Me And My Shadow

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Chapter 13

Surprisingly, my mom wasn’t too upset when I asked if Layla and I could go to the movies. I was anticipating a meltdown of some sort. My mind loves imagining things that aren’t there.

We told my mom that we wanted to see the new movie, “A Dog’s Purpose”, which is supposed to be some family movie about a dog and the many lives that the dog goes through just to end up back with his original owner. I guess it seemed sweet. Layla wasn’t too thrilled about it, but that was the only movie my mom would let us go see alone. Thank you mom for being lame.

“You owe me big time!” She whispered to me as we waited for my mom to grab her car keys.

“I know, I know.” I said, holding my hands up defensively.

Brody walked by and smirked at me.

“What?” I asked.

“I know you’re up to something. Better hope I don’t find out, because if I do mom will find out also.”

Really? Brother of the year ladies and gentlemen.

“Shut up. We aren’t up to anything. Go sit on your stupid x-box and mind your business.” I hissed back quietly.

“Whatever.” He walked away and into the kitchen shrugging his shoulders.

My mom came out of her room and grabbed her purse from the kitchen counter.

“Brody, I’ll be right back. Do not leave this house or open this front door for anyone! I’m locking it!”

Brody just nodded his head and then went into his room with a bag of Doritos.

We shut the door behind us and piled into the car.

“Layla, do you have money for this movie?” My mom asked, reaching for her wallet.

It was then that it occurred to us we didn’t think this plan all the way through, because neither one of us had any money for the movie tickets.

I gave my mom a, ‘please give us money and I will work for it later’ look, and she handed me forty bucks. We didn’t quite need that much, but I wasn’t complaining.

Layla smiled and so did I.

I handed Layla a twenty and kept one for myself. She had enough to buy her ticket and something to snack on while I had enough to... well not see the movie.

“Thank you, Renee!” Layla said from the back seat, patting my mom’s shoulder.

My mom smiled and then looked over at me. I knew she wanted me to invite her to see the movie with us, but I couldn’t do that without sabotaging the entire plan. There was no way in hell I would be able to sneak out of the theater if my mom went with us.

“Hey mom, when we get home from the movie, Layla and I made a pact to stay up all night with you so we can play those board games!” I said excitedly.

“Yeah, I can’t wait!” Layla said excitedly as she scrolled through her phone.

“Okay! Sounds like a plan girls!” The smile on my mom’s face grew bigger and this made me feel a whole lot better about the entire situation.

We pulled up to the movie theater entrance about fifteen minutes later. I told my mom what time the movie ended and I let her know when to leave the house to come pick us up. I had to make sure I had enough time to sneak back here before my mom showed up. Layla got out of the car and I followed after hugging my mom and thanking her.

She told us to have fun, and then sped off into the distance. Layla bought her ticket and some popcorn with a soda to go with it. I told her I would try to come back before the movie ends so we both could walk out of the theater together.

“I feel really bad about leaving you here alone.” I said. I always had a guilty conscience.

“Oh shut up! You see him over there?” She was pointing at some random, hot guy who was in the popcorn line.

“I heard him buy a ticket for a dog’s purpose, and he’s alone! I’ll be having a sweet date tonight too.” She winked at me and laughed as I joined in. She gave me a hug and told me to have fun as well. I hugged her back, and slowly looked around making sure my mom was nowhere in sight.

I said bye to Layla, and started walking towards the tracks, which were about three blocks away. I decided to wear something a little different. I put on a dress. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had ever wore a dress. It must have been at least sometime in elementary school. It was navy blue, with a gold trim around the bottom. The end of the dress stopped just above my knees. I wore a white cardigan over my arms and my hair was down, but straightened. I had on just a touch of mascara, and a nude toned lipstick. Now, before you get all scared thinking that I crossed over to the dark side, I still had on my white Converse. I wouldn’t be Cecilia Collins without these, would I?

I pulled my cell phone out of the little pocket on my cardigan, and unraveled my earbuds. I put them into my ears, and tapped on Pandora. For You I Will (Confidence) by Teddy Geiger started playing and I smiled. This song described the feeling I had perfectly. I was tired of playing it safe. I was tired of feeling unimportant. If Eric really did want me, I was going to make certain of it.

