Hello, all. Here's Ch. 3!
Chapter 3: Possibilities
I left the room when the detention had concluded, and opened the door to the outside, breathing in the fresh air, eyes closed in the slight relaxation. When I reopened my eyes, though, I saw that I was not alone right here. Standing in front of me, looking right into my eyes, was a girl that I easily recognized. It was Arielle.
I blinked a couple times to try and clear my eyes, thinking my mind was playing a trick on me. When I saw that she was still there, I realized she really was standing in front of me, however unlikely and illogical it seemed. Regaining my composure, I asked, "What're you doing here? Do you have a sibling that was in detention like I was?"
"No," she replied. "I wanted to talk to you, and to thank you. I thought Rich was going to…going to…" Her voice began to break as she relived that horrifying experience.
"Shh." I said in a quiet voice. "He won't touch you again. I'll make sure of it." I said, my face showing a determined look and hiding nothing, even if it was only for a moment. Arielle didn't look too comforted by this, though.
"How can you promise that? You don't even know me…" she responded.
"Does someone need to know the person they choose to help? I don't think there's a 'rule' stating that, Arielle," I countered.
"H-how do you know my name?" she asked, looking a little scared.
"Relax; I just paid attention to the loudspeaker when you, Richard, and I were called to the office. I'm not some crazy stalker or anything!" I said, chuckling a little bit. She laughed, but only a little bit. I then decided to take the initiative. "…How exactly are you getting home?"
"Uh, I… I'm walking. It's not too far; I only live in the Emerald Meadow housing complex," she replied.
'Emerald Meadow!? That's at LEAST a forty minute walk from here… There's no way I can let her do that…' I thought when she informed me of her destination.
"I don't think so. I do know where that is, and you're in no condition to be walking that far a distance, at least not alone," I said. My eyes were delivering a message of, 'I'm not about to give in on this, so don't try.'
"I… I can't face my parents yet. They told me Rich was bad news, but I just wouldn't listen. I can see now that they were beyond right…" she said, looking a shade sadder.
"You thought that by the time you got home you'd be ready?" I retorted.
"No, but I had to try at least. Why are you so interested in what some stranger does, anyway? Are you always like this?" she asked, voice rising in a mix of confusion and frustration.
"Well, it's not my style to leave someone in need to fend for themselves. You look to be in need, at least to me. Anyway, I'm not letting you go home alone," I said, lightly grabbing her hand. "Why don't you come to my place for a little while? You can call your parents from my house phone after you've calmed down a little bit," I suggested.
"Wh-what?" Arielle exclaimed in shock. "I don't-How can I trust you?"
"I really don't know the answer to that, Arielle. I do know that you're still too much of an emotional wreck to be alone, though, so I'm just trying to offer my assistance. I think you'll get to understand that eventually," I said, releasing her hand and choosing to look into her eyes. "I'll understand, though, if you don't want me to. I'd imagine you're hesitant to trust anyone new after this morning. If you're really that uncomfortable, I'll respect that."
"You… You're really like this all the time? How can you be so nice? How do you live with all of the things that probably go on in your life?" she asked incredulously.
"It's just how I am. I've never thought about being any different," I responded, beginning to walk away. "I'll see you tomorrow, alright?"
"Wait! I… Would you really let me go over to your house?" she asked, causing me to stop and turn.
"Of course. Just stick by me, ok? I've heard that the streets here can be kind of dangerous, at least during this time after school activities and detentions are over. There are a lot of fights about this time, right?" I asked as we began to walk side by side.
"Yes… Don't get the wrong idea, though! This is still a wonderful town!" Arielle assured me, her voice beginning to sound happier.
"I know, I know. I mean, look at the school! It's by far the best school I've seen, ever. Trust me, I've see plenty of them," I said. I only realized after that the slipup I'd made.
"You've seen…plenty of them? What do you mean?" she asked.
"…Don't worry about that just yet. All in due time, ok?" I replied. I wasn't about to lay anything else on her in her current state of distress.
"Ok, sure," she said, and then we fell into a rather comfortable silence. We looked at the trees as we walked past them, the light breeze ruffling them a little bit. Soon enough, we'd arrived at my house, after about twenty minutes of walking. Arielle, I noted with a grin, was awestruck when she saw the house.
"Your house is so beautiful!" she shouted with excitement. "Your yard, it looks so natural, not at all like most of the houses here…"
"Yeah," I said. "That's why I like it, too. It doesn't seem like it's in a higher echelon area of the town, even though it kind of is." With that, I grabbed her hand and we walked inside. I went into the kitchen to grab us each drinks while Arielle situated herself on my couch.
"What do you drink?" I asked from within my current location.
"Do you have any root beer, by chance?" she said.
"Sure I do. One sec, ok?" I grabbed her drink, and got myself a lemon-lime soda, when I heard my mom's voice.
"Nick? Who's this young girl here?" she asked. I smiled a bit at this, and replied as I walked out to the living room, "She's a classmate from school. I'll explain later, alright. It's ok if she stays here for a little bit, right?"
"Of course! I'm just surprised to see you bringing company home. You haven't done that in a long time," she replied. With that formality through, I saw Arielle on the couch, looking a little nervous.
"What's wrong? Are you feeling alright, Arielle?" I asked.
"What? Oh. I'm fine, yes. I guess I sorta spaced out for a bit there," she said. Her voice still sounded a bit tense, though, so I ran upstairs and was down again with a book in hand.
