Chapter 31 | Hashing It Out - Part 1
“Are you at least going to acknowledge my existence?” I glare as I glance over at Lexi. She’s sitting in between Carter and I. Ethan is sitting on the other side of me, while Liam sits next to him and so on.
We’re all sitting at our table, chatting and drinking punch.
I don’t know why punch decided to be the cliché drink of prom, but it is pretty tasty. Luckily, nobody decided to spike it, because I really didn’t need alcohol as a temptation to soften my nerves.
My anxiety has sky-rocketed since arriving at the dance. Lexi hasn’t said two words to me since we got here, and even during dinner and pictures, she said nothing at all.
She did however, put on a fake smile, so we could at least take a few pictures together. It was all an act though. I assume she didn’t want to be questioned by everyone as to why she is in such a sour mood.
It’s all my fault. I ruined her prom, and indirectly ruined my own.
I can’t seem to do anything right anymore.
Breathe, Dallas. Just breathe.
“Hey, are you alright baby?” I hear Ethan whisper into my ear. I turn to face him, giving a small nod.
“Want to go dance?” He asks, trying to take my mind off the current situation.
“Not right now, in a bit, I promise. I need to go use the bathroom though.”
I say that loud enough for everyone to hear, and I see Lexi’s hands tense around her cup.
Ethan gave me a worried glance, but I just nodded, telling him that I’m completely fine.
I make sure to grab my clutch and take it with me.
I’m sure Ethan noticed that.
Once I make it into the bathroom, I’m relieved to see that I’m the only one in here.
I walk over and stand in front of the mirror, making sure my makeup still looks decent. I grab a napkin and wipe away a small smudge of eyeliner, before tossing it into a nearby trashcan.
I take in a deep breath, as I stare at my clutch.
I slowly reach over and grab it, opening it up. I reach inside and feel around for my rubber-bands.
As soon as I have them in my grasp, I yank them out and slide them onto my wrist.
My wrists are burning, and I haven’t even touched them yet.
I need to calm down.
I slowly lift the rubber-band away from my skin, angrily snapping it back down, wincing at the sharp pain. I do it again, a little harder, and then again. My wrist is turning red, but I keep snapping the rubber-band until the bathroom door suddenly swings open.
Lexi is staring at me. Not long after, she’s staring at my wrist.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” She glares while walking inside, letting the door to the bathroom swing shut.
“I just needed a minute.” I barely say, my voice quiet.
“Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you do this?” Lexi finally asks the million dollar question.
“I…” I trail off, not quite knowing how to word my response, “I don’t know.”
Great answer, Dallas.
“Sorry, but I don’t accept that answer.” Lexi shrugs. “Try again.”
Suddenly, I feel angry. This isn’t easy for me, and I know she can clearly see that.
“I don’t fucking know, okay? I’ve only done it a few times. These help.” I say, gesturing toward the two rubber-bands currently enclosed around my wrist.
“What do you mean?” She raises an eyebrow.
“Do I have to explain everything?” I sigh.
“Yes, actually. That’d be swell.”
“Lose the sarcasm.”
“Lose the attitude.”
We both fell into an intense silence.
“I don’t want to do this right now, we should be enjoying our prom.” I finally break the silence.
“Trust me, I know. But I can’t do that until we resolve this.” Lexi says soon after.
“What’s there to resolve, Lexi? I cut, okay? Is that what you want to hear? Does that make you feel better?” I say, my voice rising a little. I need to check myself, and fast. Anger is a defense mechanism that I don’t exactly fancy.
“Why do you cut, Dallas?”
I bring my gaze to meet hers. Her eyes are soft, welcoming even. I can’t look at her right now.
I bring my gaze back down to my wrist, eyeing the rubber-band as I snap it against my skin.
“Don’t do that.” Lexi says in a low voice.
I snap the rubber-band again, challenging her.
“I said, don’t do that.” Lexi then takes a step toward me.
I finally look up at her, as I snap the rubber-band once more. The sting it brings, giving me comfort.
Lexi finally walks over to me, and yanks my wrist toward her. Before I can yank it back, she grabs hold of the rubber-bands and pulls them off my wrist.
“Lexi, don’t!” I all but scream, trying to reach for them.
She sticks them into her clutch, holding her clutch tightly in her grasp.
“Give them back. Now.” I plead.
“No. Not until we talk about this. Let’s hash this thing out right here, right now.”
