“I’m okay. Really,” I say as I accept the bottle of water Patrick is giving to me.
“No you’re not. You fucking fainted. I really think you should go and see the school nurse,” he says as he again pulls his fingers through my hair, which in turn doesn’t make me feel like he is comforting me at all. It actually just makes me feel highly irritated.
“No really. I’m fine. I’m just a bit tired, that’s all. I haven’t been sleeping well,” I tell Patrick through gritted teeth. The last thing I need is a nurse telling me what I already know – I need some serious sleep.
“Why? What’s been going on? You’ve been totally ghosting me again as well,” Patrick says. “Does it have something to do with the family drama that went on?”
I look at him trying to figure out how he would know about my situation, but then it hits me. I was the one who sent him a text that I was feeling scared. It just seems like my brain isn’t with the system at the moment. Everything takes longer to process, or doesn’t process at all. I’m pretty sure if someone had to test me on everything I have learned in school in the past few days I wouldn’t be able to answer one single question.
“It’s something like that. Look, like I said, I’m just really tired,” I repeat myself before getting a bright idea. “Would you mind if I maybe have a nap in the back of your car for a few hours? Just till the end of the school day.”
“You want to sleep in a car?”
I can hear the disbelief in his voice, and I can fully understand that. Who would want to actually opt for sleeping in a car? I wouldn’t in my wildest dreams, but at this point I am doing that in any case, and it would be way better doing so on school grounds, in daytime where I know I am safe, without not being able to go to sleep because I am scared of every single light of a car or person that walks past our car. It’s already happened twice that someone working at a gas station has asked us to please move the car because we can’t sleep there, and I am sure I would have had an even bigger fright if I wasn’t awake to see them coming towards us.
“Yeah. Anywhere actually. Just a while. I’m sure I will feel better once I’ve had some sleep,” I answer and I can’t think but wondering how my mom gets to fall asleep so easily in the car. It must be because of Chloe. Keeping her busy in a car, walking around parks, using restrooms in malls, and still trying to find a job with a baby on the arm must be really difficult. In the afternoons she tries to keep Chloe just as busy while I sit in the car trying to do some homework that just doesn’t seem to stick. The only thing I have been useful at has been to try and read Chloe to sleep with the book that Mr. Graham has given me.
“You can’t sleep in the car,” Patrick says as he takes my hand and pulls me up into a hug. Two seniors walk past us and one must make a comment about us because the other one looks back to us and laughs.
“Why not?” I ask. I can feel my eyelids slipping again. The tiredness is really overwhelming at this stage. I am sure I could actually fall asleep while standing upright, and actually if it wasn’t for Patrick holding me, I’m not sure I would be able to stay upright in one position and not fall over at this point.
“Because someone might catch you and then you will be in even bigger trouble than making comments about Hamburgh’s hair on her legs,” Patrick answers. I can hear that he is trying to be stern, but I have no idea if he is actually giving me a stern look since I am resting my head on his shoulder, trying my best to stay upright.
“I don’t care. I just really need some sleep,” I whisper into Patrick’s ear.
“Then I’ll take you home rather. You can sleep and be fresh again for school tomorrow,” he says.
It takes me a moment to take in what he is saying. When it finally hits my brain I can feel my entire body going into overdrive. The last thing I need is for him to try and take me home. I can’t have him know that I don’t have a home. What do I say to him? Drop me off at Wallmart since my mom is picking me up there in the car we sleep in? No ways!
“No. It’s okay. Can’t go home now. I don’t have keys and my mom isn’t home in the mornings,” I make up the first lie that pops into my head.
“Then I’ll take you to mine, but you’re not sleeping in the car,” Patrick says and I can’t help but wanting to smile. Somehow this is at least a win, and the prospect of sleeping on an actual bed is making me more excited than what I have ever been. Even that day I unwrapped the flat screen my grandmother had gotten me for my one birthday, that is now somewhere on the shelve of a pawn shop, I wasn’t this excited.
“You really don’t mind skipping school?” I ask, knowing that some dumb smile must at this stage be appearing on my face.
“Nah… I was just looking for a reason to leave. I just need to get my backpack first,” Patrick says. “Anything you need?”
“Nope. Not really. I’ll just get my things tomorrow,” I say thinking that everything would be fine in my locker until then, and it would be great to have an excuse for not doing any of my homework in the car tonight.
“’Kay. I’ll be right back,” Patrick says as he gives me the keys to his car and runs off in the opposite direction, back into the school building.
Making my way over to his car I can’t help but thinking how sweet he is. What would Patrick actually do if I told him the truth about everything? Would he really be mad or would he be able to understand what I’m going through at the moment? It would actually be great if someone actually knew and could stand by me. But then again, look at Mandy. I know I have been a bit of an ass, but the way she has been ignoring me is not how I would like things to turn out between me and Patrick at all. Sure, I don’t want to officially be his boyfriend. I don’t want anything complicated. I like what we have at this point in time.
