Chapter Twenty-Four: A Word From the Wise

Dominique

The only thing the text message said was, The crappy water fountain in t-minus three minutes. Yeah, because that made perfect sense to me. I didn't even know that there was a "crappy" water fountain, but that might only be because I refuse to drink from those germ breeding grounds. I rolled my eyes at the cell phone screen under the desk. This wasn't some James Bond movie.

Explanation, please Shawn whateverthefuckyourmiddlenam eis Andersen. Exact coordinates would be appreciated.

A minute later I received a very long message that told me how many steps I had to take out of the classroom to get to the desired water fountain. My response: How do you know what class I'm in?

A minute after that I raised my hand and asked to use the bathroom. My teacher was an old coot, but she couldn't keep me from using the facilities—that was practically child abuse. I then followed Shawn's directions until I found the water fountain. It was one that was pushed into the corner of one of the wings where all the freshmen classes get stuck every year. No wonder it had been dubbed the crappy water fountain. No one ventured to this corner of the school unless they were in that awkward stage that was freshmen year. Shawn was leaning next to the wall, his hands in his pockets. He raised an eyebrow when he saw me.

"Where's your stuff, chica?" he asked, standing up straight.

"My stuff?" I asked. "What, is this a drug deal?"

Shawn rolled his eyes. "Like I would ever pick you as my dealer. I'd be too afraid that you would shoot me and rob me. You're a crazy bitch."

I pursed my lips but I was not insulted at all. I knew I was a crazy bitch, and sometimes it was just so much more fun to act like one. "I'm still waiting on an explanation, mister."

"Hmm." Shawn made a face. "Calling me 'mister' seems more childish than crazy bitch-ish. Unless you meant it in a sensual way, because then I'll take that." He wagged his eyebrows in a way that can only be described as pedophilic.

I wagged a finger in the air. "So, no offense or anything, but could we hurry this thing up. I'm on a bathroom break and my teacher might be thinking I'm taking a little too long doing my business."

Shawn stuck out his tongue at me. Real classy. "Okay," he said. "After the end of this period, you're gonna grab your stuff and meet me in the parking lot."

"But it's only third period," I said, confused.

"Dominique, Dominique," said Shawn. He shook his head and stepped forward, looping his arm through mine. "Don't you get it? We're skipping. I'm going to take you out on the town. Show you all the hot spots."

I'm pretty sure that I gave him the Evil Eye. "I don't skip class," I said carefully, as if someone had just asked me to chop off their arm. "It's, like… against my religion. I'm a good girl. I don't do stuff like this."

Shawn laughed. "Good girl, huh? That's not how I would have described you when you had your tongue down my throat the other day."

I made my best childish face at him and began to walk toward my classroom. Shawn followed, his arm still looped through mine. "Well, unlike some people, I actually do well in school. Skipping is like a death wish. You start skipping one class and next thing you know you're skipping them all. It's contagious."

"Oh, Dominique." Shawn chuckled. "You have to live a little. C'mon, the period is almost over. Grab your stuff and meet me outside. We'll have fun—I'll make sure that you don't waste this skip day on something stupid. Pinky promise." He held up his little finger.

I grabbed it with my hand. "And if it doesn't, then I get to break your pinky."

Shawn perked up. "So, you're coming?"

I released my grip and took my arm back. "What the hell. My life's already going down the toilet."


I couldn't believe that I was doing this. "I can't believe I'm doing this," I said out loud. "This is going to backfire and something bad is going to happen." I put my hands on my cheeks and tried not to groan.

"Will you calm down," Shawn said as he checked the side mirror. He had on those stupid sunglasses again. I wanted to tear them off his face. "You really need to get out more if you're scared about skipping school. And hey, you're not even skipping a fully day—you're only skipping half a day."

I gave him an exasperated look, but I could not tell if he had seen it due to the sunglasses. "No, that's actually worse," I said. "People have seen me at school—they know I was there earlier and now I'm not! They're probably thinking I'm out doing crack or something. There goes my reputation."

Shawn tried to cover a laugh and it sounded like a snort.

I raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"Nah," he said. "It's nothing. It's just you talking about your reputation."

"Oh?" I responded. "Color me intrigued. What's so strange about me and my reputation?"

Shawn didn't say anything for a moment. I briefly wondered where we were going and then decided that that was the least of my problems. "Dominique," Shawn said carefully, "you're a very blunt person. You're just known as one of those people that always seem to be in a bad mood, and the guys like to mess with you because you always snap back at them. Just you talking about trying to keep a good reputation…"

"'Cause I don't have one."

Shawn glanced over at me and then returned his eyes to the road. "It's not entirely bad. You're just known as a little… different."

I rolled my eyes. "Great. 'Different' people are the kids that cower in a corner all day. I'm on that level." I was putting as much contempt in my voice to hide the fact that I was actually a little hurt. I knew I had this big spiel about not caring what people thought about me, but the truth was that every now and then, I did care. I was human. Unfortunately. I did care that people looked at me as that "that girl." Desiree would say that I should have put more effort into meeting people. I was who I was, but right now I wished I was someone else. I wish I was someone who was happy all the time and amicable and outgoing. I was the kind of person who functioned best while under a rock.

"Trust me," Shawn said, "you are not that strange. Not that I'm saying you're strange, because you're a perfectly normal person…"

"Shawn." I patted him on the shoulder. "It's fine. I know I'm not the most normal fish in the sea. I'm usually pretty fine with that, too."

The car slowed and then pulled off to the right. Shawn carefully pulled into a parking spot in front of a little family owned restaurant. It was the same place Logan and I creeped on Desiree and Reagan when they went out to lunch a long time ago. I liked this place.

Shawn got out, powerwalked around the front of the car, and then opened my door before I could even reach for the handle. "Ma'am, food awaits you."

"Lunch?" I asked, accentuating the word. "Aren't you afraid you'll be seen in public with me?"

"Not at all. You know, you're not too bad of a person when you don't have a stick up your butt."

I didn't really get it. First, we used to bite each other's heads off. Then we started making out. Now Shawn was being nice to me. What is this? I did not understand. It's one thing to use a person for some much needed make out sessions—um, guilty—but actually being friendly? Inconceivable! And why of all people would he choose to make out with you? I thought. Shawn could easily get anyone he wanted. Part of me was waiting for the punch line—like, psych, this was all just a sick joke. That was the only way to explain it.

I waited until we took a seat in a booth before I said anything. "Why are you doing this?" I asked, crossing my arms and trying my best to look defiant.

Shawn raised an eyebrow. "Doing what?"

Like he didn't know. "Being nice to me," I said. "Acting like you're my friend."

"Because I am your friend," Shawn said. He leaned forward and put him arms on the edge of the table. I eyed them suspiciously. "Or at least, I want to be. You seem to have a little wall up when it comes to friendship."

Before I could stop it, my lips pursed. "Look, I just don't get it, okay? We used to make fun of each other. That was like the circle of life—you would say something mean and I would say something mean back. This…" I waved my hands through the air. "I don't know how to react to this."

Shawn took his arms off the table and leaned back. He looked at me for a moment, and I tried not to squirm under his gaze. This didn't feel right. I had never been alone with Shawn like this. Sure, there were those couple make out sessions at his place and I had been alone in with him in his car, but that did not feel so strange. I had never been alone with him in a public place. I had ever really associated with him at school or because we just happened to be neighbors. This setting just did not seem to fit. I did not know how I felt about that.

"Okay," Shawn finally said, "I'm gonna try to make this sound the least creepy that I can. I like you, Dominique. You're a pretty cool person once you get past your grumpiness. And I can still mess with you if you want. I liked doing that because it was fun. You're the only girl I know who fires insults back at me. Your sister just beats me with her purse."

What I wanted to say was, "That still doesn't answer any of my questions." I still did not know why I was here. I still did not know why he was being so friendly. It's not like we had been building some relationship. It was more like, "Oh, hey, let's be make out buddies and friends."

