Authors: Dana Love
“If I know one thing about you, it’s that you are your own person. You
do what you want, you wear what you want, and you say what you want. Why would
you think that your mother’s actions would shape who you are? Explain it to me,
please.” Even to his own ears he sounded desperate, and though that fact
angered him, he pushed on, “I love you. If you don’t want to have kids, that’s
okay with me. If you never want to marry me, that’s okay with me. Just let me
in your life. Let us figure it out together.”
“It sounds good now, and I’m so tempted, so fucking tempted.” She
laughed bitterly as she wiped her face, “But I won’t risk it. I can’t. I’m not
made for what you’re asking for.” She stood, looking down at him, “Like you
said, I do what I want. I don’t want this.” Turning, she took a deep breath,
“I’m going to stay long enough to make sure Tracy is all right. Then I’ll find
my way own way back to school.”
He watched her as she walked up the stairs, frozen in place. “You’re
wrong.” He muttered to the empty room. She was so wrong. How in the hell did he
convince her of it?
Pete brought Tracy to the lake house two days later. Her parents were on
their way back from Spain, having gone on an anniversary trip. They were
expected to arrive sometime in the next couple of days to take Tracy home. She
was in good spirits, settling on the couch with her leg up, obviously enjoying
Pete waiting on her hand and foot. His brother didn’t seem to mind in the
slightest, and Rich wondered if Pete also felt something deeper for his girl
than he let on.
Angie had come out of her room when Tracy arrived, giving her a careful
hug. They’d had a few tearful moments as Tracy thanked her friend for saving
her life. Tracy had whispered something, to which Angie had responded with a
curt nod before escaping back to her room. Considering the sympathetic look
Tracy shot him, he assumed she knew more about what had gone on than he
originally thought. He was glad Angie had talked to someone but annoyed it
He escaped outside, wanting to give her some space and honestly, needing
some space himself. He was hurt and angry, both at himself and at her. None of
it made sense, not even when he tried to put himself in her shoes. His normal
means of releasing tension, meaningless sex and alcohol, were simply not an
option. There was no way he could be with anyone else so soon after their
experiences together, and he knew if he drank things could get ugly.
After a long run that did nothing to help his sense of unease he flopped
down at the water’s edge, skipping rocks across the water. He didn’t turn when
he heard footsteps approaching, not sure if he wanted Angie to come to him or
Pete eased onto the ground a few feet away, “How you are doing?”
Rich shook his head, “I’m fine. How’s Tracy?”
“She’s doing okay. She’s pretty tough.” He gazed out at the water, “You
want to talk about whatever happened when we were gone that morning?”
“Nah, you have enough to deal with right now.” The last thing Rich
wanted to do was get into an emotional conversation with his brother. The guy
had enough on his plate.
“Tracy is out cold, thanks to this.” He pulled a joint out of his
pocket, “It helps with the pain, plus she’s so fucking hyper I figured it would
help her relax.”
Rich took a closer look at Pete, noticing his eyes were glassy and red,
“You smoke that stuff often?” He tried to make sure there was no judgment in
his tone, but he was curious.
Pete frowned, “The end of senior year it was pretty bad. I was high all
the time. Mom knew, dad too probably. She didn’t do anything about it. After I
went off to school I stopped.” He gave a low chuckle, “I figured I might need
to remember some of the stuff I learned in class.”
“You always were the smarter one.” Rich laughed, eyeing the joint.
“What about you? I know you were in a bunch of sports in high school,
they did drug testing right?” Pete lit the joint, inhaling deeply and holding
the smoke in his lungs, finally releasing a cloud of smoke.
“Yeah, they piss tested us every once in a while. It never really
appealed to me in high school. My first semester of college though? I was high
for about a month straight. I still don’t remember all the shit that went
down.” At the time he’d just thought it was what you did once you were out on
your own, figuring shit out. Now, he wondered if there was something else that
he’d been trying to escape from. The first few months of freedom were a little
overwhelming. He was lucky he’d never gotten into any trouble.
“You want this?” Pete extended his hand.
“I don’t know man. It might not be the best idea considering my current
state of mind.” He could admit he was tempted. It would be nice to just forget
everything for a little while. “Fuck it, why not.” He took the joint, bringing
it to his lips. As his lungs filled he coughed, wondering if this was such a
good idea after all. Within a minute time began to slow, and he tried again,
able to hold the heavy smoke in a bit longer.
