Self Hatred

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Chapter 7

~~Jason~~

“It’s confirmed...” Brandon said as we walked across the street to his house.

The inside is empty and dark, but I scour his fridge for some water. I smoked way too fucking much tonight, and my cotton mouth is paying for it.

I normally don’t get this stoned on a school night, but something’s been itching inside me, and I can’t seem to scratch it.

The weed provides a numbness nothing else does.

“What is?” I asked after chugging half of the bottle.

“I saw a baggie under the body... It had a scorpion on it...” Brandon explained.

Fuck. The scorpion is a signature stamp of our boss.

“I fucking knew it... What’s Raph doing producing that shit?” I asked.

Brandon shook his head. “I heard of a couple more deaths similar to that bum’s, but 4 were around Flagstaff, and one was near The Valley...” Brandon explained.

I eyed Brandon and purse my lips. Somethings not adding up.

“Scattered? Wonder why...” I asked.

Usually when someone mass produces a batch, the overdoses are within the same selling area. We cover Phoenix and Flagstaff for weed, powder, and sometimes pills.

Raph doesn’t deal in heavy injectables or maybe he didn’t but does now.

“Have you spoken to Landon?” Brandon asked.

“Not since I fucked his girl...” I joked but it’s not funny.

I really fucked up that night. I was really fucked up that night.

Too many lines had me feeling invincible and that brunette looked way too fucking good. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until Landon split my eyebrow open for fucking his girl.

If it wasn’t for that girl, though, I’d have never found out Raph is a fucking child molester.

“I’m going to do some digging...” B said, reheating 3 day old Chinese takeout. “Want some?” He asked.

I shook my head. “I’d rather lick in between your toes than eat old Chinese food...” I said in disgust.

“You know, that can be arranged...” He joked but that shit isn’t funny.

“I don’t know what kind of sick shit you and Tar do, but...” I began but he cut me off

“Who?” He asked, eyes squinting, gentle smile on his lips.

He’s playful.

“Tara?” I asked cautiously.

“No, you said Tar...” B said.

The itch is back.

“Fuck off I did not...” I said dismissively.

I know where this is going and he’s lucky I’m baked or I’d kick his ass.

“I knew it, Jason... You actually like hanging with the girls, don’t you? Isn’t it nice to have a friend that’s a girl that you’re not putting your dick in? Deep down in that black heart of yours you still feel something for Hailey...” He said.

The itch roars inside, setting my organs on fire.

“Brandon, I swear to Christ... I’m not doing this with you again... She was my friend, and now she’s not my friend... Period...” I said and it’s angrier than I intended, but he never lets this shit go.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, dude? You’ve told me everything, and it doesn’t add up... I don’t get why you hate that girl so fucking much? And if you ask me, you’re being a bit of a prick to a girl whose taking it pretty easy on you for fucking up her life...” Brandon said.

I squint my eyes as I tried to read through Brandon’s words.

“Taking it easy on me? Fucking up her life?” I asked out loud.

“Yeah... You bully her, call her names, fuck her up for years, and you know what she does to you now?” He waits for me to answer, but I don’t. “Nothing... She doesn’t so much as mutter under her breath when you walk into the room... You’ve been through some shit, dude, I’m not saying you haven’t... But so have I, and so has she, and we don’t act like that...” He snapped.

“So, what? Now since you’re banging her friend, we’re supposed to act like we’re best fucking friends? Until when, B? Until you knock up Tara like the last one?” I asked. ′Low blow, low blow, low blow..′ I screamed internally.

Brandon doesn’t say anything, but I can tell he’s seething. His chest rises and falls, fingers dig into his palms, and he barely blinks.

I’m a glutton, though, so I press on.

“Why was it fine and dandy for me to call her names or pick on her years ago but not anymore? You didn’t give a shit then, Brandon... Maybe that doesn’t make any fucking sense to me...” I snapped.

“Well maybe I’ve fucking had it, Jason... This moping bullshit is too much... You have the keys for a better, brighter future and all you’re doing is pulling yourself under... Your dad wants the best for you, so you key his new car? I’m not the one encasing your feet in cement, you are... Don’t ever forget that... I have no chance in leaving this fucked up town... You do... Dude, you need help...” Brandon said.

I can tell that he is pissed, like really fucking pissed.

He has only called me on my bullshit twice since the 6th grade.

“Well, so the fuck do you... I retorted.

Brandon’s food dings in the microwave.

When he pulls it out, he throws it across the room, decorating the dirty wall with fried rice and sour chicken.

I watch as he stomps up the stairs and slams his door shut.

It’s awkward, and I want to leave, but my car’s not here and I’m certainly not asking Brandon for a ride. He needs time to cool off.

Under the sink, I grab some cleaning spray that’s dusty and an old rag that’s probably dirty.

It takes 20 minutes to scrub the wall and floor, and 10 more minutes collecting tiny pieces of fried rice remnants.

Outside, I shove my hands deep into my pockets and kick rocks. I can walk home or I can stay in the shed.

