Disturbing the Peace

Paper Heart:

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The basement was dark and smoky. It was loud, too. Obnoxious, heavy music with a screaming vocalist rattled my eardrums. I thought at first that I hadn't heard him correctly. The four men at the small foldout table were wrapped up in their own made up game of "poker"; none seemed fazed by what I had been told. Nathaniel looked a little ticked off, maybe, but that was all. He blew out foggy, almost yellowed colored smoke from his mouth and set his cards down.

"You look surprised." He said, looking at me. He stood up, swayed a bit, and then threw his arm over my shoulders. He leaned all of his weight against me, probably falling over, and then regained his balance. "I was too, at first."

"When did you find out?" I asked, looking deep into him, hoping he'd stay conscious at least long enough to tell me what the hell was going on.

Noah…and Naomi? It was just, inconceivable!

Nathaniel and I walked up the stairs. I was glad we were getting away from all the distraction, but I started to realize what he was saying, and what we were going to talk about. This was Noah. My Noah. We couldn't be talking about the same guy.

But we were. And I didn't want to hear it, but I had.

Nathaniel sat down on the bar stool and rested his forearms on the marble countertop of the island. He looked extremely tired, but I knew it was the drugs. I sat down across from him. He rubbed his finger underneath his lips

"I found out a few weeks ago." He said.

My jaw tightened. I sucked in a stiff breath through my nose and leaned back momentarily.

"A few weeks?" I asked, though really I was just trying to confirm. I had heard him the first time.

"Yeah. A friend of mine saw them together. I confronted her, and she admitted to it."

My eyes were burning, and as hard as I was trying not to cry, I felt a few tears slip down my cheeks. It hurt. You can't imagine how bad this hurt.

"What did she say?" I asked, trying to suck it up and take this all in. I didn't want to cry in front of Nathaniel. I don't know why, but it was embarrassing.

"Nothing, really." Nathaniel shrugged. "I was all 'you fucking him?' and she kind of, you know, stumbled around for a minute and finally said yeah."

"I see." I choked out, trying my hardest to pull back my tears. My throat was so tense. My body felt like it was on fire. I couldn't believe Noah would do something like that to me. We were the couple. We had been together for so long, and I loved him. I had made it a point to forget about Ezra and to avoid Deakon so that I would be able to devote myself to Noah. Because I thought we were meant to be. I honestly did.

"Don't cry." Nathaniel said as he stood up. The stool clattered against the floor tiles, but the loud noise didn't startle me. I was in a daze. I felt his hand rest on my shoulder and he squeezed tightly. And then he said something I don't think I'll ever forget.

"Everybody makes mistakes."

His hand was taken away, my shoulder chilled, and he walked back downstairs. I sat there in the bright kitchen, my hands clenched together near my mouth, upset at first by what he had said, until I realized what he meant.

I had made the mistake.

But it still hurt. I finally let go and cried then. I had made a colossal mistake with Noah. I had thought that what we had was special. I was convinced he was perfect for me, willing to wait to have sex until I was ready. Here he was, all along, fucking someone else. He'd have sex with her, and then come to see me. Her dirty mouth was all over his, and then his on mine. It started to make me sick when I thought about it.

So I told myself not to think about it, but there was nothing else to think about. For a minute, I contemplated about going down into the basement to get shitfaced off of something, but I didn't. That wasn't my style, nor was that my scene. For a little while, I would have felt so awkwardly out of place.

Ezra came up from the basement a little while later. I hadn't moved from my spot in the kitchen. I didn't even notice him at first. He sat down across from me, where Nathaniel had been. He was still for a minute, but after I showed no signs of acknowledgement, he started to trace his fingers on the napkin holder.

"You okay?" He asked in a soft-spoken voice, avoiding eye-contact. It's strange how different people are thrown in and out of your life. Most of the time, you over-look their significance, or you don't get enough time to see it. Ezra had somehow been pitched into my world in this whirlwind of emotions and hormones, with a bunch of lies and ignored feelings because of guilt and jealousy.

