I hadn't noticed the tears that now wet my face, and when I did, I was quick to wipe them away. I sat up on my bed, took off my headphones, and drew a heavy sigh. I went to my bedside table where I pulled out my box of matches. I took off the lids of some candles before pulling out and lighting a match. My attention was drawn to the fire forming at the tip of the match and watched as it spread closer to my fingers. When the fire was millimetres away from burning my fingers, I blew it out and repeated this process with a couple more matches. I was fascinated with how the fire was so quick to form—it took mere seconds for it to start and it roared and spread at lightning speeds—but with one blow, its work could be diminished into nothing.
I lit the candles and smelled as their different scents mixed in the air; a little bit of lavender, eucalyptus, and vanilla began to fill the room. It wasn't long before I blew out the candles and headed towards the bathroom to take a shower. I didn't care that it was two in the morning or that if I blasted my music, it would definitely wake up Britney and Ryder. Like before, I picked another song to play on repeat until I'd found complete solace with myself and the song.
I stayed in the shower for a good forty minutes, twenty-five of which were me sobbing for no reason in the corner. I thought things were going to be changing: the deep-rooted sadness I'd felt for the past couple of months would leave as school neared, but that didn't seem to be the case. Good thing I'd made that appointment with the therapist for tomorrow afternoon.
I still had not told my mom about going to the therapist because, frankly, I knew she wouldn't like it. She wasn't comfortable with other people knowing the ins and outs of our life, but I was eighteen now and what I did was now my choice, not anybody else's.
When I went back to bed, it wasn't long before I had fallen asleep. Those four hours of sleep felt like nothing but a blink when I had woken up to my alarm. I picked up my phone and repeatedly tapped the screen until the horrid sound of the alarm had stopped. I laid in bed for a couple of minutes before standing up and changing into a prim, first-day-of-school outfit. I headed towards the kitchen where my mother was making breakfast for Ryder, Brit, and I.
"Hello," I said groggily.
"Hey, sleepyhead," Ryder practically yelled.
I gave him a half-smile and continued to walk towards my mother to check what she was making. I grabbed a water from the fridge and headed to the dining table where I sat opposite Ryder. He was dressed up and seemed chipper for the day ahead of him, although I imagined he would not have much to do since he's still in summer break.
"Hey, Georgie. You look cute," chimed in Brit as she arrived. She gave Ryder an amorous peck on the lips and sat next to him.
"Thanks," I replied with annoyance in both my tone and face. I wasn't one to take compliments well.
My mother served me and Ryder pancakes while Britney opted for a fruit bowl. The room was silent while we ate. I quickly finished my plate and headed back to my room to finish getting ready. I was dreading going to school; not only because I was going to spend eight hours in small, compact rooms with people I despised, but also because it meant that the anxiety of grades and keeping up appearances was going to come back. It was inevitable.
I put on the necklaces Brit had bought me for my birthday, rechecked my outfit in the dresser mirror, and walked out of my room with my backpack hanging off my shoulder.
"I like your necklaces," Brit remarked as if it wasn't she who had picked them out. I smirked at her with some amusement on my face. She always did this whenever I wore something she had given me, so the familiarity of it all warmed me.
"Ryder's driving you to school until you get your license, by the way, Georgia," my mother said as she grabbed her car keys and enormous purse, "I'm going to work now, bye."
"Ready?" Ryder asked me calmly. I hate to say it, but I actually like this guy. Although he's dating my sister, I feel like this dude and I would get on in another reality.
I smile at him, as I clutch my backpack tightly and replied, "As always."
We got into Brit's car as she stood in the garage waving us goodbye before heading back in. It would be wrong of me to not mention how absolutely terrified I was to have twenty-minute small talk with this man. I'd gotten to know him better the past few weeks, but we had never had a conversation just the two of us: we'd always had a mediator that allowed the conversation to go without a hitch.
"What music do you want?" he asks nicely handing me his phone. I accepted the phone and play some mellow music to calm me down. He smiles when the music starts as though he might know the music I was playing.
We didn't talk for the whole ride; just listened to the music as we slowly neared the school. He parked the car outside of the school and said, "Have a nice day, Georgia," with a smile beaming across his face. But this wasn't out of the ordinary, there wasn't a moment in the past two weeks in which I'd not seen a smile across Ryder's face.
"I'll try, Ryder," I remarked as I opened the door and slid out of the car, putting my backpack back on. As I went to close the door, I knew I had to tell him something. "...And you can call me Georgie, Ryder. After all, you're practically family."
The smile on his face grew bigger and reversed out of his parking spot and went back to the main road. I watched him exit and then continued to enter the school. My nerves had left and my mood was now joyous. Ryder's happiness had radiated onto me.
"Where are you?????" Lia had texted me thirty minutes ago. I quickly replied that I had just arrived and would be in our classroom soon.
As I entered the classroom, our Calculus teacher told me to look at the front desk which had the sitting chart for the year. I quickly peered at it, looking for my name and how close I was to the others. Georgia McKay was next to Paine Miller and Jacob Fischer. I went to my seat and waited for the bell to ring.
"Hey, stranger," Jacob said as he leaned closer to my desk. I tried to not let my utter annoyance show, but it was becoming harder to not deck him by the second. I was quick to notice the full sleeve he had been talking about getting for what seemed like eons. It's not like he was hiding it either. His arm seemed to be shaven and moisturized as it glistened from the gaudy school lights.
"Hello," I replied coldly and turned my attention back to my backpack as I took out our summer homework.
The bell rang and Jacob turned his attention to the Calculus lesson that was starting. I looked quickly to my other side and smiled at Paine who was staring at me. I tucked my hair behind my ear. A sign of my nervousness only I knew, at least I hoped I was the only one that knew.
Class finished and I walked through the hallway with Lia and Willow following me around. They chatted about their last two weeks and I pretended to listen to the details of it all, but my mind was wandering elsewhere. I had therapy in about six hours. All my problems, my woes, would no longer be bottled-up inside me.
But Ryder had driven me to school today, so how would I convince him to take me to the therapist? For now, I just needed to get through the rest of the school day.
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