Last Chances - Chapter 6Enjoy! Sorry for the delay! 15 comments please and the pic is of Dylan!
He was perfect. I still remember the first day I saw him in fifth grade. Perfect brown curls, hazel eyes. I had the biggest crush on him ever. In came Violet in sixth. Tall, pretty Violet was already pretty sure of herself and the effect she had on boys back then.
We became best friends, we were barely ever seen apart. We knew each other's secrets, could complete each other's sentences perfectly.
Zac was always in our class, until high school. And over the years he'd just managed to become so much more perfect. He was sweet, caring. He wasn't a nerd, but he was really smart. Class president for three years, student body president for one. He was popular.
Where popular guys always think they own girls, Zac was far from being a player. He'd had one girlfriend through seventh, who he'd left after a year and two months because he caught her cheating on him.
Violet was the one person who knew my infatuation with him. She'd tease me and if she ever heard anything, she'd let me know. And as my best friend, she'd claimed it was her duty to make us talk. However her attempts were always in vain. Where I was fine talking to any other guy in school, standing in front of Zac I always went blank and got tongue-tied. During the first week of junior high, everything changed.
In the locker room after gym, Natalia, another close friend of Vi and me, told me that she saw Violet making out with Zac behind the school. I didn't believe her, thinking she was just trying to get me to admit how I felt. Before we left school that day, she again told me that Violet had a date that night with Zac.
I could have just asked her, but the whole day she'd been avoiding me. My calls went unanswered and in the halls, she would tell me she'd be right back and run away. As eight o'clock started rolling in and I still hadn't heard from Violet, I started getting suspicious.
This wasn't like her.
Maybe it wasn't Zac, maybe some other guy. But why wouldn't she tell me? I told Mom I was going over to Violet's home and head out. She'd already left by the time I got to her place, so I walked over to the park. Near, 10.30, a car pulled up into her driveway.
I watched with disbelief as Zac got out and held open the door to whom I thought was my best friend.
"We had a huge fight the next day." I swing my legs from the wall we're sitting on. Me and Jogger guy. She said that Zac thought my infatuation with him was pathetic and it was better not to tell me because I might start stalking them.
I roll my eyes, shaking my head. After that I guess, I just closed up. None of our friends cared to ask or bother. They all listened to Violet's lies and the rumors she spread. School was horrible last year.
That's why Josh insisted we move. He wanted me to start afresh, move on. He doesn't say anything and we sit in silence for a few minutes.
"Petty isn't it?" He doesn't reply and my cheeks burn in embarrassment.
"No, it isn't. Why do you say that?" I shrug. "I made a big deal out of something small."
"What would your other choice have been? To pretend you didn't care and move on? And while you kept the pretense up, you might have ended up stooping to her level, maybe even lower. How you reacted was right."
"Wow. How old are you? You sound like my mother."
He laughs softly. "Definitely not around your Mom's age."
"So yeah. That's why I've become like this."
"Leave the guy aside for the moment."
"Exactly! At the end I really didn't care about Zac. It just turned out I was holding onto a childhood crush for no reason."
"Yeah. But that girl. The way you talk about her it's like you two were practically sisters."
"Yeah. That's what hurt the most."
He shrugs. "Hey, at least you found out Zac wasn't as perfect as you though he was."
I chuckle. "Yeah. That's got to be the silver lining."
"Trust is hard to win back once it's lost. And then you start doubting everyone."
"Exactly! I tried to keep as far away from Kyle as possible because I had a feeling what was going to happen. And it wasn't that I don't trust him. I just don't want to hurt him. Guess I didn't stay far enough."
He shakes his head. "You could have stayed a hundred feet away from him and he'd have still asked you out. Don't you get it?"
"What?" I frown, glancing at him.
"It's you. You're comfortable being yourself, unlike the majority of girls in this small city. They throw themselves at the guys and are so desperate. You're like a breath of fresh air."
Feeling my cheeks heat up, I try to move the topic away from me.
