A/N- This is about a boy who does not deserve this much.
A Dartboard In The Rain
You sit on the bed, the phone propped under your ear, and you knead your forehead with both hands. The voice coming from the other end is telling you things you don't want to hear, yet you know you need to listen. You tell yourself that if you can sit through this, just this, then you'll be strong like. . .oh, hell, like anyone, you're not sure exactly who.
You hang up the phone without seeing it. You don't see anything. This whole situation seems as unreal as a movie, and you're sure that a movie could never take place in your bedroom. So you don't see the familiar curtains. You see a beach, a Roman villa, a jeep sitting deep in the rain forests of Borneo. He leans over to you and says. . .
But this is not a movie, and you can't just press the rewind button to take this all back and pretend it never happened, that you weren't that stupid, that you didn't let yourself get lied to. The fact is it did, and you were, and there's no way to take it back. The ice cream runs, the movies, the trips to the beach where he would look at you and make pervy jokes, they all happened, and there's no way to erase them. The fights, the arguments, the secret tears when he neither noticed or cared; they all happened, too. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Now you look back and you see things you should have seen then, things you did see, but were too afraid to actually look at, for fear they'd become real. You want to inflict bodily harm: on him, for doing this to you, and also on yourself, for letting him. You remember, in a sudden flash, a song you heard on the radio once, long ago. . .I wish I was sixteen again and know what I know now. You laugh out loud at the irony. You are sixteen, and you were sixteen the whole time you were taking shit from him. But now you feel old, old like a mother watching her daughter get into a terrible situation, and knowing there's nothing she can do to stop the inevitable hurt. You watch the girl of this past year run about with a boy who wasn't worth it, cry tears she never should have cried, share special moments with a creep that didn't deserve them, and you wish you could say something, take her aside and stop her. But you can't, you couldn't, you didn't. It's not like you never had a chance. You just chose not to see it.
And now it's over, but it's also not. The pain of that day in the car, looking out of the parking lot of the pool where he picked you up from work, when he told you, sorry, baby, but can't you see, we just don't have what we want anymore, we're going to have to end it, we can still be friends. That pain was bad enough the first time. And the second. And third. And fourth time and fifth time you played it over and over in your head, dwelling with a maudlin self-pity on what happened, moaning whys, and how-could-he-do-this-to-you's. You managed to overlook the fact that he never gave you a precise reason, per se, for breaking up with you, because you were too crazy with anger and grief and guilt to see anything but the cars you rabidly watched go by the window, waiting for the one that never came.
But, finally, just when you'd decided to let him live, to stop throwing darts at his picture, to actually smile at the cute new California blonde who shares your second shift, he had to resurface. He had to drive past your house like a blood-red bullet in that car of his, that car you always loved. He had to drive past twice that day and once the next, even though there were four different ways for him to get to work, none of which involved your house. He had to speed by you, standing on the sidewalk with the mail in your hand, like you were part of the mailbox you were reaching into. He had to not even beep, not even acknowledge your presence. And he had to leave you no doubt that it was on purpose, because no accident happens three times in a row.
He had to ignore you and your mother so conspicuously in the parking lot of the supermarket that it was as if he'd walked up to you and slapped you in the face.
He had to be seen around constantly with the same redheaded knockout that he'd sworn to you that he had no interest in, whatsoever, because she's trying way to hard and besides, why would I want anyone else when I've got you?'.
He had to tell people the reason he broke up with you in solemn, secluded silence, treating it like a matter of the grave so that these mutual friend of yours looked at you with pity in their eyes whenever they saw you and constantly asked if you were okay.
He had to eventually tell someone who told your best friend, who told you to just get your shit together, call the bastard, and make him tell you, to your face, exactly why he did what he did. After all', your best friend said, you, of anyone, have a right to know, and you're the only one he's not telling'. And you know she was right.
But, as you clutch your head and your pillow, you look at your phone and you know you can't do it. Because, even now, he still has too much of a hold on you. You know that, even though your relationship was a dysfunctional joke, and the two of you spent more time arguing than cuddling, that you still look back on it with misty eyes and could-have-been fantasies.
And you know you can't. You know you shouldn't. You know he's an asshole and an idiot and he's no good for you, if only because of what you become when he's around. You don't like how he makes you feel dependent and clingy, like you need him to take you places and solidify your plans. You don't like how you still think of him sometimes, even though you know you shouldn't, and you don't want to. He is dangerous. He is a threat to your self-respect. He is a threat to you.
Which is why you know you can never dial that number again. Not even to yell at him and give him a good, healthy piece of your mind. Because even that is turning you into something you don't want to be, giving him a power he has no right to have, the power to change you.
You rub your head and let go of the pillow, stand up and look at the phone. Think of the California blonde who laughs at your jokes while the two of you survey the pool together. Put the phone carefully under the bed and out of the way of temptation. Get out your scissors and cut his face and inscription out of your yearbook, carefully ignoring the fact that the volume cost you seventy dollars. And then trip down the stairs, grabbing your purse on the way out.
Where are you going? your mother asks.
And you think again of the California blonde, who allows you to be no more than what you ask yourself to be. And you think of his car, the smooth silver gray of the rain clouds on the horizon, who open up and wash you clean as you step out the door and away.