I sat on my bed for the longest time, still not fully convinced that I really wanted to do what I was about to.
I took a deep breath to keep the panic attack at bay. I know that I am going to have to knock this off sooner or later. Besides, John still can't cook anything other than scrambled eggs and canned soup. I should probably make something before we all starve to death. Only one problem with that – John. Has. NO. Food. In. The. House. So I have to go grocery shopping before I can cook. So I have to actually go out.
Going by that logic, I might as well get it over with sooner, rather than later. Except that I don't really want to. On the other hand, what good is more laying in bed going to bring? I'm just hurting everyone who has to watch me do it. And it's not like he's coming back, is he?
I close my eyes to stop the tears. No. I will not cry today. I take another deep breath and head downstairs. Rip the band-aid, right?
I enter the kitchen awkwardly. I've been downstairs before, but never while there were other people around.
"Um… hi," I croak awkwardly.
Man, my voice sounds rough. Well, it has been a while since I've last used it.
"Hey, Lexi!" John replies, trying to sound cheerful, but I can see it in his eyes that he's afraid that I might break in half right in front of him.
I can't really blame him. I believe that the last (and the only) time he'd tried to get me to come downstairs ended with me crying until he gave up and let me get back to bed.
"Um, here, have a seat," He gets up and pulls a chair out for me.
"Thank you, " I reply, trying to manage a smile for him. "Um, I… I'd like to go grocery shopping today. If that's alright." I announce. Might as well get it done with.
"Really?" John blurts out, covering his mouth with his hand in horror when he realizes he'd said it out loud. "I mean, of course! That's great!" He says in an overly-enthusiastic tone.
I can't hold back a laugh at his reaction. I see his eyebrows shoot up in surprise at the sound. Again, I can't really blame him. I'm just as shocked.
John is the first to recover from the surprise, patting my shoulder.
"I was actually just getting ready to go to work, but today I'm riding with Amy so I could leave you the car keys, would you like that?," he offers. "Or we could go together when I get back, if you don't feel like going alone," he continues rambling.
Yeah, John rambles a lot. I try to not think about whom that reminds me of.
"It's okay, John," I stop him, managing a little smile. "The car keys would be great, if it's not too much trouble," I say.
He nods, picking up his key chain from the counter and separating the car key from the rest. He hands it to me just as another car honks in front of the house.
"Here you are. Um, looks like Amy is here. I should be going. Have fun," He says, kissing my cheek before leaving.
Standing in front of the mirror in my room, I realize for the first time precisely why everyone was so worried about me. Saying that I look sick would be understating it. My hair is limp and dull, my bangs are overgrown and they cover half my face, my ratty used-to-be-gym clothes are literally hanging on me. Most remarkably, every hint of color, other than grey, that is, has completely vanished from my face, making my eyes look even more red and puffy than they were to begin with.
I lean on the sink to keep myself from sliding to the floor. It's not like I feel any better than I look, either. I'm not quite so determined to go out anymore. Making me look presentable might just require more effort than it's worth.
I feel the tears prick my eyes. No. I said that I will not cry today. I take a deep breath to calm down and reach for my hairbrush.
I'm not quite sure how long it took me to clean myself up. All I know is that it didn't take as much work as I'd originally feared.
I'd pulled my hair back into a bun and swept the bangs to the side. I'm going to have to get a haircut one of these days, but for now this will have to do. I even put on some make-up to cover up the paleness a bit.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for finding a more public-looking outfit. That is quickly proving to be a task in and of itself, as most of the clothes I brought here have become too baggy to be wearable. I finally settled on a pair of black yoga pants, Uggs and a dark grey, loose sweater.
When I walk over to the nightstand to pick up my phone from it, I notice my ring standing next to it. I can't remember when I'd taken it off; I didn't even notice I wasn't wearing it. For a moment I consider leaving it there, but I can't bring myself to do it. I put it back on my hand and get up to leave before I change my mind and decide to stay inside.
…Which almost happens anyway. The very second I glance at the sky that looks as grey and dull as I feel, I'm reminded of why I've never liked Washington, state. It looks like it's about to rain every second, but again, when doesn't it, in this place?
I sit in the car for almost 20 minutes before actually turning it on, just taking deep breaths and trying to keep the panic attack at bay. Eventually I decide that the car isn't going to drive itself and turn the key into ignition.
Oddly enough, as I drive down the wet roads, I find myself feeling comforted by the mushy weather and endless trees peeking through the fog and the sheer silence that surrounds me.