"So, girls are always throwing themselves at you, huh?"
He chuckles, "Why?"
"Well, that just eliminates a whole lot of people at school who don't get girls thrown at them."
He shakes his head and jumps down and smiling, I follow.
"Hey." I flip open my phone and hold it to my ear. "What's up?"
"You busy?" Anna asks, her voice as chirpy as always.
"Nope. Just hanging out with my brother. Why?"
"You up for shopping?"
"Shopping?" I echo, wincing. From the corner of my eye, I see Josh look up and watch me closely.
Right. Move on.
"Sure. Why not. Have we got a ride?"
Anna squeals, obviously not expecting me to accept. "Yes! My mom will drop us off."
"I'll be there in 30 minutes."
"Alright. I'll be waiting."
Turning off the call, I look up and see Josh smiling.
"What?" Throwing him a dirty look, I slip off the stool.
"Nothing. I can't smile at you?"
"You look creepy."
I scream as I'm lifted off my feet.
"I'm creepy huh?"
"Yes! Now let me DOWN!"
"Okay." He lets me go and I gasp as I fall, but he catches me just before I hit the ground.
"What is wrong with you!" I punch his arm and he laughs, walking into the lounge and dropping me onto the couch.
"Next time it's going to be much worse."
"Oh, I'm so scared." Rolling my eyes, I straighten my shirt and stand up.
"Good. Cuz it ain't gonna be pretty love."
"You've honestly lost your marbles," I reply, walking past him.
"But Cameron, I never had any marbles!" He whines, following me.
"You're right. You've always been this dumb."
"Watch it young lady. That's the exact kind of behavior that got you into trouble minutes ago."
"Don't you have to go and text your best friend or something?"
"Yup. I do. Thanks for reminding me." He steers off toward his room as I reach my bedroom door. Turning around, I watch him fall onto his bed, phone in his hands.
I was kidding.
He isn't serious, is he?
Sneaking into his room, I lean over his shoulder and read what he's typing.
Hey man. Cameron just agreed to go out with you on a date tonight. So remember what I prepped you on aight? An-
"WHAT?! Give me that!" Climbing over his legs I lunge for his phone as he cracks up.
"It isn't funny Josh!" I try to reach for his arm, but he's holding onto my waist tightly.
"I know. It's hilarious."
"Give it to me!" I elbow him but damn his hard chest. It makes no difference.
"Okay, okay." After I struggle a bit more, he lets go of me and I snatch it from his hand.
Sitting up, I erase the message and quickly type in something else.
"What are you doing?"
He doesn't try to snatch it, lying back, his eyes on me.
You know the whole best mate thing? It's just a cover up of how much I love you.
Sending it, I sit back and throw the phone toward him. He checks what I've sent, his eyebrows shooting up and then shrug.
"Hey!" Anna waves, her head sticking out of the window.
"Hi. Calm down." I murmur, opening the back door and sliding inside. She's literally bouncing off her seat.
"Mom, this is Anna. Anna, my mom Laura."
"Hey Mrs.R." I smile at her as she turns back to me.
"Call me Laura, honey. How are you?"
"Great thanks. How about you?"
"Super. Is your mom in?"
"No. She's still at work."
"It would have been great to meet her. Maybe some other time."
Laura drops us off at the mall. Anna's already hopping from one foot to the other. What is she going to do when she gets into the shops? She slips her arm through mine, surprising me and starts dragging me towards the main entrance.
"I thought you wouldn't come! I'm so excited! It's our first shopping trip!"
"Wait." When she turns to me, I look her straight in the eye, my expression dead serious. "No friendship bracelets and stuff."
She grins. "I'm not promising anything!"
Thirty minutes and two shops later, Anna's got two full bags in her hands as she drags me to a shop she's sure I'm going to love.
"I can't believe you haven't got anything yet."
I shrug, following her into the store. And true to her word, I do love the store. It's everything I used to wear. Colorful shorts, short summer dresses, beach totes, spaghetti tops etc.
"There's something you've got to love here."