I don’t really want to do either, so I sit on the porch steps and look across the way.

Hailey’s porch light is on but it flickers. Her dad’s piece of shit, rusty, busted up car sits on gravel, and her bike rests against the mud-brown lattice below her porch.

I’ve already fucked up her life this much, what’s one more thing?

I run across the street and assess the bike. Seems okay, a little small, but it’ll be fine.

I’m 3 streets away from my house when the front tire pops.

It’s almost 4 in the morning, and I’m drained, so I rest it against the side of my house and fall asleep on the couch in my room.


I don’t talk to Brandon until Saturday morning.

Friday at school he hangs with Tara and I’m a zombie, running on 2 and a half hours of sleep.

Hailey tried to ask me something in science, but I’m like 80 percent asleep and Daphne bullies her away.

When I get home Friday afternoon, Daph follows.

I still haven’t said anything to her since she freaked out after hearing a lie I hooked up with one of the valley girls and then dumped water on me.

“Not in the mood...” I said to her.

“I just want to ride your dick...” She purred, following me up to my bedroom.

Daph pushes me down and strokes me until I’m hard.

What do you want from me, I am a guy after all.


It’s not until later when I find myself naked from the waist down, condom still on my limp dick, that I realize I fell asleep while she was fucking me.

The situation humors me, and I call her to laugh, but when she picks up her tears wash that away.

“You fell asleep with your dick in me, Jason!” She whined.

“I was tired, Daph... I could barely stand up all day let alone keep my dick at attention...” I said in an annoyed tone.

She was never this needy before, and it’s starting to irritate me. The last thing I need or want is to make sure Daphne is happy.

With each passing day, our easy relationship gets harder and harder.

“What are you doing now? Can I come over?” She asked.

My hand goes to the back of my head and grips the hair growing there. It’s time to have the conversation.

“Daph, I think we need to...” I began but she cuts me off.

“Don’t...” She snapped.

“Don’t what?” I asked.

“Just, don’t... I’ll talk to you later...” She cried before she hung up.

Fuck me if she’s catching feelings.

I know I said it before, but I really have to dump her and soon.

It’s just after 9, and I decide to stay in tonight.

I text B to call me, but he never does.

He’s either still fuming or getting his dick wet or both.

I’m sort of jealous.

Hate fucking makes my dick leak like Niagara Falls.

The thought causes a stir in my boxers, and I try to ignore it, but eventually the monster is at full mass and when I grip it at the base the head drips with need.

Fuck.

I try to think about slow, soft sex, but I’ve honestly never done that so I can’t relate.

Then I think about a random girl from over the summer who I had doggy style in the back of my car. Her pussy was dry but that ass bounced like a basketball.

When I close my eyes next, I see two hard nipples in a white sweatshirt and know instantly who they belong to.

Shaking my head to rid the image doesn’t help, so I imagine the way Daphne looks with my dick in her mouth. Her eyes on me used to make me bust, but not tonight.

I absentmindedly pull my length, hoping to just get off in general.

This is a release to sleep, not a release for pleasure.

I stroke my long shaft and wipe precum across the sensitive head, and when I close my eyes next, I’m exploding across the bouncing tits I saw last weekend.

Instead of Daphne, it’s Hailey’s face, full of surprise as I kicked in the cabin door, looking up at me.

My dick shoved so far back in her throat that her blue eyes drip tears.

“Fuuuuck...” I grunted as cum shot from my balls through my shaft onto my black tee shirt.

I try to stop the intense pleasure halfway through because I feel filthy picturing Hailey fucking Dawson, but I can’t.

I can still picture the hang of her breasts and the rosy nipples hard as a rock staring back at my perversion.

I hate her, so why did I just shoot the biggest load imaging her? I know I’m fucked up, but this is beyond.

“Fuck!” My roar is ferocious and irritated, and I hate myself more and more each day.


"Pick me up in 30..." Brandon said when he called the next morning.

It’s run day, and we’re headed to Flagstaff, The Valley, and Prescott.

Clark sells for us in Flag and Prescott. He’s always on time, never short, and the weirdest fucking dude you’ll ever meet.

Just looking at him, you know he’s a sociopath. Dressed in designer suits and Italian leather, he’s an accountant with a love for cash and partying.

He gets a cut of the payment and a dozen Molly every month. We never hear from him, and we never hear of him, and that’s good enough for us.

Next is Carl and I dread it.

Brandon said nothing about our fight, so I figure he’s over it.

I listen as he talks about this thing Tara does with her tongue and cringe slightly because she’s my cousin, but not really, so I allow it.

Brandon and I always trade secrets about our lays.

He knows Daphne let me put it in her ass and then swallowed my jizz.

I know he fucked Megan on Mr. Ortiz’s desk last year.

It’s just guy shit, I guess.

“She does this shit no other girl does, dude... I don’t know... She has me thinking she’s the one...” Brandon admitted.

“Oh fuck off...” I laughed at his absurdity, “You’re still in your post load haze...” I said shaking my head in amusement.

