'You can't go home now.' Charlie says. His face and voice are filled with anger and fear. It's the day after I found out he's still after me. Charlie doesn't like the idea of me going to live alone after hospital. 'Why haven't they found her yet though? Ugh, this is maddening!'
'They could find her before I go.' I remind him.
'They haven't found her in a month, what's the chance finding her now, Vanessa?' He throws the pillow from visitors' seat to the floor, walks away, his back to me. I climb out of bed and walk up to him. I reach out and touch his shoulder.
'Calm down.' I say, quietly, hoping it'll be contagious. 'My apartment has a good security system. And it's not like she can crawl through the window when I'm two stories up. It'll work out.'
'How are you so calm?' He asks me, frustrated, turning around to face me. He grabs my cheeks, cupping my face with his hands. 'There is someone out there trying to kill you.' He finishes.
'I've thought it through. It's not like I'm going to leave the door unlocked and invite strangers into my house.' I point out. 'I'll be careful. Don't worry so much.' It was kind of cute that he was so worried about me. He stares into my face, frowning. But there's a definite look of worry in his eyes. His hands haven't moved from my cheeks. He looks like he thinks about something before dropping his hands and moving away. He still looks so angry... 'Look if it makes you feel better, I'll move in with you.'
'Vanessa, no!' He shouts. 'No...' He says, quietly. He looks like he's restraining himself.
'"No" what, Charlie?' I raise my voice, too. 'What is so wrong about us living together? It won't be that different from how we're living now!'
'No, Charlie. I really don't care what excuse you have, you-' Suddenly, he pushes me against the wall, his hand either side of my head. My breathing speeds up, my chest heaving up and down at a fast pace. I try to conceal it, though.
'Don't...' He mutters, scarily. It's so much more frightening than his yelling before. 'I don't want to... I don't want you to live with me... And then have you...' he pauses, licking his lips and frowning. Again, it's like he's thinking of doing something. 'Look, just leave it alright?' He removes his hands and my breathing goes back to being relatively normal. Why is he so mad? What about this situation makes him so angry? I so want to know, but he doesn't want to talk about it, and I don't want him to get any more angry than he has.
'Okay...' He says, after a couple of minutes, but the anger is still in his eyes, boiling. 'Visit me every day. So, that I know you're okay.'
'Fine.' I nod.
'Deal?' He holds out his hand for me to shake it.
'Deal.' I reply, shaking his hand. I've never seen him like this. It's kind of terrifying.
I really miss my friends. I've told them not to visit, because of Ivy and now I don't have the energy to deal with them so I haven't told them to visit again. That's how they work, anyway. Give you space, come when you ask. But it would be nice if they just came out randomly and give me cookies or something. It'd be nice. Just a random party to make feel a little better. I have Charlie, but now he's just going to be worried and telling me things I can do to help my situation.
'When are your friends going to come and visit you?' He says, as if he's reading my mind. 'They haven't been for a week. You'd think they'd be here for moral support.'
'No, my friends don't work like that.' I explain, 'If someone's going through something, we give them space. They'll come to us for help if they need it.'
'Well, you can't exactly go to them when you're stuck in hospital, can you?'
'I can still call them and message them for support.' I tell him.
'But it's always better to have people actually there for you.' He points out. I stay silent, knowing that he's right. I walk back to my bed and climb in again. I go to open my laptop, but I'm stopped by Charlie.
'If you're going to look for more evidence about who she is, don't.'
'It'll just make me more nervous.'
'Okay, then Mr Worry Warts, what do you suggest we do?'
'Well, can you think of any reasons why she'd want to kill you?' He says, leaning on the end of my bed.
'You honestly think I haven't thought about it?' I ask him. 'Please, I've been trying to think about that since I've been here.'
'Well?' He says, 'Any thoughts?'
'No. Unless I've done something terrible without my knowledge?'
'Ok, so you've never done anything bad. What about boyfriends, girlfriends? Could she be some creep that you dumped ages ago? Or some assassin that an ex-boyfriend could have set on you?' I start laughing really hard. So hard, in fact, that I start crying.
'What's so funny?' He asks, confused.
'I've never been in a relationship! Unless you count fake weddings in primary school!' I splutter through the laughter. 'I've never even kissed anyone!'
'Really?' He says, genuinely interested, coming over and sitting next to me on the bed. 'I would have thought all the guys at school would be interested in you. I don't know if there are any girls who are interested in girls there, but I'm sure they would be interested in you.'
This cracks me up even more. 'That's sweet, that you think that but it's definitely not true!' I manage to choke out when I've got the breath for it.
'What's not true?' A voice says from the door. I look behind Charlie to find Sophie, Kristen, Jess and Grace at the door.
'Who's this guy?' Grace says, looking at Charlie from head to toe. Though I've talked about my friends to Charlie, I still haven't introduced them.
'I'm Charlie. I'm guessing that you're Grace.'
'You've told him about me?' She asks, looking behind Charlie at me.
'I've told him about all of you.' I explain.
'What is he doing in your room?' Sophie asks, her eyes flicking from me to him. She's obviously suspicious and by the looks of it, wondering why I haven't told them about him.
'He's my friend. It is expected of friend's to visit friends.' I say, strongly. Charlie raises his eyebrows at me, as if he's insinuating that this is news to him. I punch his arm softly in response and then look toward Sophie, secretly telling her with my eyes that she should drop it. She looks back at me suspiciously, but drops it.
'Hey, Jess. Haven't seen you in a while.' I can see, in her eyes, that she wants to leave. She was probably forced to come by Grace.
'Hi, Vanessa.' She says. She's eyeing off Charlie. She's obviously looking for a rebound. I feel slightly angered that she's thinking about guys when she's supposed be visiting me.
'Right. Well, I'll be leaving.' Charlie says pointing carelessly towards to the door.
'Oh, don't leave because of us.' Jess says. She obviously wants to talk to Charlie more. I'm completely angry now. First, she doesn't visit me because her boyfriend broke up with her, and now she's trying to get with Charlie! But I know he won't go for her. I've told him about her and he's definitely not interested.
'No, no, you guys need your "girl time"' He uses his fingers to emphasise the quotations on "girl time".
'Just stay.' Grace says, clearly annoyed. She has also seen Jess' interest in him.
'Ok.' Charlie says, stepping back and holding up his hands like the police have shouted, 'Freeze!' at him.
'So Vanessa, how are you feeling?' Sophie asks, trying to turn the subject around from Charlie to me. I am the reason they visit.
'Not too crash-hot.' I answer, fury starting to bubble inside as I look at Jess stare at Charlie. Why am I so angry? She's allowed to have him. It's not like he's mine... It's at this moment that I realise - I have a crush on Charlie Trickerr. I feel my face burn hot and I don't dare look in his direction.
'Your stitches are coming out soon, aren't they?' Kristen asks, meekly. She obviously sees the anger in my eyes as I furtively look at Jess over and over again.
'Yes. In a week.' I don't want to make conversation because I want them to go. Especially Jess. I can't believe her! She is supposed to be visiting me but she is checking out my friend!
'Well that's good, I suppose.' Jess says, not even looking at me.
'So you're leaving here on the tenth right?' Sophie confirms. 'And you're staying at my place while they move your stuff into your apartment for two nights, correct?'
I nod. Silence swallows the room for a few awkward minutes until Charlie speaks.
'I don't see why I can't just go.' Charlie says. 'It's not like I'm any use in this conversation.'
'Just go, Charlie.' I sigh, looking at him, but avoiding his eyes. He raises his eyebrow once more, as if asking if I'm sure. I know he doesn't want to be here with my friends. From what he's heard about them, he certainly doesn't like them much. 'It's fine. Just go back to your room and play with your dick or something.'
My friend's gasp in shock, Grace raising her eyebrows and chuckling under her breath.
'Ok. Will do.' He says, trying so hard not to laugh. He gets up and starts to walk over to the door. Jess winks at him when he walks past and he looks surprised and taken aback. He shakes his head before leaving, still laughing under his breath. As soon as he's gone, Jess immediately comes out and says,
'Is there something going on between you two?'
'Yeah! He's cute!' Sophie says. 'Why didn't you tell us about him?'
'There's nothing much to tell.' I ponder whether or not to say there was something between us, but decide against it. 'No, there's nothing between us. We're just friends.' Jess' eyes twinkle with a hint of evil.
'Come on! He's cute! You have to have a crush on him!' Sophie says, nudging me.
'Seriously?' Grace scoffs. 'She makes an awesome dick joke and you ignore it to ask about her relationship with a guy? I'm disappointed in all of you.'
'Grace, thank you. It's hard to be this hilarious. But look,' I start, 'I may or may not have a crush on Charlie. But it's not like I have a chance with him!'
'So you do have a crush on him!' Sophie cries out. 'I knew it!'
'Why don't you have a chance with him?' Grace asks, looking confused, 'He seems pretty interested in you!'
'Grace, what do you think?' Jess asks, with a look of... something on her face. I'm not sure what.
'Eh, not my gender. I mean- type.' She says, even though we all know that she's a lesbian. 'But for Vanessa, perfect. Though, I would be better...' She adds, shrugging, obviously joking.
'Guys, stop trying to convince me that he's interested in me.' I say, shaking my head.
'But, why don't you have a chance with him?' Kristen asks.
'Because I'm not like Jess! I don't have the confidence to say anything about it! And he just wants to be friends!'
'Did he say that?' Grace asks. Everyone turns to look directly at me.
'No. But he certainly hasn't said or done anything to indicate that he's into me.'
'Maybe because he's not.' Jess says. 'Maybe he's not interested in you. I mean, let's face it; with your brown hair, dull green eyes and olive skin, you're not the prettiest flower in the bunch-'
'Jeez, someone's being a bit of a sour grape!' Grace spits, in my defence. 'Just because you're on the rebound, doesn't give you permission to be a bitch to Vanessa, who got stabbed a month ago and lost her mother, just to remind you. I mean, you don't visit Vanessa until a month later, then you go and act like a rude little shit to her. Just tell me, what is your deal?'
'Lately it's just been, "Vanessa, Vanessa, Vanessa!" I got dumped and you guys ignored me because this bitch,' she points at me, 'Needed a visit from her little friends.' She brushes her fingers through her hair, angrily. 'Is it because she's Latina and I'm just some dumb white girl?'
'This has nothing to do with the colour of your skin! Again, she was stabbed and so was her mother! Why does it always have to be about you?' Grace is furious now. Jess shouldn't have brought up skin colour. Grace knows more than anyone here about how racist people can be. She would both love and hate being in Jess' shoes. Having white skin instead of her brown skin would be great. She wouldn't have to deal with everyone's harsh words in school. Well, most of us have to deal with it. I'm Latina and Grace is black. We both have to deal with some sort of shit. But Grace has it worse than me.
'Leave.' I say, strongly.
'What?' Jess says, looking back at me.
'Leave. You obviously don't want to be here. You obviously don't like not having the attention on you. Leave.'
'Fine. I will then.' She says, sweeping towards the door. Before leaving she turns around and says, 'Don't expect daisies in a field when you get back to school. There are a lot of rumours going around. Some of them will get worse once I'm done with them.' She leaves the room.
'Don't worry, Vanessa.' Grace says, 'We'll sort her out. She's just jealous that the attention;s not on her. You know how she is.' I let it go, but I'm still not sure about her. I don't know what her problem is. I did always suspect that she didn't like me... I let it go and try to make normal conversation.
I'm in my bed, typing up a poem. I started writing poems after Ivy died because of all the breakdowns I had in the past week. Nurse Roberts suggested it. I glance at the time. It's almost sunset.
'Your friends seem... Charming.' I look up from my laptop to find Charlie strolling towards my bed. I look back to my screen saying,
'You don't have to lie to me, you know.'
'Ok. Your friends seem like absolute twats.' he says.
'You're quick to judge!' I say, looking at him with false shock on my face.
'You told me to be brutally honest...' he points out.
'I did not! I just said you didn't have to lie to me!'
'And I told the truth.' He shrugs. 'And that was a nice, solid joke you told back there. Wow. You had me in stitches. But it seems like your friend's aren't used to that kind of comedy.'
'Yes, well. That's the kind of joke I share with you and not them.' I explain.
'I feel so special!' He says in a flamboyant voice, coming over and sitting on the edge of my bed and I close my laptop to see him again. He goes quiet for a minute. 'And that Jess girl...' he trailed off. Suddenly my heart starts beating really fast and my breathing becomes intense. I swallow.
'What about Jess?' I say, trying to sound as casual as possible.
'She just seemed really into me.' He scrunches his face up. 'And I just- no. It would never happen.' My body washes over with relief; my breathing and heart beat go back to a normal pace.
'She was.' I tell him. 'She's looking for a rebound. Her boyfriend split it with her a couple of weeks back.'
'Well, that rebound will not be me.' He says, laughing and laying back onto the bed. His teeth are perfect and white, the kind of teeth you find on celebrities. I've never noticed his laugh. It's really cute. I shake my head. I hate having crushes. It makes me seem like a stupid little girl.
'I saw her storm off. What happened?' he says, bringing me back to the real world.
'She didn't like the fact that I was getting attention. She didn't get enough after she was dumped.'
'Wait, let's analyse this.' He says, splaying out his hands in front of him. 'You get stabbed, lose your mother and have now lost another friend, and she's jealous? Is she freaking crazy?'
'She's just spoilt.' I explain. 'She's always used to getting her way and having the attention because she's the prettiest out of all of us.'
'She is a twat. And she is not the prettiest.' He says. I swallow.
'Than who is?' I ask, genuinely confused.
'Please, you are much prettier than her.' he says. But he says it in the way that friends do. You know, when you tell your girl friends that they're pretty.
'Sure!' I say, raising my eyebrow.
'I'm being serious!' He says, raising his hands innocently. He leans forward on his elbows for a second, opening his mouth slightly and looking like he was thinking of doing something. But then he lays back down. 'The rest of them were ok, though. The little one with the short hair, she's cute.'
'I remember you telling me about her. She's the one who does calisthenics, right?' He says, turning his head toward me.
'Yeah.' I say, blinking. I didn't think he would remember.
'So, what do they think of me?' He asks, looking back to the ceiling.
'What do you care?' I raise my eyebrows. He's not one to care about what people think.
'I'm just curious as to what they think of me! Sue me.' He sighs, rolling his eyes at me. I sigh louder than him before saying,
'They think you're a prick.'
'Do they really?' He says, biting his lip. 'Huh!'
'I was kidding.' I blurt out quickly. I didn't expect him to get offended.
'Oh, really?' He scoffs, raising his eyebrows. 'They're not wrong.'
I give him a look. Sort of like pity, but more like doubt. 'Please.'
'Hey, you probably think so, too.'
'You have your moments, yes. But most of the time you're not that bad.'
'So, you like me?'
'See, now you're being a twat.' I point out, sitting up straighter. 'That's not what I said.'
'Well, you do.' He says, like he's teasing me. 'At least a little bit.' I look around for a bit, evading my eyes from him. I nod my head consistently, biting my lip.
'Fine.' I admit. 'I like you. A little.' He smiles to himself, like a fool. He stays quiet for a bit, thinking while looking into the ceiling, but his eyes are clearly unfocused.
'Grace is very bold. Very confident.' He says suddenly, getting back on the subject of my friends. He fiddles with the tie on his hospital robes. 'It'll get the better of her one day though.'
'What makes you say that?' I ask.
'Experience.' He says, winking before leaving the room.
I look out at the night sky, dotted with the lights of stars. I've got two nights before I leave. I missed the sunset. I miss her... She should be here with me. Gazing at the stars with a look of such wonder in her eyes, twinkling with as much light as the stars above.
'So, this is where you disappeared to...' Charlie's voice says from behind me. I turn my head to look at him. He starts to walk towards me. 'It's understandable... With most of the lights off in the building, the stars and the moon seem to be the only thing that is shedding light. It's rather eerie and beautiful.' He finishes, leaning on the railing next to me.
'You get deep at night.' I say, looking back at the stars.
'That could be turned into a sexual innuendo, but for your plea, I shalt not say it.'
'You are so kind. But simply saying that, makes me think of many innuendos myself, so you're plea is deemed pointless.'
'Damn... You got me.' He chuckles. There's a few seconds of silence as we both look out at the sky.
'She brought me out here,' I say, looking down to the ground many metre's below. 'On her last night...' I see Charlie turn his head toward me and it's obvious that he's looking at me, trying to figure out if I'm okay. 'She said she wanted to see the sunset one last time... Like she knew she was going to go.' He looks back at the sky, looking like he is thinking over his words.
'She did mention something to me that day...' he mutters.
'What?' I ask. I was wondering.
'Something along the lines of "You'll protect Vanessa, won't you?"' He says, ruffling his hair. 'And- other things...'
'What other things?' I ask him, genuinely interested in his answer.
'I can't really say... I promised I would keep some of it secret.' He explains. There's another period of silence, during which I look back up to the sky. Out of the corner of my eye, it looks like he's staring at me. But that could just be my imagination.
'She really loved you, you know...' He whispers. 'She wants you to stay strong, like her.'
'I'm trying.' I snap, looking back at him with malice. He doesn't look offended though. He looks like he's really worried.
'I know.' He whispers, after a while, looking his hands. Now I feel terrible for snapping at him. But the question is; can I swallow my pride and say sorry? Yes, I can. It's Charlie. He's only trying to help me.
'I'm sorry.' I mutter, also staring at my hands instead of him.
'You should be.' He says. I snap my head towards him, mouth open in surprise. 'Hey, just kidding, alright?'
'Yeah, right.' I sigh. 'Idiot.'
'Well, you're stuck with me, love. As unfortunate as it is...'
'Since when are you calling me "love"?' I raise my eyebrows at him.
'Since now. What's wrong with it?' He asks, puppy-dog eyes abloom.
'It sounds kinda shady.' I say, pompously, my nose up in the air.
'Would you rather bitch-ass skank-ass hoe?' He asks, sarcastically.
'If you can handle saying that every time, yes actually.' I say, genuinely.
'Alright then!' he laughs. He chuckles for a bit, before looking back to the stars. I do the same, feeling awkward and shady myself for just staring at him.
'You're not by the way.' he says.
'Not what, you twat?' I ask, giggling slightly.
'A bitch-ass skank-ass hoe.' He says.
'You're an idiot.' is my reply.
'But I'm an attractive, fabulous idiot. So, it's alright.'
'How the hell does that make it alright- you know what? Nevermind. I'm going to bed now.' I sigh, giving him a look of utter detestment.
'Can I join?' He says, suggestively, wiggling his eyebrows at me.
'Only if you want a punch in the face.' I say, walking towards the door.
'I'll take anything to be with you, love.' I can hear him half-running to try and catch up with me
'Still creepy.' I note, pointing my finger back at him, while heading down the stairs.
'Then, I'm going to keep calling you it.' he puffs as he catches up with me.
'Ugh, must you?' I mutter.
'Of course!' He says in a ridiculous tone, I hit him feebly in the shoulder.
As we arrive at my room, I open up the door but stop before going in.
'Have you changed your mind?' I ask, making it seem sincere.
'Wait, what?' he says, taken aback.
'Don't you wanna go to bed with me anymore? I am offended, truly...' I sigh.
'Woah, woah, I don't actually want to- I mean... I was joking.' He says, clearly panicking.
'Relax, dude. I'm kidding.' I laugh. Oh, how I wish I was kidding. I swallow the truth and add, 'As if I'd want to go to bed with you.' He sighs with relief, but he looks kind of hurt. So, I push his shoulder lightly. 'Goodnight, then.' I say and with a twinkle of my fingers, I shut the door.
'Goodnight, love.' I hear him say quietly. I feel bad now. I probably hurt his feelings somehow. God, I'm an idiot.
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