“Everything will work itself out, one way or the other.” Pete muttered,
taking the weed.
Rich laughed, even though nothing was particularly funny, “You don’t
seem so convinced there brother.”
Pete laughed in return, “Yeah, I guess I’m not.”
It didn’t take long before the bud was gone. Rich remembered this
feeling of weightlessness, the dreamlike quality of everything around him. He
took another look around through new eyes, soaking in the beauty of the place.
“I’m in love with her.”
“Yeah, I know. She loves you too. She just doesn’t know it yet.” Pete
skipped a rock across the water, “Be patient with her.”
“I’m trying.” Even now he wanted to go to her, to get her to understand
how he felt. He didn’t though, letting the feeling of lethargy course through
him. “Do you love Tracy?”
“I already told you, I don’t know what love is. Maybe, I’m not sure
yet.” Pete shook his head quickly as if trying to clear his mind, his shaggy
hair falling into his eyes, “It’s too confusing to think about it right now.”
“Well, in case I don’t get another chance to tell you, I’ve had a good
time hanging out with you. I wasn’t lying before when I said I’d try harder to
keep in touch.” He meant it too, that thought alone calming him a bit more.
“Yeah, it’s been good. Maybe we’ll go home for Thanksgiving?”
“We should do that.” He wasn’t sure what was going to happen between now
and then but at least he had something to look forward to. Pulling out his
phone he sent a quick text to his mom, letting her know of their plans.
“I’m going to go check on Tracy and hopefully crash. It feels like I
haven’t slept in a week.” Pete stood unsteadily, “You good?”
“Yeah, I’ll be
all right.” What had his high school counselor told him? Fake it until you make
it. He could do that.
Rich woke with a jolt, surprised when he felt pretty well rested. After
a quick shower he made his way downstairs, heading into the kitchen to make
some coffee. He watched it drip into the pot, pouring himself a large cup when
it was done and heading into the front room. He picked up the remote, flipping
the television on and scanning through the channels, not finding anything that
After about an hour of staring at the screen he was annoyed. Since when
did he just sit around and let things happen around him? When he wanted
something, he went after it. It had been that way since he tried out for
baseball when he was ten years old. Since that time, he’d excelled at anything
he put his mind to, why should this be any different?
Making his way slowly up the stairs, he went over what he was going to
say in his head. He’d tell her they were made for each other and that he wasn’t
giving up. He’d tell her that he loved everything about her, her looks, her
personality, and her intelligence. He’d tell her he would give her time to
learn how to love him back, that he wouldn’t pressure her as long as she agreed
to be in his life. He could do this, he could make her understand.
Knocking lightly on her door, he listened for any movement inside. When
he heard none, he twisted the knob, expecting to find her sprawled on the bed.
When he realized the room was completely empty, the bed made, the curtains
pulled, his stomach seized up on him, his body going tense. When had she gone?
Who had come to get her? Was she all right? He grabbed his phone, typing a
Rich: Where R U
When he got no response he tried again.
Rich: R U OK?
He sat on the
bed staring at his phone, waiting for a response. When several minutes had
passed, he glanced around the room wondering if she left a note, finding
nothing. So this was it. It was over before it had even really begun.
The next few days flew by. Tracy’s parent showed up and took her home.
She’d given him a quick hug, assuring him that Angie was fine and that
everything would work out. But even she didn’t seem convinced. He hung out with
Pete, getting some more use out of their jet skis, fishing, talking a bit about
their plans. Pete seemed to have his immediate future pretty figured out. It
made Rich proud and jealous all at the same time. He had no idea what he was
going to do next. Was he going to go back to the way he was? Having random
meaningless sex and acting like a complete douche bag? He hoped not, but what
was the alternative? Mooning over some girl who didn’t want him, who hadn’t
even told him goodbye? That wasn’t his style.
He’d considered calling her each night as he climbed into his cold empty
bed. But he knew she wouldn’t answer. Even Tyler wasn’t responding to his
texts. Who knew what she’d told him had went down.
He was the
last one to leave, locking up the house, staring at the spot on the porch where
she used to sit and read, sipping her coffee. On some level he knew the
memories would someday be good ones, the small amount of time with her
something to look back on and smile about. But now, walking away from this
place, back to responsibility, he felt dejected and hopeless. What a horrible
way to start his junior year.
