Chapter 16 | I'm Sorry Ethan
“I will have you Dallas, one way, or another.”
I thrash awake and sit upright in bed.
Beads of sweat are pouring down my face. Meanwhile, my entire body feels cold.
Suddenly my bedroom door swings open.
“Dallas? What the hell? Why were you screaming?” Liam asks, barely awake and standing in my doorway.
“I’m fine. Go back to bed.” I mumble while rubbing at my exhausted eyes.
“But it sounded like you were having a nightma-“, but I cut him off.
“I said I’m fine. Please just go back to bed.” I get up and storm into my bathroom, slamming the door shut behind me.
I hear Liam walk away and back to his bedroom.
This is the third nightmare in a row. All containing one key component.
After my mental episode in the bathroom on Monday, I’ve been trying my best to act normal.
I haven’t been as moody, and I’ve been spending more time with Lexi. She thinks that she’s helping me, but honestly, I feel no different than before.
It’s Friday now, and I’m happy the weekend is almost here.
After washing my face, I walk back into my room and check the time.
I have exactly two hours before my alarm is supposed to go off.
Knowing I won’t be going back to sleep, I decide to go ahead and take my shower.
Once I’m finished, and dressed, I go down stairs and begin cooking some breakfast.
I’m almost done with the French toast, before Liam comes strolling down the stairs.
The sun is out now, and shining brightly through the kitchen window.
“Well, this is a surprise after how I saw you last night.” Liam comments, taking a plate of food for himself.
“Well, it was nothing. I don’t even remember what I was dreaming about.” I lie with a shrug. “Syrup is on the counter.”
“Thanks, sis.” Liam smiles while pouring an unhealthy amount of syrup over his toast.
I walk over and dish out some eggs for him, while also motioning toward the plate of crisp bacon sitting on the table.
“Wow, you cooked a whole breakfast. You sure you’re feeling okay?” He teases with a smirk.
“I feel great.”
Another lie. I’m getting good at these.
I couldn’t sleep, so I made use of my free time. He should be happy he has actual breakfast to eat, as opposed to the burnt toast he would’ve made for himself.
“Listen, I know it seems like I haven’t really been there for you… but if you ever need to talk about anything, I’m here Dal.” He says seriously.
I give him a weak smile and nod. “Thank you.”
That made me feel a little better, if I’m being honest.
I feel so detached from everyone ever since the rape. I don’t feel like my true self, and it’s scary.
At least I have the courage to acknowledge that. It has to count for something, right?
After we both finish eating, we put the dirty dishes away and head outside.
I told Liam I wasn’t walking to school anymore. I can’t look at that alley ever again.
It’s nothing but a sick reminder.
“Ready?” Liam asks as we buckle into the jeep. I nod, and he starts driving to school.
“Hey Liam, do you ever wonder why we’re even here? Like on earth?” I suddenly ask.
My thoughts are never in order, always scattered. I can’t control when certain thoughts pop into my head anymore. I can’t even control when I speak.
“Uh, no. Should I be?” He says with a confused expression.
“It’s just weird. I mean to live. All it takes is one incident and we’re gone forever. I wonder what happens after we die. I wonder what happened to mom after she died.” I say over the wind and the soft radio.
“I like to believe she went to heaven.” Liam shrugs. “Isn’t that what everyone likes to believe?”
“Maybe. What if there is no heaven though? What if when we die that’s it? What if there’s no afterlife?”
“I mean, I guess we won’t know that for sure until we actually die.” Liam responds, clearing thinking about my questions.
“What if we die, but are still somehow living?” I suddenly ask. “What if our souls die before our bodies do?”
“Dude, are you on drugs or something?” Liam chuckles. “What the hell are you on about?”
Suddenly, I’m aware that I’m talking to Liam and we’re heading to school. Suddenly I’m aware of how crazy I must sound.
I laugh and shake my head. “Just being stupid. I heard someone talking about it on the radio the other day.”
“Well they must be a real whack job.” Liam laughs just as we pull into the school parking lot.
Whack job. That’s what I must be.
“Yeah, I agree.” I smile as we both jump out of the jeep. “See you at lunch.”
Once I’m inside the building and at my locker, I pull my hair tie from my bag and toss my hair up into a messy bun.
“Oh goody, the bun returns.” I hear Lexi comment from beside me.
“Hello to you too.” I smirk. “How was watching Jayce last night?”
“If I could’ve killed myself just for last night, I would’ve.” She glares while taking a book from her locker and shoving it into her bag. “How was your night?”
“Eh, was alright. Couldn’t really sleep so made a nice breakfast this morning.” I say while taking my last book out of my locker, and closing it.
“Did you have a bad dream or something?” Lexi asks.
I eye her suspiciously.
“Just curious. I get weird dreams sometimes too.” She shrugs casually. “Well, see you in third!”
I watch her walk down the hallway, and once she disappears around the corner, I begin heading to my first class.
Once I finally make it to third period, I take my seat beside Lexi and sigh.
“Why does every single day here seem to drag on?”
“Because it’s school and school is made to torture us.” Lexi deadpans.
“Well I can’t wait until graduation.”
“Have you thought about college? You know it’s only six months away.” Lexi asks.
I shake my head.
“Just haven’t.” I reply.
“You should. Final exams are coming up in a couple months.”
“I’m aware.” I sigh. “I’ll figure it out, don’t worry.”
Lexi drops the subject as we listen to our teacher begin class.