Collapsing into his car I watch students walk around the parking lot, retrieving things they may have left in their cars, or just sitting inside and listening to music. Maybe Patrick is right, someone would have caught me sleeping in the car and then I might have actually been in even more trouble. It’s just that I am getting to a point in my life where I feel I don’t want to care about anything anymore. I don’t want to care about where I am sleeping tonight, or what I may still lose in life, or how many people walks out of my life. I don’t think I have ever been this never minded before. Like I don’t care what happens to me. All I want for this life is to be over, or at least for something big enough to happen to change my life completely, because I can’t go on like this much longer. The constant fear, anxiety, and depression is at times more than I can handle.
“Buckle up,” Patrick says as he gets into the car.
I smile at him as I buckle the seatbelt while he does the same and starts the car.
“Thanks for doing this Patrick,” I say. I wish he could know just how thankful I am, but that would mean telling him about all the lies and that seems to not be an option at all.
“It’s nothing,” he says as we leave the school grounds. “I just can’t stand seeing you like this either. And maybe I need the day off as well.”
“Yeah… Maybe that’s exactly what we both need,” I say as I yawn.
I must really be tired because it feels like less than a five minute drive before we are at Patrick’s house, even though I know more time must have gone by thanks to us already listening to the fourth song on his golden oldies playlist playing in the car.
“Your music sucks,” I say as we climb out of the car in front of his house.
“Don’t hate on the great,” Patrick responds. “If it wasn’t for people like Alice Cooper, Blondie, and Queen, we wouldn’t have the music we have today either.”
“I’ll give you that,” I say trying to suppress a yawn.
It’s the first time that I walk into Patrick’s house without being amazed by the size at all, and this time I am blaming it on being really tired.
“I’m just gonna crash on you bed,” I say as we walk up the stairs toward his room. “I really just need an hour or two. You’ll wake me right?”
“Yep. I’ll wake you. I’m just gonna stay next to you and watch a movie if that’s okay,” Patrick answers. Somewhere inside me I can’t help but wonder if maybe he wanted me to kiss him or something. That maybe Patrick thought this was all just a ploy to get some make out time, but I am also too tired to care about that.
“Sleep tight,” Patrick says as I fall down on his bed, letting my eyelids close.
I fall asleep before I am even answer him.
The darkness in the room scares me when I sit up fast, coming out of a dream of people breaking into the car I am sleeping in.
“Patrick?” I ask, hearing the deep breathing next to me.
“Hmmm,” I all I hear and a person tossing in bed next to me.
“Patrick!” I say just a little bit louder, touching his arm and shaking him a little bit.
“Yeah?” he answers, sleep heavy in his voice.
“What’s the time?” I ask, feeling the anxiety grabbing a hold of my heart and pushing me in a straight on panic.
“Dunno,” he says. A bedside lamp goes on, illuminating the room and Patrick’s wavy curls that seems to be completely messed up after his sleep.
“I need to get to my mom,” I say, pulling my cellphone out of my pocket that I forgot to take off silent when I left school.
Twenty-eight missed calls. Several texts and voice messages. My mom must be going crazy.
“I need to leave,” I say again, shoving Patrick’s shoulder. “My mom is probably going completely crazy by now.”
I scroll through the messages and I am not far off. She sounds frantic in most of them. In some of them she seems angry.
I get off the bed and walk over to the bathroom where I close the door behind me before I call my mom’s number.
It rings only once before she answers the phone.
“Cory! Where the hell are you?!” she shouts into my ear, and before I even have a chance to answer she continues; “I have been worried sick! Are you safe?! What happened?!”
“Mom… Please… Calm down…” I almost whisper into the phone, feeling myself shrink as a coldness sets over me that makes me want to hide in a corner.
“Where are you?! I will come and pick you up right now!”
She is close to hysterics, which is the last thing I wanted for her. With everything on her, I didn’t want to put this on her as well.
“Mom… Please… I’m at a friend’s house. I fell asleep,” I say. “It was an accident. Really.”
“Cory!” I can hear her take deep breaths on the other side. “Never, and I mean, never do this to me again.”
“There’s a gas station around the corner. I’ll text you the address. Can you pick me up there?” I ask still feeling like the most terrible person on earth.
“Be quick. I’ve been worried sick,” she answers, and I can hear that it’s taking everything she’s got not to start shouting at me again, which is something she will probably keep for when she has me in front of her. In her defense, I could have texted her before I fell asleep.
“Okay mom… Just give me a few minutes,” I say, starting to move the phone away from my ear.
“Yes mom?” I say pressing the phone back against my ear.
“I love you.”
“I love you too mom,” I say before I hang up.
In the room Patrick’s already asleep again. I can’t help but kissing him on his lips. Just something to say thank you even though he might not even know that I did it when he wakes up again.
I turn off the bedside lamp and sneak out of his room and through his house. Outside I start running as fast as I can to get to the gas station, wondering what Patrick will think when he wakes up and I’m not there anymore.