It only took me about ten minutes before I reached the quickie mart. I took a deep breath, because my nerves were getting to me now. I had to keep myself under control because I didn’t bring my medication with me. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I walked around the corner.

My eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. All of the air left my lungs in that one moment.

It was beautiful.

I took one quick breath and nervously bit my lip.

There were rope lights going down the tracks on either side of the railings. The shining lights were enough to light up the entire track. As I walked down the broken pieces of wood, I tried to take everything in. The bushes that lined the tracks also had lights on them, except these lights were colorful. It was almost as if Christmas came early. Everywhere you looked, you saw a different color. I kept walking until I finally reached him.

I was at a standstill, frozen.

He was standing next to a table that was smack dab in the middle of the tracks. There was a chair on either side, one for each of us. A beautiful white cloth covered the entire table, as two plates sat perfectly with the appropriate silverware next to them. A candle was burning fiercely on the center of the table, with a handful of rose petals scattered everywhere. There was a small radio on the ground next to the table with his phone plugged in playing soft music. The melody took me away and I found myself standing directly in front of him. He had on grey slacks that hugged his lower half perfectly. He had a white dress shirt on that was unbuttoned at the top just enough to show off his chest. His hair was messy as always, but for some reason it had never looked better to me than before right now.

His eyes were full of life and his smile was enough to make me fall to my knees. I knew that if I moved anymore I was going to end up on the floor for sure. I could feel my breathing start to increase and I gently placed my hand over my chest, moving it in slow circles to calm myself down.

His smile turned into worry as he grabbed me by the hand I wasn’t using, and helped me sit down on one of the chairs.

“Here, sit down.” His voice rang through my ears as if it were the best song I had ever heard. My face lit up and I slowly sat on the chair he had pulled out for me.

He sat in the chair across from me and poured water into my glass. I took a sip and then a deep breath.

“How did you do all of this?” I looked around at my surroundings once more, completely amazed.

My eyes met his and I could feel myself starting to blush. He laughed and took the covers off of our dinner plates.

“Let’s just say... I had a lot of help.” He grinned at me as I looked down at the plates. There was a beautiful piece of steak lightly glazed with a garlic sauce, and a baked potato sliced down the middle with a small spoonful of butter in the center, covered in sour cream and shredded cheese. There was a bowl of salad in the middle of the table with a light dressing and croutons. Something about this meal looked so familiar and I nearly fell out of my seat when I picked up the fork next to my plate.

It was a fork from my very own kitchen! I immediately picked up the knife and cut off a small bite of the steak and as soon as it entered my mouth, I knew exactly who cooked this meal.

I finished chewing and took another sip of my water.

I stared at Eric and all he did was smile at me.

“Did... Did my mom...” I couldn’t even finish the question.

Eric nodded his head and grabbed his own fork and knife, cutting a piece of his own steak.

“She wasn’t the only one who helped me out.”

I looked up at him curiously and waited for him to answer the question he knew I was about to ask.

“Some of the guys actually helped me with the lights. Layla helped me with the music selection.” I noticed that The Fray radio from Pandora was playing because one of their songs was softly escaping through the speakers.

My heart melted at his words. The same guys that made fun of me just the day before, helped Eric set up this entire evening. I almost didn’t believe what was happening and decided right there that I must have been dreaming.

I accidentally bit the inside of my mouth, bringing me back to reality. This was no dream, this was real life. This amazing guy who I had just met a few days prior, went through all of this trouble just to have dinner with me. To top it all off, my best friend took part in it. Hell, even my own mother helped out.

Oh my gosh. This means she knew I was lying about the movie the entire time. She knew I was only going so I could sneak away to be with Eric. I suddenly felt a little more at ease knowing I wasn’t going to feel guilty about lying to my mom.

“How did you get my mom to agree to all of this? She’s not exactly easy going...” I began to say.

