Chapter 2
Down, Down, Down, Down
3:47 PM
August 8th


"Listen," my boyfriend of one year muttered, shuffling his feet on the sidewalk. I stared at his face with anxiety. I already knew what he was leading up to, and I was tempted to say that I had to go take a shit—really, really, badly.

Of course I'd wait patiently, though. I was always polite.

"I just think that--" he paused to itch his arm. What was he, a cocaine addict? "--that I don't have the same feelings about you anymore. I..." he trailed off; I frowned. I would not cry. "I don't love you anymore, Peach. I'm sorry." He said. I felt the initial swell of insecurities that had always festered after a breakup--this one more prominent than the others, considering that I'd been going out with James since I was a freshman. Of course, to teenagers, one year translated to at least ten in adult relationships.

Despite my attempts to stop the crying, a few tears slid out of my eyes pathetically. I stared at his feet, in fear that if I looked at his face I'd see something I never wanted to remember. I didn't like the face of a boy who had just realized he didn't love me. Not when I still loved him.

"It's fine," I swallowed, giving him the smallest, most unbelievable grin. In fact, I was positive I looked about ready to collapse. But of course, I minded my manners and gave him my best smile, hoping that I would hurt hisfeelings by saying anything. I was a disgraceful and weak kind a girl. I've always been embarrassed by my actions, though never wanting to stop said actions in the first place. I'd been raised to always consider others before myself.

"I hope that you find someone you'll truly love in the future, James." I said, and raised my shaking hands to put a strand of hair behind my ear. He stepped forward, as if he were about to hug me, but then seemed to reconsider it. My smile, albeit tiny, remained. It was a sad sort of expression, I knew, but I couldn't stop the second round of tears from falling softly. James winced, but stepped backwards, towards his car.

"I'm sorry Peach. I'm so, so sorry." He said. And very quickly--so quickly I didn't have a chance to say anything back, he got into his car and drove away.

I gave that boy my heart, and he broke it into pieces.

"Peach? Peachy?" I heard a voice call from behind me. I was currently sitting on the couch, watching cartoons with a heavyset frown. After I'd stopped crying, which had been about six minutes ago, I'd slid into the betrayed, anger stage. Though despite the feelings I was currently having, I knew that I'd never do or say anything mean to James. I didn't have it in me to do so.

I was watching Tom and Jerry on the television, but muted the sounds as soon as I heard a voice in the room. I turned around to see a few of my friends gathered behind the couch, all with varied expressions of pity and disgust. Some, I'd assumed, were here to bask in the glory of a single James, and a distraught Peach. I didn't have many close friends at school, so the visitors in my room weren't the people I felt like talking to at the moment. But, with a resigned sigh, I smiled at all of them and gave a soft "Hello."

There were four girls gathered in my living room. Two were twins, one was a beautiful grump, and the fourth was an athletic, but highly selfish girl. I considered them more of aquaintences; though they were the only girls I really knew at school. Many people thought of these girls as mean and unforgiving--and it wasn't that I was ignoring the opinions of other students, I just hoped that these girls had some small ounce of decency in them. So, I stayed with these girls in hopes that they would one day prove to be kind people.

So far, that day had not come.

"I heard about the breakup." One of the twins, Lana, said insensibly. I flinched and returned my gaze back towards the television, not particularly wanting to think about what had happened. The other twin, Lauren, smacked Lana on the arm. "Shut up, you git." She sneered. I looked back to the twins, and hoped that this was their small way of caring. I wasn't so sure, though.

Katie stepped up from where she was standing behind the twins and offered a brief pat on the back. "It's fine. You'll get over it." She said, her voice void of any sympathy whatsoever. It wasn't that I was vying for some sort of attention from these girls, I was just hoping that they could maybe understand what I was going through. I was sure that they had at least gone through this once, and that one of them could've given me some advice.

I smiled at her, and she moved over to the front door. "We're going to go to the pool. You coming?" She asked, though, in a way it was more of an order. I considered, weighed, and struggled over my options, finally accepting that this might be a good way for me to relax.

I quietly nodded, and she left along with the other girls to wait in her car. I shuffled up the stairs and went into my room to grab a suit, something I didn't bother to look at. After I'd put that on, I covered myself in a t-shirt and some board shorts, put on some sandals, grabbed my bag, and left the house, locking the door behind me.

I entered the car, ignoring the looks of disgust over my clothing choice, and frowned as the car sped off towards the community pool.