Our food came a minute later, but I was not very hungry. I was confused and I hated being confused. I had enough dealing with Desiree—I didn't need to figure Shawn out, too. There was not a lot of talk as we ate our food. I did not have anything else to say. Finally, Shawn came out with something. "How're things going with Desiree, anyway?"

Like that's what I wanted to talk about. "How's this," I said. "I forget you said that, you never mention it again and I won't stab you in the nuts with this fork." I waved the utensil around in the air. "Okay?"

Watching the fork careful, Shawn nodded. "I can agree to that."

Good. I did not want to talk about my sister with Shawn. I didn't really want to talk to anyone about her. I was still trying to make up my mind about if I forgave her or not. Wait. I did have to talk about her. "Shit!" My fists curled up. "Shit, shit, shit!" How could I forget? I had to go see the good ol' doc today. I was surprised that my dad hadn't forced me to go see her immediately after what had just happened with Desiree and Jesse. There was no way I could miss this, though. I was smart enough to know that my dad would kill me—and that this therapy session was probably good for my health. As much as I hated to admit it, I did need someone to talk to. Unfortunately, I was going to have to actually talk to my therapist. Whoop de freakin' do.

"Everything alright?" Shawn asked.

I repressed the urge to groan. "No," I said. "I need you to take me back to school after this. I have an appointment after school and I can't miss it."

Shawn shrugged. "I can drive you. It's no problem. We're already out."

"No!" There was no way I was going to let Shawn Andersen know that I had a therapist. Even though he was being nice to me now, he could easily revert to his old ways. I would never hear the end of it; and what is worse, he would probably tell all of his little buddies and I would become known as the resident nut case—which would just add to my already sunny reputation.

"What?" Shawn grinned. "Do you have to go the gyno or something?"

"I wish," I muttered.

And just like that, Shawn the Asshole was back. "Oh, c'mon," he said, "it can't be that bad. It's not like you got released from the kook house and have to see a shrink to make sure you're fit to live around people."

I recoiled at the word "shrink."

Shawn made a pained face. "I said something wrong."

Well, there was no fucking going back now. Just more crap to pile onto my life. "I have to see my therapist," I muttered, throwing my hands in the air. "I guess when you get attacked by your sister's drunk, creepy boyfriend, your family thinks you need mental help. So, yes, I know—I'm a basket case."

Before Shawn could do anything, my cell phone went off. I grabbed it out of my pocket, looked at the caller ID, and snapped into the phone, "What, Logan?!"

"Dominique," he whined, ignoring my tone. "You're not at lunch!"

I could feel a headache coming on. "Yeah," I said. "It's a long story that I probably won't tell you until months later. I gotta go."

"But—"

I disconnected.

"You do know you're not a basket case," Shawn said, not waiting for me to say anything first. "There are some crazier people than you out there. Like, I would send Reagan to the nut house if I could. But don't think I think you're wacko because you have a therapist."

I looked down at my lunch. It was barely eaten. "Please," I said. "Can we just go?"

Shaw sat there motionless for a moment, and then he turned around in the booth and looked for the waitress. He beckoned her over and asked for the check.


There was still half an hour left to school by the time we got back. We sat in silence in Shawn's car for a minute. I was trying to think of what to say, but no words were coming. Finally, I said, "Thanks," opened the car door, and got out. Shawn did not say anything.

I walked over to where I had parked my car and climbed in. It was still too early to drive over to Dr. Bloomington's office, but then I looked up at the school and realized that I needed to get there as soon as possible. I felt like I was cracking up. I started up the car, rolled down the passenger side window to let a little air in, and backed out of the parking spot. Shawn had driven away already. I then pulled out of the high school and headed toward the shrink's office.

The waiting area was empty when I came in. "Hi," I said awkwardly to the receptionist. "I'm here to see Dr. Bloomington, but I'm a little early. Could you see if she has any patient right now?"

The receptionist nodded and told me to take a seat. She picked up the phone and pushed a few buttons.

A minute later one of office doors opened and Dr. Bloomington stepped out. "Dominique," she said. "I didn't have any patients in before you. Why don't you come on in?"