That may have just been my excuse to make sense of it all, but it seemed like an accurate conclusion to his presence in my life. Everybody's there for some reason. Most of the time, you never figure out what that reason is. There are so many people in this world – so many you see every day, never to see again. I hated the passing by. Not so much as a glance and the most important person in my life could have come and gone, and I never would have known. It's easy to overlook the simple things in life. It's easy to misinterpret a person's meaning to you. The best person to me could be the worst to you.

But I guess those passing bys are important too. Who knows when someone could circle around again.

"I feel really stupid." I told him. "I'm embarrassed that… I don't know. That he just used me like that. He made me feel so important and here I'm nothing special at all."

"Just not to him." Ezra said.

The phone rang unexpectedly. I turned my head. It was after midnight. I wondered who could have been calling me.

"Hello?"

"Reag! It's Mia."

"Oh hey." I said dryly. I just wanted to go somewhere dark and be alone for a century or two.

"I'm in the driveway. Open the door."

"What?"

"I knocked and no one opened the door. You can't avoid me – I have bad news."

"Okay." And I hung up. I looked at Ezra for a moment and then walked towards the front door. Mia was waiting behind it.

"I wanted to tell you before anyone else did, which, by the way, I'm surprised no one has."

"Tell me what? About Noah?"

Mia's face fell. "You knew?"

"I just found out." I spoke quietly. She took me in for a tight embrace and the broke away, gripping my shoulders.

"I saw him about an hour ago with that slut. I called your cell but you didn't pick up, and then I saw Mike and Kate and they already knew!"

"What?"

"Mike was sort of quiet, but Kate said she's known for about a week. She didn't know how to tell you, and I couldn't believe she wouldn't say something to you so I came right over…" Mia paused. "I wanted to tell you before you found out from someone else, but I guess I'm too late."

"Mike and Kate already knew and they didn't bother to tell me?"

"Sorry."

Why was everything so messed up? These people were supposed to be my friends. They hung out with Noah and I the past couple of days and Kate didn't even bother to say, oh by the way your boyfriend has been cheating on you?

"What a fucking bitch." I muttered. "Kate, Mike, Noah and I were all together three days ago! She knew what he was doing and she didn't even tell me! She didn't even hint that something was wrong."

"I'm sorry, honey." Mia said, taking me into another hug. I cried again. I guess it's hard to explain the emotions I was feeling unless you've been cheated on by someone you love. It's so difficult to put it all into words. I was madder than hell at him. I was so upset, hurt, crushed that he would do something like that to me. I felt embarrassed for believe all the stupid things he told me about love and commitment and how we'd be together forever, when in reality the minute he said goodbye to me he was on his way to Naomi's to fuck her. I broke down, I think.

Mia made me some hot tea. She said it would help me calm down. Ezra sat across from me in the kitchen and Mia was beside me, slowly twirling her fingers through the ends of my hair. I felt the loud thump of the music downstairs inside of my chest. I felt hollow.

My cell phone inside of my purse began to vibrate. I turned my head quickly and fished for it. Noah was calling. I slammed the phone back down on the island.

"Is it him?" Ezra asked, grabbing my phone.

"Let it ring." I said softly, starting to cry again. Deakon came upstairs then. He looked surprisingly sober at the time. He stopped in the archway to the kitchen when he saw me. My phone began to vibrate again.

I didn't understand. Noah was the one who said he wanted some space – he was the one who told me not to call. Mike had most likely told Noah that Mia was going to tell me what was going on with him and Naomi. The house phone rang.

"Don't get it." I said to Deakon, since he was the closest to the phone.

"What's going on?" He asked. He stepped closer to me. The phone stopped ringing, but started right up again. Mia stood up roughly and picked up the phone.

"Hello?" She said, sounding irritated. "She doesn't want to talk to you right now." She paused again. "Well go home because she doesn't want to see you either."

"He's here?" I looked up.

"Who's here?" Deakon asked.

"Noah…" I mumbled.

"I thought you two were-"

"He's been cheating on me." I paused. "With Naomi."

"Nathaniel's-"

"Yeah." I sighed.