“Yeah...” He laughed back. “You’re probably right... But I mean she leaves me alone, she’s not some clingy girl, and she never pushes me to talk about personal shit...” He goes on and on, gushing about Tara Matthews and I don’t have the heart to tell him it makes me want to puke.

We’ve never had girlfriends. Like Ever.

I can’t imagine ever wanting to spend multiple days, weeks, months in a row with the same girl without the opportunity of getting off.

Brandon even says sometimes he’ll sneak into her room and they’ll just fucking lay there.

I’m skeptical.

“So, you don’t hook up?” I asked.

“Nah, dude... I mean, we kiss, but mostly just lay there... We don’t even really talk...” He explained.

“Isn’t that awkward?” I asked.

Brandon laughed again and shook his head as I pulled up to Carl’s garage.

When I turn to look at B, a goofy smile plasters his face and I’m so fucking freaked it’s not funny.

“You’re scaring me dude...” I admitted.

“Fuck off...” Brandon laughed but he seems happy.

Inside the garage, Carl motioned to the bag.

“All there like you asked...” He said.

“We don’t ask...” Brandon said, snapping back into his role. “It’s a requirement of the job, dipshit...” He added.

Carl thinks this is some fun adventure he can write about in a college essay but the truth is if he keeps coming up short, Raph’s going to smell it out and fuck him up.

There’s only so much we can do until it’s out of our control.

And if Carl’s afraid of my fist, he’ll shit his pants when Raph shows up with his pistol.


I drop Brandon off at his house and notice, again, that Raph’s car is in the Dawson’s driveway.

“Hailey home?” I asked. “We should check her room...” I said.

I don’t do it because I care about Hailey’s safety.

I do it because Raph’s a fucking creep and I know what he’s capable of.

“She’s sleeping at Tara’s tonight, I think... I’ll text her to make sure...” He said.

I nod as he gets out. “I’ve got shit to do and can’t sneak in with them in there... Let me know about it tonight...” I said.

He nods again before heading into his house.


At home, I wheel Hailey’s bike into the garage, turn it over, and work what little magic I have on fixing the tire.

It amazes me she even gets around on this death trap.

The brakes are fucked, the chain squeaks, and the seat is about as hard as steel.

It’s a junky, piece of shit bike that’s more of a danger than helpful at this point.

I get fucking angry the 3rd time the tire pops off the wheel, so I pitch it next to the trash can and ask dad to borrow his SUV.

“What for, son?” He asked, looking up from the newspaper in the extravagantly huge kitchen that neither of us use.

Images of my mom pulling out a meatloaf and laughing talking to Aunt Linda fire through my brain before I override and shut them down.

“I, uh, I owe someone a bike...” I answered scratching the back of my head.

“Oh, okay... Do you mind if I go with you? I’ve been meaning to look into new golf equipment...” He asked but doesn’t question which is a surprise.

Normally he gives me the 3rd degree, but I think since I’m turning 18 in a few months, he doesn’t really care anymore.

He probably hopes I get picked up by the police so I’m out of his hair for good.

“Whatever..” I try to sound as less hostile as I can manage, but it still sounds aggressive.

I don’t want to be this way, it just comes naturally.


They don’t have a lot of choices, and I don’t know what the fuck kind of bike she wants, so I assess my options.

All black, dark blue, and bright pink.

I nix the latter immediately.

Hailey isn’t butch, she wears dresses and those uncomfortable looking shoes other girls wear. She wears the shit on her lashes to make them look long as hell, and she wears lip gloss, but a pink bike?

She doesn’t seem like the girl that screams ′look at me′ and this bike definitely does.

Between the black and the dark blue, I choose the blue and wheel it up to pay.

Dad’s surprised I don’t ask to use his credit card but why would I? He doesn’t know how much I make doing what I do, and I hope he never finds out because it’s honestly a fuck load.

I could prepay the first 2 years of college easily if I wanted to, but I don’t, so I spend it on stupid shit like buying Hailey Dawson a bike.

No, not buying.

This isn’t a gift..′ I remind myself internally.

This bike is because her old one was junky, unsafe, an eyesore.

I buy her this bike, anonymously, as a replacement for fucking up the other one.

Dad helps me load it in the back with the seats down before heading home.


Later that night Brandon texts me.

"Secure. She’s at Tara’s. Driveway is empty. I’m dealing with my mom’s shit though." ~Brandon

"I’ll take care of it." ~Jason

I wait another hour before getting ready.

Dad goes to bed around 10, so it’s easy to sneak out and use his SUV.

I shower, dress in all black, and head out. I immediately regret spraying cologne, but it’s a habit.


When I arrive, I park down the street just in case.

The bike isn’t heavy, but it’s a pain getting it out of the back.

Her driveway is empty which is a relief.

When I arrive at the lattice leading up to her room, I set the bike against the house and wonder if I should just go in through the front.

Figuring I’m already here, I place my hands in the small openings of the lattice and climb up.