As soon as we arrived at the pool, the girls spread to various areas around. The twins went to lie down on two of the lounge chairs; Katie went over to the snack bar, and Sarah, my athetically inclined friend jumped into the pool. I stood at the entrance with what I knew was a wary expression. Was I really up to this right now?

I was unfortunately interrupted when I felt a push on my left arm, which made me stumble idiotically. I heard a laugh and then a sharp "Sorry." before I caught sight of three blonde girls walking past. I sighed and rubbed my arm, which slightly stung. I really wasn't prepared for this today.

Before I could make an excuse to leave, Katie ambled over and grabbed my arm--the one that had been hurt--and tugged me over to the pool chairs. "Sit." She demanded, unwavering. I bit my lip in pent up annoyance, but rested back on the pool chair. The twins again looked at my clothes with contempt, and I tried to ignore their stares while I gazed at the glistening pool water. Sarah was furiously doing laps, and Katie had just recently dipped into the pool.

As my gaze swept the area, I paused on a familiar head of blond hair. He was surrounded by three girls, all of whom were gazing at him with adoration and lust. I smiled a little; I'd always been amused by Franklyn Steinberg. He was known around the school--mostly from the male students--as Frankenstein. I'd always giggled at the name, it was sorta funny.

Franklyn was an interesting boy. He was, of course, in my grade. That fact I had not ignored. He was outrageously popular among the boys and girls--all of whom found his demeanor captivating.

I'd always been somewhat confused by him. He seemed, in all aspects, to be a nice boy. But every time I'd come in contact with him he seemed angered by my presence. After some time I'd concluded that he had some sort of grudge on me, and I had learned to distance myself from him. I'd always been worried as to why he seemed to always be so mad at me. What, exactly, had I done wrong?

Perhaps he had some kind of beef with my brother, Patrick, and took it out on me? I wasn't so sure. I usually tried not to dwell on the thought.

Franklyn was now playfully swatting one girl on the arm, and she grinned at him like a cat. I smiled, but then felt some sort of crawling feeling on my neck, like I was being watched. I looked to my left, where one of the twin sisters, Lana, was watching me with interest. She followed my gaze to Franklyn, and then full out grinned. She nudged her sister, and whispered something in her ear.

I watched this with embarrassment, a blush covering most of my face. It felt like my face was burning. I turned away from them and decided that I'd rather go somewhere far away from the twins. I self-consciously took my t-shirt and shorts off, and quickly tip-toed over to the pool, the hot cement burning my bare feet.

As soon as I was in the cool water, I felt my blush slowly dissappear. I felt a lot better. My refresment was interrupted by a sharp "Peach!" from behind. I twisted to look behind me, spotting Katie and Sarah watching me from the other end of the pool. I refused to frown, though I let out a quiet sigh. Slowly, I swam over to where they were waiting and gave them a simple smile--I was too tired to act like I was fine.

"Yes?" I asked politely, tilting my head to the side. Katie grinned like a cat and twisted a lock of hair between her fingers. "Come on." She commanded. I stared at her in surprise, wondering what this was all about. With impatience, Katie grabbed my wrist tightly and began to drag me over to where a young man was resting on the lifeguard chair. "Oh..." I whispered. Why was she doing this?

"Hey." Katie said, pulling us up to the chair. The young man was very good-looking, and when he replied to Katie, I noticed that he had a lovely voice as well. "This is my friend, Peach." She gestured to me. "Um, hello." I said shyly, the beginnings of a very ferocious blush appearing on my cheeks. The young man grinned and took in our appearances with--what looked like--acceptance. I bit my lip in embarrassment. I really don't want this.

"Hey, Peach," He grinned again, flashing me his mega-white teeth. I smiled in return, shifting nervously on my feet. "I'm Derrick. Pleasure to meet you," He said, and grabbed my hand. At first, I felt alarm--I also briefly wondered if he was going to eat my hand. I relaxed, though, when he flirtatiously kissed my hand. I smiled--a very small one (I didn't like complete strangers kissing my hand).

"Peach wanted to talk to you, so I thought I'd introduce you to each other. Oh!" She broke off, looking somewhere behind me. "I just forgot that I had a chocolate bar in my purse. Better go before it melts!" She said, and left with a feral grin. I stared after her with quiet fear--I do not want this!

