Letting In, Myself and Mistakes
We reach the school gymnasium a lot later than we planned.
Axel first took me to a diner nearby school and even though we ate pretty quickly, we stayed there for long, just talking. It was when Tracy called asking where I was that I realized it was almost 8:30 and we drove towards the school.
As dead as the rest of school looked, leave for a few couples getting on with it, the gym was full of over enthusiastic and energetic people. The fear of losing myself among so many people makes me shift a little closer to Axel who wraps his arms around me.
As soon as we enter the party hall, almost everybody’s eyes are on us and even through the loud music, you can make out them whispering things that are probably not true.
“Here.” I hand my phone to Axel. “Keep this with you, I don’t have pockets. And please stay close to me tonight.”
He nods, taking my phone and placing it in his jacket’s pocket. “If you feel out of place, just say a word and we’ll leave.” He whispers softly in my ear.
I smile at his considerate suggestion and nod. My eyes roam around and firstly, they land on Ronnie who is standing in a corner with Amelia dressed in a pink dress, her favorite color, even though it was too girly for her. When I’m unable to bear the look of hurt in her eyes despite the distance, I look away, like a coward and find Tracy and Kevin dancing together while Maggie is talking to someone near the drinks table.
I take Axel’s hand in mine and walk towards her. She smiles immediately when she sees me and raises a curious eyebrow eyeing Axel. The person she was talking to notices her disinterest and walks away.
“Hey gorgeous.” She gives me a quick hug and waves at Axel who just nods. “You look mighty fine.”
“So do you.” I say and laugh along with her.
“Sean was looking for you ever since he came. He was furious.” She leans in to whisper so that Axel doesn’t hear.
I cringe and shrug. “I really don’t care, Mags.” I say truthfully. I don’t care is he was furious. I just care of the scene he’ll make when he sees me.
“Shit, here he comes.” Maggie mumbles under her breath but both Axel and I hear her.
We turn around to see a furious looking Sean Cooper making his way towards us from the other corner of the gym and Axel wraps his arms back around my waist, pulling me closer. When Sean is close enough, he stops, his eyes landing on Axel’s hand around me.
“Leah.” He grits out slowly so that the spectators who have all their attention on us don’t hear. “I went to your place but you weren’t there. Where were you?”
My heart is beating like a super fast train and I struggle to breath. Axel squeezes my waist, giving me slightest bit of courage. I stand straighter, staring Sean in the eye. “Oh, did you?” I shrug. “Sorry, I didn’t know. I was with my date having dinner before coming here. Oh, right. Let me introduce you guys - Sean, Axel. Axel, Sean.”
Sean scoffs. “Date? Did you forget that we already made plans?”
I raise a brow. “Did we now? I don’t remember. All I remember is you asking me if I had a date for tonight and I said maybe. All you did them was tell me you’d be at my place at seven. Where the fuck did it mean that we made plans?”
Axel snickers beside me while Sean pinches his nose - a thing he does to calm his anger. “Are you fucking with me right now?” He grits out through clenched teeth.
I smile sickeningly sweetly at him. “No, Sean. I’m saving myself from becoming your tissue paper only to be discarded after you’re done with me. Again.” With that, I turn to Axel giving him a soft smile. “Dance with me?”
He nods at me and steers me towards the dance floor, leaving behind my furious ex who is fuming. A hand on my waist and the other in mine, he starts to sway us both softly, even though no soft music is playing. “I’m so proud of you.” He leans in to whisper making me grin. I’m happy to make him proud.
We keep swaying together slowly, probably looking out of place for dancing like this on a fast rap song but we don’t mind. Axel hold me softly. When finally a slow, romantic song starts playing after a while, I place my head on his chest and close my eyes, breathing out in relief. He just pulls me closer, kissing the top of my head - another one of his habits I have never minded.
When I open my eyes to keep myself from falling asleep, they immediately land on Sean who is drinking something from a silver flask and staring at me with so much intensity that I feel something crawl up my skin, making me shiver.
Another moment of weak judgement clouds my senses and I feel the sudden urge to prove to that boy that he no longer controls me. That I no longer will do what he asks of me as I used to when I was his naive and foolish girlfriend. The way he is looking at me makes me feel that he knows that I’m still hung up on him which is true. And I don’t want him to think that.
A little far away, Ronnie is looking at us too - me and Axel, while trying to be discreet and I want to tell her too that I’ve moved on, even if I haven’t. I want her to know that I’m not too weak to still feel hurt over what happened months ago, even if I am.
So I pull away from Axel and give him a tight smile. He doesn’t notice as he smiles back at me. Before I could actually think and realize how foolish my next step is going to be, I step closer to him and plant my lips on his.
He freezes for a moment and I know I should have pulled back right then but I don’t. I press myself closer to him instead, wounding my hands around his neck and after a while, he seems to come to his senses too, as he wraps his arms around my waist and kisses me back softly.
He pulls me even closer, as if he wants us to be one and never part again. Our lips move together in sync and for a moment, it feels perfect as it is. But I’m all too aware that it isn’t. I almost lose myself in the soft feel of his lips and the minty taste that feels cool and fresh in my mouth and I pull away slightly before I really lose myself, breathing heavily.
Axel rests our foreheads together, not pulling back or pushing me away. If anything, he tries to pull me even closer. “Wow.” He breaths out once his breathing is a little even, still not completely normal.
“Yeah.” I whisper halfheartedly. It was wow, the kiss, it was perfect and mind blowing and everything a kiss should be but the intentions behind it weren’t.
“You smell and taste like berries, Berry.” He mumbles making me chuckle slightly.
I pull myself back and look him in the eyes and all the emotions floating in his eyes almost make me cry. I realize how much of a jerk I am and what a big mistake I’ve made - one I can never take back or correct.
