Chapter 30 | Exposed
It’s the last day of school before prom. The teachers pretty much don’t care about anything anymore, being that it’s the end of the year.
All of the seniors have finished their exams, and I am excited to announce that I passed all of my exams. I almost failed one of the retakes I did, but luckily I just barely made the mark.
My dad said he is very proud of me for passing, and that he can’t wait to see Liam and I walk the stage at graduation. Liam just barely passed himself, almost failing three of his exams. I told him he needed to take his schooling more seriously, but he said with looks like his, who needs education?
I slapped him for that remark.
Despite acting the complete opposite, Liam is actually very smart and knows his stuff. He isn’t great at every subject, but he gets by just fine. I have no doubt that he will get into a decent college.
Lexi and Ethan both passed their exams as well. Ethan actually missed one exam by a single point, so his teacher let him write an extra credit essay on his experience in high school, in order to pass the class and graduate. I’m sure Ethan’s parents are very proud of how far he’s come.
I know I am.
Everyone has been living life freely and normally. I can actually say that therapy with Lori has gotten a lot easier too, now that Ethan knows my darkest demon. Ever since I told him about my cutting, he’s been more than supportive. He drives me to every therapy session, and he even volunteered to sit in on a session with me, but I told him I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.
Lori is still pestering me about telling Liam, Lexi and my dad, but I just can’t bring myself to do it yet. To see the disappointed looks on their faces would kill me, and I don’t want to be sad or angry anymore. I’ve actually been feeling a lot happier recently.
Ethan never went to his last visit with Jeremy. After what Jeremy did the last time, you know by breaking Ethan’s arm, his parents agreed that he didn’t have to go back.
Ever since Mrs. Hart and I reached an understanding, she’s been more than welcoming. I go to their house regularly again, and I’m not so scared anymore. I know Jeremy won’t be out of prison for a while, and I take great comfort in the fact that when he does, I’ll be long gone and away at college.
That seems to be the only thing, helping me to continue to push forward and make more progress.
My anxiety still gets to me, but I’ve been able to manage. I still wear my rubber-bands and Lori says hopefully in the future, I won’t need them anymore.
This year as a whole, has taken a lot out of me, but it’s also taught me so much.
I’ve learned things about myself that I never thought were possible. I’ve tested my own boundaries, tested the boundaries of those around me, and ultimately I’ve even tested good faith.
Certain situations still trigger me, but I’ve been keeping tabs on myself and of my surroundings. I know where to go, and when to be alone and not alone. I know how to talk to Ethan and to Lori, when I need to let things off my chest.
Liam and I shared our eighteenth birthday party over this past weekend. It was hard, since telling Ethan about my cutting was still fresh. Liam and I have been slowly returning to normal, whatever that may be. We just had a small get together for our party, nothing too wild. My dad bought cake and supplied some beer, but that was about it. He said he would rather us drink responsibly under his roof, than to go out and act stupid.
Liam and I weren’t going to argue.
I went to visit my mom last night and I told her everything.
I told her about my cutting, I told her about passing my exams, I told her about Liam and I’s birthday party. I told her everything she needs to know, and then some. I know she will never be able to respond to me, but just getting these things off my chest, makes me feel immensely better.
I still have an ache in my chest, anytime I think about her. Lori says that may never go away, but will get easier to handle as time goes on. Lori always knows what to say, to make me feel a little less sad.
“Ms. Ryder, can you please pay attention?”
I roll my eyes at my teacher, because who pays attention during the last week of school?
“Day dreaming?” Lexi whispers from beside me.
I glance at her, seeing the smirk on her face, before looking back down at my desk.
“Something like that.” I muse, giving her one final glance before the bell rings.
“Finally! I’m starving!” Lexi sighs loudly, causing a few students to look at her funny.
“Bite me.” She says to no one in particular. I laugh as I follow her out of the classroom and into the crowded hallway.
“Let’s go, before you try to bite someone.” I smirk, causing her to laugh.
Neither of us even have our bags with us, not needing anything because none of the teachers are doing any actual school work. We literally just sit in each class, talking amongst ourselves or watching movies.
I love the last week of school, it’s so peaceful and stress-free.
I know that voice.
I turn just in time to see Blake rushing toward me.
He’s actually become a really great friend, and the rest of the gang gets along with him fairly well.
Ethan is still a little skeptical around him, but he tries his best to act civil.
“Blakey!” I tease with a laugh. “How’s the last week of school treating you?”
