To my surprise, Darell didn't actively avoid me. Instead, he left me to my own devices for the next week or so. He was really giving things some thought and I was more than fine with that. Still, it was a tad unnerving how he'd stare at me as I ate toast, completed homework, watched TV, slept, dressed, etc. He thought I didn't notice, so I kept my mouth shut.
But, I soon didn't have time to worry about how he reacted to me. The reason? Leslie had made contact. Dramatic drum roll ensues…
The first text message she had sent me since I had entered college had arrived that morning. I was sitting on my bed, Darell still sleeping on his, when I felt my phone vibrate:
-Hey, what's up?-
Dread immediately filled me. Oh, God, this was going to start again. I had thought that, since I was a freshman in college and she was a senior in high school, the two of us would just naturally drift apart. Clutching the phone and rereading the message, I knew I had been wrong…
-Not much. You…?-
When I sent that, I knew I was doomed.
-School sucks. There's no1 here that's cool. And my English teacher is such a bitch. She wants us to write a short story. Lame!-
It didn't matter what my reply was. She never cared. Nothing mattered, including me, as long as she got to rant and someone got to listen.
-And, there's this rly cool girl in the back. She doesn't talk much. But, I luv pple that r quiet. They r so sensitive, u know?-
-I hate loud people. So annoying! Like the guy who sits in front of me. He was looking at me like I was stupid. But, his grades suck, so I don't know y he even talks. Pple who think they r cool r such crap!-
My classes were over and Leslie and I had covered a lot of topics. Well, she had. I replied with one or two words. Like usual... I had just returned to the dorms from my Calculus lecture when I felt my phone vibrate again. There was just no end when she got started. I had released the Kraken and its tentacles of fury were whipping me…
-I don't have any1 to hang out with. Nick and Allie have second lunch :( Every1 else is a loser. They don't pay attention to any1 but themselves-
-I talked with Greg today-
I paused at this, my heart picking up the pace. Wasn't he the guy she had first gotten her pills from?
-And what? I left. I don't need him anymore-
Phrasing aside, that was good. She was recovering.
-I'm proud of you…-
-I don't want to be stupid like him. He doesn't have any friends. That's why he sells that stuff-
Okay, I know I agreed to a lot of things she said, but I was already at my limit.
-I'm sure he's got his own troubles…-
-I know, right? He's been to juvie!-
That's not what I had meant. The more we talked, the more depressed I got. I didn't agree with her thinking. I didn't like it. I didn't like the things she implied. Being talkative was not a bad trait. Teachers giving assignments was not a bitch move. Everything was an opinion, but she made it the law of the land. It was disheartening. Was it okay to just swallow this sinking feeling? No, it wasn't, but I continued anyway. If she got to release her frustrations, then I had to be glad she was talking instead of relying on harmful alternatives.
The day went on…
Another week had passed and I found myself struggling to get out of bed. I couldn't move because of this dark feeling that took over my body. Going to class had been torture.
My phone, which was half-hidden under my quilt, vibrated.
-My short story is due and I've got nothing! Argh! Stupid teacher! Y does she give us to do crap?-
No! Don't do it! Don't reply! I don't want to! But…Leslie…needs me…
-This is impossible! Too much work! Too little time!-
Why did you procrastinate if you knew you couldn't handle stress?
-First, calm down. You have lunch before English, so go to the library and write a paragraph. A low grade is infinitely better than a zero…-
-I don't even know what to write!-
Oh, come on, sweetheart! Sit your ass down and just get to it! If you have time to complain, you have time to write!
-What about that stuff you write on your laptop?-
Silence. She replied half an hour later, when I was lying on my bed, finishing my homework.
-Doesn't matter. I'm turning it in 2morrow for a late grade. It's only 10 pnts off-
I could just strangle her! I mean, that's a whole letter grade! And, what about my suggestion? Had she even listened to what I had said?
-Well, you better get started…-
-Oh, it won't be that hard. I've already got a back-up on my laptop-
I smacked my forehead. There was so much wrong with this picture…
The flood of texts was relentless and I started remembering why I had hoped she'd distance herself.
-I hate ignorant people. They don't know anything-
You're telling me…
-We were talking about addictions in AP Psych and I was the only 1 who understood anything. I know u won't get it, but believe me, being addicted is super hard! I can't even begin to explain!-
The words crossing my mind were so foul that I didn't dare open my mouth.
-Sometimes I think my therapist is just as biased-
At least you have a therapist! I remember feeling the urge to harm myself and clutching at my phone, realizing I had no one to contact.
-She probably isn't. I mean, she probably deals with this kind of stuff all the time…-
There was no reply for the next 15 minutes. I went back and looked at every word I had typed. Nope, nothing offensive. I guess she wasn't happy I had stated an opinion that conflicted with hers.
-OMG! I just walked past a girl with cigarette burns on her arms! So ugly!-
Ugly. The word echoed in my head and I tried as hard as I could to convince myself that this was Leslie and that what she said was only a matter of opinion.
Oh, I could kill her and her opinions! What did she know about the girl and her burns? Nothing! To call them ugly like that, it was wrong. I would tell her so. I should tell her so.
Looking at my arm, I realized I couldn't criticize. She was right. This was ugly. I was ugly.
I only had one class and I didn't have the energy to pull myself out of bed. I skipped it. That wasn't like me. That wasn't like me at all. But, I sat huddled up in my quilt because I was cold. I felt so damn cold and lonely and hurt. I'd been hurt by Leslie's one thousand and one implications and careless words. And, it was all so subtle, I found myself not reacting until it was too late and my anger was unjustified.
The door burst open and the person who had walked in stopped at the sight of me. Darell…
"Micah?" he asked hesitantly. "Don't you have class, like, now?"
I didn't move from my spot. I lay, curled up, facing the wall.
There was an uncomfortable silence that permeated the room and I found myself tightening the quilt around my body.
I heard his footsteps and some shuffling across from me. Soon enough, the door creaked again and I could feel his gaze on me.
"Well, I hope you get better…" he hesitantly muttered.
I still didn't move.
And, with that, Darell was gone.
I wish he wasn't …
A/N: I'm pretty sure everyone has at least one Leslie in their life. They're not always easy to spot, but, I know none of you are, because you're so awesome for sticking with me! So, thank you for all the wonderful support! :)