Open different doors, you may find a you there that you never knew was yours. Anything can happen. | Bert & Mary Poppins
After minimal traffic, we arrive at the ice rink in almost no time. Crispin parks his car behind a family-sized vehicle, and this is my moment to scour the area. The inner detective in me rises; I'm looking over my shoulder as we step out, trying to see whether Carla will attack me when I'm not focused. The ice rink is situated outside, surrounded by woodlands; families and couples are already having their fun as it appears. Teenagers, mostly from our school, are loitering around, not even bothering to start skating.
"There are so many people here," I whisper, opening the door and preparing for the nightmare. "I hate it already. I feel exposed. I'm glad I shaved, but I feel exposed."
"Don't worry about it. It will be fun and you've got me." Crispin half-hugs me. "If you want, we can laugh at people falling."
"Ok," I mumble.
"Right. Let's go purchase our shoes now," he says, grabbing my hand and dragging me along, almost like a rag doll. To anyone watching, we probably look like a couple. Mismatched couple, but a couple nonetheless.
A pimply boy with dark hair is behind the plastic screen, robotically passing shoes to customers. He appears lifeless, out of touch with the world around him. "Hi, need any help?" He mutters, barely meeting our eyes. Wow. Great customer service there.
"We want some shoes, please, sir. Fine gentlemen." Crispin winks, and the boy blushes like nobody has ever complimented him before, which in his case, might be possible. He needs to loosen up a bit, smile.
While Crispin talks nonstop to our esteemed server, I glance around, recognising schoolmates, cringing and wincing all at the same time. I don't want to be seen. In public. Dressed nice. The impending judgement is enough to have me panicking.
I turn around to the source of the voice and see Kevin standing there with a scowl.
"Oh, hi," I say, turning back to stare into the back of Crispin's animated head. "Yeah, I remember you."
Kevin nods. "But you don't remember to answer my calls? Or reply to my messages?"
My stomach flips as I reply, "Ah, yes. Small problem. My phone fell into the bath while I was having a relaxing lavender bubble bath."
"Your phone with the Tardis phone cover?"
"That's the one."
"The one in your hand?" He points at the phone I'm gripping.
Wracking my brain for a decent enough excuse, I settle with: "... Um, I had it replaced. I — I had damage cover."
"Maybe you should replace this one," grumbles Kevin, "It has a crack in the screen."
Puzzled, I study my phone for this imaginary crack. "What? No, it doesn't."
He whacks the phone out of my hand, all of a sudden, and it slams to the ground with a bang. "Probably does now."
The noise has alerted Crispin who is looking round, but by the time he notices my phone on the ground, Kevin has already disappeared. I lift my phone off the floor and notice the slightest fissure near the home button. Part of me is relieved I dodged a bullet with Kevin, the other is wondering what I was thinking entertaining him in the first place. I can only be mitigated by the fact that Kevin is barely an acquaintance of anyone in my friendship group.
"What just happened?" Crispin wonders aloud.
I shrug, ignoring the fact that I'm quaking inside. "You know me. I'm clumsy."
Having purchased our rented skates, Crispin and I head over to the benches to take our shoes off. Then, Crispin skips off to the locker room, his socks making a muffled sound across the laminated floor as he runs. I wait, patiently, because it just so happens that all the shoelaces are freaking the shit out of me.
Why are they so damn complicated?
I scream, jumping up, to find Carla and the evil twins standing behind me. The evil twins share amused smiles, while Carla sits down next to me and stares, unblinkingly. "You ignored my calls," she says, fairly calm.
"Yeah, about that —"
"You think I'm going to spare you?"
I blink. "Well, why not? I'm your very good friend, who loves you. Very much."
Carla tilt her head and laughs. The sound is chilling. "I want to see you skate, that's my punishment."
"I was going to skate anyway," I lie, although my skates are lying lonely on the ground.
"Okay, I'm gonna rent our shoes, guys, just so I can get away from this train wreck waiting to happen," Remmy says. I glare after her stick-thin figure bobbling away, her straggly, brown hair flitting as she moves.