I shake my head, tears welling up in my eyes as I take a step back, my lower back meeting the edge of the sink.
Suddenly, the door swings open, revealing a random girl.
Lexi turns around and gives her a glare, causing her to retreat immediately.
“Occupied, got it.” The girl mumbles as she walks away.
“Can we go outside? We can’t keep our fellow female classmates from peeing.” I roll my eyes.
Lexi follows me, and we walk outside of the prom. I lean against the building, wrapping my arms around myself. It’s hot outside tonight, and I pray that I don’t start sweating soon.
“When did it start?” Lexi asks.
Okay, getting right to it I see.
“A few weeks ago.”
“Care to elaborate?”
I glared at her, to which she only gave me a pointed look, urging me to continue.
I take a deep breath, before I start explaining.
“Liam and I had a big fight. He didn’t want me going to the prison with Ethan.”
“With good reason.”
“Please, I don’t need any more disapproval right now.” I sigh. “Anyway, the fight got pretty heated, and he screamed at me in a way that he never has before. I don’t know, I guess the screaming just triggered something inside me, and I knew I was going to have a panic attack.”
Lexi’s gaze softens, as she moves to step beside me, placing her arm around my shoulders.
“I ran upstairs to my room, to try and control myself. I tried my breathing exercises, but Liam interrupted me and so I locked myself in my bathroom. I was crying and thinking so negatively, I just snapped. I popped some Tylenol, but then I saw a blade in my medicine cabinet.”
I wince as I think about it. My wrists are still burning. I need my rubber-bands.
“It just, happened.” I finish. “I don’t really have any other explanation than that.”
“How many times have you…?” Lexi trails off.
“Not a lot, but enough to prove that I have a problem. I’m working on it though. Hence, the rubber-bands.”
Lexi looks at her clutch, and slowly opens it. She pulls my rubber-bands out, and slowly slides them back onto my wrist. She turns my hand over, and looks at the red spot. She runs her thumb across it, and my breathing hitches.
Lexi then looks up and into my eyes.
“I am so sorry, Dallas.”
Her eyes are glistening, and I’m sure mine look no better.
“What on earth do you have to be sorry for?” I raise an eyebrow.
“This entire time, you’ve been dealing with this, and I haven’t even noticed. I’m a horrible best friend.”
I immediately shake my head. “No, that’s not true! You didn’t notice, because I made sure to hide it from literally everyone. Only two people know about this, well three including you.” I admit.
“Who else knows?”
“Ethan, and my therapist.”
“You told Ethan, but you couldn’t tell me?”
I saw the hurt in her eyes, and I hated it.
“I only told Ethan, because I needed to tell someone other than my therapist. I definitely didn’t have the courage to tell my dad or Liam, because I knew they would’ve freaked out and had me admitted or something. I couldn’t tell you, because…” I trail off, not knowing how to say it.
“Because I was embarrassed, and I didn’t want you to look at me any differently. You have this amazing outlook on life, always so positive. I didn’t want to burden you with my problems any more than I already had at the time. I just didn’t want anyone to be disappointed in me.” I feel a tear escape my eye.
“Dallas, you are my best friend. We’ve been through practically everything together. There isn’t anything you could ever tell me that would make me see you any differently. You are Dallas Ryder. You are loud, and sometimes obnoxious. You’re outgoing and funny. You and Liam are twin goals, and you are so incredibly cute with Ethan that it sometimes makes me sick. You have such a huge heart, and you have never disappointed me. You have a problem, and I just wish you knew that I love you and will always be here for you.”
Okay, I’m full on crying now.
“Thanks for making me cry, bitch.” I laugh through tears.
Lexi smiles, pulling me in for a tight hug. “We can get through this together. I promise.”
I nod. “I know.”
“One more thing…” Lexi trails off, stepping back to look at me.
“You need to tell Liam and your dad.”
I immediately shake my head. “I’m not ready.”
“I know, but trust me, this is something you need to do in order to start moving forward.” Lexi explains.
“Just give me a little more time, alright?” I plead.
Lexi nods. “Can we go enjoy prom now? I feel bad leaving Carter all alone in there.”
I smile. “Yes, let’s go.”
I’m glad that Lexi knows now. It was so hard keeping this from her. I hated it. I hate it even more that I’m still keeping it from my brother and father. I know they’ll lose their shit once they find out, but Lexi is right, I need to tell them. That’s the only way I’ll ever be able to fully move on from this.
