Authors: Nessa Morgan
Tags: #young adult, #flawed, #teen read, #perfectly flawed
Looking into his eyes as he leans over me,
feeling his skin beneath my fingertips, I could tell him. I feel
close to him at this moment. He would understand. He would hear all
the horrors bottled in my head and he would understand completely.
He knows me better than anyone, he would know.
I open my mouth, fully prepared to tell him
everything, fully prepared to unleash my inner demons…
But I can’t.
“Nothing but a nightmare,” I answer meekly
and ashamed, my voice nearly a whisper. I avoid his eyes; mine
still stuck on my window, knowing that he can spot a lie in my
“That,” he starts loudly. There’s anger I’ve
never heard him use with me filling his voice, “wasn’t a
nightmare.” My eyes travel to the clock on the opposite of the
room, anything to prevent myself from looking at him as he scolds
me—it’s after one in the morning. “That was something so much
worse. You were thrashing around like someone was trying to kill
Maybe he does know.
He has to know.
He’s not stupid.
Damn! I don’t want him to know.
“Zephyr, just go back home,” I quietly beg,
feeling exhaustion take my body over. I sag into the mattress, my
stiff body losing its strength. “Go back to bed, I’m fine.” I lie,
still clutching on to his arms. I don’t want him to go, not really.
I want him to stay, I want him to keep me safe.
Zephyr lets out a long, deep breath. “You’re
not fine, there’s—” he begins, but I’m quick to cut him off.
“I’m fine,” I bark out loudly. My voice begs
him to believe me, if not, then he should just let it go and leave
before I start to cry, which could be soon despite my best efforts
to hold back. I feel my throat begin to close; I can feel my eyes
start to water. I don’t cry, I hate the thought of me crying. It
shows weakness. “There is nothing wrong, Zephyr,” I continue to
“Fine,” he quietly agrees, knowing me well
enough to just leave me be, to let me wallow in my own self-pity,
before he states, more for himself, “You’re fine.” Reluctantly,
Zephyr releases my shoulders and stands up, my hands gliding along
his arms as he pulls away from me, backing away from the bed. He
stops at the door and runs his hands through his hair with
noticeable frustration, as he asks, “You
right? I mean,
something really was wrong. You’d tell
It’s at this moment that I realize that
Zephyr likes to see the best in people, namely me. He’d like to
think that, with our years of friendship, I would trust him with my
darkest fears, my deepest secrets, and my strongest worries. It’s
important to him.
One day—in the distant future—I hope that I
am brave enough to share these, all of these, with him.
Unfortunately, that day hasn’t yet
And I’m scared that, because of this, I might
“Of course,” I lie, forcing a small smile
onto my face. I’d say, and do, anything to end this conversation.
I’d do anything to send him home.
Maybe he believes me.
“Okay.” He nods, his eyes boring into mine,
trying to figure me out. He’s trying to read me, read my thoughts.
I want to be sure that he believes the lie, that I’m a believable
liar, but I can tell from the look in his eyes, the set of his
arms, the sadness on his face, the he knows I’m lying. Zephyr has
been my best friend long enough to read me, long enough to
understand me, or most of me, like a book.
He shrugs, turning to leave, pulling the door
shut behind him.
Once I’m sure he’s at least walking down the
stairs, I let out a deep breath I didn’t know I was holding, my
body sagging further into the mattress. My head falls to the pillow
with a soft
muffled by the fabric. I hear the front
door close and lock behind Zephyr as he leaves through the front
door; the house is quiet enough for that sound to flow through the
air, through the walls, to my waiting ears. I can picture him
walking back to his house through the dewy grass, tendrils sticking
to the soles of his bare feet. Maybe he stops to take one last look
at the house, a fleeting glance at my front door as he tries to
decide if he made the right decision in leaving me to deal with
whatever this is on my own, but he keeps walking. I want him to
keep walking back to his house.
I count to twenty-seven—my favorite
number—slowly, watching his room through my window, waiting for him
to enter the door. The light clicks off and I know he’s home, where
he should be. All is dark in the neighborhood, as it should be.
