Authors: Heather London
Tags: #Contemporary romance
The ringing in
my ears began the second he started talking. The pressure on my chest and pain
in my heart didn’t start until he actually said those words, though.
He didn’t make it
. Deep down, I already knew he was
gone from the moment I got that phone call. I guess I just didn’t want to
believe it. My whole body began to tremble as I looked into Carter’s eyes.
For a moment,
there was nothing except silence and no tears fell from my eyes. Even though I
knew what he said, I still didn’t want to believe it. I think I was still in
shock. Then, as if a light switch went off in my brain, the tears began to fall
and I couldn’t stop them for anything in the world.
Carter pulled me
in his arms and held me. I couldn’t help repeating the words he just told me
over in my head. Adam didn’t make it. He was gone. Never coming back. The guy I
loved, who I was with just a few hours ago—that was alive and breathing—was
gone. How can that be? He was just here. How can he be gone just like that?
anger ripped through me and the reality hit me hard, knowing that I would never
see his face again—never see his smile again. I couldn’t control myself as I
began to hammer my fists against Carter’s chest while I screamed and cried.
There was no control in me. It felt like I was trapped in a horrible nightmare
and the harder I punched and the more I cried, the faster I would wake up from
this horrible dream. The entire time I was having my meltdown, Carter never
said a word. He never asked me to stop punching him or screaming in his ear. He
just pulled me closer to him and squeezed me even harder.
Jenna showed up
an hour or so later and had to peel me out of his arms. Before that night, I
had never met Carter and, even though he told me the worst news I had ever
received, in that moment he gave me the most comfort. He was there for me. He
held me tight. He let me cry. He let me punch him until my fists ached. He was
warm. He was safe. I didn’t want to let him go.
A hand grabs my
shoulder and gives me a soft shake. My hearts jumps, but when I open my eyes
and see it’s just Jenna, my heart begins to return to a regular rhythm.
“Sorry, I didn’t
mean to scare you,” she says, her big, blue eyes are staring right at me. “You
didn’t answer when I called your name the first few times.” Her eyebrows draw
downward and I can see the pity in her face. “Have you been in here the whole
time?” Her tangled expression makes me realize that tears are rolling down my
cheeks. “You want to talk about it?”
I shake my head and
wipe the tears from my face. “No, I’m good.”
She mashes her lips
together, causing her mouth to form into a straight line. I know she’s trying
to hold back asking me any more questions and it’s killing her to do so.
bathroom?” I ask, wanting to clean myself up and gather my thoughts.
“C’mon,” she wraps
her arm around my shoulder, “I’ll show you.”
Jenna and I decide
to take Josh up on his offer and stay at the house since we both had a few
beers. I’ve been staring at the T.V. for the last few hours, but I don’t even
know what has been on and I can feel Jenna’s stare burning holes into the side
of my head.
“What?” I turn and
finally ask her, unable to take it anymore. She tries to turn her head away
from me, but she doesn’t do it fast enough and I catch her. “C’mon, I’m not
stupid.” I keep my eyes focused on her. “Go ahead; I know you’re dying to ask
She swallows hard
and faces me. “I’m just wondering if you’re doing okay. You didn’t even ask why
Josh and Carter had to leave so suddenly… but you know, though, don’t you?”
I nod my head.
She pauses for a
moment, looking down at her hands. “And how do you know?”
I sigh, knowing
she’ll never lay off me now, so I may as well tell her everything. “I was
talking to Carter in the garage when Josh came in and told him about... the
She nods her head
and her mouth forms a perfect ‘O.’ “So the two of you were talking?”
I nod again.
“And was it him or
the talking that upset you?”
I shake my head.
“No, it wasn’t him. I’ve just got a lot of stuff to sort out still. Maybe you
should lay off him a bit; he doesn’t seem like a bad guy.”
“I have been a
little harsh on him the past few months.” She sighs. “So what did you guys talk
I should’ve known
that she wasn’t going to give up that easy. I shrug and take a deep breath in.
She leans forward,
clearly wanting more information than I’m giving her. “That’s all you’re gonna
give me?” she asks. “Details, Holly. I need details.”
I can’t help
laughing. “Really, we didn’t talk very long before Josh came in.” I shrug
again, trying to think of something I can give her so she’ll be satisfied. “He
thinks you hate him, though.”
She rolls her eyes
and falls back on the couch. “I don’t hate him. He just got on my nerves the
past few months when he wouldn’t quit asking about you. I told him to just
leave you alone, that you needed some time, but he wouldn’t let up. It took me
threatening his life before he got it through his thick skull.”
I laugh again.
“Yeah, he told me about that.”
“Listen, I know he means
well and he’s just trying to be a nice guy, but the boy just can’t take a
There’s a long
silence between us until she asks, “So you’re okay then… I mean, being around
him wasn’t too much for you?”
Truthfully, I have
no idea if I’m okay or not. The one thing I know for sure is that Carter brings
up old memories and forces me to face things that I want to bury forever. I
know that in order to get on with my life, though, I am going to have to face
those memories… and that means facing him.
A friend is someone who knows all about you and still
~ Elbert Hubbard
“Damn, dude. What did that calculator
ever do to you?” Josh asks, walking into the kitchen.
I ignore him and
continue to punch numbers, frustrated that I’ve been working on the same
problem for an hour and still can’t get it right.
“Okay, I get it.
You’re in one of your moods.” He grabs a bowl from the cabinet and pours
himself some cereal. “So, I’ll talk and you can just listen, or ignore me, or
whatever it is you do when you get like this.”
