I didn’t save Gabriel’s phone number. When Ronnie left, I made sure to select the number in our chat log and delete it permanently. I didn’t want to be mean to Ronnie. If she knew me at all, she’d know I wasn’t in the right mental state to be with anyone.
After the video, the recording, the news about my relationship with Dakota fake, how could I expect to trust anyone? I couldn’t see myself trusting anyone else in that damn school. Excluding Ronnie and maybe Hunter, every other soul there was dead to me.
She wasn’t very good at this match making thing. Gabriel wasn’t my type.
For starters, I didn’t want anyone. It’s pretty pointless to set up someone who is on the verge of an emotional break down at a drop of a hat. I needed to work on myself before leaping into anything. And from what happened with Dakota, I wasn’t worried how I could even let someone get close to me ever again.
I can’t let anyone new in. I need everyone old out. Again.
It was Maine 2.0.
I made a note to myself to visit my phone provider so I could get my number changed. After these past few weeks, living with my mother in Maine sounded like a safe haven.
That was saying a lot.
I should’ve left the moment Maven had opened his mouth, shouting insults, on the first day. It was a big red-flag and I had completely ignored it. That was a tell-tale sign that I should’ve paid attention to.
Crescent Heights had brought more hardships than I had expected. When I got my plane ticket to California, I was blind to the world of deception I was stumbling into. It started off with Beth and Pierson, then Dakota. I needed a break from them all.
I was in the middle of cleaning my room. It was the first real productive thing I’ve done since returning home from my short vacation at Pierson’s house. The sound of a horn, honking in the front yard, stopped me from working. I walked over to my window and checked to see who was there.
Pierson was in my driveway with Hunter with an unreadable expression written across his sculpted face.
“Why does he have to be here?” I grimaced and open my window. “What do you want, Pierson!?”
“Silvia,” he yelled out. “I just want to talk.”
“What part of ‘leave me alone’ do you not understand?” I shouted. “Do you need me to translate it to Gaelic so you understand me?”
“Please, Silvia.” He begged, honking the horn of his car again.
He’s not going to leave. He’ll wake up the whole neighborhood if it comes down to it.
I groaned even louder while walking down the stairs, snatching a coat out of the coat closet and start exiting the house. “I’m tired and I’m sleepy. The last thing I want to do is talk.” I said the second I was outside.
“I’m sorry this is so out of nowhere. I wouldn’t have come so unannounced, but when tried to call you it went straight to voicemail.”
“I blocked you.”
I didn’t have a phone at the moment but I didn’t want him to know that. I spent the last couple of days dodging all of his messages. I hoped he’d get the hint.
“Oh,” his face softened. “Where have you been?”
“Here. I’ve been here the whole time, avoiding people like you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’ve been avoiding people who have lied, deceived, and wronged me the past couple of weeks.” I said and brought my hand to my face, rubbing my tired face. “Please get to the point of your visit. What is it you want Pierson? Do you want to apologize again?”
“For what?” He asked, dumbfounded. “I don’t have anything to apologize for.”
Well I wasn’t expecting that one. The other responses I had lined up in my mind, ready to be said at any second, were useless now.
“You don’t think you need to be sorry?” I narrowed my eyes, attentively observing him as if he had on all of his clothes backwards and inside-out. “Not even a little sorry?”
“There isn’t anything I did wrong. There isn’t anything I’ve done that I regret.”
“Of course not,” I said with gritted teeth. “Because making Carmen fake date Dion for your own personal gain isn’t something you’d feel remorse of. Or that the fact that you comforted me after that I saw the video.”
He dodged my gaze. “Okay I did do that.”
“And you’re sorry about it?” I hissed.
“I didn’t do it for my own personal gain though. I did it for us,” he corrected me.
I nearly gagged. “Us? There is no us, Pierson.”
“Yes, yes there is. But only if you let there be,” he assured me. “You’re only looking at this from the surface. I don’t know if Ridgewood told you this, but he’s not a good guy. I’m the one you should’ve gone with when you moved to California. I wouldn’t have hurt you like he did.”
“Give me a break,” I huffed. “You’re just trying to save your ass.”
A second voice joined in, coming up from the living room. “Pierson told me that Finn went to him, practically begging Pierson to do a Segg prank on Dakota and even offered it to him at a low price without having to bid for the spot. Finn convinced him into thinking that he was helping by getting you to hate Dakota.”
“In my defense,” Pierson added, “Finn was the one who told me about this other prank that was going on that involved you. It had something to do with a member paying Dakota to interact with you and befriend you. I don’t know the details to it, but I knew that Dakota’s intentions weren’t entirely pure when you guys started dating. It all started as a fake relationship. I doubt any of it was real.”
My back hit against the wall as my knees gave way. How could he know that without—
No, don’t be a fool. Don’t forgive him, Silvia.
I bit my tongue, holding back a new set of questions I had for Pierson. “Do you believe him, Hunter?”
“Yeah I do. Pierson isn’t a bad friend. He’s just stupid and easily manipulated. He thought he was being helpful by making you hate Dakota,” Hunter explained.
“Hey,” Pierson snapped. “I’m not stupid.”
“Yes, you are.” Hunter assured him and dug his hands deep into his pockets.
Pierson rolled his eyes and faced me. “I’m not lying.”
I raised both of my hands up. “You could be telling the truth, but right now I just want some time for myself. I want to be on my own without any of you guys getting in my way.”
“You forgave him, though.” Pierson noted, in a softer tone than before.
“No, I didn’t forgive Dakota.”
“You’re going to forgive though,” he added on to my statement. “Whatever he did, eventually you’re going to take him back. I already know you are.”
