"When you give a promise, you have to keep it."
Insisting was not going to help. It was only going to spur him on and made him angrier than he already was. He was dangerous in many ways, but his temper was the worst part of his already foul personality. He hated many things, most of them were harmless to others, but not to him. However, he hated failure the most. It was like his archenemy. Under any circumstances, despite any obstacles thrown his way, he just had to succeed. The harder it was to reach his goal, the happier he got. It was perverted in an exciting kind of way. It was a powerful driving force behind all of his actions, all the decisions he has ever made and all the promises he has ever given. Such was the power of success and on the opposite end laid the power of failure.
Failure made him into a pathetic loser, a quivering helpless mess of incapability and pretense. That was his Achilles hill.
"What?" He whirls around, snapping like a tight rubber band. I can almost hear the whiz of a whiplash in the air and instinctively back away, because a crazy guy like him can definitely do something scary to me. He looks infuriated, his eyes are burning through me and I wish to disappear so that I don't become the target of all of his pent up anger and frustration at the world, but mostly at himself and his inadequacies as a man. But before I could run away, he grabs my wrist tightly and comes so close I can feel his breath on my skin, making me shirk away.
"Are you accusing me of something?"
"No," I whisper. I probably look shocked and sufficiently freaked out for him to loosen his grip. Even somebody like him apparently has limits. It's good to know. It's good to know and never push him close to the limits again, because next time he might not stop and I will have my wrist bones crushed.
"Then you did not mean it?" He snarls ominously.
No. He did not stop, he is just beginning. This is his way of backing me into a corner. If I admit defeat, he will always treat me like a pathetic spineless looser, if I defy him – I don't even know what to expect. Obviously, nothing good can come out of it.
"Why do you care?" I stare at him for a very long and agonizing minute. It might be only a few seconds, but they last indefinitely.
"Because I care about what you think of me," he says softly and blushes. At this point his fingers unfurl and my arm is finally free, only I do not rush to run away. I'm in a bigger shock then I was from his attack. Did he just say what I thought he had said?
I stare back stupefied, being rude and insensitive at this point, but I could care less. His eyes moist and bright, beautiful even. They are not large, but expressive. The color is gray and I'm surprised I never noticed before. Grey is different. Grey is unique. Grey does not allow you to hide, it's transparent. This crazy son of a bitch is not kidding.
"Say something," he whispers now, struggling not to look away. I can see it in his eyes – embarrassment, hope, confusion and no anger whatsoever. It dissipated as quickly as it has risen.
"What do you want me to say?" I mutter defensively. I don't want to show I care about his feelings, just because he said what he did.
He huffs and his body begins to return to his usual arrogant and angry stance. The moment has passed. I blew it.
"I'm going home," I say simply and start to walk away. A part of me hopes he will run after me, but I know that if he does, it will only be to taunt or hurt me in some way. I should stay the hell away from this psychopath.
"Lil'," he calls, "I'm sorry. I know I promised, but it is..,I mean", he stumbles, "I am not ready yet. I will do it. I will."
I stop and turn to look back. He is where he stayed and his anger seemed to have evaporated. He looks a bit lost and awkward. I feel sorry for him all of a sudden. I know what it means for the boy to admit that he is wrong. It is probably the hardest thing he has ever done in his stupid egotistical life.
"I believe you. See you tomorrow then," I call out and surprise myself with a kind and supportive tone I take with him.
At home, I shut myself in the bedroom and turning up the speaker volume climb onto the bed. I take off my clothes and lay on top of the covers. Thinking about him makes me hot. I don't want to wear my shirt. My skin feels too warm and I need to breathe. So I stay there almost naked, the bra is thrown down and only a thin line of panties delineates the barrier between my skin and air.
I know I dislike him violently and everything he stands for is wrong. "He disgusts me", I tell myself, "he is stupid and a miserable little prick", I say.
But he called me Lil'. Nobody else does. Why did not it bother me? I wonder.
I finally feel cooled down and slid under the blanket. I grab the phone from the bedside table and look at the screen.
"Lilian, turn of the music", my Dad is screaming. I roll out the bed, turn off the sound and hide under the covers again.
Am I expecting a phone call? That's preposterous. And just at that moment, the phone rings.