And once again, all is as it should be.
My room is dark and the shadows dance along
my walls thanks to the streetlamps in the neighborhood. This is
when the boogeyman comes out to play, my mind disturbingly tells
me, this is when he likes to take his prisoners, delving them into
a dark world they can never get themselves away from. This is the
time when the things that scare you the most become reality and
play your mind like a drum.
I squeeze my eyes shut, blocking out the
world and the shadows, hoping to silence my mind and all its
worries, all its crazy ramblings, but all I can see is
the man with the knife, standing in front of me, blood drip, drip,
dripping onto the once-spotless carpet beneath his muddied
What did he call me?
Who is Josie?
The man… that couldn’t be my father, could
What if it was?
What can I do if it was my father?
Sitting up in my bed, I pull my phone from
its usual nightly place beneath my pillow and, and without
hesitation, dial the phone number I’ve never dialed before. Hilary
programmed the number into my contacts when I wasn’t paying
attention one afternoon. A
just in case
number, like the
number for her wing at the hospital, and this was a
just for the right person.
I reach her voicemail.
You have reached the voicemail of Doctor
,” the recorded voice tells me. “
your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as
possible. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 9-1-1
for the local police.
“Hi, Dr. Jett, it’s Joey Archembault.” I
begin hesitantly, nerves causing my heart to beat faster, my
breathing to quicken, and my pals to sweat. I hate talking on the
phone. “I know it’s late, like, really late. Or really early
depending. But I just had a nightmare and I—” I cut off, not
entirely sure what to say. Should I just blurt that I think my
father was in my nightmare holding a knife? Should I just say that
I think he wanted to kill me? “I think a month is too long, can we
schedule something sooner, please?” That should do it. I give my
number and hang up, shoving my phone back beneath my pillow.
I click on the television, the tiny set on my
dresser, with the remote on my nightstand, illuminating my room in
a pale blue light, ready to watch
Hallmark Channel for the rest of the night. Needless to say, I
don’t think I’ll be able to fall back to sleep tonight.
Dr. Jett calls early the next morning—maybe
she returned my call before she even listened to my message—to
schedule an appointment for the upcoming Thursday afternoon. That
calm my nerves, it really should ease the tension in
my shoulders, but it only scares me more.
Zephyr looked utterly drained when he stomped
into my kitchen, like he was drained mentally, physically, and
emotionally. He was quiet, which I thought was weird; he’s a normal
social butterfly. As we rode to school, he just leaned his head
back and feigned sleep but I could tell that he was awaked because
his breathing didn’t even out. Not that I would know anything about
that. Was he trying to avoid
Jamie was oblivious to the unusual situation,
her mind only on her beloved Marcus. Zephyr barely looked at me as
we walked into the school, he barely spoke to me in the halls, and
completely ignored me in class.
I sit right next to the kid!
I was tempted to ask him what his issue was,
his freaking deal. I almost asked him if he was mad at me for last
night, for waking him up and making him feel the need to come to my
rescue, to rescue me. Honestly, it wasn’t my fault. I would tell
him this if he gave me the chance. I’d continue to explain that it
was just a bad dream; something that I had no control over, but he
bolted from the room before the bell even rang.
What the hell, dude?
I roll my eyes as I watch him flee into the
growing crowd, his backpack disappearing as he ducks unsuccessfully
behind a fellow athlete.
I stand in the middle of the hallway for a
moment, watching where he disappeared. If he wants to be an
immature brat, that’s fine with me, but he shouldn’t expect me to
just suck it up and take him back when he comes crawling to me to
apologize just because he’s over his foul mood. In my mind, the
struating flashes in bright red letters and I
mentally conclude that he is having his
time of the month
should mark this on a calendar for future reference.
