I felt as though cement had been plastered to the base of my shoes, hindering me stuck in a stand-still, unable to fathom what Ian had said to us. He didn’t stay long after that revelation, swinging his back pack on to his shoulder and rushing to the glass doors.
“I don’t believe that little weasel,” Ronnie said, returning me into reality and not wandering in my thoughts. “I bet he’s going around campus, telling people that lie.”
“How do you know it’s a lie?”
Ronnie coiled her hand around my arm. “Everything we know about that guy leads to an undeniable truth that he’s evil. He, despite being Silvia’s friend, went behind her back and exposed her secrets about the issues she was having at home. He doesn’t have good intentions regarding Silvia.” He hold on me loosened, scoffing in disbelief. “I can’t believe you’d take his word over Silvia’s. I believe her. Not some jackass who has ever desire to make Silvia to look bad.”
“I didn’t say I believed him over Silvia,” I clarified, shaking her off of me. “I don’t know where he was coming from to say that, though.”
“From his delusional imagination. That’s where.” She retorted. “I don’t see how one little thing from that known jackass can alter how you see Silvia. You really are something else.”
“Don’t put words into my mouth. I said I didn’t I took his word over my girlfriend’s.”
“Hmm, wouldn’t go as far as to call her your girlfriend,” she muttered.
I put my hand up against her locker, block her off. “This isn’t your relationship. So, frankly, I don’t give a fuck if what you think my standing with Silvia is or not. That’s not up to you.”
She squinted at me. “Slow your roll, cowboy. I believe you’ve forgotten that I’m her best friend. Change the way you’re talking to me or this conversation will be over faster than you know it.”
I gave way to Ronnie, moving into the hallway and out of her path. “Go on then. I’ve been finished with this talk for a long time now.”
She studied me for a moment, lifting up the corner of her mouth while scoffing. “I don’t get what she’s sees in you at all. You manage to get worse with every passing day.”
“You’re a charm to be around, too.”
I didn’t care what Ronnie had said. None of it had true gravity to me, controlling my actions. She said to give Silvia her space. I didn’t listen to her advice, not for a second, and went to the student parking lot with ever intent to set the record straight between Silvia and I.
It sounds shameful to admit, but I lost count.
I lost count of how much time I slept. I was keeping tabs, up until the second day. I slept a lot, leaving my room only to use the bathroom. The sun was halfway in the sky, shimmering in the afternoon, by the time I got enough energy to make myself a meal. I plopped two whole grain slices of bread into the toaster. Going to the fridge, I brought out the butter and the jam inside the pantry. I was home alone. The twins were at practice, Evelyn was held up at a yoga class for mom’s to be, and I had waved goodbye to my brother Lenard the other day. I was content with the silence.
My grandmother stopped by yesterday, carrying in her famous salted caramel cookies and brewed a fresh kettle of tea. I was certain my father was the cause, knowing that he had a bad job in doing the parenting himself. We talked all day, planning out my Spring Break. I could see she was doing just about anything to lift my spirit, so I let her get excited over details about swimming in the rivieras of Italy and skipping off to shopping.
I had fallen into a spiral that kept me in a constant cycle of negativity. Hunter offered to go to the country club, and I instantly began to picture what embarrassing encounter I might be thrown into. My grandmother suggested spending Spring Break together in Europe, yet dread only filled my thoughts, wondering if that was all a charade for my breakdown and not a true intent.
Dakota’s messages, ones that I hadn’t looked at since Heath left, had left me distraught and anxious at my every move in this town. I had started to pack my luggage the other night, waking up in a hysteric fright, wanting to disappear and never walk in the halls of Crescent High.
For a moment of encouragement, I went over the texts between Ronnie and I the night I almost ran away and she walked me out of it. ”Don’t let them win," she had written, ”Don’t back down, Silvia. You can’t let them have the last laugh.”
The problem, truly, was that I didn’t have the strength to retaliate. I envisioned my return to school and a queasiness dominated my senses, reeling from the impulse to go back to that hellish institution. I was better off being homeschooled until graduation. At this point, I’d rather drop out and pay to take the GED so I could be done with high school all together. My dad didn’t like that idea, though. He was a Crescent High alumni, through and through, and had his eyes set on me finishing off the semester with my peers.