“I don’t even know why I’m here honestly. I’m still shocked that I’m actually graduating. Even my mom didn’t believe me when I gave her the graduation invitation.” He smirks with a chuckle.
“I never doubted you for a minute, Blake.” I smile.
“I mean, I kind of did.” Lexi comments sheepishly.
Blake shoots her a glare, before playfully nudging her arm.
“How did the rest of your posse do?” I ask Blake, referring to his usual group of stoners he hangs with behind the school.
“To be honest, only one of them didn’t pass.”
“Let me guess, Steven?” I laugh.
Blake nods. “That guy is only good for one thing: providing pot.”
“Well, at least he already has a career plan.” I joke, causing both Blake and Lexi to laugh.
“Baby!” I hear from down the hall.
I look over to see Ethan and Liam heading our way. We all meet outside of the cafeteria and walk in together.
“Is school over yet?” Liam sighs.
“Relax, tomorrow is the last day, and then we party!” Lexi smiles happily.
“Oh yeah, Prom. I’m so relieved I’m not going to that.” Blake comments.
“Awe, Blakey couldn’t find a date?” Ethan teases as Liam laughs.
“Blakey could’ve had any date he wanted, I just don’t do dances.” He shrugs casually. “I’d much rather prefer going out to a bar or something.”
“Figures.” I laugh while shaking my head.
“I gotta go meet up with the guys, so later haters!” Blake smirks before leaving us and heading outside, probably going for a smoke with his friends behind the school.
“Such a swell guy.” Liam says sarcastically.
He still doesn’t like that Blake got me high a few weeks ago. I told him I haven’t smoked the stuff since, but he’s still a little off about it.
As if the party boy has never smoked pot before. I roll my eyes at the thought.
“So, what’re the plans for prom? Are we still doing a limo?” Lexi asks, trying to plan everything down to the last detail.
The three of us nod at her. “We’ve already rented it. My dad put it on his credit card, so everything is set. The limo will pick you and Carter up first, and then you will come to pick the rest of us up at my place.” I inform Lexi. “Then we’re going to a nice restaurant for dinner and to take some pictures, before going to the actual prom.”
“Great!” Lexi smiles while pulling out her cell phone to most likely text Carter the details.
“Tell your dad he’s amazing for renting the limo for us.” Lexi says soon after. “I wish I had more money to help out.”
“Don’t worry about it, he says to consider it an early graduation present.” I shrug with a smile.
“It better not be our only graduation present.” Liam huffs.
“Wow, greedy much?” I raise an eyebrow at him.
“We are his children, his greatest accomplishment, and his entire world. I know he’ll give us more than a limo.” Liam nods, agreeing with himself.
I roll my eyes at him, as Lexi and Ethan just laugh.
“Anyway,” I trail off, throwing a napkin at Liam’s head, “Are you going to get ready at your place, or over at ours?” I ask Ethan.
“My place. My mom insists on taking pictures of me in my tux and what not. You know, her baby going to his prom.” He rolls his eyes, before making a fake gag noise.
I nudge his side. “Stop that, your mom is great and she’s proud of your accomplishments.”
“Sure, take her side.” Ethan teases, pulling me into his side and placing a kiss on my cheek.
“Get a room.” Liam mutters.
“We plan on it.” Ethan winks at my brother, causing Liam’s eyes to widen in disgust.
“Ew! No! Stop the madness!” Liam says dramatically.
Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about what will happen after prom is over. I know Ethan wants us to get a hotel room, just so we can be alone with each other, but I’m not quite sure what he’s expecting exactly.
I have no clue on if I’m ready for that next step. I know I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still only been months since my two encounters with Jeremy. I just don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.
I don’t want to freak out and have a panic attack or something. That will surely ruin the night.
Suddenly I feel really anxious about it all.
“Hey, are you alright?” Ethan says quietly into my ear.
I nod, though I never look up at him.
I just hope I can keep myself together, no matter what.
I glance at the rubber-bands on my wrist. I cannot go back there again.
I just can’t.
“Will you stand still so I can zip this up?” Lexi sighs from behind me.
“I’m sorry, I’m just, I don’t know…” I trail off.
“Something isn’t right with this zipper, step out of the dress real quick.”
I do so without thinking, and step away from Lexi to turn and face her.
“Is it broken?” I ask, worry all over my face. I don’t exactly have a back-up dress handy.
“Don’t think so, just stuck. Give me a second.” Lexi says, her focus solely on the zipper.