She makes this shit look easy because it definitely fucking isn’t.

I nearly slip at the top from a broken piece and then wonder how she did this the night she got stitches.

She needs to invest in a fucking ladder or something.

I make it to the top and slide her window open.

There’s a small bench seat so I can climb in easily.

Her bedside lamp illuminates the closed door.

I take note that there are 3 locks latched so she must have climbed out of her window when she left. I wouldn’t have been able to get into her room from the other side anyway if I use the front door.

Scratches coat the old wooden door, and I don’t want to know how those got there. The tall, thick door seems otherwise sturdy.

Gripping the handle, I try to jostle and pull it, testing the intensity of the locks.

Everything seems secure which makes my stomach do some weird settling thing.

The itch isn’t so bad right now even without smoking beforehand.

I did what I came for, and I could easily leave, but I don’t.

Something, some feeling, plants itself and refuses to let me go.

Hailey’s room is simple, but wildly her.

Clothes line her closet, but most I’ve never even seen.

My fingers graze black and purple dresses with tags still attached, jean shorts I’ve never seen her wear, and blouses pretty low in the front.

The only thing I can think of is Tara or someone bought these for her.

The shorts look pretty short and I try to think back to a time when Hailey even wore shorts. I can’t think of one moment.

Then I wonder if it was because of me, because of the hurtful words I’ve said over the years.

Honestly, I never meant any of it, but it doesn’t matter now.

They meant nothing to me and everything to her.

My empty, hollow words cut her down for years and there’s nothing I can do to take them back.

I can never unsay them, and she can never unhear them.

Fat.

A word that repeats over and over. The 1 word I used against her.

But the truth is, Hailey isn’t fat.

She has a soft belly and softer thighs and if she only knew what the other guys around school say about her now she’d be strutting around in this shit.

My brows knit together as I think about my idiocy.

Maybe Brandon was right.

Clearing my head, I move on.

Her desk holds a backpack and some books.

Hailey’s a smart student, so this doesn’t surprise me.

Under her books are college brochures and applications: Washington State University, University of Puget Sound, UCLA, University of Washington.

The latter is the only one I applied to anticipating a rejection letter so my dad will get off my ass.

I bullshitted the application and wrote the college essay about how stupid writing a college essay is.

There are no posters on the wall, no décor of any kind, and it reminds me of my room.

On the nightstand next to Hailey’s bed are 2 pictures: 1 of her mom, and 1 of her and Tara.

Those are the only indicators that this room belongs to Hailey.

I sit on the blue bedspread.

The bed is quiet under my weight. It’s a full-size bed layered in pillows.

Images of Hailey curled up on the couch in the shed flood through me.

Long brown wisps of hair casted over her face. One lazy arm above her head, the other tucked under her chin. Knees to her chest causing the curve of her bottom to round out. Quiet snores from a deep sleep.

My hand extends to feel the smooth comforter as I clear my head and look around still.

Colorful socks, old t shirts, and leggings gather in a neat pile next to her bedroom door.

I feel compelled to open Hailey’s nightstand drawer, wondering what she keeps in there.

Socks? Chapstick? A tiny vibrator?

The thought stops me immediately and I stand to leave before impulse takes over and I realize that idea gave me half a boner.

Something is so fucking wrong with me.

My feet find the holes easier than my hands and I curse this fucking lattice. She’s going to kill herself on this one day.

“Find anything?” Brandon asked from behind me, and I jump out of my skin.

“Jesus...” I shouted. “You could have warned me or something! I thought you were taking care of your mom?” I asked.

“Yeah, well, someone else is taking care of her now...” Brandon doesn’t elaborate but I know what that means.

Mrs. Cruz is kind, sweet, and sloppy.

She’s a drunken mess, but she’ll give you the shirt off her back.

On night’s she isn’t dancing on a pole, she’s usually smoking a pole if you know what I mean.

“Come with me...” I said to Brandon. “I have to drop my dad’s car off and get mine before he wakes up and realizes it’s gone...” I explained.

“You used your dad’s car?” He asked.

Brandon must not have noticed the bike.

Good.

The less questions the better.

“Yeah...” I answered. “Wanted to use his gas instead of mine...” I lied and what a lame lie.

Brandon follows me and we drive in silence.

His fingers itch as they grip the baggie in his pocket.

Brandon knows better than to light up in my dad’s car, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting.

The second we get into mine, though, all bets are off.

He pulled out a joint and lights up before I can put the car in reverse.

“Where to?” I asked.

“The lake...” B said, but I’m already headed there.

There’s a small lake through the trees, past the old Inn, and into the clearing.

Not a lot of people visit because there’s no clear path, but Brandon and I know it like the back of our hands.

Pebble stones crunch under our feet as we make our way over to the dock.

In the summer, we used to bring floats, tie ourselves to the dock, and drift around all afternoon.

This was before he lived with his mom again, when his foster parent was an older lady who slept all day and lived just down the road.

This is where we started to smoke.