He had temporarily picked up a habit of my own, counting the days left of school until graduation every time I told him about my plan to dropout. I thought I was starting to make a positive move towards homeschooling this morning, but he simply went back to telling me about how it would be “pointless” to leave now since the semester was close to halfway completed.
The toast, popping out of the toaster, caused me to jolt up right in surprise. I grabbed a small knife, untwisting the top of the jam jar off, and scooped out the strawberry glob on to my bread and spreading it. I hummed a tune, finishing the second slice, and moving to the butter.
I tossed my knife into the sink, rinsing it quickly. I had already folded the splices when my footsteps halted at the sound of a car door closing. I didn’t think much of it, biting into one of the halves. Spotting a shadow move across the front lawn, I began to slowly chew, wondering who that could be.
There’s no way the twins are back at the time...
I had gotten in sync with when my family members came home, measuring the difference in time on which days. The boys came home first every time. School had recently let out, meaning there wasn’t any reason for the twins to come home. They were held up with after school sport teams.
The voice came before the knocking did, and that was how I knew.
There was a wall between us, but still, I rushed out of view and hid behind the stairway. I peaked at the door, seeing Dakota standing on his tippy toes and peering into the house from the window closer to the top of the door. I winced when he screamed out my name, louder this time.
“Silvia! I know you’re in there. You haven’t been to school all week.” He shouted. “Please, Silvia. Come out. Silvia!”
He wouldn’t stop. I was sure of it. He’d disturb the entire neighborhood with his yelling until I’d open the door. Everyone, who wasn’t experiencing a mid-teen crises, was either at work or school so I was glad this wasn’t happening at night. A heavy weight, set in my stomach, shifted as I made the short walk to the front of my house and unlocked the door.
“Dakota,” I said, stepping on to the front porch and shutting the door. “You should have called before showing up like this.”
“I’m sorry, Silvia, but I can’t keep live with this much silence from your end.”
“You asked for it.”
“No, you asked to know everything. I didn’t ask for this,” he sighed. “I knew it would garner this type of reaction. That’s why I had a hard time even looking at myself in the mirror the longer it went on. It came to a point where I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.”
“But you were perfectly okay to keep lying to me.”
“The person I was then isn’t who I am in reality. I was a creation, to an extent, of pulling the strings along for Segg. But it got to where I couldn’t separate to two anymore and neither could I let you believe the world I had drawn for you to believe in.” He took a stride toward me, collecting my hand into his. I repeatedly untangling my fingers out of his, but he kept picking my hand up from my side, holding it closely to his heart. “Please, Silvia, you can’t say the way we’ve been these last few weeks has been remotely like our first weeks.”
“I’m not sure what you want me to say to that. The beginning is just as important as now. If not, more. It was our foundation.” I snatched my hand out of his. “And now I have to go back and put an asterisk to everything you did, wondering if was the real you talking or just Segg speaking in your ear. Forever, when I think of the times I first fell for you Dakota, I have to remember that you were walking in to the relationship to hurt me. Our memories are ruined.”
He came to eye level, holding me by the waist. “We can make new ones.”
I pushed off his hands, putting my back up against the door. “I don’t know about we...but if you’re adamant about making romantic memories, maybe you should look for someone who feels the same way about you.”
The corners of those blue eyes I had found myself daydreaming of months ago hardened, coming closer together in a scowl. “You don’t mean that, Silvia. Don’t say things like that unless you want to see the repercussions. Because if you don’t want me, don’t want this, to be in existence anymore, then say the word.”
“And you’d go off with a different girl? Just like that?”
He huffed. “How can you be mad at me for saying something you wanted me to do? You can’t be angry with me over an idea you brought to light before I did.”
“I figured you’d have more of a fight than to give in that fast.”
“I never know what to say to appease you,” he whispered, returning to his place from before, swaying my hands that were intertwined with his.” If you want my honest answer, though. I don’t want to be with anyone who isn’t you. I can’t leave things like this. I know it’ll take time to get to where we were before this. I don’t expect things to automatically go back to normal. I get you’re going through a lot, on top of Ian and his sister in town, it’s not easy having someone that manipulative spreading lies.”
“What lies?” I squeezed on his hands and the response I got made me loosen my hold. I didn’t like that he smiled at the first sign of me holding back his hands and not just letting them limply fall into his.
