Chapter 27: The Girl Next Door, Home Again (Part 1)
“So David, let me ask you a question.” he said as I fought the urge to roll my eyes. This was our fourth week in session and honestly, it’s been helping me more than I wanted to admit. I just hated that I had to do this three times a week. It’s been a month of this and it was killing me. I should’ve been focusing on school and basketball.
“Well it is what you’re getting paid for, may as well do your job.” I barked before I could contain myself. My anger wasn’t with him. My anger came from yet another secret I had to keep. Secrets were why I was in this mess.
“No need for the sarcasm son. Anyways, my question, and I really want you to take a second to truly think about this.”
“Okay Doc, what’s up?”
“Can you truly separate Natalie and Maria? Can you separate them from what happened to them and how you think you should’ve handled it? Can you separate whatever you feel for them from how you think you should’ve saved them?” I opened my mouth to give a response before I realized that I had none. Both of them had shaped me in ways that made me wonder who I was without them. My life revolved around one or the other. Not only had I’d gotten hurt due to them, I’d hurt others also.
“What am I supposed to say doc?” I breathed tears starting to fill my eyes. “I know I shouldn’t feel guilty for things I had no clue about, but I also feel guilty about those blind spots when they clearly needed me.”
“That’s the thing David. Even when we think we’re noticing those blind spots, there are still bigger ones we’d never even thought about.”
“Doc, can we talk about something else?” I groaned, my head starting to hurt as my stomach tied into this huge knot that felt like a boulder on my intestines.
“Do you want to tell me why you don’t think anyone would believe you about Clarissa and John?” he asked and suddenly I’d rather be talking about Natalie and Maria again.
“You’re killing me Doc.” I groaned, starting to rock back and forth.
“Why do you think it’s such a hard thing for you to talk about?”
“Believe it or not it’s even harder to think about.”
“Well explain it to me, maybe we can talk about it and together try to figure it out.”
“Listen Doc, I’m only saying this because I’m tired of no one hearing me. When I went to press charges, even with all the evidence, they told me the case wasn’t really a strong one and it was because of me. I willingly had sex with the girl that took advantage of me over and over again, and even hung out with the guy who helped her. To make it worse someone whom I thought was my friend knew the entire time. So yeah, they got a couple of years, but it wasn’t for what they did to me.”
“Do you think that’s fair?” he asked and this time I actually did roll my eyes.
“Of course it’s not, but what can I do? There’s both pictures and a video of me laying in the bed after being brought up by teammates and barely moving as she sucked my dick before riding me. In the video I am clearly incoherent and confused, but because of my past...because of one drunken mistake it all goes out the window. Due to my statue and physique no one believes me. They think I got drunk, had sex, regret it and now that Maria knows I’m crying rape. Little do they know, Maria didn’t even know me then. She didn’t even know she had a neighbor during the time of that party. Their logic is flawed, but because of what I mistakenly did to someone I cared for, they don’t care. To them, my record speaks for itself.” I almost didn’t feel the hot tears sliding down my cheeks because my anger was boiling. I wanted to lash out and punch something, but instead I tried to breathe as I angrily wiped them away. I’d come to terms with it, but I still hated it.
“Unfortunately David, that’s all the time we have for today. I’ll tell you this off the record, but the system isn’t designed for us, no matter how much we wish the opposite.” I nodded my head in agreement as I stood and left. I still hated these sessions, but this one I hated a little less.
I took my time driving home giving myself time to think. A lot of points had been made, but I admit it wasn’t really nothing that I wanted to hear. After a quick stop to get some food, I pulled into my driveway and was surprised to see Mr. Anise waiting for me on the porch. We hadn’t really spoken since she left five months ago.
“Hey.” I breathed getting out of my truck before closing the door behind me.
“I finally heard from her.” he cried, sounding relieved. “She’s not doing well. She won’t admit it, but something is bothering her. I think it has something to do with you-”
“She doesn’t know Mr. Anise.” I sighed. “Besides, I doubt she’s even thinking about me.”