"I can't believe we got lost," Hazel groans, sitting on Carla's other side. I notice that both girls act like I'm not even present. This is why I never hang out with Carla and the twins; I'm not even human, not even worthy of a couple of words. "I put the GPS in and we still got lost."
"That's you, Haze, forever clumsy and forever getting lost. You're a disaster all round," Carla responds. "I was this close to driving your shitty car myself. But, the shame was not worth it."
"Hey, I got my car from hard-earned cash," Hazel retorts, "I'm not spoilt like you."
Carla clears her throat. "I think we've established that I am most definitely not spoilt."
Hazel shrugs. "In some ways, you are. I would do anything to be able to study on the weekend like every other normal teenager. Instead I'm working. At least I got today off."
"Carla, Hazel!" Crispin runs across to us like we have a pot of gold waiting for him. "You guys made it!"
Hazel lifts a hand lazily.
"Hey, Crispy Bacon!" Carla greets him by hugging him.
"Lizzy," Crispin unfortunately brings the attention back to me, "aren't you wearing your skates?"
"Yes," I say through gritted teeth. "Don't rush me."
He merely raises his hands in a surrendering pose. "Ok. Whatever you say."
By the time I finally get my skates on, Crispin, Carla, Hazel and Remmy are skating, no the correct would be zooming, across the ice rink, showing me that skating with this crazy bunch is not a good idea.
I stand up ... Only to fall immediately down much like a domino.
Great. I just acted like dork in front of my catty classmates, wonderful. Ignoring the snickers around me, I grab on to the plastic side and heave myself upwards. For the first time, I wish Orion was around only for the purpose of company. In fact, he might even find it somewhere in his heart to help me up. Maybe.
Crispin seems to remember me while I'm writing the above rant in this notebook. "Lizzy? What are you doing?"
"Sitting," I grunt.
"I can see that."
"So, why did you ask?" I bark, glowering at me.
"Because I don't know why you're sitting there!"
"I'm sitting here," I say, "because I don't know how to fucking stand."
"How about I help you?" He suggests, twirling around in a circle on the ice as he says it.
I consider it. "Will you stay with me the entire time?"
"Sure," he says, with an easy-going grin.
"I mean, you need to hold my hand. Around the clock. 24/7," I explain. "Think you can handle that?"
"I helped Cassie give birth," he says, cockily, "I think I can handle it. Wait for me there, I'm going to skate my heart out some more and then I'll come back and help you."
"Whatever." I'm already returning to the notebook.
Donny's party is hardly the stuff of legends. I'm so bored that I've started counting imaginary clouds in my mind, but it soon has me in a dazed and sleepy state. Carla, on the other hand, has been having a whale of a time; she's been twerking on a random guy for the past ten minutes. During that time, I have sunken into the large sofa with my defensive stance in place; my crossed arms and hideous scowl. All of which I'm sure diverts any attention I may receive. Who is monopolising on their dramatic flair now?
Sadly, my relaxation period doesn't last long.
"Why are you sitting there like that?" Carla demands, storming over to me. "What are you doing? If this is about Orion, you're being ridiculous. He's probably banging Cassie as we speak."
"No, it's not about Orion. I just can't have fun without Crispin," I mumble. "Why did he have to go home?"
"Crispin seems to think he needs to be in bed by eight. We don't follow that philosophy," states Carla, "Our philosophy is party till we drop."
"I don't want to drop."
"So, don't drop," Carla says sharply.
"In case it hasn't registered in your mind, you're not my mother," I reply, crossing my arms and legs for effect. "I'm not getting off this sofa until it's time to go home. Your philosophy stinks of fresh poop matter."
"At least thank Donny for inviting you to his party," hisses Carla, finally considering me a lost cause and returning back to her dance partner. At least it isn't Jackson.
The party is in full swing when I've finally approached Donny and I pick the worst time; when he's in deep conversation with his friends. I should probably congratulate him on getting a year older or something. That's what normal people do, right? I wait patiently until he realises someone is hovering behind him like a creep.