"Lil', I am sorry about today," he says. "I don't know why I act that way. Don't hate me, 'Key?"
I keep quiet. I have nothing to say, only "I don't hate you. You may sleep well at night. One less person in the world who hates your guts. 'Key?" I echo.
He does not hang up and I hear his breathing. I am waiting...
I close my eyes and hope he will say goodbye first. But he is still just breathing into the phone and it is soothing somehow. Maybe, I can just fall asleep, I think.
"Are you sleeping?" he asks softly. "Night then."
The next morning I am shivering. Apparently, it got cold at night. I come to the window to close it and look down. He is standing there, staring up at me. It takes me a second to realize I'm not wearing anything. "Pervert," I scream. And run to hide under the covers. I don't think I can face him ever again. The end... of my life... Shit... I am late for school.
I get up and get dressed. I make sure to wear something amoeba-like that would not betray the fact that I have a pair of very nicely rounded breasts. I don't hate him. How would he have known after all? I hate myself. What kind of an idiot stands naked in front of the window and expects people not to look? But I will never admit that I'm to blame. I will make sure he feels my wrath. I don't care about his existence, his feelings, his attitude, his useless sincerity, or his eyes; neither do I care about his stupid promise.
Stay the fuck away from me from now on. I type. Stocker, I add. Fucking degenerate. I type a few more nice things and stare at the phone. Then I make sure to delete every word. For some reason, it makes me feel just a bit better.
I peek out the window, just in case. Of course, he is gone. I would not expect him to come to my place ever again now. Like I said, The end... of my life...
School is as shitty and boring as ever. I manage to avoid crossing paths with him till the end of the day. Or maybe, he is trying to do the same. At least it's working.
A week passes and I don't hear from him. I don't see him. He has become invisible somehow. Even in class, he finds a place out of my sight. He is good. Really good. But it makes me a bit sad and angry a lot. And then, just when I thought that this teen drama is over, I get a glimpse of him rushing to exit before I do. He is clearly avoiding me, as if I did not know it already. He pushes a girl in front of him and she slams him with a book, "Hey, watch it." I expect nothing less than his usual explosion. Maybe, her book will be torn to pieces or he will grab her wrist as hard as he did mine, but he just hisses toothlessly, "Shut up, bitch." The girl is astonished and seems offended. But I smile. I don't know why this makes me happy. There is nothing pleasant about his behavior, on the contrary, he is acting like his usual asshole self. Only subdued. Only without any passion. Just going through the motions. Not like he did with me. And he is too much in a hurry to run away. From me.
It suddenly occurs to me that he is more embarrassed than I have ever been by my little window display of the morning flesh. And all this time, I thought he was just doing it because I wanted him to stay away. Mother of Jesus, fuckkk.
I think about it some more on my way home. Luckily, I can take a longer route through the shopping mall, blend in with the crowd and get myself some iced frappuchino. Coffee is supposed to be a stimulant for a thought, or so I hear. Honestly, it was not a big deal. It was bound to happen sooner or later for me to show my breasts to a boy, although I hoped under more exciting circumstances. And he, being a boy, probably has seen a lot more porn and other stuff that boys look at to jerk off. So, actually it was no biggy. I sip my icy cold stimulant and actually feel my brain whirling like a newly fixed engine.
Others require alcohol for bravery, me – apparently frappuchino. Duly noted.
I decide to break the status quo, so to speak. I text him: Hey. What's up? Have not seen in you school lately. Blatantly lying, but who cares. What I need is to take the first step to reconciliation. I wait very long five minutes and my miracle drink is gone. I add a few emojis to lighten the mood: one with the tongue out and the crazy one with bulging eyes. This move elicits a response. I get the same emojis back and with an additional upside down smiling face. What does it even mean? Who cares. The lines of communication have been reestablished.
So I pick up my bag and walk home again, now happily and not dragging my feet. Then I see a lone figure propped against the tree trunk of the old maple in front of my house.
"Jason", I gasp. I did not mean to actually see him yet. I know that I turn red and that it's getting suspiciously humid and heavy in the air, like before the rain. I even look up at the clear skies, but no rain in sight. I don't think I can pass by him. Not when he is so close. What am I supposed to do now? Not go home, sleep out on the street?