"Lean forward a bit, please?" I asker Arielle. She complied, and, book open, I began to try and loosen her shoulders up, hoping the relief in that physical area would help her mentally, too.
"Wh-what do you think you're-" she started, but I cut her off.
"You're still too tense. Try and relax," I commanded, and she responded favorably with a nod. Within a few minutes she began to practically melt in my hands.
"Alright, there we go. Feeling a little better now, Arielle?" I asked. She replied, "Yes… How did you get so good at that?"
"I've got this book here. I picked it up at a library once," I answered. I'd, in one of the other towns me and my mom had been to, been rather worried about my mom's stress levels, so I decided that I'd look for a book on giving simple massages such as the one I had just administered on Arielle. I wasn't always as skilled, but with some practice, I got sort of good at it.
Now that I'd suitably calmed my new friend down, I just sat next to her. She began to speak before I had the chance to think of something to say.
"Thank you, Nick. Not just for the massage, either. I really don't know what I was thinking, trying to walk home alone like that…" she noted, running a hand through her short, somewhat wild, azure hair in embarrassment. I smiled and chuckled a little bit at this.
"Maybe you should first ask yourself if you even were thinking!" I said in a playful voice, poking her arm while doing so.
"Oh? Is that so?" she countered in an equally joking tone, returning my action. We both laughed after that, and then I recalled something…
"Hey! Mom! When are you having that party, anyway?" I asked. You see, whenever we arrive in a new town, my mom makes it a point to have a huge party to celebrate, . She advertises it all over the town, and nine times out of ten, we end up with a house filled to the brim with people we don't know. I've never understood the visceral thrill she gets from partying with complete strangers, but I simply let it go. There's no stopping her from doing this, anyway.
"This weekend, why?" she replied, smiling at me knowingly.
'You know me too well. You can read me like a book…' I thought. "Is it alright if I invite Arielle?" I then asked.
"Of course it is. You rarely ever make friends, so it's wonderful that you've made one so soon," my mom replied.
I then turned to the blue-haired girl in question. "Are you free this weekend?"
"Yes, I think so. When should I come over?" she asked, eyes alight, a smile plastered on her face.
"Well, these things usually start at around four, but you can come over anytime you'd like as long as it's after ten a.m." I informed her, having already memorized the scheduling for these events.
"Alright, I'll be here. Thanks for inviting me… You know you didn't need to, right? I mean, we still barely even-" she began, but I stopped her.
"-know each other. I know that. How are we supposed to get to know one another if we're not around each other? Care to answer that one, Arielle?" I asked, smiling broader than I usually do.
"I…I never really thought about it like that before. I guess you're right!" she said, and everything was set. I glanced at the clock then.
"Oh, shoot! Arielle? Are you ready to talk to your parents yet?" I asked, cringing inwardly at the face that it was already quarter after five.
"Oh! I forgot! Yeah, I'll do that. Can I borrow your phone?" she asked.
"Sure. Can you catch?" I asked her as I tossed a cell phone into her hands. "Use that. It's got better reception than the house line."
"Thanks," she said, and dialed her home number. I could then hear only half of her conversation.
"Hello?" "Yes, it's me." "Sorry, but… I'll explain when I get home." "I'm just over a friend's house." "I'll be home soon, ok?" "Love you too. Bye." With that, the line was cut, the call complete.
"Mom, can you drive us to Emerald Meadow?" I asked, and she, of course, obliged. As Arielle and myself got into the back of the car, I chose to strike up a bit of small talk.
"So, what'd you think of my house?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"It was gorgeous!" she exclaimed, bubbling with vigor. "Thanks again, for everything you've done for me."
"Ah, don't worry about it. It's what any good person would've done; at least, I like to think that," I said, looking at my energetic friend.
"Well, I'm sure you saved me this morning, and after school, so I'm thanking you anyway! Just take it!" Arielle replied. I was left with no recourse but to smile and nod. Soon enough, but too soon all the same, we arrived at the gates to the housing complex. With a quick friendly hug, Arielle departed for home, as did me and my mother once our passenger was gone. Along the return trip, I proceeded to be grilled intensely.
"So, who's that girl?" my mom asked.
"I already told you, she's a classmate from school," I replied.
"You also said you'd explain later. It's later now, so come on! It's very rare for you to have a friend, so I'm naturally very curious. The fact that it's a girl makes me even more so."
"Let's see... She looked like she was about to be..." My voice broke here, anger seeping in a little bit "'violated', and I stopped it. She then meets me outside after school, and we walk home together, me not allowing her to walk home alone. Nothing much to tell, though making a friend is a plus, I suppose. Right?"
"Yes it is. It's so nice to see you with a friend. You seemed much more lively than usual."
"I guess so…" By the time I'd said this, we'd arrived again at my house. The rest of my night was rather uneventful, except that my mom continued to pester me about Arielle. At one point, I lashed out slightly, shouting, "Geez! You're acting like I'm going out with her!" This caused my mom to become silent, though the mysterious look she gave me then made me wish I'd left it alone.
I went to bed that night peaceful, but confused. 'What caused me to open up like that to her? It's so unlike me… Or is it? I've always enjoyed helping people, but it's never gone this far before. Oh well, I guess only time can tell where this goes from here.' With those final thoughts, I allowed sleeps loving embrace consume me.