She starts sifting through the first rack and I finger the shirts, my mind miles away.
"Where?" Anna starts pulling me towards the changing rooms. She pushes me into a room and dumps a pile of clothes on the bench.
"What? No." I pick up the long sleeved pink shirt. This is nice. There are three different colored tank tops, all bright colors. "I don't wear this."
"Well, I want you to try it on."
"No. Annaaaaaaa..." I start to whine, trying to make her give in.
She shakes her head. "No. You're going to try them. Come on."
Groaning, I watch as she starts closing the door behind her. I haven't worn anything less than full sleeves since... well. Since what happened. Pulling off my hoodie, I change into the pink shirt. It's perfect, not too tight but isn't loose either. Looking at myself in the floor length mirror, tugging a few strands of hair out of my ponytail. It would be so easy to go back. Shaking my head, I tuck my hair back and open the door.
Anna squeals and rushes toward me. "I knew it would look amazing on you!"
"Nice? You look fantastic! So much better than your blues, blacks and grays."
"Really? Gee, thanks Anna. That's sweet of you."
She chuckles. "You're welcome. Of course, I don't know why you dress like it but I'm just saying. You look beautiful."
"Try on the others."
I look back at the tops sitting on the bench.
"I dunno Anna." I bite my lip, glancing at her.
She quickly smiles, nodding. "Okay. We'll get the pink top."
"We're getting it! You want to see something else?"
I smile at her, shaking my head. "No. I like this top."
"I can't believe what I'm seeing!"
Anna and I both turn around on the escalator and see Dylan standing behind us, an eyebrow raised.
"Dylan! What are you doing here?" Anna looks shocked.
"Shopping. What else do you do in a mall?"
"Stalk girls?" She replies and he smirks. "You know how difficult it is to drag him to a mall? He's only given in once and that was for thirty minutes!" She says, turning to me.
As we reach the top floor, I turn to him. "So what ARE you doing here?"
"Looking for you two. How could you not invite me?!" He holds a hand to his chest, looking at the two of us with his big brown eyes.
"Well," I start since Anna's preoccupied looking into shop windows as we walk toward the food court. "One because it's so hard to convince you to come to a mall and it's a girly thing."
"So? I already hang out with the two of you, don't I?"
"It was all Anna's idea!" I reply, pointing at her.
"Hey! I didn't even think you were going to agree. I was so happy that I forgot all about Dylan."
"Thanks for being truthful girls." He swings his arms on both our shoulders, walking between us. My reflex is to freeze but I shake it off.
Dylan's my friend. What am I worrying about?
I look up from my fries and see Dylan watching me.
He shakes his head, smiling, and looks away but a few minutes later, I see his eyes on me again.
"What is it Dylan? Do I have ketchup on my nose?" I swipe my fingers against my nose but there's nothing there.
"No. It isn't that."
"Then?" I glance toward Cinnabon, where Anna's ordering.
"Can I ask you something?"
"What happened? Something good obviously. You seem relaxed today, calm."
"I do?" I frown, looking at him. "Nothing happened."
He smiles. "Well, whatever it is, I'm glad it happened."
As we leave, I glance at my reflection in a passing shop window. I do look calmer. Was that all I needed? To talk to someone.
Walking out of my washroom, I see Josh stretched out over my bed, his face buried in a pillow.
What happened to his bed?
I quickly change before he wakes up. My eyes fall on my hoodie which I'd thrown on the chair after my run. Jogger guy hadn't turned up today, for the first time ever. And I was more disappointed then I thought I'd be. He probably didn't hear his alarm. Or he's sick or something. I slow down as I near his house on the opposite side of the road. It's been ten days since he stopped turning up. Every morning when I jog past, the house looks the same.
Taking in a deep breath, I look both ways before crossing the road and walk up the driveway to the front door.
I ring the doorbell and when no one answers, rap hard on the door.
There's no detectable movement inside.
"The Smiths aren't here."