Still feeling out of breath, not because of the kiss but the overwhelming emotions, I excuse myself. “I need to go to the washroom. I’ll be back soon.” I say.
Axel pecks my lips once again and nods, letting me go.
As soon as I’m out of his arms, I rush outside before my legs give out and I trip and fall. Lord, what have I done? That too with Axel. He doesn’t deserve this, nobody does and I will never forgive myself for being so, so stupid.
I scoff when I reach the bleachers through the backdoor of the gymnasium. Sean doesn’t control me and what I do? Yeah right. I just kissed the one person who has understood me and let me lean on him why? Only to show my douche bag of an ex that I’ve moved on. It was all for a show, a show for Ronnie and Sean - two people who broke me, and still continue to do so in new and different ways.
Tears sting my eyes and the cool, harsh winds of the night is the only thing that makes me feel alive. I blink a couple of times to get rid of the tears and I almost succeed but just the reminder of returning to Axel and pretending that the kiss didn’t mean anything makes me break down.
I can’t do that to him, neither can I let him that there is something between us. Not when Sean still has so much power over me to make me do the stupidest things in just one day.
It was the biggest mistake, I realize, kissing Sean in the morning to hurt Ronnie and kissing Axel in the evening to revenge on Sean and show him I don’t care about him. The biggest of all mistakes I’ll ever make. And it will be an even bigger mistake to lead Axel on but I don’t have the courage to tell him the truth and see hurt in his eyes. I can’t lose him.
God, I’m so pathetic and selfish. What they say is right, i’m the queen bitch, the ice queen, the mean princess of this school. I don’t care about anybody but me. Fuck!
“Hey.” A familiar voice says from behind me, the one that was slowly growing on me, weaving it’s way to the most sacred yet wounded part of me.
I stiffen and subtly wipe the tears before turning around. “Hey.”
“Were you crying?” He asks, frowning, taking slow cautious steps towards me. “Don’t lie to me, Leah.” He says when I shake my head.
I sniff and rub my hands up and down my arm. “It just got overwhelming in there, seeing and talking to him.” I say, not exactly lying but it still was a lie. It did get overwhelming but I wasn’t crying because of that. I was crying at the weight of my mistakes and the possibility of hurting my Axel.
Axel doesn’t spare another second before pulling me closer to him and giving me all of his warmth, inside and out. “It’s okay, baby. I’m here. Do you want to get out of here?”
I nod, still hiding my face in his chest. God, why did he have to be so sweet. It would have been a lot better if he was still the old Mr. Scowls I came to know first.
Axel pulls back and wipes my tears, kissing both my eyes. He then takes out his suit jacket and covers me with it before guiding us towards the parking through the path outside. I take my phone out of the jacket and quickly type Tracy and Maggie a text that says I was leaving with Axel.
He helps me sit in the car and pulls away immediately, driving me back home. The ride is mostly silent, soft acoustic music flowing from the radio and his hand holding mine as he did while driving to school. I stay silent, lost in my thoughts and punishing myself mentally for the being the person I am. Cursing Sean and Ronnie for making me the person I have become and then cursing myself again for blaming my sins on others.
It is no one’s fault but mine. It’s my fault for letting one boy rule and manipulate me and my heart without even being near me or being mine. It’s my fault for letting my revengeful thoughts drive my actions. It’s my fault for hurting the one boy that was slowly weaving my true self back even if he doesn’t know it yet.
In that moment, I realize how far gone I am from my own self, how much I have escaped letting my own self into my thoughts and my heart. I have been ignoring so many things I should have accepted a long time ago but I didn’t. Just like I ignored Sean tonight knowing well enough that I’ll see him by the end of the night and then I’d have to face him. Now I’m facing the consequences of my ignorance towards my feelings, my thoughts, my actions.
I had decided to let my friends and family in, talk to them, tell them my secrets but what I failed to do was accept the things I have told them myself, face the reality, let myself in back to control my mind, heart and soul.
I failed to accept how far gone I was, so lost in nowhere that I didn’t see my way back home. And what I was thinking to be a haze was just a blindfold I myself put on my eyes, refusing to see things how they were.
Sean cheated on me, Ronnie betrayed and hurt me. I was heartbroken, ruined, almost wrecked but instead of finding my pieces back, I lost myself. I did find some of me back along the way, not really planning on it. I got back myself as my parent’s daughter that I stopped being once Sean entered my life, as my brother’s little sister, Tracy, Maggie, Emilia, Axel and Kevin’s friend but I failed to find the pieces of me that made me myself.
Not someone’s daughter, sister, friend or ex but just me - Leah.
I had been deluding myself for so long, thinking that I’d find all parts of the broken me that joined me to myself as I found the parts of me that joined me to others. But I failed to understand that I’d have to look for it in order to find it.
“Here we are.” Axel says once we’re parked outside the gates of my home. I give him a tired smile. “You look tired.”
“I am.” I say, resting my head on the headrest. I then turn to him. “Thanks Axel. For everything.”
He just gives me one of his signature smiles and my heart flutters, guilt rushing back. I push myself up and plant a soft kiss on his cheek, taking him off guard. “Goodnight.” I whisper.
“Goodnight, Berry.” He says making me smile at the new nickname he called me soon after kissing me. That itself is enough to bring back the tears.
Not wanting hims to see me cry and ask further questions, knowing full well that I won’t be able to lie to him for long, I step out of the car, wave at him and rush inside, his jacket still around my shoulders, his smells still around my senses.
That night, I sleep wearing his suit jacket, crying until my eyes got tired and couldn’t cry anymore all while I tried to think what do to get myself back home.
Well, the first step would be removing the blindfold.