"Everything okay?" He asks me, quizzical brow in place. "If it's about the toilet not flushing, I know. Someone thought it would be a good idea to stuff it with wads of toilet paper."
"Hey, uh no," I greet, smiling and he greets me back just in the same way. Donny has unusual features, odd coloured eyes and a birthmark marring the bottom left part of his face. When he smiles, it moves with ease, but it looks peculiar. Like he has half a frown. "Er ... I just wanted to say happy birthday."
"Oh, thanks." His face brightens a bit. "I'm glad you could make it and very glad you're not the bearer of bad news."
With the other two guys eyeing my legs, I settle for an awkward: "Haha. Yup."
"Listen, Lizzy," says Donny, "I know ... you probably never liked me because of Jackson and his, frankly, terrible fucking attitude. You'll be happy to know we're not friends anymore."
"Did you invite him? I think I saw him," I say.
Donny's face darkens. "No, I didn't invite him. Apparently he thinks he can do what he wants."
As Donny's friends disappear into the crowd, Donny and I talk about nonsensical rubbish out of politeness, school, life. Halfway through the conversation, I glance at my watch and there's a knowing glint in Donny's eyes.
"I know you probably hate this kind of thing," he states. "If you need to leave, you can."
I nod, unconsciously pulling my skirt further over my thighs. "Yeah ... I'm gonna head home soon. This isn't really my scene. Thanks for the invitation though."
Donny smiles and tells me to have a safe journey home. I take my cue to stumble over to the keg, pour myself a drink and down it in one. No more thoughts of Orion and Cassie. No more maddening jealous visions.
A flurry of dizziness later, I am observing the party from a distance, staying completely focused. Every little detail, every sound, every look, well as much as I can catch, I am on to. Wonder what Orion is doing now ...
At seven forty, I lean against the wall of the house outside, desperate for some fresh air. I dial Orion's number and wait for that familiar deep voice to throb through the line. It does so after the fourth ring.
His voice instantly relaxes me. It, too, brings me the slightest discomfort.
"Yeah," I hurriedly answer, feeling pressure building, "Sorry, it's just that I'm at a party and —"
Orion must hear something strange in my voice. He hastens in with the third degree. "What happened? Did someone hurt you?"
"No, no, I —"
"Are you crying? You sound like you're crying."
"No, I'm fine. My throat hurts. Just —" I take a deep, painful breath. "Just come over and take me home. Please. I'll send you ... the address. God, it's freezing."
"Alright," he murmurs. The sounds of laughter in the background have him hesitating. "I'm with some friends now. Is it alright if I bring them along? It's only Lucas, Killer and Jamaal."
"The guy with all the piercings."
"Oh." Silence befalls us. "Yeah, sure. Bring t-them along."
"Listen, uh Liz. I should be there in ten minutes. So be ready by eight?"
"Ok." I shiver a little. "I'm already outside. I'll wait for you out here."
"Are you by yourself?" He demands.
"Are you insane? Go back inside and find Crispin or Carla."
"Crispin has g-gone home," I mumble.
Orion curses under his breath. "Jesus, okay, look for Carla and stay with her until I get there. You shouldn't be on your own when you're drunk, anything can happen. Especially when you can't handle alcohol at all."
"I c-can handle it!" But I slur my words, ruining my credibility in minutes.
His sigh is audible through the phone. "Shut up and go look for Carla."
Pursing my lips, I start to move away so that I can find Carla and vent out to her. Orion is still speaking to me through the phone, which I strangely find very relaxing even though he's basically shooting expletives at me.
At that moment, I nearly bump into a wall and yelp. Not a wall. A person. The person in question nearly sends me to the ground with a bang. He reaches out just in time, just before I hit the floor. I balance myself and look up.
"Liz? Are you there? What happened?"
