How did I let this happen?
How did I stand there and let this turn into a mess?
I got scared, that’s what happened. I got scared and reverted back to the person I was before Greer Evans. I panicked under the weight of the emotions. I caved and I made things worse.
I kissed her.
My fists crashes into the wall by my head, splintering the dry wall. My knuckles scream in protest, but the pain feels real when nothing else does.
“Kay?” A little voice interrupts my torment.
I spin around fast, trying to control my anger. I never wanted Sofia to see me like this.
“Kay, what’s wrong?” She says in a sleepy voice. She’s holding her stuff rabbit in one hand, clutching it tight to her chest. I got her that rabbit. Her big, brown eyes take in the blood at my knuckles and I try to hide it from her. “What happened?”
I clear my throat and step towards her, “Nothing, scimmia. It’s fine.”
“Why are you bleeding?” She points her free hand to my wounds.
“I had an accident.” I say quickly, ushering her out of my room before she sees the whole I made in my wall.
She says nothing as I tuck her back into her bed and wrap the bedspread tight around her. She smiles up at me. Her hands snake out from under the comforter and smoosh my cheeks between her tiny hands. “I love you, Kay.”
I clear the lump that’s formed in my throat and smile down at her, “I love you to, scimmia.”
I leave her room, my knees feeling wobbly under the pressure. My back hits the wall and I slide down until I’m seated on the floor. My mind is reeling with unwanted thoughts. I can’t get Greer’s face out of my brain. I can’t stop hearing the words we screamed at each other.
When I imagined kissing Greer Evans, it hadn’t gone down like that at all.
I hear the front door opening. Irene must be home. I don’t move. She comes up the stairs and stops. Her eyes study me and then the blood on my knuckles. She barely reacts. Irene is a pro at dealing with my outbursts. This isn’t the first time she’s had to deal with my busted knuckles.
She kneels in front of me, placing her steady hands on my knees, “What happened this time?”
I run my shaky hands across my face and take in an unsteady breath, “I made a mess of things, Irene.”
“It’s nothing you can’t fix.” She reassures me.
I shake my head quickly, “No. I can’t fix it this time.”
“Don’t say that, Kale. You can always fix it.” She tries again.
I stand to my feet quickly, stepping away from her calming aurora. She watches me from where she’s still crouched on the ground. She doesn’t move, doesn’t make sudden movements. She knows handling me when I’m in these moods is like handling a wild, caged animal. I don’t want this for her. I don’t want her to have to handle me when I’m like this. Irene is too good for this. She deserves more than a messed-up kid with daddy issues.
“Not this time.” I say under my breath as I jog down the stairs. She doesn’t try to stop me. I fling the front door open and jog to my Mustang. I slide behind the wheel and power out of the driveway. My fingers clench the steering wheel with white, bloody knuckles.
I barely pay attention to where I’m going. Before I know it, I end up in the driveway of Tom’s house. He lives in one of the nicer places near Arden. He has parents that are never home, which is good for me. I know he’s awake before I even step up to the door. When I knock, I hear movement from inside.
Some leggy brunette answers the door. She’s wearing a skimpy skirt with lots of makeup: Tom’s type. She looks me over and gives me a small smile. “Can I help you?”
“Where’s Tom?” My voice is still shaky.
She can see how uneasy I am and she steps aside to let me inside. “Let me just go get him.”
Usually, Tom’s place would offer some comfort for me, but not today. A minute later, I see my best friend come around the corner. He’s shirtless, wearing nothing but a pair of jogging shorts. I’d clearly interrupted something.
“Kale?” Tom looks me over quickly. He’s known me long enough to read me. He doesn’t even hesitate before he whispers something to the busty brunette and then leads her to his front door. She gives me a quick glance before she disappears out the front door. Tom walks back to me, keeping his distance. “Come on, man.”
My best friend leads me into the basement. He’s got a great set-up down here. Big screen TV, surround sound, a bar in the corner, and a popcorn machine. His bedroom is off to the right. Tom steps into his room, finding a T-shirt that’s laying on the floor. He pulls it on over his head.
I’m standing in one place, too messed up to move. My brain won’t quit running. My fingers won’t quit shaking. My body feels numb.
Before I know it, Tom is thrusting a glass of alcohol in my face. I take in a shaking hand and down it in one gulp. The alcohol burns my throat on the way down. My nerves instantly relax some. Tom fills the glass a second time, I down that one quickly as well. By the fourth shot, my mind is starting to buzz.
Tom leads me to the couch and I sit down, leaning my head back. I sip at the glass in my hands, absentmindedly. My best friend studies, waiting until I’m good and buzzed to ask me what happened. He’s smart like that.
“So, you want to talk about it?” Tom asks, his eyes searching my face.
“I messed things up with Greer.” I say, my words slightly slurring from the alcohol I’ve consumed.
“How?” He asks quietly.
“I kissed her.” I take a big swig of the whiskey.
“I don’t see the problem, dude. That’s great!” He pats me on the back.
“You don’t understand.” I shake my head. “She told me to stay away from her afterwards.”
“Oh, man. I’m sorry.” He sighs. I nod, gulping down the rest of my alcohol. Tom fills up my glass once again. “Last one and then you’re cut off.”
I want to yell at him for telling me what to do, but I know Tom is only looking out for me. He always is. Besides Irene, Tom’s the only one that cares about me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.
Everything’s spinning now and my brain is fuzzy. A smile cracks across my face. “I love you, man.” The words fall loosely from my lips.
Tom laughs, “Yeah, you’re definitely cut off.” He takes the empty glass from me, I can barely protest.
“I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here.” I shake my head, trying to focus my eyes on him. Everything is blurry.
“Yeah, I know, dude. No one else could put up with your whiny butt.” Tom laughs.
“No one else would care.”
“Don’t say that. Of course, someone would.”
“There’s just you and Irene. But Irene is going to get tired of me soon. She’s going to realize that I’m too much to handle. She’ll see that I’m just like my father and she’ll get rid of me. She’ll leave me like everyone else does.”
“Stop it, Kale. This is just the alcohol talking.” Tom shakes his head. “Irene would never do that to you.”
“She would, man, because she’s going to see that I’m a bad influence for Sofia. She’s going to kick me out because it’s better for her daughter.” A lump forms in my throat as I speak the words.
“Kale, stop, now. You are not a bad influence on Sofia. That little girl loves you and she looks up to you. She needs you.” He tries, but he knows he can’t make me understand - not with the alcohol coursing through my veins.
“Why do you put up with me? I’m dead weight.” I ask, my body too heavy to move.
“Seriously, dude. Shut up. You need so stop with this pity party. I don’t put up with you. You’re my friend, more like my brother.” Tom stands to his feet and disappears out of my blurry vision. He’s back a moment later with a glass of water and two little blue pills. He hands them to me and watches in silence as I swallow them whole. “Now, get some sleep. We still have school tomorrow.”
I can’t get myself to care that I’ll have a hangover tomorrow. Tom ushers me to lay down on his couch. He helps me out of my shoes. He lays a throw blanket over me. “See you in the morning.” He says to me before disappearing into his room.
If this is what heartbreak feels like, count me out.
It felt like dying.
My heart was cracking and shattering in my chest and there was no Band-aid big enough to cover it. Alcohol was just a temporary fix. It just masks the pain. Then when morning comes, the pain will be back and worse than ever.
Heart break felt like dying, but I was forced to keep living.