The last thing on my mind is college, though it should probably be the first.
| Ethan’s POV |
Why can’t she understand that I can’t breathe whenever I’m around her? Why is she keeping herself from me so much lately? We used to be so close, and now I barely ever get to see her.
It’s almost as if she blames me for what my scum of a brother did to her.
The last thing I ever imagined happening, was Jeremy raping the girl that I am in love with.
It seems that lately, it’s all I can do to get her out of my head. She’s just constantly there.
Liam tries to talk to me about what’s bothering me, but I can’t tell him that I’m pining over his sister. I know that he already knows about my feelings for her, but just admitting how hard this is, will make me look weak.
I need to be strong. For myself, for Dallas, for everyone.
My parents are falling apart. Their marriage hasn’t been the same since Jeremy’s sentence to prison. All they seem to do anymore is fight and argue, a lot of it directed at me. I try to be the mediator, but it’s no use when a lot of their resentment is towards their own two sons.
I keep trying to explain to them that Jeremy lost the privilege of being a part of this family, when he decided to become a monster, but they won’t hear of it.
To them, we’re supposed to maintain a strong family front. We’re supposed to stick together in this ‘crazy time’.
Well that’s just complete and utter bullshit.
I refuse to associate myself with Jeremy. He is not a part of my family anymore.
When the bell rings signaling lunch, I make my way out of math and head toward the cafeteria.
I spot Dallas and Lexi walking into the lunch line, Dallas looking perfect as ever.
Even in a messy bun, she manages to look completely stunning.
The best part is, she doesn’t even realize it. She’s so down to earth, she can’t see the beauty that has everyone else star-struck.
She’s absolutely amazing, and she doesn’t even try to be.
“Hello, earth to Ethan?” I hear from beside me as Liam snaps his fingers in my face.
“Sorry, what?” I look over to him, only to catch a smirk on his face.
“Oh nothing. Nothing at all.” He teases while we both sit down at our table.
I feel my body tense as Lexi and Dallas start to walk over here.
All week, they’ve been sitting alone. Why are they coming to join us now all of a sudden?
“Hey fellas.” Lexi smiles as she sits down. I watch as Dallas sits between Lexi and Liam, across from me.
“What brings you ladies over to our neck of the woods?” Liam asks playfully.
Lexi shrugs. “Just wanted to check in on you dorks. See how you’re doing.”
“We’re quite fine.” Liam comments. “Aren’t we, Ethan?”
I nod and say nothing.
“Wow, since when are you a man of few words Eth?” Lexi asks jokingly.
“Okay then. Anyway, what’s up for this weekend?”
“I don’t know. You tell us.” Liam retorts. “You haven’t wanted to hang with us in a while. What’s changed?”
I wait patiently for their answer.
“Well, for that simple reason actually. It’s been a while.” Lexi smiles.
What is she up to?
“Dallas here has been meaning to get us all together. Right Dal?”
“I mean sure, why not?” Dallas shrugs while stuffing a fry into her gorgeous mouth.
Annoyed by all of the indirect messages, I snap.
“Well, until you two figure it out, you know where to find me.” I say harshly, purposely eyeing Dallas.
She meets my intense gaze, but says nothing.
I abruptly get up, and storm out of the cafeteria, not caring that we still have ten minutes of lunch left.
I hear footsteps behind me as I enter the empty hallway.
My body tenses again.
I turn around to see a frowning Dallas, standing just outside of the cafeteria doors.
“What?” I reply short.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been around.”
“Have you not been? I haven’t noticed.” I say sarcastically while crossing my arms.
“Don’t do that. Don’t talk down to me.” She warns.
“Why not? It’s not like you care about how I feel anyway.” I snap again.
“Ethan this isn’t easy for me either.” She sighs. “I hope you can understand that.”
“Oh I do, believe me. I completely understand that you’ve been avoiding me.”
“It’s not that simple.” She slowly walks over to me, so we are only a few feet away from each other.
“I just don’t get why you’re punishing me for what he did.”
Her eyes began to gloss over, and I knew I had struck a nerve.
“Is that what you think I’m doing?” She asks quietly.
“It’s what it seems like you’re doing.” I say weakly.
“Ethan, I’m sorry. That’s not what I’m trying to do, I swear. I just don’t know what to feel after everything that’s happened. You’re Ethan, and you’ve always been Ethan. What happens when you become more than that, and it doesn’t work out the way that we want it to?”
I see her internal conflict, because it’s the same conflict I’ve had ever since I kissed her.
“I-I don’t know, but we can’t just ignore the feelings we have either.” I admit. “Or at least, I can’t.”
“Ethan, you’re not the only one with feelings, okay? I have an entire body full of feelings; I just can’t sort through them properly yet. This isn’t something I can just get over in a few days, weeks even. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to heal.” She explains calmly.
How is she so calm?
“So let me help you to heal, Dallas. Let me be there for you, don’t just shut me out.” I all but beg her.
I take another step toward her, and I feel happy when she doesn’t move away.
That happiness is immediately gone, when she begins to shake her head.
“You can’t help me heal, nobody can. I have to do this on my own.”
I watch as a tear falls down her cheek, and it takes everything inside of me not to reach out and wipe it away.
“No, Dallas, you don’t.” I sigh. “But I guess you’re going to do it alone anyway.”
“I’m sorry Ethan…” She mumbles as I turn to walk away, not saying another word.
The bell rings, but I’m already heading toward my next class.
Thankfully, I don’t have to see her for the rest of the day.