He lazily moves, as if it's totally normal and expected. "Lil'," he calls to me. "I brought you something." He pulls out a book and a notebook from his backpack and holds it out. "The thing you wanted for that assignment. The one I promised. Remember?"
How can I forget? It's what started the whole thing in the first place.
"Chem. You said you missed it and you wish somebody would give you notes. I know I fucked up, but maybe Ms. Sullivan will let you redo the report. Just tell her Jason promised to give you his notes and was late."
That was an awfully long explanation. I almost forgot what our fight was about, since it happened before the naked in the window Lilian debacle.
"Here," He prompts again, as I near him cautiously. I can't be the idiot one here. I live here and I have to get home.
I roughly pull the book and notepad out of his hand and rush by him. I know he is staring at me from the back, but I don't care. I open up the front door and shut it behind me quickly. Now I'm safe. I turn around and slam my hot forehead against the cool wood. What is wrong with me?
After I am in my bedroom, I look out the window with the hope that he might still be there. Of course, he is not. It's just an old tree all by its lonesome. I plop on the bed and wonder how I became such a hot mess. I text Jason, "Thank you. I'll look at it later."
I study. I actually study tonight. Pull out my textbooks and notebooks, read all the chapters and do homework. Keeping mind busy is liberating. I should do it every day, I vow to myself. Don't know how long my resolve will last, but it's sure exhilarating to use my brains for something different than thinking about Jase.
Finally, when it's about 11:30, I decide it's time to go to bed. But just out of curiosity I open up his notebook and look at the neatly drawn chemical compositions, formulas and well-organized notes. Hmmm. I could use that. I flip through the pages, till my eyes land on a drawing. It is a quick sketch of a girl's profile. Then there are a few more at different angles. There is also a scratched out writing beneath. Lil' I hear his voice in my mind and see his expecting eyes, hoping for something in return. It's me. I know it's me. I frantically search the rest of the book and find more dribbles here and there dispersed without any particular order or reason, always with the scratched out writing underneath. I grab the Chem book and look through it again. Aha, here it is, right on the margin of one of the pages a small sketch of a flower - lily.
I go back and carefully look at the formulas. Organic chemistry is not my cup of tea, but apparently, he is really good at it. (E)-beta-ocimene, linalool, myrcene read the descriptions. The drawings don't make sense to me, so I search the internet to only discover that apparently, these are the main components of the aroma for lilies. Just to confirm my suspicions, I find a dried lily flower pressed between one of the pages.
So I stop and think. He either likes scents or chemistry, or maybe, he just really likes lilies. Because they are pretty flowers after all. Somehow, he does not strike me like a flower lover. So, there is only one explanation left, with my multiple portraits and all... He likes me.
It is a relief to finally admit it. It makes everything more normal, more bearable. Even a person like him can have normal feelings beside hate and anger, when he is not too busy playing the example of intermittent explosive disorder patient.
That night I sleep well. I don't have any bad or good dreams. And if I do, I don't remember. I smile in the morning and dress up in my favorite shirt and jeans that I believe make me look sexy. I put my hair up neatly and check myself in the mirror. I even put on lip gloss. Way to be more transparent, Lilian! Finally, I'm presentable. I look out the window, almost sure I'll find him there.
Lil', he waves and smiles shyly. I wave back, "Good morning, Jase." I run downstairs past my surprised Dad, holding a plate with an omelet. "Lilian, your breakfast."
"Not hungry," I call out and then look at the man briefly. "Thank you, Daddy," I say lovingly. And out the door I go, leaving him flabbergasted.
"Ready to go?"
"Yes," the boy replies. As if we planned this all along and it is perfectly normal for us to walk to school together. I strike a meaningless conversation about the cafeteria food and how Katie is going to have a wild party... We talk; we walk. The air is fresh. I know why he could not keep his promise then. He just needed a little bit of time and courage. I get it.
He asks in a matter of fact tone, "So, did you look at the notes?" and stares at the ground.
"Yep. Pretty helpful." I glance at him, "Jase, it's cool. We are cool." I reassure him and he looks up at me with those precautious grey eyes, which I think I'm beginning to like. This is not the end of my life after all. I smile genuinely at him and he smiles back. Maybe, it's just the beginning.