Chapter 1: Downfall
"So when you told me that you loved me, it was all just a mistake?" I heard her scream at him. I sighed as I stood in between the open door of the car. Her blonde hair swiveled in the wind and it was paired with her usually pale face which was now a bit puffy after all the crying she had done that day. "I did everything for you, I was there for you and in the end look who's crying."
Her boyfriend, Edwin Right, just looked at her like she was some type of peasant. "Listen, Lelly. It's not like that anymore. I just wanted... different things. I wasn't..." He sighed. "We weren't seeing eye to eye. You knew why I called you down here."
She looked down and then whipped her face before kicking sand on his newly bought shoes. "And you know why I fucking hate you now." And she stormed off back to the car. I leaned back in the driver's side and slammed my door shut before she got back in.
"I'm sorry?" I offered her.
"Let's just get the hell out of here," she retaliated. I took her advice, turned the car on and drove out of the parking lot and down the street.
I was used to this kind of stuff. My best friend Giselle James got her heart broken every month and I was always the one there to pick up her pieces. No, I never had a problem with it, but I'm sure that she did. She just didn't realize when she should wait on the right guy instead of charging out for every cute guy that she caught her attention. I, on the other hand, seemed to play out my options which is why guys hardly ever asked me out. Okay fine, I was a bitch, but let's put this in literal terms, I would run the relationship and no guy wanted the girl to wear the pants in their relationship.
"Lelly," I said looking over at her. She had stuck her head out of the window. She always did this to avoid conversation. She knew that I would always say the same thing after every break up that she beheld.
I sighed and stared back at the road and headed toward her favorite place: Ice Shack.
You see, Lelly and I live in Florida in a little town called Veron where everyone knows everyone. Population: 3k and that is a little less to nothing. Everywhere we go, we know someone, no matter if it's just fully or we just know their name, we know them. It's a blessing and a curse at the same time. We might see someone somewhere that we hated with all of our hearts, or someone that we probably wanted to see. It was a weird fiasco.
Lelly stuck her head back into the car and rolled her window up. "No ice cream today," she said looking down at her hands. "I don't feel like it."
"You do," I said turning the corner. "You always feel like it."
"Can we just walk?" She huffed out. I sighed and parked the car down the road a couple of blocks away from the shack. She got out and then I got out of the car. We walked in silence for about two blocks until she turned my way. "Why do you always have to be right Grace?"
I looked back at her and raised an eyebrow. "I told you about that this already." I looked back ahead of me. "Sixth sense."
"Yeah," she said looking back ahead of her. "Sixth sense." The silence intensified until she looked over at me. "Do you like being so strict with yourself?"
"I like being closed," I said placing my hands in my pockets. "It's what I'm good at."
"It's like you've rehearsed these lines."
"Well I had to," I said. "You ask me the same questions all the time."
"Just cause I hope for a different response." She sighed and then stared back at the sidewalk. "How did opposites like us attract?"
I sighed as I put my hands behind my head. "I guess we just balance one another out. There's no explanation needed."
We arrived at the Ice Shack about five minutes later. Inside, there were people galore. Families eating at one booth, teenagers at another and older couples roamed lamelessly. I smiled. Frank, the owner, smiled at us and ushered us over. "Ahh, it's mah girls," his Italian accent rang over.
"Hey Frank," Lelly said as she sat at a booth that was closed to the counter.
"Sup Frank," I said as I sat right beside Lelly.
We observed through the open glass, the containers of ice cream that Frank had. Frank had a way of hand-making the most brilliant ice creams ever. He'd read recipes or he'd just mix something together. Mine favorite had always been the Strawberry cheesecake one that he used to make and Lelly's was his plain vanilla with a hint of chocolate.
"The usual I pertake?" He asked.
"For me, of course," I said rubbing my belly. He smiled at my humor, grabbed a bowl and started to fill it up. Once he handed me mine, Lelly was still going over her options. I rolled my eyes. "You do this all the time, but you always end up picking the same thing."
She sighed. "I'll have what she's having," she mumbled looking at Frank. I smiled, but once she looked at me I looked away.
Frank handed her, her ice cream and then went to attend to another customer. I turned my seat around and observed the bustling place. I noticed some of the guys and girls sitting at one table - the jocks and cheerleaders of course; then I saw an older couple in another booth. The man was feeding his wife some ice cream. I smiled. A love that lasted that long had to have been a hell of a lot to get through when they were younger.
I looked over at Lelly. She had a creeped out face on and I couldn't help but laugh at her. "You don't like it do you?"
"You forgot to mention that it actually tastes like cheesecake. This is just bad Grace," she said. She sat her cup down on the table. "Just for this, you're paying."