Shaking my head, I
try to drown out his words. He may hate it when I get quiet and retreat inward,
but I hate it even more when he gets chatty in the mornings like a girl.
“So, I’ve been
thinking,” he begins. “We need to invite Jenna and Holly over for dinner
sometime. We can hang out and everyone can get to know each other a little
better. What do you think?” He’s leaning against the counter, facing me,
awaiting my response.
I glance up to see
him stuff a spoonful of cereal into his mouth and watch a trail of milk dribble
down his chin. After making a revolting expression, I shake my head and glance
back towards my book. For one thing, he’s living in a fantasy world. Jenna
hates me and has barely spoken more than a few words to me over the last few
months except when she threatened my life if I ever tried to contact Holly.
Also, Holly, the girl could barely stand to breathe in my direction without
looking like she is in some kind of pain. Inviting them over for dinner and
pretending that everyone likes each other doesn’t sound like the best idea.
It has been two
weeks since I saw Holly in the garage and I never called her for coffee. Every
time I pick up the phone, I panic and hang up. I’m not even sure why. I wish I
had a better excuse, like I don’t have her number or something, but that isn’t
the case. I’ve actually had her number for months.
One day when Jenna
was over, I saw her phone lying on the kitchen counter. I could hear her
giggling upstairs in Josh’s bedroom so I knew she wouldn’t be coming down
anytime soon and see me going through her phone, looking for Holly’s number.
When I don’t
respond to Josh’s proposal, he slides into the seat across from me and chews
loudly, annoying the crap out of me. I’m not angry at him. I’m angry with
myself; angry that I am too scared to make a stupid phone call, but no matter
what, I’m still not in the mood to deal with him. I slam my textbook shut and
reach over for my backpack.
“Okay, it was just
a suggestion, man. No need to get angry.” Josh sighs and his spoon falls
against the bowl, making a clanking noise. “I just want you and Jenna to get
along better. I can’t have my best friend and my girlfriend not liking each
other. It makes me feel like I have to choose between the two of you. Besides,
I actually think that the two of you would get along great… that the four of us
would get along. Now that you and Holly have talked a little and Jenna doesn’t
want to castrate you because of it, I think we could have something beautiful
Did I mention how
much I hate him when he gets chatty? Life’s not a Hallmark card, but he’s never
been able to understand that. He still has his family all intact. He doesn’t
know what it’s like to have your life unravel at an uncontrollable speed. He
doesn’t get what it feels like to have people look at you like you should be
the one that died that night on the mountain, like you shouldn’t be the one
alive right now. I’m shoving my shit into my backpack as fast as possible,
wanting to get out of here so I don’t have to listen to him whine anymore about
how everything’s not sunshine and rainbows. What does it matter if I don’t get
along with his girlfriend anyway? Josh and I can still be friends. Not everyone
has to get along with everyone, do they? I push my chair out and it screeches
along the tile.
“Hey,” Josh says,
his voice much more serious and louder than before. I stop, grit my teeth, and
clutch the strap on my backpack to the point of pain. I’m facing forward with
my back towards him and he sighs loudly when I don’t turn around to face him.
Finally he speaks,
“Hey man, I know you’re still going through some rough shit, but you’re not as
alone as you think you are.” There’s a long silence, but I still don’t turn
around or say anything back to him. “Whatever, man. I just wanted you to know
that I’m here for you, you should know that by now, though.”
When he’s done
talking, I don’t say a word. I can’t help feeling this uncontrollable anger
inside me, but it’s not because of him. I know the way I’m treating him isn’t
right. Even then, all I really want to do is turn around and yell at him...
tell him that he has no idea what he’s talking about and to leave me the hell
alone. Still going through some rough shit? That’s what he thinks my life has
been the last few months? The last few years? Rough? What a joke.
Instead, I keep my
mouth shut and keep moving until I’m back upstairs in my room, knowing that
anything I say to him right now, I’ll just end up regretting later. I drop my
bag and squeeze my eyes tight. My fists form into tight balls and it takes
everything inside me to withstand hitting the wall.
Even though it’s
been a couple weeks since I last saw Holly, she’s all I’ve thought about since
that night I walked into the garage. The way she made me feel, especially when
she smiled, it’s been hard to focus on anything but her. Even though, deep
down, I know it’s wrong for me to want to see her again just for my own
benefit, I want to feel that release again. That breath of fresh air my chest
got when I saw her smile, I want it again... I need it.
My eyes shift
across my room and I see my phone lying on the bed. Without thinking too much
about it, almost as if my subconscious is challenging me head on, I reach for
the phone, scrolling through the names until I find Holly’s. When I press the
call button, it only rings once before I can feel a full panic attack coming
on. I end the call and throw the phone back on the bed, realizing that my chest
is rising and falling in deep heavy breaths. What the hell is going on with me?
She’s just a girl... It’s just a phone call.
Forcing myself to
get over it, I pick the phone back up. It rings twice before she picks up.
“Hello?” Her voice
is guarded, probably because she just got a hang up from this number. For the
life of me, I can’t think of anything to say. I’m even contemplating hanging up
the phone again. “Hello?” she says again. This time her voice has some
annoyance in it.
“Hey, Holly.” I
take in a deep breath. “It’s Carter.” I squeeze my eyes tight after hearing the
desperation and fear in my own voice.
“Oh, hey.” Her
voice is full of surprise, maybe shock.
“I was going to see
if you wanted to go get some coffee or something.” I feel like I’m fifteen
again, asking a girl if she’ll go out with me.
There’s a long
silence and I pull the phone away from ear to check and make sure we’re still
connected. “You there?” I ask, putting the phone back up to my ear.