After Katie left, I felt very awkward. I was positive that Derrick was completely in his element, as he talked to me about his job and his brother. I responded to his stories with polite nods and smiles--I didn't want to hurt his feelings. The entire time, though, I was hoping he wouldn't notice that I was picking at my shirt, or that I was shifting uncomfortably. He continued to talk, and eventually I tuned out. It wasn't something I customarily did, but he hadn't asked me anything about myself yet and had continued describing his life in full detail. I didn't mean to sound selfish, but sometimes I wanted to conversation focused on both of the people talking.

"--I can't stand my mom sometimes, you know?" He asked as I tuned back into the conversation after some moments. I really didn't know, though. I didn't have a mother to complain about, so what did I know? "Yes," I replied instead, choosing that he didn't need to know that. "I know."

He smiled once again, and reached out to grab my hand. I politely let him hold it, as not to make him upset, and let him continue with his conversation. I wasn't exactly expecting the conversation to go in a different direction, though. "Peach?" Derrick asked, staring at our joined hands. "Do you wanna go get some food? My shifts off right about now..." he trailed off expectantly.

I stared at him and contemplated my options. If I left now, I'd be alone at home without any source of comfort, wallowing in the depths of my mattress. If I stuck with Katie, Sarah, and the twins, I was sure to have a horrible time. My only other option was to eat dinner with Derrick, though I felt like I was betraying James. We'd only just broken up--and of course I was still in love with him. I sighed blearily and gave Derrick and small, infinitelytiny smile, and agreed to go on the date with him. I hoped, that for once, I was making a good decision.

Derrick took me to a small mexican restaurant by the beach. I hadn't complained about the food or the restaurant, though I felt like the location of the place itself was in a very odd part of town. Of course, I didn't mention any of this to Derrick. I'd come off as winy and immature. We settled into a tiny booth in the far corner of the restaurant and ordered some tacos. I observed the cooking going on in the kitchen while Derrick continued his story about his mother and how unfair she was towards him.

Upset, I tilted my head to look back at Derrick and frowned. "She is the woman who gave birth to you." I stated. He immediately glared, something so jarringly different than the usual expression on his face. It caused me to tense up and wonder if what I had said was inconsiderate. "I'm sorry, I don't know her." I quickly apologized. His shoulders--much more tense before--gradually relaxed, and he opened a new subject. I was pretty sure he had started to talk about how boring his math class was. I listened with polite disinterest, and slowly ripped the napkin into tiny pieces.

I don't think Derrick noticed.

I was happily chewing on my warm taco when Derrick asked me about my family. For once, I was completely surprised by what had come out of Derrick's mouth. I briefly wondered if someone foreign had invaded his body and mind, but then considered that much too mean. He was just being nice. So, instead of staring at him like a fool, I swallowed my food and smiled brightly.

"Well, I have five brothers and two sisters, as well as my dad." I said, smiling at the thought of my siblings. Derrick looked surprised, then wary. "What about your mom?" he asked. I paused and stared down at my plate, overcome with awkwardness. What was I supposed to say? "She passed away when I was seven." I said quietly. Derrick nodded. "Cool. So, I got this awesome fish the other day that--"

As soon as Derrick mentioned that my mother's death had been cool,I had come to the conclusion that this date was completely, and unshakably over.

Quickly, I gathered up my belongings and slapped down a ten dollar bill. "Thank you for dinner, Derrick. Here's the money I owe you for the taco." I said. He stared up at me with obvious confusion, but still took the money. Inwardly, I sighed. He was a horrible decision, Peach.

"And next time," I began, tugging my jacket on roughly. "Remember not to refer to the death of your date's mother as cool."

With that, I left the restaurant.

Once I reached the stone pathway outside the restaurant, I pulled my phone out of my purse to call my father. I didn't want to stay in this area for another minute. But, with a horrible taste in my throat, I came upon a dead phone. Nervously, I glanced around myself, wary of everyone who passed. I knew that my house couldn't have been too far away, and I really didn't want to go back inside the restaurant to use their phone. I'd have to face Derrick if I did, and that would only result in a stomp off fail.

So, with my head up high, I began my trek towards home, as well as the search for a payphone.

That had been a very stupid choice to make.

A/N: Sorry that I didn't update on Friday like I said I would. My story kept getting randomly deleted, and every time I began to write this chapter my computer would suddenly restart. So, I got really frustrated and gave up for like, two days. I'M SO HAPPY I'M NOT PROCRASTINATING!!! And thank you for the reviews. It's greatly appreciated. :)

Loveless Breath: Yes, it is from a song :). It's the song "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees. Of course, I'm gonna change the title and summary because I feel like I'm totally stealing something and that I'll get in trouble so...yeah... but you were right!

THANK YOU! -- Alex