"Yeah, I'm still here —"
"Wanna a drink?" A voice cuts me off. I pull out from my slightly comatose state and look up to the boy in front of me. Two drinks at hand. He is a head taller than me, although that isn't saying much as I am not exactly tall, sort of average. He's nice looking, an engaging smile and pretty eyes.
"What?" I blurt out. Orion is still on the line, talking a mile a minute. "I mean, w-what did you say? I didn't catch it."
His smile deepens, a set of dimples appearing. "A drink? You? Want it? I saw you standing out here alone, thought you might want some company."
"I was told never to accept a drink from a stranger. I was also told not to talk to one," I reply, playing with the material of my skirt. It gives me the excuse to avoid his eyes.
He chuckles, a warm sound I wouldn't mind hearing all the time. "My name is Ben. There you go. Now, I'm not a stranger. You know my name."
"I'm not taking that drink. Sorry. I'm already drunk and I don't need to g-get any worse."
"Fine. Ok. I get it, you're one of those girls, huh?"
"What girls? Do you realise that you sound like a clichéd fuck — oh god, I'm doing it again," I cover my face, "I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from. I've been hanging out with assholes recently. Which, incidentally, makes me one."
"Don't worry about it," he winks, "I thought it was funny. And I meant that you seem like you're too afraid to live a little. It would explain why you're out here, instead of in there." He points back to the house. For a moment, I watch the partying throes, imagine myself free, but it fades away.
"So, are going to take the chance?" Ben murmurs, dangling the drink in front of me. "Or will you continue to hold on to the fear?" I stare at the drink, then at him, then away.
"That f-fear of life," I respond, my words travelling with the wind, "is what has led me to this age. To right now. It's a fool proof plan. We are inherently cautious as human beings. We have a ... b-built in security system for a reason."
"Jesus, you're intense," Ben mumbles, "don't know why, but ... I kinda like it."
"I'm not surprised," I say sarcastically. "As you can s-see, I have hordes of admirers lining up to be with me."
"But, you don't."
"That's the point," I reply. "That's why I don't believe you and that's why I don't trust you. Besides, I already like this one guy, so I can't pretend to like you — or accept your drinks — when I am romantically occupied."
"Does this boy like you back?" Ben teases.
"No," I admit, "but sometimes I think he does. That might just be hope talking."
"So, how do you know he's the one? Maybe you should branch out." His arm hovers next to mine, his heat is almost inviting, but not as much as Orion's. Ben is the knock-off version of Orion. "Give someone else a chance."
I sort of glare at him. "Of course I don't know if he's 'the one'! Hold your f-freaking horses, we're only sixteen."
"Ok, then what's wrong with having a little fun with me?" He moves closer.
"Uh, I would be lying. I j-just said."
"No, you wouldn't. You just explained that you're 'romantically occupied' so I -"
"Look, I don't understand the point of this conversation. Go and find some other girl to bother. Ok?" I face him off, with stubborn fierceness.
"Damn. You're cold." He laughs into his drink. "What are you writing about in that little book?"
"Right now? Well, right now I'm writing about how annoying you are." With that, I shuffle away into the house with the pace of on an ancient snail that is carrying the weight of Snail Universe on its back.
"Sorry about that, Orion," I try to resume my conversation with him, but the call has cut off. He's gone.
The clock strikes eight. It's time. I wait for Orion to arrive, following my directions to Donny's house.
There's Kevin Turner and a nameless girl standing in the driveway, deep in conversation, when I step out of the front door. Kevin looks up from his seemingly riveting conversation and notices me shivering in the cold. He darkens, a complete cloud covers him. The way he stares at me, it feels as though he despises me. Maybe with good reason.
I wasn't exactly nice. Perhaps I should have let him down gently.
"What are you doing standing out here alone?" He asks me. Tone full of resentment.
"N-nothing," My voice wavers, breaking down any façade I'd created for myself. He's gazing at me. That is enough to set my nerves alight and I feel sick. "Just waiting for a lift home."