I smiled and sat my container on the counter. I looked over at her; there was pity all over her face. "You know what I'm going to say," I said. She sighed and nodded. "Then why do you keep doing this to yourself? Is there a reason?"
"Grace," she said. "You don't understand."
"I do understand. Remember, I've dated a guy."
"Yeah," she said. "Just one. You don't understand what it's like putting your love life out on the line. You only dated one guy and you hated it cause he broke your heart, so you never did it again."
"Well, it was like tasting something nasty just cause you've never tried it. You learned not to do it anymore."
"You're not helping," she said eyeing me.
"I'm not helping because you never take my advice. It's like it goes through one ear and out of the other."
"That's cause most of the time it does," she said. "Now I'm done talking about it. Other friends would comfort their friends after their break up and play them sappy movies and stuff."
"Well," I said reaching in my bag and pulling out five dollars. "I'm not other friends."
"Don't you think I've noticed?"
"Let's go." I stood up and slung my bag back over my shoulder. "I'm gonna be late for work."
I threw my hair in a ponytail just before I got through the door of the antique store that I worked at. The store sat outside just like every store and it was like a garage. It was always hot which was why we never were supposed to have a dress code, but we brought it upon ourselves to make our own. Shorts, tanks and flippy floppies.
"Afternoon Grace," one of my co-workers Auto said. "Long morning?"
"Hey Auto," I said as I looked at all the clothes that were lined up on the rack and adjusted them. "And you know it."
"So how did this break-up go for her?" He asked as he straightened out the accessories.
"Through one ear and out of the other." I arranged the shirts by color and then went over to straighten the shorts that were folded up on the tables. "I don't think that she will ever learn."
"Have you tried forcing it into her head?" He asked as he helped me straighten up the shorts.
I smiled. "I'd go too far. I don't wanna be arrested."
"Do you want me to do it for you?" He asked. I looked over at him and smiled. "I take that as a yes. Okay, just let me finish this shift and I can go and get my hammer."
I laughed. "Don't make me take you up on that." I heard footsteps and I turned to see Loil standing there with his arms crossed. One thing you should know about Loil is that he is a pretty boy with the attitude of a bitch. He and I get into it too much when we work shifts together, but he and I never were fired or quit. Why? Cause our boss, Ralph, thinks that we are his best sales people.
"No one has been by yet?" He asked. I turned and looked at Auto, but he just turned his head and acted as if he were straightening papers at the counter.
"Nope," I mumbled as I finished straightening the tank tops. "The shop barely opened at 12." I fished my phone out of my pocket. "And it's 12:13."
"No need to be a smart ass," he retaliated. I shrugged as I sat on the counter beside Auto. Auto picked up a magazine and leaned beside me. "I hope you two don't do that shit when customers come in here."
"You have a lot of hateful energy," I mumbled scrolling through my phone.
"Whatever," Loil said just as a couple of girls roamed through our stores. Loil turned his attention from us to them in a heartbeat. "Hey there ladies."
As he went to their side, I looked over at Auto. "Just a couple of hours. You both will be gone," he said.
"I've been working here for two years and the guy is still a dick to me." I hopped off of the counter just as more customers came in. "Is it cause I get more commission then he does?"
"I think it's cause you're cuter than he is." I laughed as I greeted the customers that had just came in.
That day was more quiet than any other day at work. Loil kept his distance and kept his eyes on every girl that came into the store. He got more customers than I did that day since my mind was somewhere else. Once it came time for me to leave, I clocked out and then walked down the bridge towards my car. There were skateboarders that came by and missed me by just a longshot, but I was used to it. I was used to this town.
As I was approaching my car, I looked through my bag for my keys. As soon as I looked up, I saw someone charging at me. I tried to move, but the odds just weren't in my favor and we both fell straight on the ground. I saw everything go black just as I was straining to open my eyes.
"Hey," I heard someone saying. His cool hands were on either side of my face. "Dammit." He shook me some more. "Please say that you aren't dead."
My view came slowly, but I saw him as he stared at me. "What the hell did you just tell me?"
"Yeah," he mumbled moving his hands from my face. "You're not dead." He moved from in front of me, but leaned down to grab my hand and pull me up. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I didn't hit my head." I looked at him. "You just knocked the freaking wind out of me."
"Well sorry," he said smiling at me.
"Don't be sorry." I pulled my keys from my pocket. "Just watch where the fuck you're going next time." I turned from him and walked down toward my car. For some reason I had the urge to turn around and look back at where I just was and when I did, I saw him standing there with two other guys. I rolled my eyes, got into my car and sped off.