This is where Brandon told me about the girl he knocked up.

This is where he told me she had a miscarriage.

This is where I told him I woke up one morning and my mom was dead.

This is where I cried for the first and last time in front of him.

This is where we shared the worst parts of ourselves.

This is where we became brothers.

Countless hours spent smoking, chilling, talking about nothing.

We grew with the forest.

Tall pine trees touch the sky and ink our arms.

We’re shrouded in the cover and protection they provide.

The forest is honest and safe.

The water’s too cold to dip our toes in, so we sit further back on the dock.

He puffs and passes, and I do the same. It’s not the most faded I’ve ever been, but it numbs the annoying itch that makes my stomach somersault.

I can’t release the feeling since being in Hailey’s room.

I take a breath before revealing to Brandon what I saw tonight.

“She has 3 locks... The door is fucked up but looks sturdy... I pulled to test the locks and they seem secure... If anyone tried getting in there, she’d have a head start at least... That lattice fucking sucks... She might fall and break her leg one day, but it’ll work for now...” I explained.

Brandon laid back on the warped wood.

“We’ll have to think of a way to get her to keep her door locked all the times...” He said.

“She had it locked tonight when I snuck in and no one was even home... Maybe she has some seriously good intuition or maybe she’s trying to keep the monsters out...” I said.

“At least she’s smart...” He said and I don’t answer him because what am I supposed to say?

It’s bad enough I feel fucking sorry about the way I’ve treated her, the way I feel the need to fuck her up and say the meanest thing I can to her every chance I got.

Something in me is broken and I don’t know what.

I get off on the pain of hurting others and I don’t fucking care.

Even now, my fingers tingle.

I want to back her up against the wall in her room and tease her about the clothes she never wears, the cotton blue bedspread, the old lattice she risks every time she sneaks in or out.

Saliva forms in the back of my throat to smell her breath when she parts her lips and exhales irritation.

The stirring in my pants causes a tightening as my dick hardens.

When I close my eyes, I can see the blue of her eyes water from my heartlessness.

But that’s all I am, and she needs to know it.

I’ve tried showing her for years and years that I’m not the 9 year old Jason that went away that summer.

I don’t pick her wild flowers or hold her hand in the meadow anymore.

I don’t even know who that kid is.

I’m a fucked up version of my worst self, and no one should be close to me.

Making fun of her only pushed her away, and while I wasn’t aware of it then, I certainly am now.

It was purposeful.

It was essential.

It was painful.

After all these years, though, she still doesn’t get it. I see it in the glimmer of sadness when I called her names, an etched brow when I said nothing to her for a year.

I’m not sure what hurt her more.

I’m the monster she should keep out, but for some reason I find a way in.

Now I numb the feelings with weed, booze, and pussy.

“Tara wants to try Molly...” Brandon said after a while.

He’s flying high so he’s more open about shit.

“Cool... When?” I asked.

I don’t do it often, but MDMA is fucking awesome, and I could go for a fun fucking time.

My first time was the most I’ve felt like me since before my mom died. It’s so hard to think about those days, but it helps the pain sometimes.

Serotonin rocked through me like a freight train minus all the painful memories.

My mom laughing in the backyard with my dad. My mom cooking dinner over the stove.

My mom taking care of Hailey’s mom when she got sick.

My mom when I crawled into bed with her the morning she died.

My mom when—

“I don’t know...” Brandon said, pulling me from the panic that sticks to me like honey. “She’s going to talk Hailey into it...” He added.

“Hailey on Molly?” The thought pulls a choked laugh out of me. “She’s too high strung for it...” I said.

“Exactly... I think it’ll help her...” Brandon explained.

“What, relax? No fucking way... I don’t think she’s capable of it... She’ll probably die from anxiety or something...” I said.

“You don’t...” He pointed out and he had a point.

Brandon’s the only one who knows about my sudden, strange attacks and the way they present.

Anger, lack of vision, distorting the truth, heaving breaths.

Like the night I fucked Carl up and pushed Hailey into glass.

Like the night I found out Carl was short on cash and that he had Hailey in the cabin.

I know what that fucking cabin is used for. Hailey doesn’t deserve—

Fuck, what am I saying?

Since when do I stick up for her?

I think back to that night.

He was on top of her. She was breathing loudly. Her tits were bouncing as he touched her.

Her tits.

Rosy red nipples hardened from—

Oh, fuck. I gotta go...′ I panicked internally.

Standing to leave, Brandon pulled out his phone.

“Tara just texted me... She wants me to bring them some liquor... Wanna go?” He asked as we made it back to my car.

I rolled my eyes but more than half of me does want to go, and I don’t know why.

“What the fuck else am I doing?” I asked.

The entire car ride to Tara’s house, I think of the meanest shit I can say to Hailey, but when she opens the door pink cheeked and smiling, I forget it all.

Brandon rolls a joint and I sit stoically on Tara’s couch.

Her dad’s away for work or some shit, and the girls are in the kitchen baking with the worst music playing as loud as the speaker will allow.