A month passed, then two. He never heard from Angie, and though Tyler
and Cameron were friendly with him, they never spoke of her. He wasn’t sure if
it was because she’d asked them not to or if they simply knew he couldn’t
handle hearing about her moving on like nothing had happened. Chris threw a few
parties, and on the outside he was back to his old self, drinking and
socializing, but on the inside he was still twisted in knots unsure how to get
out of his funk.
He was getting some much needed studying done when his phone rang. He
was surprised when it was Tyler. Though they’d been cordial they hadn’t really
hung out or talked much other than when they ran into each other on campus.
“I’ve tried to stay out of it, I really have, but what the fuck did you
do to her Rich? She’s crying all the time, she won’t eat. Did you hear me? She
won’t eat a goddamn thing and she’s wasting away before my eyes and I don’t
know what to do to help her.”
His chest tightened and he let out a shaky breath, “She ended things
with me, not the other way around. I had no choice but to let her be.”
“Whatever, things got tough and you gave up. This thing with her isn’t
easy like everything else has been and you can’t handle it.”
Rich heard Cameron in the background telling Tyler to calm down, “Look,
I can tell you’re pissed, but you really have no reason to be. Do you want to
know what happened? I told her I loved her and she shut me out. She disappeared
on me without a word. Not even a fuck you.”
“Shit.” Tyler groaned into the phone, “I figured something like that
might have happened.” After a long pause, “So what are you going to do to fix
He huffed, “There’s nothing I can do. You saw how I was before, chasing
after her like a lost little puppy. I can’t do that again. She doesn’t want me around
and I can’t do it again. It hurts,” he clutched his stomach as tension rolled
through him, “to think about her in pain. The last thing I want is for her to
suffer, ever. But I can’t change her mind.”
“Have you tried?”
“Not this time. She made herself clear.” He slid onto his bed, curling
into a ball.
“So that’s it, you’re done?” Tyler’s tone was bleak, “There’s no way to
“There’s nothing to fix Ty. I can’t make her see that it’s worth giving
us a shot, a real chance. If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.” He’d already
considered his options and giving her space was his only choice.
“I’ll try to think of something. Talk to you later. Sorry for wigging
out on you.”
himself out of bed, he made his way to the mini-fridge. Grabbing a beer, he
downed it and opened another. If he tried hard enough, maybe he could drink
himself into oblivion.
Rich slipped the bartender a twenty dollar bill and grabbed his drinks.
He and Chris had been here for a couple hours now, and despite the alcohol
running through his system he was still having a shitty time. This had been a
weekly routine for the last month. Each time he watched Chris set his sights on
another girl he wanted to punch himself in the face for acting like that in the
past. Sure, he was hard up for some physical attention, but he couldn’t bring
himself to fuck some random girl.
Tonight Chris chose a blond. She was tall and looked a little bit like
Tracy. Pete had kept him updated on her progress and she was doing great. She
was even back at the gym teaching her classes. They’d solidified their
Thanksgiving plans, and surprisingly enough Pete was planning to bring Tracy to
the family get-together.
Rich slunk into the booth, watching as Chris put his arm around the
girl, he didn’t even bother asking their names at this point. Chris whispered
something into her ear and she giggled and blushed.
“Hey! Rich, how are you?” Amy appeared in his wavy gaze, her voice
extremely loud, even over the blaring music. He blinked, observing her
disheveled appearance. She was a cute girl. He wouldn’t have set her up with
Tyler otherwise. Of course, that had been before the guy fell in love with his
roommate. She was obviously wasted, bracing herself on the side of the booth.
Her hair was a mess, and her eye make-up was smeared.
“You okay Amy?” He slurred, shaking his head to clear his alcohol laden
“I’m bored out of my mind.” She slipped into the booth at his side, “I
bet you could entertain me though.”
He looked her over, from her breasts toppling out of her shirt to the
too-short skirt that was much too high on her thighs. Considering the fact that
his dick might in fact be broken, he sighed, “It’s not going to happen. You’re
She stared at him for a long time, “So are you.”
“Yes, yes I am. Nothing good could come of this.” He waved his hand
between them, “I wouldn’t be thinking about you, you wouldn’t be thinking about
me, it would be a waste of time.”