“But you don’t have to be the one to teach me that lesson.”
Ryan, please pick up the phone.
My fingers trembled as I listened to the screaming in the background, coming from dear mom and dad. Of course they were furious. They thought their little girl had been sleeping with their little boy, and their world was falling… falling apart, but at least they had each other.
I didn’t have Ryan. I’d only had him for a few sweet seconds and now, now I feared I would never have him again.
Another voice-mail. My tongue trembled, knocking the words ungracefully from my mouth. “I still love you.” I choked out, letting the rest of the sad sentence hang unspoken from my lips… Why can’t you still love me?
That night I fell asleep clutching the stuffed animal Ryan had won me at a carnival three years ago, when things had been easier but not better. I refused to believe that the past was better because then I had been suffering for feelings that I now knew Ryan returned.
… Or had returned, before things got too hard.
“Hey man, wake up.” I stirred as Brendon tapped me on the forehead. My mouth was dry, and my face ached in the spots I’d been hit.
“So, who did you get in to a fight with?” Brendon asked, grinning from above me.
I was lying across his bed, the fan blowing on to my heated face. “My dad.” I responded. I didn’t lie to my friends, unless it came to my feelings and why I didn’t hold down a steady girlfriend.
Kassidy was the only real secret I had; she was the only secret worth keeping.
“Damn.” Brendon frowned, “So, we skipping today then?”
I chuckled at how excited Brendon sounded, “Don’t sound so upset about it.”
Brendon shrugged, “Well, your dad is a dick for hitting you but the day is not lost.” He had a promise in his words. Too bad Kassidy wasn’t part of that promise.
Her words would probably haunt me forever.
She meant everything.
She would never understand that though.
She would never understand that this was all just my fault.
I just stared up at the ceiling. I could hear Brendon on the phone making plans. I knew my friends would just be a clutch for my loneliness but I didn’t really care. I was all for leaning on someone else. I was falling apart after all. What good was I to lean on?
Kassidy found that out the hard way.
“Come on man. We are meeting Spencer in twenty minutes.” I think I agreed. I’m not sure. My lips moved. I didn’t hear anything though. It was a good thing that Brendon was easily pleased, because whatever came from between my lips was causing him to nod and smile- at least someone was happy.
I was sitting in the passenger’s seat and I was looking all around but I wasn’t seeing a single thing. It was as if my senses had been murdered. There was nothing left- and I didn’t want to do this anymore. I didn’t even want to pretend to be okay.
The car stopped. Someone got in.
I just stared, wondering if my eyes would ever really work again.
I think I did too.
“Psycho.” The words were whispered at first, and people would ‘randomly’ knock in to me. Then came the other louder insults, “Skank! Who kisses their brother? That’s disgusting!”
I just tried to move along, acting as if I wasn’t bothered at all.
Lily was noticeably bothered though, “Her brother was drunk!” Yeah, Lil- because that sounds so much better. She was trying though, and for that I could only be quietly grateful.
“You aren’t mad that I made out with your brother, are you?” Lily looked worried as we walked down the hallway together.
“Nah. I mean, he was wasted and… shit happens.” I could put it no other way.
Lily smiled, but she could tell something was bothering me.
It was easy to hide the truth when people were throwing insults at me every five minutes. That was an interesting upside to what was happening. I had a million other reasons to be upset, none of them even really measuring to the real problem but I was glad for the distraction.
Everyone at school had either heard of what I’d done to Derek, or the kiss I’d shared with Ryan. It was a split between the people who now hated Ryan, and the people who now hated me.
“I heard her brother is like raping her and stuff.” I spun around upon hearing that vicious remark.
“Excuse me?” What a sick bastard… Why couldn’t people just leave us alone? If they knew the truth it would be worse though. We would never be accepted.
“Oh, Kassidy.” Travis Reed straightened up, shooting me an apologetic smile. “How are you doing?”
“How could you say something like that about Ryan? You’re supposed to be his friend!” I was outraged at the attack on Ryan’s character. He wasn’t like that. He would never force me. That was just sick.
“Is it not true?” Travis inquired, keeping his face completely straight. “Or has he tricked you in to liking it by now?”
“You’re sick.” I spit out, hating myself for lying about my feelings for Ryan. I just wanted to come out and say I loved him, but that wouldn’t do either of us any good- and now that Ryan was backing away from me I was starting to doubt his feelings for me. When push came to shove he was out the door, and forgetting all about my feelings. “My brother and I are normal siblings. We don’t do those disgusting things together. We kissed once, and he was drunk. It was an accident. You’re an awful friend for spinning the truth out of control like that and making it in to something sick and unthinkable.”