Daphne called but I silenced it.

Tara asked if we wanted some pizza.

Hailey runs upstairs with the phone pressed to her ear.

20 minutes later, Daphne called again.

Brandon had Tara on the dining room table, kissing her slowly, so I give them some privacy.

I make my way up the stairs and into an open room.

It’s gray with a lavender bed spread.

The walls are clean of everything, and the dresser is too.

Looks like a spare room, so I sit on the bed, back to the doorway, and call Daph back.

"Hi baby..." She purred into the phone. ”Where are you?" She asked.

“With friends...” I said to her.

"Which ones?" She asked.

“Brandon...” I said boredly.

Things better start picking up or I’m hanging up.

"Who else, Jay? You said friends..." Daphne turns from playful to accusatory, and it pisses me off, so I give her what she wants to hear.

“Some girls...” I said to her. “You don’t know them...” I said dismissively.

She scoffed. ”I know everyone, Jason... Who are they?" She demanded.

She’s predictable and irrational.

She’s idiotic and mean.

She’s me with feelings.

“Daphne...” I began, and I know she senses something, but I finish before she cuts me off. “I need a break...” I said.

"From what?" She quivered.

“From everything... I have a lot on my mind, and—” I tried to explain but she cuts me off before I could finish.

"Are you dumping me?" She yelled, anger spits from her mouth.

“I mean, we were never technically together, so no?” I questioned with a raised eyebrow.

We’ve had this conversation a thousand times.

Daphne hung up before responding, and I’m slightly relieved.

That was fucking easy.

I know I’m still an asshole because I don’t give a shit about hurting her feelings, but I worry heavily about when and who will get me off next.

My phone slips into my pocket as I stand.

Hailey’s frame stands in the doorway as I walk over.

Her glassy eyes from the 3 shots of vodka find mine.

I’m straight as an arrow tonight which doesn’t help the feelings swimming inside.

The thoughts from earlier, about pushing her against her wall and lashing her with my words, come back full force, but I don’t know what to say.

All I do know is I want to feel something.

She looks up at me and fucking giggles in my face like I said something funny.

“What?” I spit out.

“You just look so mad...” She said between laughs.

“I am...” It makes her laugh harder.

“No more fuck buddy?” She teased. “Now you have to use your hand...” Hailey sticks her bottom lip out to pout.

She’s pretty tuned, and her laughter is sort of infectious, but I hide the smile while looking down.

I won’t give her the satisfaction.

It’s in this moment I know things could be so much easier between us if I’d let them.

I actively fuck this up.

I make it hard on purpose.

Pushing past Hailey is easy, it’s stopping after feeling her chest on my arm that’s the hard part.

I used to bully this girl, and now something in me wants to claim her.

Like it’s the last straw.

I broke her with my words, and now I want to break her with my dick.

This thought fucks me up in so many ways.

The feelings, thoughts, and reactions from earlier make sense now. My words don’t affect her anymore, so now I have to move onto something that will.

I feel the intense need to see her at her most vulnerable state.

Again, those nipples cross my mind.

My heart races, my mouth waters, and my dick thickens so much that I have to move it in my jeans on the way down the stairs.

Jesus I’m so fucked up it’s not funny.

I need to talk to Brandon about this, but he’s with Tara, and I’m going crazy.

“Hey, I’m gonna head out... You’ll be okay?” I asked Brandon.

“Where you goin’ dude?” He asked quizzically.

I’m never one to turn down a party or bud or booze.

This is a first for me tonight, so I’m sure Brandon’s more than confused.

“I’m just tired... Call me if you need a ride...” I turned to leave and see Hailey on the stairs.

She’s stuck with the 2 love birds as I cowardly escape.

“Bye...” She said over the music.

“Later...” I said, not looking near her.

“Hey Jason?” She called from the porch as I have 1 foot in my car.

I look up to see her chewing on her nail, gripping the banister, nervously looking around.

“What?” I asked.

She walks down the steps toward the car, and I want her to stop.

The indent of her waist accentuates her full hips in the sweater she’s wearing.

It takes everything in me to tear my eyes from the sliver of skin above her jeans where the softness of her belly sits.

I curl my fingers around the metal of my car to stop from touching her stomach or her hips.

“Uhm, how much for another?” She asked

“Another what?” I ask confused.

“You know, weed...” She said a bit nervously.

My laugh isn’t forced. It falls from my lips easily.

“You smoked that joint already, Dawson?” I asked slightly amused.

She crossed her arms in front of her and huffs.

“Well I didn’t...” She began, looking back at the house. “I told Tar about it today, and we were going to smoke it when the pizza got here, but when I handed it over to her, she dropped it in the sink and it got wet...” She explained, pink tinting her cheeks.

My first instinct is to tease her, to make fun of her, to make her feel stupid, but I can’t think of anything so I shrug.

“I don’t have any on me right now, but I can get you some tomorrow...” I said and I could just tell her to ask Brandon since he’s packing, but I don’t.