Hearing the voice, I turn to see their next door neighbor look up from his garden chair. I didn't notice him when I was walking up.
"Where are they?" I ask, stepping closer to the hedge.
"The boy was admitted to a hospital eleven nights ago."
My heart starts racing when I heard this. Eleven nights ago? That's a long time to spend at the hospital.
"What happened to him?"
He shrugs. "Sorry love, I don't know. He was wheeled out on a stretcher. Victoria likes her privacy where her son's concerned, so we let it be and pretend nothing happened when he's back."
"So this happens often?"
The old man nods, rubbing his forehead. "Yeah. But it hasn't happened for a couple of months so we were all starting to think he was getting better you know?"
I nod, gulping. "Okay. Thank you." I smile at him before turning and heading back toward home.
My brother looks up from his breakfast. "Yeah?"
I bite my lip, deliberating. Do I ask him?
"What is it?" He's looking at me closely now.
"Could you give me a lift to the hospital?"
He frowns. "Why? You alright?"
"Yeah. There's someone..." I trail away, not sure where to start.
You see the thing is ever since I talked to the neighbor this morning, it's eating me up inside.
"There's this guy... We kinda jog together every morning."
Josh nods. "Yeah, I figured." When I raise my eyebrows, he smiles slightly. "I got worried when you didn't come in at your usual time once and I got out to look for you. Saw you two running up the block, so I came back. Figured if you were happy then he wasn't hurting you or anything."
I nod. "Well, he hasn't been turning up for two weeks."
"Okay. Go get ready, I'll take you."
"Thank you," Jumping up, I hurry to my room.
"What's his name?"
I shrug as we walk into the hospital. "I dunno. His last name's Smith. Could you distract the receptionist?"
Josh nods. "Alright, be careful."
"Okay." I wait in the corner, out of sight, as Josh walks up to the receptionist.
A few moments later, I hear her laugh and take my chance. As I start walking down the hallway, two nurses come out pushing a trolley full of bottles. They're too busy chatting and pay no attention to me, so I use them as a cover and hurry on. As they disappear into a room, I peek inside but there's an old woman in the bed.
I'm not even sure what I'm looking for as I peek into the rooms. Nearing the last one at the end of the hallway, I take in a deep breath and crack open the door.
Whew! No one's in.
Stepping inside, I quietly move toward the bed. In the dim lighting, my breath gets caught in my throat as I see the person occupying the bed.
No. This can't be.
It can't be him.
I look at the chart at the end of the bed and sure enough, the last name is Smith.
Eyes wide, I quietly walk over to his side.
There's a quiet beeping in the room, the machine monitoring his heart rate. An IV is attach to his right arm.
I watch him, his eyes closed, a peaceful look about his face while he's unconscious. But his face is pale and thin, even in the dim light. My eyes slowly trail down and even in the horribly dim light, I see a scar running down the side of his neck and disappearing down the back.
My breath's already shallow as I see his bare arms, all full of scars, most fading. His wrists are both bandaged. How can someone who always seems so happy do this? It's blatantly obvious to me what's going on and I start to quietly retrace my steps outside, not wanting to be caught.
My heart stops until I realize it's Josh. His eyes widen as he takes in my shocked face and he glances over my shoulder.
I nod, not trusting myself to speak just yet.
"Ready to leave?"
I nod again and as we walk down the hallway, slip my hand into his, holding it tightly. I miss all of Josh's worried glances for the first time as I try to make sense of everything I've just seen.
Replies to comments
PH - I'm glad you're enjoying! Aah everything you wanted to know was revealed... somehow! Hope you enjoy! Thanks so much.
MayJuneJuly - Hahaha, yes! Back to cliff hangers Junie, better get used to them. Yes, yes I know you believe in me but that won't answer the questions. Love you.
Praiser - Why do you think it's Danial? I won't tell though, so you're gonna have to wait. Thanks so much! It's alright! Haha yeah! She's taking her brother's advice and opening up to a stranger! Dunno, you're gonna have to read on! Enjoy!
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