Authors: Heather London
Tags: #Contemporary romance
Standing behind the
two blondes started out mildly entertaining, but I don’t know how much more of
it I can handle before losing valuable brain cells. The line moves forward a
few steps, leaving only Barbie #1 and #2 before it’s my turn.
Just a few
more minutes, just a few more minutes
, I chant to myself.
“Holly?” I hear a
guy’s voice call my name from a distance, but I ignore it, thinking that he
must be talking to someone else.
“Holly.” The voice
is right beside me now and I realize that I recognize it. Even though I don’t
want to and as hard as I squeeze my eyes shut, the memories come rushing in. My
heart hammers as I turn my head to see the face that matches the voice from my
memory. The same face I want to forget forever because it brings up too many
horrible feelings from that night. He’s about a foot away from me and my head
barely meets his shoulders. I don’t remember him being so tall, but I guess I
didn’t really want to remember a lot from that night. The light from the
hallway is directly above him, shining down on his sandy brown hair, casting a
shadow across half of his face.
“How are you?”
Carter asks and seeing his sympathetic eyes makes my stomach turn, letting me
know that this is real and not a dream. This isn’t something I can wake up
“Fine,” I mutter,
swallowing hard. It’s not that I’m fine, I just can’t think of anything else to
“Do you have a
minute to talk?” he asks and, for a moment, all I can do is stare at him.
“Um… I’ve... I’ve
gotta go,” I stutter, stepping out of the line and making my way back to the
booth, back to Jenna. I want to leave and go home. I’m not strong enough to
handle this. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this—that I could move
on—but it’s clear to me now, I’m just not ready yet.
“Jenna!” I shout
when I find her swaying to the music.
“Beer for my lovely
date,” she yells over the music, handing me a fresh bottle.
“I’m ready to
leave,” I lean over and shout into her ear.
“What? Why? I
thought you were having a good time?” Her face falls more and more with each
For a split second,
it pains my heart to see her looking at me like this, but then I’m quickly
reminded of who is standing right behind me. I can feel him there. “I’ve had a
good time, but I’m ready to leave now.”
Then her eyes shift
from my face to someone standing on my left. “Oh, shit.” She looks back at me,
her eyes wide and wearing a pained look on her face. “Okay, we can go.”
“Holly, can I
please talk to you? Just for a minute?” Carter is beside me now, yelling in my
ear, wanting me to hear his pleas over the music.
“We have to leave,”
Jenna shouts to him before I can even answer.
“Please, I just
want to—” Carter begins again, totally ignoring Jenna, but before he can finish
Jenna pulls me away and we make our way to the bar.
The memories from
that night are coming back at full speed. I’ve done such a great job of putting
them away—far away—and now, with one look at his face and one word from his
lips, it’s all coming back.
“Hey!” Jenna yells
to the bartender, squeezing in between a few people, but never letting go of my
hand. “I need to pay my tab.” She turns back to check on me. “We’ll be out of
here soon, okay?”
I nod and glance
around, refusing to look behind me, knowing all too well who is back there. The
guy Jenna had been flirting with earlier catches my eye. He’s sitting at the
bar just a couple seats down from us. With a serious look on his face, I see
him shaking his head at someone behind me. Before I can even turn to look and
see who it is, Jenna is pulling me again, making me feel like a rag doll as we
squeeze between the crowd, bouncing off people as we fight our way to the front
door. Finally, we make it outside and I feel the cold air rush over my body,
allowing me to feel like I can breathe again.
We get in the car
and begin to back up when a hand starts knocking on my window.
“He just doesn’t
fucking give up, does he?” Jenna stops the car, cusses again, and then looks
over at me.
I swallow hard and
close my eyes. “Just roll it down.”
The window begins
to lower and Carter is bent over, making his eyes level with mine. “Hey, it’s
pretty clear you don’t like me very much.” He pauses and looks down towards the
ground. “But I just wanted to see how you were doing and let you know that I’m
here for you.” He hands me a napkin. “Here’s my number… Call if you ever want
to talk or if you need anything.”
I take the napkin
and before I can respond, Jenna rolls the window back up and continues to back
out of the parking lot.
Call if you need
is written diagonally across
the napkin along with his name and number below it.
“Hey, does the
girl’s night offer still stand?” I ask, folding the napkin in half and stuffing
it down into my purse. I need a distraction and quick.
“Sure, whatever you
need.” She looks over at me and grins, but it’s easy to see that her face holds
more remorse than anything.
“Am I a bad
person?” I ask out of the blue as Jenna and I lay opposite each other on the
couch. Since we’ve been home, neither one of us has breathed a word about what
happened back at Sterling’s.
forward, reaches for the remote, and pauses the movie we’re watching. She turns
back and focuses her full attention on me. “Of course, you’re not. Where’s this
“Tonight. The past
few months.” I shake my head, thinking of what a crazy person I’ve been. “I
feel horrible about how I’ve been treating everyone… especially you.” I look
down and fumble with the blanket that’s laying across my lap.
“Really?” she asks,
her voice sounding a little too excited.
I glance up,
studying her face, and she rearranges her features to be more sympathetic.
“Sorry, I’m not happy that you feel horrible, I’m just happy that you’re
feeling something.” She smiles nervously.
I pull the blanket
up and cover my face. “Oh, my God. It’s true then. I’m a horrible, mean witch,
Jenna jerks the
blanket away from my face. “No, you’re not. You’re sweet, caring, talented, and
the best friend a girl could ask for.”