“Okay...” She said softly.

“Meet me at the playground tomorrow around 6...” I told her and she nodded.

On the way home, I try to think of a way out of it.

Sleep finds me easily. Way too easily.


It’s just after 12 the next day when my phone rings.

"Can you pick me up at Tara’s around 2?" Brandon asked sleepily.

I can’t help but laugh at the grovel in his tone.

“Late night?” I asked.

"Yeah, you could say that..." He laughed.

Between now and 1, I shower, dress in jeans and a band tee, clean what little mess there is in my room, and drive by Hailey’s to make sure the Bike is still there.

It is.

I’m not sure where I expected it to go, but checking on it made me feel easier.

I show up at Tara’s way before 2, but I’m so fucking bored it hurts.

“Hey...” I said to Tara as she opened the door.

Sleek brown hair is thrown into a ponytail on her head, and she’s got a full face of makeup on.

Confusion hits me as I recall Brandon’s tired tone an hour ago but Tara’s appearance looks like she just got 12 solid hours of sleep.

“Hey...” She answered easily, opening the door to let me in.

Brandon and Hailey talk together quietly at the island in the kitchen, exchanging milk and cereal like they’re family.

Brandon looks a little better than he sounds, but dark circles under his eyes always tell me it was a long night.

It’s not until I see the hickies lining his neck that it starts to make sense.

“You guys are like fucking rabbits...” I joked, shoving my hand inside the Apple Jacks box and eating a whole handful.

“That’s one way to put it...” Hailey agreed rolling her eyes.

Her eyes don’t look as bad as Brandon’s, but they’re tired none the less.

“Did they get any sleep?” I asked Hailey directly.

Her smile hides behind a mouthful of cereal like mine.

“Between Tara praying to God and Brandon’s groaning, no one got any sleep... I almost called you to come get me... That’s how bad it was...” She joked.

“You should have...” I said without thinking.

Fingers dug into my palm.

No, I didn’t mean that.

My heart races so I try to back pedal.

“I would’ve taken you home... I’ve heard Brandon fucking before... He’s not quiet...” I said and that’s as far as the conversation goes.

Brandon shoots me a look before motioning to Tara, but she doesn’t look concerned in the least.

Brandon collects his stuff and kisses Tara goodbye for way too as I make my way onto the porch.

“We still good for 6?” Hailey asked quietly, stepping outside to escape those 2.

“Yeah...” I told her, patting my pockets, wishing for a cigarette.

2 minutes later, still no Brandon.

I check the time on my phone.

“Fuck, are they at it again?” I asked.

“After last night, I honestly don’t know how either of them can stand...” Hailey said tiredly.

“It was really that bad?” I asked.

“Like thunder and lightening hitting the walls for hours... Is that normal? I mean damn...” She asked.

The laugh that shoots out of me is easy and it feels good.

“I guess you’ve never been properly fucked...” I teased.

It should be teasing, daunting, antagonizing, but it comes out jovial.

She laughed back and answers honestly.

“Definitely not... I had to sleep on the couch but could still hear... If it hadn’t been raining, I would have slept on the porch...” She explained.

I can’t help but imagine her with any possible guy.

She’s never been satisfied.

She’s never been fucked.

I can’t stop my mind from wandering down different paths.

Images of her tied up, blindfolded, pleasured rage through me.

Brandon showed up right as Hailey opened her mouth again, and I’m glad because I probably would have done something stupid like give her my number for next time.

Brandon falls asleep on the way home and I have to shove him awake when I pull into his driveway.

“You get some sleep... I’m going to work a little...” I said, walking towards the shed.

Inside, I spend the next 2 hours running numbers, checking off names, and updating the spreadsheet on our tablet.

Everyone thinks selling drugs is as simple as picking up and dropping off, but a lot of accountability goes into it.

This is actually my favorite part.

Numbers and data that add up and make sense are so satisfying to me.


Around 5, I pack up, clean up, and grab some spray paint to take with me.

At 6, the sky turns black.

At 6:30, it starts raining.

At 3:34, and still no Hailey, I head back.

At 6:38, and heavier rain splatters, I turn the corner and notice Hailey as she climbs out of her window.

“I’m so sorry...” She rushed out. “I was so tired, and I fell asleep, and I thought I set an alarm, but I guess I slept through it, and fucking Tara keeping me up all night, and...” She spoke 10 miles a minute, and I’m surprised I can even understand.

“Woah...” I sort of laughed, wishing she’d stop.

“Sorry...” She huffed, rubbing her eyes.

“It’s cool...” I said, standing and assessing.

She’s in dark gray leggings, some slip on shoes, and a black hoodie.

Her long hair sits atop her head in a messy bun, wayward strands stick out around her face.

She looks cute.

Oh, fuck. What am I saying.

“So, uh, you wanna go to the playground?” She asked awkwardly, looking around.

“I was already there...” I said to her flatly.

“Oh, okay...” She said in a defeated tone.