It’s still pissing me off that he’d treat me
The lunchroom is abuzz with loud voices when
I walk down the stairs—conversations about school and gossip about
the people in it—these voices used to halt when I walked through,
in that figurative
back in the day
. These days, I’m just
another invisible fixture and completely ignorable. I’m another
portrait hanging on the wall, another pillar in the cafeteria. I
really want to make a Pink Floyd reference but feel that would be
overkill. Well, that
the school really doesn’t have that
many visible bricks. Every wall is thick concrete, dry wall, or
those random walls that you can fold and bend to make two
classrooms into one giant classroom.
Taking my usual table, I sit on the opposite
side with my back to the rest of the lunchroom. It’s easier to
ignore Zephyr if I can’t look at him as he sits near the front of
the room at the
. Out of sight, out of mind. To
drive the point home, I lift up the hood of my black sweatshirt and
try to become unnoticeable. I just love the thought of being
“Still in a mood?” asks Harley, whose head I
bit off in gym this morning when she asked me how I was doing—I
admit that I overreacted. She slides into the seat across from me,
Kennie sliding in next to her. Harley tosses me an apple, Kennie
slides me a banana, and these small gestures make me smile for the
first time today. At least I have them.
“The banana should help,” Kennie explains, a
wide smile split her glossed lips, revealing her perfect teeth.
From pictures around her house, I know that she had braces before
we met. They worked wonders because all the guys stutter at her
“What do you mean?” I ask with a raised
eyebrow, now confused with the fruit in my hands. I don’t know very
much about bananas. The topic doesn’t come up very much in my
classes. I know that they’re great for potassium intake and they’re
berries by technical definition because it’s a fleshy fruit
produced from a single seed, while a strawberry is covered in
seeds, so it’s not a berry. Weird, right?
It’s obvious here that I read
“I read somewhere that they help with
depression.” I cock my head to the side. The look on my face forces
her to continue. “Bananas increase serotonin levels.” As she
speaks, she nods, continuing with, “but like I said, I read it
somewhere on the internet and who knows what you can believe with
help from Google.”
“I didn’t know that,” I tell her, flipping
the fruit in my hands. I like bananas. “It’s still an interesting
tidbit, thanks, Kennie.” I like to learn random trivia. That’s no
one likes to play me in a game of
. If a
question about bananas comes up, I think I’ve got it down.
“Are we actually having a conversation about
?” Harley blurts loudly, making a very good point. We
all exchange looks with each other before we start laughing,
giggling loudly together.
Harley, being the nice girl that she is, asks
Kennie about her date with Duke Bishop, Kennie’s boyfriend for the
past year and a half, last night. It was their final date before he
leaves for college on the other side of the state. I don’t really
want to listen to Kennie gush about it endlessly but it’s easy to
put my brain on autopilot and ignore my present world with petty
problems while continuing to comment and nod whenever appropriate.
Kennie blathers on and on about his genuine kindness, how he opened
the door for her and pulled her chair out for her. She even states,
in far too much detail, how he gently kissed her at the end of the
Apparently, chivalry hasn’t totally died
Duke Bishop is the perfect guy for her.
Harley and I have always known that. It’ll suck with him on the
other side of the state because Kennie will be sullen and depressed
but he promised to make frequent trips before the passes clog up
with snow, even then, he still vows to brave the snow.
She squealed—literal pig-like squeal—when he
told her that.
Kennie stops talking, in midsentence, her
eyes shifting to a point over my right shoulder and focusing
intently. She looks shocked. Harley, noticing the shift in our
friends stature and the unusual silence floating around our table
that never lasts long, starts staring at me, a scowl fixed on her
face. She spots whatever Kennie is staring at.
I almost ask them what they are staring at
and why they are acting so weird. The words form on my tongue. Then
I start to wonder what it could be. Maybe it’s Zephyr here to start
talking to me; maybe apologizing for being such an ass—I promised
myself not to let him off the hook so easily. Instead of all the
speculation, I decide to turn and face it myself. Turning, my eyes
connect with dark jeans, a blue polo shirt, a letterman’s jacket,
and perfectly tousled blonde locks. Ice blue eyes stare at me and I
fight the urge to roll mine.