“You don’t know that for sure,” I said. “Heck, I don’t even know that for sure. I’m just asking for some distance from Dakota, you, Beth, Finn—all of you. Is that so much to ask for?”
Pierson’s shoulders slumped. His entire demeanor and features darkened. I guess he was hoping I would jump into his arm and tell him that I want him in my life. The lights in his eyes were dimmed and that smile I had grown accustomed to see on his face was nowhere in sight.
Maybe in a different world, a different life, things would’ve played out how he hoped. But I wasn’t here to keep people happy. I had opened a whole new world of issues by being curious about other people’s pasts.
I wanted my nose out of other people’s business. That was what got me in this mess in the first place.
. . .
Dad had his office dinner downstairs later on that day. I didn’t have much sleep last night so I slept through it and locked my door before the start of it. I didn’t want to be disturbed. Dad was clearly disappointed that I didn’t try to appear at his stupid dinner.
I had bigger troubles than his dinner.
I wouldn’t die for not attending.
These weren’t things I said to him, of course. I wasn’t bold enough to utter such words to him.
The rest of Winter break were, thankfully, uneventful. I took Lenard to all of the sightseeing locations in Southern California. I didn’t get the chance to go sightseeing when I first moved to California, but Lenard had his heart set out to see as many places as possible.
New Year’s Eve was quiet at the Ellington household. My dad and Hunter’s mom were at a friend of theirs, enjoying the new year at a bar near Santa Monica. Maven went somewhere with his girlfriend, Faye, but I wasn’t curious enough to ask where they were going. Lenard was binge watching some show in the living room. He reminded me that he was downstairs every now and then by shouting at the TV.
I had gotten invited to a New Years Eve party over at the Smell with Ronnie. I had promised myself that I would never reenter that place.
Around nine pm, I got a knock on my door. For most of the day and into the night, I was on my laptop, watching videos on YouTube and consuming Tillamook Ice Cream until my teeth started to chatter. I eventually swapped my Ice Cream for a bag of popcorn.
“Come in,” I called out. The door creaked as Hunter’s head poked in. “Oh, hey. I didn’t know you were home. I thought you went with Maven.”
He made a face. “No, I didn’t go with them.”
“Did want to be the awkward third-wheel? ”
“Yeah, that’s why.” He snorted. “What are you doing? You’ve been laughing really loud.”
I tilted my laptop so he could see the screen. “I’m re-watching my favorite Bollywood movie.”
“Bollywood,” I repeated. “They movies from India.”
“Oh, right. You understand it?”
“Only slightly. I’m using Somali translation,” I told him. “Because Bollywood makes so many movies, their media flows into Africa. A lot of my cousins and I grew up watching their musicals.”
“You watch a lot of them?”
“Nowadays, only when I’m sad,” I noted, pointing at the pint of rocky road ice cream on my bed. “I’m watching ‘Om Shanti Om’ and this part always makes me laugh.”
“Let me see.” Hunter sat on the bed and I angled my laptop. We sat there, watching the scene in its entirety in silence until the punchline came along.
Hunter fell over in laughter. “I’m going to have to watch this later.”
“Really?” I asked, surprised. A lot of my friends back home in Maine didn’t understand my adoration for Desi movies.
“Seriously,” he smiled.
“We should watch one together sometime.” I suggest to him and he nodded in agreement. Putting my laptop to sleep and moved it over to my nightstand, I sat back in my bed and crossed my ankles in front of me. “So what are you up to? Don’t you have any plans for tonight?”
“That’s why I came up here. I’m going over to the beach for this bonfire Doug has going on and I figured if you don’t have anything else scheduled for today, you should tag along. You’ve practically been camped out in your room for hours, barely getting out of here.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Thank you for the offer, but I think that wouldn’t be a good idea.”
“Are you anti-social now?”
“No, I’m just anti-Crescent High,” I proclaimed. “I don’t want to run into anyone from our school. The last thing I want is some kind of confrontation with a classmate.”
“If you’re worried about Pierson showing up, don’t worry. He’s not. I think he’s over at Winchester Hills with his grandfather and mom.”
I shook my head. “I don’t really hang out with your friends. Last time I did, I ended up getting beat up by Carmen.”
“Yeah, I heard about that.” He said uncomfortably, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sorry about that.”
“You don’t need to apologize for her craziness. You didn’t know she was going to do that.”
“I certainly didn’t. She wasn’t always like that,” he noted and got up off my bed. “She won’t be coming to this bonfire either.”
Looking over at the clock that was hung up on my wall, I read the time. I had about three more hours of this year left to waste. Hunter’s offer was enticing, but I was hoping on watching a few more movies and maybe even watch a couple K-pop music videos to fill this hole in my chest.
For as long as I could remember, Hunter was the only person who hadn’t back stabbed me or purposely humiliated me. Other than Ronnie and Hunter, there wasn’t anyone else I trusted. I knew why Ronnie was kind to me. We were friends. Our friendship had slowly formed in English class last semester.
Hunter slowly stalked over to my bedroom door and opened it. My voice stopped him from walking out of it. “Why are you nice to me?”
He didn’t turn around. “Would you rather I wasn’t nice to you?”
“No,” I rushed to say. “That’s not what I mean. It’s just that, I don’t understand why your kind to me. Ever since I first moved here, you’ve been nice and welcoming. Why are you nice?”
“Why not?” he asked simply and walked out of the door, not quite answering my question at all.
I wanted to rush out of my bed and tell him that I would accompany him to the bonfire.
I didn’t though. I stayed in my room.
If I went with him, it would go against my previous statement that I wanted distance from everyone. Hunter didn’t seem like a deceptive person, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.