When we got to my place I didn’t have much time as we were running late for dinner with Brandon’s parents. Without taking a moment to stop and think, I flew into the bedroom, pulled a dress and underwear out of my cupboard and rushed into my bathroom, planning to unpack my stuff when I got home that evening or even in the morning. It’s not like I would be going to school. I quickly showered and washed my hair. It was sweaty from the dancing and I really wanted to look nice. I owed Mr. and Mrs. Gillen a huge thank you for all they had done for me the past two months.
I dried off my hair, slipped on my clothes and went back to my bedroom to finish up with my hair and makeup. Not in the mood to blow-dry it, I quickly rubbed some gel into my wet hair.
Throwing my head back, I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair looked like it had a natural kink in it, which it doesn’t, but the gel would dry it that way and keep it looking like that for the evening. After applying some blush, eyeliner and mascara, I slipped on my blue heels and stood back to look at myself. Before I could get a proper look there was a knock on my door.
“Hey Sam, are you finished yet? We really need to go as we are running late.”
I quickly applied a layer of lipstick. “Yes I’m done, I’m on my way.” I opened the door and walked into the living room. When Brandon saw me his mouth dropped open and he just stared at me.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Sleeping Beauty.” Those were his only words.
“Brandon, what are you on about? Stop staring at me, you are making me uncomfortable. We are late, remember, we need to go!”
“You are wearing the same dress,” was all he said, while still staring at me.
Looking down at my dress I wanted to tell him that indeed I’m wearing a dress as I’m a girl, but before the words could leave my mouth I understood what he was referring to. I was wearing the same dress I wore on the day I tried to kill myself.
“I. . . Uh . . . I just grabbed a dress out of my cupboard to wear without even stopping to think. I am quickly going to go and change.”
“No, don’t,” he said, stopping me dead in my tracks. “You look like Sleeping Beauty in that dress. I like it on you. So please wear it.”
I just stood there looking at him, not knowing what to say. He must have misinterpreted my silence as he quickly added, “Only if you are comfortable. If not then you can quickly go and change.”
Shaking my head no, I picked up my keys off the table and headed for my front door. “Let’s just go, we are going to be late.”
Brandon followed me out of the house in silence, got in the car and drove us to his parents, without saying one word to me.
“You look amazing, Samantha!” His mom greeted me with a big smile. “Doesn’t she look beautiful Anthony?”
“She certainly does, Kathy. Welcome back, Samantha. I’m glad you decided to join us for dinner.”
“Thanks for inviting me. And I will always come unless you try to get my mom and me to talk. Then I would need to respectfully decline.” I decided to add that in as I wanted them to know that they shouldn’t even broach the subject with me. Both gave a small laugh and we all went into the living room.
I hadn’t been back there since the day I found out that my parents knew the Gillen family. Looking at the wall, I saw that they hadn’t changed the pictures around and a pleased smile came to my lips. I liked it that way. I wouldn’t have changed it either if I had the choice.
We had a lovely evening and dinner was amazing. Mrs. Gillen made a roast with green beans and potatoes and Malva pudding for dessert. It’s safe to say I was stuffed by the time we had finished eating. I really enjoyed the evening and the conversation flowed. Not once did it hiccup, even when it got close to what had happened to me.
They did ask if I would be going back to school and I explained how I would be finishing up my last tests at the centre, as I didn’t want to face the kids at school yet. They both nodded their heads in understanding and didn’t press the matter further.
Later that evening when I asked Brandon if he could take me home, he quickly excused himself, telling me he would be right back and then we could go. When he left the room, Mr. Gillen came to sit next to me. I could see there was something he wanted to talk to me about.
Bracing myself, as I thought it would be about my mother, I was surprised when he took out a folded piece of paper and handed it to me.
As I slowly opened it I realised what it was. Staring down at the words I had written myself two months ago, I looked back up at Mr. Gillen with questions in my eyes.
“Brandon took the letter the day he found you. He was in the process of reading it at the hospital when we arrived and I have kept the letter with me ever since. I have read the whole letter but Brandon hasn’t read all of it yet. As far as I can tell, he got as far as the part about your aunt.” Not knowing how to respond I just kept looking at Mr. Gillen.