“Well, this morning I came over to your house. You were still asleep in your room and your mom answered the door. I explained to her who I was and why I wanted to do this. I told her everything, even what happened at school in the yard. I apologized to her for hurting you and begged her to help me. I saw all of her cook books and I asked her if she could cook this for us.”

I was taking it all in. Everything was planned right under my nose and I was so mad that I was oblivious to it all. I stayed in my room all morning and I hadn’t even realized my mom was in the kitchen cooking this. I had to give him major brownie points for approaching my mom and telling her everything. My mom can be a tad bit intimidating, and I knew it hadn’t of been easy.

“I can’t believe you did all of this. Why did you do all of this?” I really wanted to know. He barely knew me and I ignored him all night while he was sitting out here alone waiting for me.

“I did it because I like you, Cecilia. I did it because I was a jerk yesterday at school and I couldn’t live with myself knowing I just blew you off like that. You’re breathtakingly beautiful and from the first moment I saw you that day in my room, I knew you were something special.”

I was swooning so hard that I wasn’t even eating anymore, only staring at his beautiful brown eyes, holding my head up on my hands as they were placed under my chin. The smile on my face kept growing and I knew I had to say something back before he thought there was seriously something wrong with me.

“I... I...” My breathing increased in an instant and I stood up trying to take control. I knew in the back of my mind that I didn’t have my medication with me, so having an anxiety attack right now was not something I was going to let happen. I didn’t even know why an anxiety attack was even happening right now, Eric doesn’t even make me feel anxious, he makes me feel safe.

This was all so weird and difficult to explain.

Eric reached for his bag and took out my medication bottle. How in the hell did he get that?

He quickly popped the top off and handed me a pill. I tossed it back, taking a drink of my water and waited a few seconds before sitting back down. He put the top back on the bottle and placed it on the table next to my glass of water.

“Don’t freak out, your mom dropped it off to me right after dropping you and Layla off at the movie theater.”

Holy crap! He really thought this all the way through. Right down to the medication. This definitely had to be a dream.

“So that means you know now.” My face turned red and I instantly felt a sense of awkwardness. He was the only one who I hadn’t told about my anxiety and the pills that I had to take. I didn’t want to scare him away or make him think that I was some nut job.

“Cecilia Collins, do not act shy around me. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed. You are who you are, and there is no need to feel like there is something wrong with you. Everyone has something that they dislike about themselves, but it’s still what makes you... you.”

His words were so comforting that I was actually beginning to breathe normally again. That could just be from my medication, but I wanted to believe that it was all because of him.

“You really are something, Daines.” I said with a smile.

“So are you, Collins.” He winked at me and began eating his food again.

The night was absolutely amazing and I couldn’t wait to meet up with Layla and my mom to hug them both profusely.

After Eric and I both ate our dinner, I couldn’t help but notice what song was playing.

“You know, I think this just might be our song.” He said, standing up from his plate.

He walked over to the radio and turned the volume up. Switchfoot blared out of the speakers and I couldn’t help but blush. He walked over to me and held out his hand.

“Care to dance, Collins?”

His sweet smile made me go numb as I gently placed my hand in his, slowly getting up from my seat. I gripped his hand harder because if I didn’t, I knew I was going to lose my balance.

“Of course.” I bit my lip.

He slowly wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me closer to him. Our chests were almost touching and I could feel his warm breath against my cheek. I wrapped my hands around his neck firmly, pulling him even closer.

We swayed as the lyrics of the song surrounded us, hugging our dance moves with every step that we took. We even managed not to trip over the railings of the tracks and the lights that covered them. He held onto me tightly, reassuring me that he wasn’t going to let me fall. I trusted him with everything in that moment.

It was simple, yet beautiful.

I was on a high. A high so powerful that every single thing I thought was wrong in my life vanished. All of the pain I was carrying from my childhood until now seemed to be irrelevant and the suffering seemed to be worth it. I found someone who actually wants me. Someone who cares if I’m okay and someone who doesn’t want to see me hurting. As cliché as this sounds, he was my knight in shining armor and I didn’t want this feeling to ever fade away.

Four days. That’s all it took. Four days and I knew that I needed him to be a part of my life forever.

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