“How can you even
say that?” I shake my head, wanting to pull the covers back up and hide myself.
“I’ve been horrible to you over the last few months. I haven’t been a good
friend. I don’t clean up after myself. I don’t bathe on a regular basis. I’m a
horrible, mean, and disgusting witch!”
She can’t help
chuckling at my outburst. She stares at me for a moment and then the smile
drops from her face as she begins to give me a thoughtful expression.
“Holly, you’ve gone
through something terrible. The way you’ve been acting is just how you’re
dealing with it. I don’t mind cleaning your dirty dishes and doing your
laundry; I can deal with you not being a good friend, too. You know why?
Because I know that one day I’m going to get my friend back. Not just pieces of
her here and there. One day, when your heart heals, I’ll get all of you back.”
She pauses and then smiles at me. “But the whole not showering thing is pretty
gross. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to tell you how bad you
I gasp and my mouth
falls open at her honesty. Grabbing a pillow, I chuck it towards her face.
“Hey, I’m just
being honest.” She laughs, throwing her hands up to protect herself form the
next hit. “One day, you smelled so bad that I thought I was going to have to
leave the apartment.”
I lean over, grab
another throw pillow and chuck it at her.
must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is
waiting for us.
It’s impossible to understand how not
having a person in your life can totally change you, until it actually happens.
The day Adam died, it changed me—totally and completely. The happy, vivacious,
full of life girl I was when he was alive has since been replaced with a sad,
empty, shell of a person.
Most days, it feels
like I’m drowning and it takes every ounce of my strength just to keep my head
above the water.
Before losing Adam,
I never knew true heartbreak. Sure, there were times in my life where I thought
my heart had been broken, like when I was five and my favorite cat, Tiger,
died. I remember crying to my mom, asking her why my chest was hurting so bad.
She told me that my heart was just breaking for Tiger. Then, there was the time
Daniel Worthington broke up with me in eleventh grade and I thought my heart
had been shattered into a million pieces. I thought I’d never get over it, I
thought I’d never love again.
Now, after losing
Adam, I’m sure I know true, irrefutable heartbreak. Without him, it feels like
a piece of my heart is actually missing. A few days after he died, my crazy,
grief-stricken mind actually wondered if a person could live without a heart.
Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the sense that living without one
would prevent you from feeling; that, without a heart, you could be numb. I
questioned what it would be like to drift through life and just not feel;
knowing it would probably be miserable and lonely, but wondering if it would be
better than the alternative of actually feeling the pain that sometimes comes
Now, after living
like that for the last few months—totally numb and shutting out everyone I’ve
ever loved—I know you
live without a heart. Sure, you can exist.
You can still breathe. You can still function as a human being… but you’re not
It wasn’t until
this past weekend, when I had gone out with Jenna that I realized I missed
I missed going out and having fun. I missed singing. I missed my best
friend. I missed my family. And most of all, I missed me.
Looking down, I
glance at the pages in front of me that are covered with sad and depressing
words. I’m not sure why it happened this morning, but I felt an overwhelming
urge to write. I wasn’t sure what was going to come of the words, but I knew
that I at least needed to get them out of my head and down on paper; otherwise,
they would haunt me until I did.
“Hey, you’re up
early,” Jenna says through her yawn as she walks into the kitchen.
“Couldn’t sleep.” I
lift my coffee cup to my lips and take a sip.
classes starting?” She stands on her tip toes and reaches for a coffee cup.
like that.” The truth is that I’m terrified. I’m not looking forward to going
back to campus. Too many memories.
on?” she asks, peering over my shoulder.
I lean over and
cover the paper with my hands.
“Come on, show me,”
I shake my head.
“No, it’s not done yet. It’s actually just a bunch of random words.”
She comes to stand
beside me and her face brightens. “Is it a song? Oh, my God, Holly, are you
writing a song?”
I can’t help laughing
at her melodramatic optimism. “I’m trying, but it’s been a while, so I’m a
She waves off my
doubt and rolls her eyes. “Whatever, it’s going to be great like they all are.
You better tell me before you sing it at open mic night. I wouldn’t miss that
for the world.”
My stomach turns at
the thought of singing any of the words that are scribbled on the piece of
paper beneath my hands. “That may be a while, so don’t hold your breath.” I
glance over at her.
“Baby steps.” She
smiles gently and then disappears down the hall.
I stare down at the
paper in front of me. My pen taps in a rhythmic beat against the sheet as I
read back over the lyrics I have written so far. They are okay, I guess, but
not great. Oh, who am I kidding, it’s crap and they’re depressing as shit.
Crumpling the piece of paper in my hand, I throw it in the trash and head to my
bedroom to get ready for school.
I park on the west
side of campus in the lot adjacent to the Journalism building. Campus feels
different, weird. In the past few years, I don’t remember it being so cold when
school started, but even as cold and empty as the campus feels, it’s still
beautiful—maybe even more than I remember. The clean air, majestic mountains,
and small town feel are actually the main reasons I chose the University of
Colorado over any university in my home state of New York.
During my senior
year of high school, I had searched and applied to a few different colleges.
Most of them were in the south or midwest. It was a part of the United States
that was foreign to me so, even though it scared me and even though I wouldn’t
know another soul, I pushed myself to give it a go. It wasn’t that I was
running from anything in particular. For the most part, my family was great, a
little smothering at times, but nothing to complain about. It was strange why I
felt the internal pull inside me to get out of there... it was even more
difficult to explain it to my mom who begged me for weeks before I left to
change my mind.