"Sorry." He said quietly. I heard the doorbell ring. I knew it was Noah. Deakon walked out of the kitchen.

"Deakon!" Ezra called, chasing after him. "Don't do anything stupid!" I heard him say.

I looked over at Mia. She gave me an apologetic look. I heard Noah yell from the foyer.

"Don't go." Mia told me. "You need your space." But I got up anyway. I walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to the foyer. Noah was standing in the doorway. Deakon was in front of him. Ezra came to my side.

"Reagan." Noah said. "Can we just talk for a minute?"

"I thought you said you didn't want to talk to me." I stared at him. How he could do this to me, I wondered. I didn't even know he was capable of killing me inside like he had.

"Look…" he faltered. "I can explain."

"I don't want to hear it." I told him. I didn't take my eyes off of him. I couldn't. I was in disbelief. I just couldn't come up with any rational explanation for his deception except that he wanted some pussy and I wouldn't put out. "I hate you." I said, shaking my head. "I don't want to see you again, understand?"

"Reagan, come on." He tried to walk towards me, but Deakon pushed him back roughly. Noah lost his balance and stumbled backward, hitting his back on the door frame.

"You heard what she said." Deakon said to Noah, his voice stoic and low. "Just go."

Noah looked at me hard. He opened the front door and finally broke his stare. He slammed it shut. I ran upstairs and did the same to my bedroom door. I collapsed on my bed, sobbing. I heard Noah's car drive away.

A knock came to my door. "Go away." I called, hugging a pillow tight against my chest. The door opened anyway.

"Hey." Deakon said, closing the door behind him. He walked over to my bed and sat down. I sat up and wiped my eyes on the bed sheet. "Do you want me to beat his ass for you?"

I smiled, trying not to laugh. "No, that's okay."

"Are you sure, 'cause I will. Just say the word."

"Thanks." I grinned. "But it's okay."

"I know how you feel." Deakon said, touching my back. I remembered when he told me about his ex-girlfriend, and how she had cheated on him. "You probably wanna be alone, huh?"

"Yeah." I said softly. Deakon pulled me in to a hug and I started to cry quietly again. I melted against him, clutching the fabric of his tee shirt in my shaky hands. His embrace was warm and comforting, but he broke away. He pressed his lips against my forehead and stood up.

"Do you want everyone to go home?"

"Oh, no, it's okay." I looked up at him through watery eyes.

"'Kay. See you in the morning."

"Good night." I said softly. "Thank you."

"Yeah." He opened the door and left. I went into my bathroom and washed my face with cold water. It felt good against my hot skin. It sort of calmed me down.

"Reag?" Mia called.

"Just a minute." I called, drying my face. Mia was standing near the door.

"Going to bed?" She asked, unsure of what else to say. She looked so uncertain.

"Yeah. You go downstairs." I said, trying to smile. "Deakon's there."

Mia kind of laughed. "Are you sure?"

"I just want to be alone." I told her. "No sense in both of us being miserable." Just then, my last visitor came in to my room.

"All right. Breakfast tomorrow?"

"Sure." I grinned softly. "Have fun."

Mia gave me a reassuring smile and walked past Ezra. She closed my door. It was quiet. Ezra's hands were in his pockets, standing somewhat stiff. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other. I sat down on my bed and pulled the sheets up around my waist.

"Do you need anything?" Ezra asked.

"No. I'm okay." I fingered the bed sheet to distract myself from him. My body was still fired up. I was more pissed off at the moment than sad. But the more I thought about it, the sadder I got.

"Hey, don't cry." Ezra came over to my bed. He sat down and I hugged him. I gripped onto him so tightly and sobbed into his neck. My body shook. And we stayed there like that for so long. Eventually my sobs subsided and I calmed down again. We both lied on our sides, his front pressed up against my back. His arm was draped over my waist, the other under my neck.

I realized after a little while that he had fallen asleep. I reached over to my light and darkness engulfed us. A pale light came in through the window. I pulled the comforter up around us. Ezra shifted slightly, but didn't wake up. I snuggled up against him and tried to fall asleep. It came easier than I had expected.