I sat down on the edge of the couch, not feeling very relaxed at all. "Hi," I said. That seemed to be the only thing I could get out.

"Hi," said Dr. Bloomington. "I don't think I'll beat around the bush. We both know the subject of today's session. Do you want to say anything first?"

For once, I did. "Yeah," I said. "You're going to get your bang for your buck today, Doc. I feel like I'm going crazy. I don't know what to do with my sister. I don't know what to say to her, I don't know how to feel about her, I just don't know anything. And it's driving me crazy. I feel like I'm closed up in this little hole. I haven't felt this bad since all this shit first happened. I just want to be happy again." I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and I hated myself for crying. "I'm tired of feeling so bitter and unhappy, and now it's even worse. I even went out with my friend today and I couldn't even muster up some happiness."

Dr. Bloomington crossed her legs. I noticed that there was a pull in her stockings. "Let's talk about Desiree. What exactly are your feelings toward her? Anger? Sadness?"

"Betrayal." The word slipped out of my lips. "That's the biggest thing, but I've felt everything under the sun. At first I was really mad. Really mad. But now I'm just sad. I feel like someone took my insides and jumbled them all up. I'd like it if I could just sleep for days. Hibernate."

"Who do you think you're more upset at?" Dr. Bloomington asked. "Desiree or Jesse?"

Jesse. His name made me automatically frown. "Desiree," I said. "I'm done with feeling anything toward Jesse—anything new, I guess. I still hate him for what happened. I think that's mostly because I'm so unsure of whether it was an accident or not. And he never really apologized. I can expect something like this from him, though. Desiree… Desiree told me that she was done with Jesse after all that happened. She said she didn't care if it was an accident or not. I had told her that I didn't like him and then something like that happened, and Desiree finally realized that it wouldn't be healthy if she stayed with Jesse. Then we moved because of Dad's job, and Mom refused to see us before that—I didn't want to see her anyways, but it still hurt—and I just kind of became grumpy. I almost wished that we had moved farther away than just the northern part of the state. I wished I could have gone as far away as I could."

"You know that putting physical distance between you and the past isn't the full solution," Dr. Bloomington said. "It might help a little, but it is not the remedy."

"Jesse wouldn't have shown up, though," I said.

"Are you sure?" the good doctor responded. "He could have found a way."

"No," I said matter-of-factly. "He wouldn't have put that much effort into coming after us. I know it."

It was quiet for a moment. Even though I still had much to deal with, I felt so much better after being able to rant and get it all out. The pressure on my chest was not as great anymore. "Dominique," said Dr. Bloomington slowly, "do you think you will see Jesse again or, for lack of a better term, deal with him again?"

I shrugged. "Not sure. No one's seen him since the whole hit-and-run incident. I'm pretty sure that Desiree isn't stupid enough to mess with him again. I know that she feels bad about what she did and that our relationship would never recover if she went back to him again. It's already pretty shaky now."

"That's what you need to do."

"Do what?"

Dr. Bloomington uncrossed her legs and then crossed them again. "You and Desiree need to make up. I'm not saying that you need to forgive her, and you need to tell her that. You need to tell her that you're still recovering from what she did; in fact, Dominique, I think you are still recovering from the incident with Jesse. You seem to be unaccepting of something about that incident—what exactly, I'm not sure—but it is clear when you say that you wish you have moved farther away and when you say that you have become grumpy. You need to finally put this behind you, and hopefully Jesse never reappears again. First, though, I think you need to sit down with your sister and have a talk. You may not know what to say at first, but the words will come. You can express your anger at Desiree, but don't get mad. Keep your anger controlled—tell her that you were or are mad rather than being mad. Does that make sense?"

It did actually. I nodded.

"And, Dominique, do not be afraid to show emotions. You are not afraid to show your anger or annoyance, but I want you to fully open up." Dr. Bloomington took a deep breath and gave me a long look in the eyes. "And then, when you have finally put all of this behind you, I want you to smile."

To be continued…