“Ian made a little surprise appearance today after school, saying a different variation of what made you leave Maine.” Dakota filled in. “That instead of taking the pictures, that you were the one in the photos. Someone else was taking the pictures.”
“That liar,” I barked. “If literally fucking one of his family members, instead of fucking them over, was my original plan, then I would’ve done something with that sister of his before going with his dust-bag of a dad. Have you seen him? He’s pushing fifty-three last time I checked.”
“He’s a nobody at Crescent High. I don’t know a single soul who would believe him.”
“But he’s Finn’s crowd, so that’s not true.” I noted and my mind went blank, sucking the color out of my surrounds. Everything had a strange tilt to it, and I couldn’t see what was the cause, until Dakota swooped in and held my body from hitting the floor. I had momentarily lost consciousness. My skin went cold, seeing twinkling stars in broad daylight.
I blinked once. My entire setting altered drastically. I was inside, laying flat on my couch. “When was the last time you ate?” Dakota asked. “Silvia...Silvia, please, answer me. What do you need? Water?”
I feebly nodded my head. He disappeared from view and came back with a water bottle, holding my head on his lap while I took a large gulp.
“What did you last eat?” he asked again, softly stroking my hair out of off my cheek.
“I..I had a bite of a jam and butter slice of bread before you started knocking on my door.”
“That’s not food.” He frowned. “I’m going to make you something.”
“No...my siblings are going to be home in half an hour.” I lied. I just wanted him out sooner.
“That’s enough time. Rachel Ray has prepared me for this,” he kissed my forehead and lowered my head on to the armrest. “I’ll hid in the pantry if I hear the front door open.”
“I’m not leaving with you at this state, Silvia. I’ll make you the food, and if you still want me to leave, I’ll go.” He promised. I didn’t reply. He departed to the kitchen and started on making me lunch.
I washed down the meal with a glass of lemonade. I wiped the plate clean, walking the dish to the sink. I thanked Dakota while rinsing my things and washing my hands.
A million questions made loops around in my head and I was too exhausted to really see what the bigger picture of it all was or where to even start. Still rattled, I hesitated when Dakota snuck up behind me, breathing on the nap of my neck. Gradually, my erratic breathing eased and I was able to compose myself.
But only long enough for me to realize that, undoubtable, was not happy. Hearing about Ian spreading false rumors only added fuel to my fantasies of running away from this terrible town and all the awful people in it.
Dakota, having been the one person I didn’t want to see, had turned in to someone I needed. I had to find something to distract me. Just like in Maine, I tangled myself in all of the wrong things to simply so I could numb a pain deep within me.
I craved a distraction from the nightmare that was currently my life. Like the others, Dakota seemed like a perfect candidate to subdue the chaos inside of me.
“Do you want me to stay?” He asked after walking with me up to my room, leaving the door ajar. “I don’t want you to feel like I have to stay here. I made that for you because I got concerned after seeing you faint.”
I held the collar of his shirt. “I want you to be here.”
He searched my eyes, visibly shocked at my response. A shimmer of hope sparked in his eyes when I said that and the start of a smile was beginning to pull on his lips. “You do?”
“Yes, I do. I want you here. With me. But only if you want to be here, too.”
“O-of course I do,” he stammered and took my face into his hands. His smile faltered, revealing a frown underneath his usual guarded façade. “I’ve missed you so much, Silvia.”
Biting my own tongue, I refrained from speaking. If I lied, he would spot it in an instant. Leaning forward, I closed the distance between us and crashed my lips to his. Just as I had hoped, he kissed me back. I drank in the taste of his lips, drowning in the pleasure he caused.
Dakota concentrated on my lower lip, drawing it into his mouth and sometimes using his teeth as his hands roamed freely on my body. My heart fluttered when his lips swept to my cheek, creating a path of kissing down the hollow of my neck.
I needed this distractions.
Startled at her sudden urge to kiss me, I didn’t stop to question it and I took the opportunity for what it was. She opened her mouth, giving me enough access to move my tongue along hers, deepening the kiss. Her feet began to lead us to the bed. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I followed her without breaking the kiss.
She’s going to take me back.
We’re going to be okay.
Her hand grabbed at my clothes, restlessly pulling them off.