Travis shrugged, “I’m sorry.” He at least sounded somewhat sincere. “I made out with a cat once when I got drunk.” I didn’t need to hear that.
Thankfully Travis disappeared quickly after that admission but I was quickly confronted with another problem. Teenagers were mean, and I’d just run in to one of the meanest. Jordan was the school bully, making it a point to make everyone within reach miserable- and I just happened to have fallen in to reach. “You know, I used to kind of like you…” What?
“Jordan, I kind of just want to be alone right now.” I couldn’t handle another confrontation. I was seconds away from breaking down. I didn’t expect this, and all at once it was just too much. I didn’t want to be here, but I didn’t want to be at home anymore. Love shouldn’t cause so much pain. Something so pure shouldn’t be so painful.
“We’re alone.” Jordan commented, glancing around. With a sinking sensation I realized he was right. I was alone with him, which was never a good idea. Anyone who had ever even heard of Jordan knew that being alone with him wasn’t a bright idea. He was dangerous and unpredictable, angry by nature.
“Okay.” I wanted to keep my communication with him short and sweet because I honestly didn’t need to cross anyone else. I already had enough enemies now. It seemed everyone I’d been friendly with before now didn’t give a damn about me. I was just a clown for them to laugh at now, as I put on the dramatic show that was my own life.
“So, I’ve heard the rumors.” Jordan was grinning crookedly. “Care to let me in on what’s so hot about smacking lips with your own flesh and blood?”
“I was adopted.” I bluntly stated, sick of just how sick people were making things out to be. We were in no way blood connected; we had just been raised by the same two people.
“So that makes it okay?” Jordan was toying with me, waiting for me to blow up. I could see the amusement in his eyes as he baited me, and waited.
“Ryan was drunk. He has a tendency to make out with the mirror when he’s drunk, so the fact that he kissed me doesn’t really mean anything. Everyone is just making it a big deal because they don’t have anything else better to do.” I spit out.
“Oh, but I have better things to do.” Jordan commented.
“Aren’t you going to ask what?” I didn’t really want to.
“You.” Jordan’s smile grew as his lips inched towards mine. I was frozen in disgust, shocked out of place by Ryan’s presence. At first I thought that maybe I was just imagining things, but then I realized I wasn’t- because I didn’t exactly often dream of Jordan and Ryan fighting.
Ryan had shoved Jordan. “Keep your hands off of her.”
“Oh, so you’re protective too?” Jordan teased. “Tell me, is that because she’s your sister, or because she lets you fuck her?”
There was a sickening crunch as Ryan’s fist slammed in to Jordan’s nose. Blood splurted out for a split second, and then Jordan was covering his nose with his hand, as surprise twisted his features. He wasn’t used to people fighting back, that much was clear.
Ryan just stared at me.
“You’ve been gone all day.” I finally commented. “What, I don’t matter anymore, and neither does school?”
Ryan gazed at me for a moment as if assessing just how pissed off I was. He would never know, because most of my anger was buried under emotional wreckage. “You matter.” He finally answered.
“You already failed the test Ryan.” I coldly commented, despite the fact that my heart was soaring just at the sight of him. “You can’t change your answer now.”
Ryan sighed and shifted from foot to foot, moving his weight from side to side. I’d never really seen him so nervous. Ryan was a lot more controlled, always calm. He was my rock. Rocks didn’t sway. “I hope lightning strikes me down for what I said to you.” That was a visual image that I didn’t really want. “But we all say things that we don’t mean, and that’s just another part of life that you’re going to have to get used to.”
“But you don’t have to be the one to teach me that lesson.” I whispered, trying so hard not to cry.
“I’m afraid I do.” Ryan responded softly. He moved his hand forward as if he were going to touch me but then it fell back to his side, and though I ached for his touch I couldn’t bring myself to ask for it.
“Well then teacher, can you clarify the lesson? Right now I’m a little confused on what the truth was, and what was a lie. What did you mean Ryan, and what didn’t you mean? You can’t have it both ways.”
I didn’t think Ryan was going to answer, but then he opened his mouth- and Brendon spoke. “Ryan! Dude! Come on… We are waiting.” Ryan gave me an apologetic shrug, but I didn’t want him to go.
I couldn’t really make him stay though, so instead I blurted out, “I’m going with you.”
Ryan’s eyes narrowed but with a heavy sigh he said nothing, and I knew that was pretty much his approval to come along to wherever they were going.