“It didn’t feel right for me to give him the letter as you were okay. And just so you know, Brandon, his mom and I are fine; we have talked everything through. But I strongly urge you to either show him the letter or tell him what you wrote in it. I think he needs to know how you feel.” The expression in Mr. Gillen’s eyes was soft and encouraging. He wasn’t forcing me to say anything, and by giving me back my letter I knew he wouldn’t, either.
I smiled at him. “Thanks for this, Mr. Gillen. And thanks for not showing it to Brandonor telling him. I was really worried about that. I will maybe tell him a bit later what I wrote in it if he asks, but by telling him the truth I might make him feel like he needs to act on it and I don’t want to do that to him.” Before Mr. Gillen could respond, Brandon came back into the room.
Getting up, I pushed the letter into the top part of my dress and said my good nights, with a promise to drop by after my therapy session the next afternoon.
Later that evening as Brandon took me home, the enormity of it all hit me. For the first time in two months I was going to be completely alone. I would need to start looking after myself again. For the first time that day I understood why everybody at the centre kept telling me not to be alone the first few nights I was back home.
I had been telling Brandon all afternoon, and his parents all evening, that I would be fine on my own but I was starting to regret saying that to them, and very much wished I was staying at their place, at least for the night.
Brandon must have seen the look on my face because he pulled me into his arms for one of his amazing, heart-stopping hugs and whispered in my ear. “Don’t worry, I’ll be on the couch if you need me. I never planned on leaving you alone on your first night back.” I was happier than I’d ever been before to hear his words.
Over the last three months I had fallen head over heels for him. That is partly why I hadn’t yet brought up the letter and what I wrote in it. I couldn’t handle him telling me we were just good friends, or thinking he had to act on what I wrote otherwise I might fall off the wagon again. I liked living in this dream bubble that he was secretly in love with me and not just a great friend. I didn’t want him to feel pushed into something that he didn’t want himself.
I fetched a pillow and some blankets for Brandon from my bedroom. Handing them to him I said, “You can use the bathroom if you like. I’m going to make myself some tea, so take your time. Do you want something?” He shook his head and went into my bathroom. By the time I had finished making my tea and taken my new medication he had returned and was busy setting up his bed. I quickly slipped into my room to get ready for bed.
When I came back out to say good night he was already settled on the couch.
“Remember your meds,” he said, pointing towards the new bottle on my kitchen counter.
“Already took them, thank you.” I grinned at him.
“Cool, are you ready for bed?” he asked, giving me his heart-stopping smile.
“Yes, I’m exhausted. Think the enormity of the day and the dancing tired me out. Will I see you in the morning?”
“Yeah, I’ll be going to school but will see you if you are up and about by then.”
“Cool, well, good night then.”
“Good night Sleeping Beauty. Sweet dreams. Love you.” Smiling at his words I walked back into my room and closed the door.
That night I couldn’t sleep. As tired as I was, I kept rolling around or fluffing my pillows. Finally I gave up and went to see if Brandon was still awake. He wasn’t, but when I entered the living room he woke up.
“What’s wrong, Sleeping Beauty?”
“I can’t seem to fall asleep. Sorry if I woke you.” Sitting up, he patted the space next to him on the couch, inviting me to come and sit with him. He switched on the TV and we ended up watching reruns of ‘How I Met Your Mother’. I must have fallen asleep sometime during the shows, because I woke up alone on the couch with a note and a single flower next to me, and the smell of coffee in the air.
Picking up the note and the flower, I inhaled the scent while walking into the kitchen. I returned to the couch with my coffee and got comfy again. It was only 9 am so I still had a few hours before my appointment at Dr. Trammel’s office. Sipping my coffee I turned on the TV and switched to cartoons. While they played in the background I reached for the note that Brandon left for me.
As I read it a huge smile crept over my face. I haven’t felt this happy in a really long time, I thought to myself, as I relaxed back into the couch and focused on the cartoons.
Went to school. Didn’t want to wake you.
Will see you after practice. Don’t miss me too much. ;)