When I step inside the air-conditioned, inviting supermarket, my feeling of comfort increases. I instantly remember why grocery shopping was my favorite chore back when I lived at home.
I pick up a cart from the line, put my bag in it and start wondering around aimlessly, wondering where to start. Upon shorter consideration, I decide to begin with the staples and head towards the cereal aisle.
Two hours and seventeen minutes later, I've already spent $198 and I'm not quite done yet. I fear that John might kill me when he finds out, but I wasn't kidding when I said that the man literally has nothing edible in the house! I look down at the cart, frowning at it. I can't remember whether I picked some yogurt…
My pondering was cut short by a violent shake when somebody smacked their cart into mine.
"You know, you should really watch where you're going. Somebody could get hurt," the owner of the other cart says to me.
Wait, what? I should watch where I'm going? Right, because I just slammed my cart into someone else's for no reason at all.
And why does he look so familiar…
"Interesting, I was under the impression that you walked into me, not the other way around," I glared at him.
"Nope, that's not how it happened. But hey, never mind. Lexi, right?" He asks.
Oh yes that is exactly how it happened. Wait, what the hell? How does he know my name? Last I checked, I wasn't walking around with a name tag.
"As a matter of fact, that is how it happened. And why did you just call me that?" I snap, having recovered from the shock.
"Um, do you prefer Alexandra?" He asked, seeming confused.
At least he dropped the cart issue.
"No, I like Lexi better. And you would be?" I ask. I'm not even sure why I'm still talking to him.
"Oliver Scott," he shrugs his shoulders, looking kind of confused, as if he'd expected me to know him.
Which might easily be the case since he does seem familiar. However, I do not recognize him, so I just raise my eyebrows questioningly.
"Um, down the street? 'Scott-Free' café?" He says.
I nod, keeping my face expressionless, or so I hope. Now I do recognize the name. His family has lived down the same street as John since forever – but that still doesn't explain how he knows my name, or why I found him familiar. I've only been here once before, and for a short while. I'm positive that we have never met before. I push those thoughts aside, not wanting to come off as a crazy paranoid person.
"Right. Oliver Scott. The café. Well, see ya around." I quickly smile and head towards the check-out line. I don't really want to keep talking.
"Sure thing. And Lexi?" He called, after I'd already turned my back to him.
"Yes?" I glance at him over my shoulder. Just what does he want now?
"You really should watch where you're going," he answered, quickly disappearing around the aisle, before I had the chance to reply.
My blood boils. If we weren't in such a public place, I'd probably yell after him. Luckily, I decide that making a scene in a packed supermarket probably isn't the smartest idea I'd ever head and continue my way to the check-out.
As I prepared our dinner –stuffed bell peppers, and cherry pie for dessert – my anger was slowly replaced by suspicion.
Forgetting about Oliver Scott turned out to be way harder than I'd expected. My gut was telling me, though I'm not completely sure how reliable it is, that something is off about him. Blame it on the first impression –the furthest thing from favorable– but I could swear my life, little as it meant to me right now, that today he walked into me on purpose. He had some glint in his eyes… I have no idea what to make out of it.
Oh, damn it! I nearly burned the pie. The same thing happened with the peppers before that. What the hell is it about the obnoxious Scott guy that makes it impossible for me to forget about him?
I breathe a sigh of relief when I see that the pie has survived my lack of caution, just as John opens the door and yells hello.
The dinner went by uneventfully. My stuffed peppers did taste a bit burnt, but John and his grandpa didn't seem to mind any more than I did, for we'd polished the dish off.
For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to mention my encounter with Oliver when John asked me about my day while we were washing the dishes. A part of it was also because I was quite sure that he would get a good laugh out of my paranoia. Hell, I think it's ridiculous.
I never even realized just how deeply tired I was until I actually started getting ready to go to bed. I sat on the couch, staring at my ring while I twirled it around with my thumb, when a realization hit me. And boy did it hit hard.
I'd just spent a whole day doing something other than crying. There was indeed a world that Jaden wasn't a part of and someday the pain might just subside enough to let me be a part of it.
A/N: So? First impressions? I'd like some constructive criticism (if anyone can be bothered). Like, if the story flows right, if it makes any sense this far?
I am aware it's slow, uneventful and possibly boring, but that's how it's supposed to be for now. This is told entirely in Lexi's POV, a broken woman whose life doesn't make sense anymore. The grocery shopping is the highlight of her day.
Are you at least intrigued enough to keep reading?