, we did.
Once we made it to Leslie’s house, we sat on the deck and passed smokes around in a circle. I hugged them both, thanking them for the night out, and started my long walk home.
While walking home, I replayed the night in my head, and realized that I had completed four things my (ex?)boyfriend had specifically told me not to do. I felt very accomplished.
And if that wasn’t enough drama for the night, as I was walking home, my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID: Eric. Of course.
I answered it anyways, sighing as I picked up.
“Hey.” He sounded pretty sad.
“Why are you calling?” I asked. I heard him catch his breath on the other end.
“I, uh, I just wanted to hear your voice.”
I paused. This wasn’t supposed to be happening, but it was slightly comforting to have someone to talk to while walking home at night in the dark.
“Okay. You might be somewhat useful.” I stated. “I’m walking home in the dark, and it’s sort of creepy. If you just talk about something…”
“I love you.” He interrupted.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
He had finally said those three words.
Had it taken our break up for him to realize his feelings for me?
I shook my head, only to myself. It took a lot of courage to turn him down.
“Eric… you know that technically we’re still not together anymore… you can’t just say things like that.”
“I know.” He said guiltily. I could practically feel his shame through the phone. It made me want to comfort him. “I’m sorry. I’ll let you go.” I began to hang up the phone, but his voice caught my heart.
“Kate,” He breathed.
I waited for his response, trying not to breathe.
“I meant what I said. I… I love you. Too much, tonight.”
Maybe he really was being sincere, and that night I believed it. He sounded so upset, that after I hung up the phone, it took all my strength not to burst into tears as I walked down the street. I felt like I had done the right thing, taking a break with him, but after talking to him, it made me love him even more (if that’s even possible). It made me realize how much, at that moment, I wanted to be with him.
I still didn’t know what the right decision was. But, all I could think about was if there was still a chance for us.
“Sometimes you hung up the phone and felt the bruising of your own heart. It hurt now and it would hurt more later. The conversation was too unsatisfying to continue, and yet you couldn’t stand for it to end. You wanted to throw the phone and also yourself against the wall.” (Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood)