I was in my car, driving back from Dylan's.
As I watched the road ahead of me, I thought about everything that just happened. Really thought about them, with no Dylan there to distract me.
I slept with Dylan.
And it was really, really, good.
I hadn't slept with anyone in what seemed like forever. What's worse, I slept with Dylan - the one guy I told myself was completely off limits.
And of course, stupid me couldn't stop my heart from bouncing around in my chest.
I felt – feel? – alive. Unrestrained.
I didn't want to believe that it's because of Dylan. It actually angered me to think that it's because of Dylan. But what other explanation was there?
While I know that I should regret this whole day, I couldn't bring myself to. I felt lighter and happier than I had in – well, a long time.
Because of Dylan.
Because of that undeniably and annoyingly perfect guy.
I shook my head at myself.
I needed to think about other things right now.
Clair was probably in our room right now. With all the events of today, I had almost forgotten about Clair.
What would I say to her?
It was 3:12PM. She would probably be in the room when I got back.
I didn't want to deal with this, either. In a perfect world, I would have packed up all my stuff and moved far, far away from all my problems.
Oops. Been there, done that. Doesn't seem to work very well, unfortunately.
Clair probably wanted answered. Was waiting for them, even.
I mulled that thought over. She thought that me moving out meant the end of our friendship. I mean, how ridiculous was that?
I mulled that thought over, too. Now that I thought about it, it's probably not that ridiculous, after all. Maybe she does know me better than I think.
Clair was right to be angry and frustrated with me. She was one of the best friends I've ever had, and I hardly told her anything about myself. She was pure and good, but getting caught up in my life would only bring her down. I would only bring her down.
Besides, if she really knew who I was she'd think I was a completely different person. She would see that she didn't want to be friends with someone like me, anyway.
Tears unexpectedly welled up in my eyes. I wasn't good for anybody. Bad things followed me wherever I went and getting close to people only made it worse for all parties. Everything was better for everybody when I was alone.
I blinked the tears away as I continued driving.
I was only 5 minutes away from my dorm and couldn't have my eyes look glossy and puffy. I ruffled my hair, focusing my attention to the road ahead of me instead of my problems. I turned the radio on and relaxed to an overplayed Ed Sheeran song as I drove my car as slowly as possible to my dorm.
A few minutes later, I parked my car into its usual parking spot. I turned the engine off and took a big breath, looking over my appearance in the rear-view mirror.
There were bags under my eyes, but that was usual. Strangely enough, they weren't as puffy as I thought they would be. My long brown hair was a ruffled mess, but again, that was usual. My cheeks were slightly flushed and my brows were furrowed, but aside from that I looked pretty normal. Normal for me, anyway.
With one last look in the mirror, I gathered my purse and textbooks and opened the car door. The weather was decently warm as I made my way to the building. I counted the steps as I made my way up the stairs in an attempt to dull my anxiety. The whole time I prayed that Clair wasn't going to be home so that I could avoid the situation a little while longer.
But of course, Skye Brekin doesn't have good luck when it comes to anything.
As I unlocked the door and slowly walked inside, Clair and I made eye contact. She was laying on her bed on her laptop, her legs crossed and her hair still in a messy bun. Her eyes widened as I walked into the room and set my stuff down on my desk.
The silence became awkward as I started taking off my shoes. I ruffled my hair as I turned to look at her. She was making a point by staring at me quietly.
I sighed in defeat. "Hey."
"Hi." She replied dryly, her eyebrows raised.
I cleared my throat. "How did your assignment go?"
I nodded. "Good," I said as I turned around and rummaged through my bag, "Good."
I stopped looking through my bag, confused. I turned my head around. "So, what?"
She scoffed in astounded irritation. "Where the hell were you? You never miss a shift."
I stared at her as I decided whether or not I should tell her that I was at Dylan's. I stared at her for a little longer than comfortable, because I noticed her apprehensively uncrossing her legs.
"I was at Dylan's." I replied neutrally. Her brow winced, which is something that happened when she heard news that interested her. But she was still angry with me, so she gave no reaction. A part of me wanted to giggle because I knew how hard that was for her.
"Well," she said, "Good for you. Your boss called me in the middle of class, just so you know."
"I appreciate you answering it, Clair." I turned my head back around and grabbed my laptop out of my bag.
"It's actually Clairissa. Clair is something my friends call me."
I scoffed at the intentional jab. "Alright, I'll bite." I said as I fully turned around. "So now we're not friends?"
She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "Friends don't ditch friends. Or keep everything a secret."
"Oh for God sake's Clair, I'm not ditching you!"
"Shut up with all that bullshit, Skye. Do I even mean anything to you?"
I blinked incredulously at her. "Of course you do, Clair. How can you even ask me something like that?"
"Because you have a horrible way of showing it."
I sat back down on my bed. "Clair, I'm not going to ditch you. I won't go anywhere."
Her eyes glossed over. She looked away as she whispered, "Everyone always leaves, Skye. I don't want to lose you too."
Sometimes I forgot that Clair came from a pretty rough past, too. She was the seventh out of nine children, with her mother being in and out of rehab and her dad being in and out of jail. I suddenly felt a stern guilt for not considering her abandonment issues throughout life.
My expression softened. "You're not going to lose me, Clair. I just need a new place to live, that's all. I'll still talk to you every day."
She nodded. "Whatever issues you have, Skye, I don't want that to affect what you and I have built."
I sighed. "I'll try my best."
"Skye, I get that you have attachment and trust issues and whatever, but you're my best friend and you need to know that I love you." Involuntarily, I winced. She noticed and sighed. "I don't want you to try your best. I want you to guarantee to me that my best friend won't drop off the face of the planet as soon as she moves out."
I hated loving people. I hated that I had come to love Clair.
I couldn't look her in the eye. I simply turned around and ruffled my hair again, distracting myself with making my bed. I cleared my throat, my back turned to her. "Okay. I'm going to try my best."
Out of nowhere, she laughed. A high, piercing sound that filled the room for 2 seconds and almost made me jump. "Like hell you will." I blinked confusedly. She was laughing right now?
I turned around to look at her. Anger was wiped off her face and it was replaced with a knowing smile. "Now." She said, extending her arms. "Stop being an emotionless weirdo."
I tilted my head as I looked at her. Emotion clawed up my throat as she said, "You're not running away. Not from me."
We both just wanted this fight to be over and for things to go back to normal. I appreciated her initiating it, because I wasn't sure that I ever could. Despite myself, I felt a smile creep up on my face. I walked over and wrapped my arms around her. We held each other tightly, and while I knew that this was a happy moment I couldn't shake the furrowed brow off my face until we let go of each other and I was looking at her smiling face again.
"Okay. Tell me tell me tell me." She ordered, reminding me of an elementary school kid. And just like that, Clair and I were fine again. Clair, who couldn't stay mad at anyone. Not even her shit roommate.
"Now I'm starting to think that this whole 'making up' thing was a ploy to get me to tell you what's going on between me and Dylan." I teased as I sat back on my bed.
She shrugged her shoulders. "You caught me. But seriously, how was he in bed? Does he have a big boomstick?"
I laughed. "Boomstick?"
She waved me off. "You damn well know what I mean."
"Hold on," I said, although I couldn't keep the smile out of my voice, "Who said anything about me sleeping with him?"
She raised an eyebrow at me, unimpressed. "Skye, shut up. I wanna hear the details." She clasped her hands together and raised them to her cheek, exaggeratedly blinking. "Was it magical?"
I bit my lip as I felt my neck get hot. "Okay. Fine." I sat back down on my bed. "It was pretty great."
She screeched. "Ah! No way!" She threw her hands over her mouth in astonishment. "You slept with him!"
I waved her off. "I know, I know. You told me so."
"I wasn't sure it was actually going to happen. So?"
She rolled her eyes at our banter. "I told you I wanted details."
"Yeah, it was magical."
"Really?" She screeched excitedly.
I smiled a small smile. "Yeah. Really."
"So now what?!"
To be honest, I had no idea. I went from promising myself to never see him again to sleeping with him in less than 24 hours. I couldn't exactly just never talk to him again now.
…Or could I?
I sighed. "I don't know."
"Oh come on!"
I frowned. "I don't know, Clair."
"Well, do you want to see him again?"
Yes. "I don't know."
"Yes you do. Shut up."
I shook my head. "I really don't know, Clair. Things are weird for me right now. I feel weird."
She tilted her head, causing the loose, crazy bun on the top of her head to wobble. "A good weird? A bad weird?"
I don't know. "Just because we slept together doesn't mean that anything is going to happen between us. Sex is sex."
The thing is, sex was sex. It didn't have to have any emotion tied to it. Maybe I just needed to get my attraction to him out of my system and that was all.
Besides, he got what he wanted, didn't he? It didn't have to mean anything. Lots of people have one night stands.
"Come on Skye, don't think of it that way." She was frowning, as if the situation personally concerned her. It occurred to me that listening to this whole fiasco happen between her roommate and the infamous Dylan Price must be grade-A quality entertainment for her.
I shrugged. "I was serious when I said that I wasn't looking for a relationship. I'm not looking for anything. What would a guy like him want with a girl like me, anyway?"
"Oh my god!" She exclaimed, slapping her hands to her crisscrossed thighs. "What are you talking about? You're everything a guy would want." She shook her head, marveling at my words. "I can't believe you think that."
I felt my ears turn pink. "I'm just being…realistic…about the whole thing. It's not –"
"If he wasn't in to you, would he have tutored you? Fixed your car? Taken you out to dinner?"
"Well –" Just then my phone started ringing.
Perfect timing. I sent a silent thank you to God.
I reached for my phone in my pant pocket. My screen read BILL.
Without missing a beat I answered, "Hello?"
"Skylaa!" He yelled into the phone. "How yeh doing?"
I resisted the urge to move my phone a couple centimeters away from my ear. "I'm great, Bill, how are you?"
"Wonderful, just wonderful. Listen, I got some good news for yeh."
"What kind of good news?" I asked, making eye contact with Clair.
"Da lease papers are ready to sign! I fixed them up pretty quick, eh?"
I smiled. "That really is good news, Bill. When could I come in and sign them?"
"Now, if yeh want!" He chuckled a raspy, throaty sound.
I considered this. I had time before class started, so why not?
I nodded. "Actually, that's great. I can come now if you'd like." It was probably better that I got the paperwork out of the way as soon as possible.
"Atta girl!" He exclaimed, pleased. "I'll be waiting for yeh, then."
"Great. I'll see you soon."
"See yeh!" And with that he hung up.
I put my phone back in my pocket and got up from my bed. "That was my soon-to-be landlord." I told Clair as I grabbed my purse.
"Sounds like a great guy. I could hear him all the way from over here." Clair said, a little standoffish.
"He's nice." I replied, putting my shoes on. Then, with an afterthought, "I'm sure you'll meet him sometime when you're over."
Out of the corner of my eye I saw her do a small smile. "I'd like that." She said softly. I looked up and smiled warmly back at her.
"Anyway, I'll be back soon." I told her, swinging my purse over my shoulder and ruffling my hair. "I'll catch you later."
"See ya, Skye-bear."
"Alrighty here, da paperwork's all done!" Bill clasped his hands together, pleased. I wondered how long he's been waiting for someone to sign these lease papers. Maybe I didn't want to know.
"Is it alright if I start bringing boxes in before the move-in date?" I asked, already thinking about all the work it would take to bring my stuff over. Then again, it's not like I had that much stuff, so maybe it wouldn't take that much effort, after all.
"Yeh, yeh, bring whatever yeh like." He said, collecting the papers in a nice bundle. "Yeh got my cell if yeh need anything."
"Okay, great. Thanks a lot, Bill."
"Skyla, thank you!" He replied, smiling his toothy grin. The way he looked at me was a little uncomfortable, but I figured that it was nothing I couldn't handle. We shook hands and I walked out the door.
My own place. No roommates or anything. Just me and this tiny apartment.
I smiled. I was going to school. Passing calc. I had a job with a great boss. And I had my own apartment now.
I felt really good. Today was an amazing day.
I thought back on it as I made my way down the flights of stairs. I woke up and had pancakes with Dylan. Pancakes, for Christ sake! With Dylan. The thought of this morning was enough to send me into euphoria alone.
Things with Clair were okay now. I actually felt a big relief that I didn't lose her. She was someone I was lucky to call my friend. Someone that I even considered opening up to. Someone that might get everything.
And now I officially was moving into my own apartment! A cheap, tiny, wonderful apartment that was all mine.
This strange calm passed over me as I thought about the future. Everything was going to be fine.
I was going to be fine.
I was reinventing myself. Becoming this brand new person. A new and improved Skylar Brekin. A new and improved life for her.
The future was going to be good, I decided.
And that's when I heard my phone start ringing.
I checked the screen. It said unknown. "Hello?"
Just as I walked outside and hit the paved sidewalk, I froze. I felt my senses heighten and my eyes widen. It took everything in me not to audibly gasp for air.
"What's a matta?" She teased, the cunning note her voice always had greeting me ─ ironically ─ like an old friend. "Cat's gotcha tongue?"
It took me a couple seconds to find my voice. "...Trisha?"
She didn't address it, but she didn't need to. I could recognize her voice from a mile away. "Heard you've been up to some interesting stuff." I could imagine her lounging on the couch, her big black boots resting on the table as she inspected her nails. "Lotsa interesting stuff. Your mama told me all about it."
Trisha. I was talking to Trisha. My mind raced with a million thoughts as I remained frozen on that sidewalk, my car in sight only a few meters away.
"Nothing too interesting." I said, my voice tight. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins and my hands were starting to shake.
"Nah? Heard you ran away. Neva even called or wrote. Ta be honest, I neva actually thought you'd eva do it."
"How'd you get my number, Trisha?" I demanded, a little breathless. "Is there something you need?"
"Woah, right down to business, are we? Also, I don't think I like ya calling me Trisha. It's too ─"
"What do you want?"
She sighed exaggeratedly. "Fine, ay'll just pretend like that didn't hurt. Your mama's been trying to get in touch with ya."
"I don't care. If that's it, goodbye Trisha."
"Now wait a minute!" She cried, but suddenly, she sounded way too real. I could have sworn that it sounded like she was right behind me. "Don't you want to catch up with an old friend?"
I wanted to laugh. Laugh hysterically until I cried. "No."
And that's when I felt her touch my shoulder.