I stand there waiting, and she finally smiles before looking up at me.
The smile immediately falls off her face.
My eyebrows curve in confusion as I look at her.
That’s when I realize.
She’s looking at my thigh.
My very naked, exposed thigh.
“What the hell is that?” She says in a low voice, her eyes still not meeting my own.
I quickly place my hand over the scars. “It’s nothing, can I step into my dress now?”
She hands the dress over to me, all emotion drained from her face.
I step into the dress as quickly as possible, turning around to allow her to zip it up.
The dress zips up without trouble this time, and I quickly walk away to step in front of my floor-length mirror.
My eyes widen as I look at myself. I don’t even recognize the girl staring back at me.
Just months ago, I felt completely numb. I felt as though I would never look at myself the same way again, as I did before. Standing here, in my beautiful red dress, I actually begin to tear up.
I see me again. I see Dallas Ryder.
I take in a few deep breaths, before turning around to finally face Lexi.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” I raise an eyebrow at her.
“I have nothing to say. Let’s just go.”
She grabs her small clutch, before turning and leaving my bedroom.
“Lexi!” I call after her, but she doesn’t stop.
She hates me, I know it.
We’ve been best friends for our entire lives, and I kept this from her. I feel horrible.
Carter is waiting downstairs with Liam, Ethan and my dad. All of them are already dressed and ready to go, I just needed Lexi’s help with some last minute touches to my dress and make up.
I hear the guys all whistle encouragingly when Lexi walks down the stairs.
As I take my first step onto the top step, I hear the conversation.
“I can’t get over how beautiful you look.” Carter says to Lexi.
She sounds so dejected.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Let’s go wait in the limo.” I hear the front door open and close, letting me know that Lexi and Carter have left and went outside.
I take in another deep breath. I find comfort in the fact that my rubber-bands are inside of my clutch.
Lexi would have had a fit if I tried to wear them during prom. Apparently rubber isn’t an ideal accessory to a fancy prom dress and heels. Who knew?
I finally begin to descend the stairs, my hand deathly gripping the railing to the stairs.
“My God… you look just like your mother.” Is the very first thing my dad says, almost knocking the wind out of me. His eyes are shiny, telling me he’s not far from crying.
“Wow, you really do.” Liam says next. “You look amazing, sis.”
“Thanks.” I smile at him. “I suppose you clean up pretty nice as well.”
Liam is sporting a black tux with a deep purple tie and shoes. He looks pretty great, and I’m sure Claire will look amazing in purple. She’s meeting us at the restaurant.
I turn to Ethan, who hasn’t taken his eyes off me once.
“I literally have no words. You’re immaculate.” He says softly, taking my hand in his to help me off the final step.
“You look incredibly handsome too, Ethan. I am so lucky.” I smile, leaning forward to place a kiss against his cheek.
“Hey, watch it, I don’t need lipstick on my cheek before pictures.” He glares while rubbing at the skin.
“Sorry, sheesh.” I laugh.
“You sounded like such a girl just then.” Liam shakes his head, taunting his best friend.
“Whatever. Are we ready to go?” Ethan asks, turning to face me again.
“Yes, let’s go.” I nod.
The three of us walk outside, after I give my dad a hug.
Liam walks ahead of us, reaching the limo first.
I glance at Ethan and whisper, “She knows.”
“Who knows what?” He asks in a normal tone of voice.
I nudge his side with my elbow.
“Lexi knows about my… you know, problem.” I whisper again, slightly motioning toward my thigh.
“You mean?” He begins.
I nod. “Yes, that.”
“How did she find out?” He whispers back.
“I had to step out of my dress so she could fix the zipper, and I completely forgot about the scars. She saw them, Ethan. She saw all of it and now she isn’t speaking to me.” I frown.
We stop just outside of the limo. Liam has shut the door, so none of them can hear us.
“Hey, look at me.”
Ethan took my face into both of his hands.
I brought my eyes up to meet his.
“I promise, she will come around. She’s probably just shocked is all. She’s probably only mad that you didn’t tell her, which is a little understandable, but not entirely. This is something you needed to tell her on your own time and terms. She saw by accident, and shouldn’t fault you for that.” Ethan says calmly.
“I know, it just sucks. You should’ve seen the look on her face. This is going to ruin prom.” I sigh.
“It won’t ruin prom. I’ll talk to her myself if I have to. I promise, she will come around.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Ethan leans in to gently kiss my forehead, before both of us climb into the limo.
I really hope you’re right.