Sunday May 16th 02:22

Nick's arrival startles me out of my sleep. I hold my breath to hear him thud toward my room.

I'm suddenly conscious of how naked I am.

"Eli, are you home?"

He flips the light before I can say anything and we stare at each other. He's soaking wet and I probably don't look any better.

"Man, where have you been? Did you even go to work?"

I say "Were you out in the rain? Did you walk home in the rain?"

He looks as sheepish as one can when they're dripping water and shivering.

"Nah. Let me go change. I'll tell you about it."

He turns around and goes to the bathroom and I jump out of the covers. My body hurts more than it did before. I try not to hop on my bad knee while I put on clothes.

I'm sitting on the couch when Nick steps out. He is rubbing his head with a towel.

"So, you know how I said I was really gonna convince Lisa this time around?"

I nod.

"Well, I got off work pretty late, around ten, and the thunder and lightning was going." He sits down next to me. "I just thought I'd do something romantic, like toss rocks at her window. Well, turns out she was spending the night with McMeathead, and that dude was not happy to see me."

I don't like where the story is going, but Nick isn't beaten up, so I don't say anything.

"He told me to fuck off, basically, but I had to try, you know. So I started telling Lisa how I really felt about her and she started screaming that she was engaged and that I was a creepy stalker. Her boyfriend says he's going to call the cops and Lisa's still screaming. She's a banshee at this point. I mean, dogs are barking and people are coming outside.

"So I shouted at her, 'You're tearing me apart, Lisa!' and that's when it starts raining really hard. I had to get out of there before the cops showed up, but she said she's going to file a restraining order against me."

He sighs and looks at me and I know we're thinking the same thing because I start to laugh and then he starts to laugh. It's not very funny, but it's better than this entire shit week, and we lose it.

"Man, I was so stupid," he says and leans against the couch.

I'm still laughing, but the giggling is starting to feel a lot like sobs.

"I was so obsessed with her, it was ridiculous."

He sighs and turns his head toward me.

"What about you, Eli? What's your story?"

I draw my knees up and press them to my mouth. I can't stop the pressure building at the corners of my eyes, though. Nick leans forward and I shake my head.

"Eli, what's the matter? Did somebody die or something?"

He tries to laugh it off, but his lack of tact is more than funny. I rest my forehead against my knees and he grips my shoulder.

"Chloe's dead."

He doesn't say anything for a while, but his grip tightens.

"How?"

"It was an accident."

"I'm so sorry, Eli."

"She tumbled through a bunch of rocks."

"But where were you?"

"We just wanted to have fun."

It was supposed to be simple fun.

"But where were you?"

I show him my hospital bracelet and he stares at me.

Does this make me a murderer?

"I had to go to the hospital."

"Are you okay?" he says and I know I've been wrong about him all along. Nick cares about my problems. He probably cares more about me than I ever cared about him.

"I didn't love her like you thought I did," I say. I wipe my eyes. "We weren't together in that way."

"What?"

"She was like a mother to me."

"Eli, what the hell are you talking about?"

I hug my knees tighter.

"When I was eight, my mother drowned my sister in the tub in front of me and then she tried to do the same thing to me."

He recoils. "Why wouldn't you tell me that before, man? I've known you since before you were eight!"

"I don't know; I was a kid."

"I thought we were friends."

"I didn't want you to think I was weird."

His expression softens. "Eli, I already think you're weird. Have I abandoned you yet?"

"Actually, I can't get rid of you," I say. I drop my eyes. "I'm a terrible friend."

He snorts and leans into the couch.

"I'm really sorry you got a restraining order put against you."

This time, he chuckles. "That is still funny as hell."

I smile nervously.

He says, "Listen, Eli, we're going to get through this together," and as our conversation extends well into the morning, I think I actually start to believe him.


And that's a wrap! Thanks so much to all the people who read and reviewed, I appreciate you guys. :D This was a different style for me to write, so I hope you enjoyed reading it. I really enjoyed writing it, and I don't know, I got so caught up in the characters I started thinking about a sequel sort of thing, ehehe. Maybe there will be time between semesters to seriously contemplate it, but for now, on to the next project!

See ya around! :)