He tilts his head in bemusement, like an attentive and perturbed cat, then dismisses the girl. Like she's a servant or something. I barely react outwardly because I don't want him to focus on my complete and utter contempt for him. Any distractions may put a large boulder in the works. The girl is walking away, back through the house, and I want her to stay.
"Is that so?" His smooth, yet grating voice responds.
I nod, unable to speak.
"Right." Kevin stares longer at me. "Cat got your tongue?"
Then I can't help it, my apology comes out in a cowardly, shrill voice, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry about ... you know. Ignoring your messages and generally being —"
"A bitch?" His voice is low. "Yeah, I agree with that. You are a bitch. You think I didn't know about you and Walker? Everyone with a brain knows how you both secretly want to jump each other. And you thought I'd be the perfect fool to make him jealous. Am I right or wrong?"
I flinch. "That's not true — about me and Orion. But I'm sorry that I used you, it wasn't to make anyone jealous ... I just wanted to feel normal. But I really am sorry — you didn't deserve that at all."
"Too right I didn't deserve that," he hisses with venom, and I flinch. "I deserve better than you. You're not even pretty."
My throat feels dry, but I just about hold it together. Kevin regards me for the longest time, so long I don't think he'll ever put me put of my misery.
"Want to come over to mine?" He finally asks. "You've got to make up for humiliating me, and I might forgive you then."
"No, I'm good," I nervously reply, my heart bashing my ribcage with the effort to leap out of my chest. "Orion is on his way now."
He crouches closer, disregarding my personal space and I am suddenly all too aware that I am alone with this psychopath. "But after the way you treated me ... I deserve it. You really hurt my feelings. I want a real apology."
"Orion i-is literally about to arrive right now," I say, but hell to whoever is listening.
Ignoring my chatter, Kevin continues stalking over to me like a lion to his prey. "You're lying again. When will you get it? You don't know how to lie convincingly. Show me you feel regretful. I want to see you beg for my forgiveness."
"Stop," I snap, on the verge of tears, but as angry as I am scared. "I don't like you, okay? Just take a hint."
"I don't care. You don't get a choice. Like I said, I deserve an apology. Now come on, my house is down the street."
My blood runs cold. With the party inside, and hardly anyone outside, anything could happen. Who would hear me? Who could help? My brain isn't thinking about some genius way to formulate an attack, just replaying all those murder crime shows I watched. The same theme regurgitates in my mine, one moment, one slip could end my life.
I'm actually scared.
"You're such a drunk mess, Lizzy," Kevin hisses in my ear, and I can hear all the hate and anger wrapped up in his words. "Pathetic. You think you can reject me? You're nothing special, I can have any girl. Get fucking moving."
His hand curls around my wrist and he yanks me forcefully off the first step, propelling me to the ground with a resounding bang. I wince as my knees make contact with the asphalt and raise my head to stare up at his menacing figure. His bug eyes are no longer an odd physical attribute; but a sign of madness. Death is about to reach me, methinks. I'm not scared but I'm trembling. I think it's from the cold. I'm not scared. I won't die.
Oh god, I'm scared that I might die.
"Fuck me." A voice carries across the breeze, filled with stunned fury. "This bitch really has the balls to manhandle my little cupcake. Lucas, hold my fucking keys."
Or, you know, I may dodge Death by a millimetre.
a/n: Hey, hope life is going well for you all. Have you started binge eating yet from boredom lol? So I've started reading a bunch of dystopian books for some reason and I kind of like the bleakness in October. It's weird whenever I come back to editing Blame with how upbeat it is. Anyways, I'm procrastinating with assignments right now and this routine suits me well. And now I'm going to the reviews.
CovertEyes: Hey, that's so weird that his name is so similar to Orion and the looks too. And yeah I always considered taking medication for it but I get worried about the side effects. But I completely understand why it is helpful in some cases. Thank you so much for your review, I'm really glad you're enjoying it. But I have to let you know it will be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for the chapters to come. Take care xx
Thanks to everyone else for reading, favoriting, and following the story. It makes me so happy.
See you all next time! It will be sooner rather than later (fingers crossed).