Once Lexi and I are back inside, Ethan immediately locks eyes with me, silently asking if everything is alright. I nod with a smile, rejoining him at the table.
He reaches over and kisses me directly on the lips, not caring what anyone else has to say.
“With that, we’re going to dance.” Liam says while reaching for Claire’s hand.
“You’re such a child.” Claire rolls her eyes with a smirk, but follows him to the dance floor anyway.
I think I like her already.
After a few minutes, the music is cut off, and one of the women who work in the administration office takes the stage.
Her orange dress is very distracting, to say the least.
“Settle down everyone! I’ve got results for prom King and Queen!” She says almost too cheerfully.
This gains nearly everyone’s attention. I completely forgot about prom King and Queen.
Liam and Claire rejoin us at our table, and everyone else sits down as well.
“I hope you all are enjoying your prom! It has definitely been one for the books.” She begins her small speech.
I’m sure she says this at every prom.
“And now, I’d like to go ahead and announce your prom King!”
She opens a small envelope, pulling out a piece of paper.
Everyone watches in anticipation.
“This year’s senior prom King is… Liam Ryder!”
“Shocker.” Lexi gives an eye roll.
Right before the clapping begins, my idiotic boyfriend stands up.
“I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!” He shouts to the entire student body.
Literally everyone inside of this building begins howling with laughter.
I yank Ethan back into his chair as Liam shakes his head, a full on smile on his face.
“As predictable as that was, I applaud you.” Liam says to Ethan. They share a bro-hug, before Liam begins walking toward the stage.
“Sorry, this crown is mine!” Liam says into the microphone, causing everyone to laugh again.
Ethan smiles as he holds his hands up in surrender.
Liam takes the crown and places it on his own head, before stepping to the side.
The woman from before takes the microphone again.
“Alright, now then, your prom Queen is… Lexi Saunders!”
My eyes widen as I look over to my best friend. Her mouth is hanging open, probably not believing what she just heard.
“Get the heck up there!” I urge, practically pushing her out of her seat.
Carter kisses her cheek before she finally finds her feet, and begins walking toward the stage as everyone claps loud for her.
I couldn’t be happier.
Lexi steps onto the stage, gracefully accepting her crown. She stands beside Liam, who reaches out giving her a side hug.
“May the King and Queen please take the floor, for their first dance?”
Liam extends his hand to Lexi, who smiles as she takes it. He walks her down the steps, before stopping in the center of the dance floor.
A slow song begins playing, and I smile at my brother and best friend as they sway to the music.
They look so happy.
“Care to join them?” Ethan whispers into my ear.
I nod at him, taking his hand as he guides me to the dance floor.
Turning Page by Sleeping At Last is playing around us as I rest my head against Ethan’s chest.
Eventually other couples start to make their way to the dance floor, each couple beginning to slow dance. Claire and Carter both walk up to Liam and Lexi. Carter politely asks to step in, and Liam happily hands Lexi over to him, turning to take Claire’s hand.
I look around at everyone enjoying themselves as they get lost into the music. I actually feel at peace right now. A recent foreign feeling to me.
I was so scared that I would be lost forever, constantly trying to claw my way out of the darkness that I found myself stranded in.
Right now, standing here with everyone I love around me, I know that the end of that dark tunnel is near. I know that eventually I will find the light again, no matter what it takes.
This is where I belong.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
I glance up at Ethan, a smile taking over my face.
“I love you.”
He leans down, placing a tender kiss against my lips, pulling me closer to him. The kiss is slow, and perfectly cliché in the moment.
“Stop that.” I hear Liam say from a few feet away.
I roll my eyes, giving him the middle finger as I continue kissing Ethan.
I hear Lexi laugh from the other side of me, and I can’t help but smile against Ethan’s lips.
“I love you too.” He finally replies, once we pull apart from each other.
“This night is turning out to be everything I ever dreamed of.” I admit with a smile. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“I didn’t do anything.” He laughs.
“But you did.” I nod. “Even if you didn’t know it.”
He smiles at me, a real and genuine smile, before his cell phone suddenly begins ringing.
I just barely hear it over the loud music, but when he pulls it out of his tux pocket, his eyebrows furrow together.
“What is it?” I ask, concern now evident on my face.
He takes a slow breath, before bringing his gaze to meet my own.
“It’s the prison.”