“She’s not thinking, that’s the problem. Look, I didn’t come over here to beg you to talk to her. I just need you to make me a promise. Can you do that?”
“Can you promise me that whenever she comes back, if she does, that you will try to fix it? I mean fix it now. Prove to her then that you are better than you are now. Learn from the mistakes. Also, remember that I’m only a few feet away. I’m still here for you. Can you do that for me?”
“I can try.” Even as I said the words, it didn’t sound like I believed it. I knew that if I could hear it, he could too. Starting to walk away, I felt ashamed for pushing him away. Just because my father was trying to be a good father now, didn’t mean I had to ice him out. He’d been good to me and helped me at times when I was the most lost. Turning around I opened my mouth to say something but he put up a hand stopping me.
“No explanations or apologies needed Dave. I know what you went through and are going through. If no one else has said it, I believe you. Remember I know what you did and that shouldn’t affect what was done to you. I’m still here if you ever need me.” he smiled a genuine, kind and caring smile at me making my mouth go dry. I really didn’t deserve to have him on my side, but he was.
“Thank you sir.” I breathe trying to hold back the tears. “Just thank you for being you.”
~A Year Later~
Mr. Anise: She might be mad at me for telling you this, but I think you deserve to know. She’ll be here later tomorrow. Sometime mid-evening. I really hope that you two can work it all out. She’s coming home though David, she’s really coming home.
I almost choked on my water as I read his text. It had been nearly a year since everything happened and I honestly didn’t know what to feel. I had fallen off of the deep end badly after she left me, but I hardly saw myself as a monster anymore. I started to get the help that I needed and slowly was starting to understand that there was nothing I could do to truly help either of them. Her or Natalie. There were just too many obstacles in the way for me to have made a real difference. I gave them what they needed at the time, but my friendship just wasn’t enough.
“Jr?” came my dad’s voice from the doorway of my room. I sighed before sitting up on my bed and coming face to face with him. My biggest issues lied with him, but he’d turned out to be one of my biggest helps also. He was there for me at a time where I didn’t know that I needed him to be there. Our relationship had grown over the past year, but the damage was still being repaired.
“I’m just checking in with you.”
“I’m fine?” I was skeptical about this random check in. He looked nervous, like he knew something that he wasn’t sure he should tell me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was keeping secrets, at this point I suspected it. No one ever told the truth.
“Is that a question or do you know?” he chastised.
“I know.” I spat trying to speak with conviction, but I was still feeling unsure. I was getting a bad feeling about tomorrow all of a sudden and now the only thing I wanted to do was try to fix things with my Minnie. I could feel him watching me as my hand reached up and played with the chain around my neck. I couldn’t lie. I missed her more than I thought was possible. This was different from what I felt with Natalie. This hurt differently.
“Are you thinking about Maria again?” he asked, making me snap my attention towards him. “I just noticed you never took that off.” he shrugged trying to make it sound casual.
“I made a promise not to take it off, unless she asks me too. Or if she gives me hers back. Then I’ll remove it for good.”
“That’s an impossible kind of promise to keep.” I opened my mouth to say something, but he stopped me. “I just mean, I don’t want anything or anyone to ruin all the progress you’ve made.” There it was. The thing he didn’t know if he should speak on or not. I understood the concern it was coming from, but I was still annoyed by the implication.
“I promise you dad, nothing nor no one can make me fall that low again. I’m better now and I only want to keep going up. My feelings for or towards Maria won’t change that.” I smiled at feeling more confident than I had for the past year. It was then that Mr. Anise’s words made complete sense. I was a whole lot better now than I had been then and I only planned to get better. I’d learned the mistake of keeping secrets. I’ve worked through what happened with Clarissa. I’ve learned that Natalie wasn’t my fault. I’d learn that my mistake with Persephone didn’t make me a monster. I still had to fix things with Maria and I was clueless on how that would go. She’s had me tongue tied from the first time I saw her. “There’s no need to worry about me.” I smiled as I walked past me and he followed me downstairs where mom was. I played it cool, but my stomach was churning like crazy from the thought of seeing her again.