We’re in uneasy silence as I watch her look around, smooth her arms down her thighs, and then cross them self-consciously.

“But we can chill in the shed...” I said it before thinking and immediately regret my choices.

Why the fuck did I say that? I don’t want her there.

“Um, okay... Is that where you have the stuff?” She asked.

“Yep...” I answered.

She followed me across the street and down Brandon’s driveway.

I send him a text because I don’t want to be alone with her.

Because I’m afraid to be alone with her.

"Hailey’s here. Get your ass to the shed." ~Jason

“It’s always raining when we come in here...” She joked nervously as I unlocked the doors.

She’s right, it is, but I ignore her comment.

Inside, I flip on the lamp and the space heater, and toss her a blanket.

It’s cold and we’re damp.

She sits on the love seat, curling her feet under her body in the most submissive way I can imagine and the smile that creeps across my face also creeps me the hell out.

Fuck.

"Dude!" ~Jason

I text Brandon again.

He better get the fuck down here.

Trying desperately to avoid any small talk, I’ll pull open my backpack and reach in for a baggie. I pull out a joint and hand it to her before lighting up one of my own.

She sets it on the table, her pink painted nails scream Tara.

“You girls have a spa night?” I asked, exhaling a lungful, gesturing to her hand.

“Oh...” She said, pulling back and sitting on her fingers. She doesn’t want me looking at them. Weird. “Yeah, Tara just sort of did them...” She said with a shrug of her shoulders.

I nod briefly.

Her leg bounces as my foot shakes.

We’re both fucking nervous for different reasons.

She’s nervous I’m going to be mean, fuck this up, say some dumb shit.

I’m nervous because, for once, I don’t want to.

“Why pink?” I asked.

She shrugs. The bones of her shoulder round out as she hugs herself in a manner that screams unease.

“The other choice was black...” She sort of laughed, smoothing her hair from her face.

“And a princess doesn’t wear black, does she?” I asked with a smirk.

Hailey doesn’t miss a beat. “I’ll ask next time I see one...” She retorted.

She makes me laugh as I take another hit.

The burning itch subsides to a dull annoyance, and I stub out the end in an ashtray.

“So it was really bad last night?” I asked.

Shit.

I didn’t want to make small talk, but here I fucking am.

Hailey relaxes into the cushions, opening herself up, uncrossing her arms as she sighs a laugh. Her eyelashes stick together from sleep, and her pink lips part slightly.

“You ever heard 2 chimpanzees going at it?” She asked.

“Can’t say that I have...” I replied.

“Be glad...” She said. “I never thought someone could go all freaking night like that…” Hailey trails off with a shake of her head. “I mean doesn’t that hurt?” She asked.

She’s bringing up sex again, and I wish she wouldn’t.

I think her question is rhetorical, but I answer anyways.

“You’ve never had an all nighter?” I asked as carefully as possible.

I don’t want to tease her because I want to know the answer.

Was it with Carl? Couldn’t have been Tim.

Who else has she messed around with? Maybe Greg or fucking Mike.

“All night of sex?” She asked like I’m crazy. “Absolutely not... My poor vagina hurts just thinking about it...” She added.

I lean back and rest my head against the cushion of the couch.

Hailey’s vagina.

Fuck, stop thinking about it.

Hailey’s vagina hurting from fucking all night.

Hailey’s vagina hurting from my dick all night.

Okay, that’s enough.

“I’m pretty tired, Dawson... I think I’m going to head home...” I said while standing.

Hailey nodded and stood up immediately.

“Oh, yeah... Okay... Well, um, thanks Jason...” She said.

My name in her mouth.

My name in her mouth naturally.

My name on her tongue, rolling around the sides of her cheeks, down her throat, on her lips.

My name on her tongue for reasons other than cursing me.

My name on her tongue because this is normal.

She goes to pull the door open when I see the joint.

“Hailey?” I called, tasting the normalcy of her name on my tongue, too.

My stomach flips.

I think I’m catching something.

“Hm?” She asked, whipping around to see my arm extended.

She reaches out delicately to grab the rolled white paper in my hand. I didn’t tell her, but I gave her the smallest one I had.

She doesn’t need to smoke it all in one clip, especially when she’s inexperienced.

Her fingers graze against mine.

Warm on warm, soft against rough.

She smiles a thanks before tucking it into her hoodie pocket and leaving while I shut off the heater, lights, and lock up.

“Did I miss the action?” Brandon asked, walking out of his back door.

“You son of a bitch...” I snapped.

“What?” He asked playfully. “I didn’t want to interrupt...” He said.

I look at him like he’s grown three heads.

“Interrupt what, B?” I asked.

“I know how you are with girls in the shed...” He’s teasing me, baiting me.

“Oh, fuck off, dude... I don’t fuck girls in there and you know it...” I snapped.

“Okay, fair, but you’ve never taken any girl to the shed before... Period...” He said with a chuckle.

“It was Hailey Dawson...” I reminded him, but he gives me the ′and?′ look. “All I did was give her a joint and listen to her talk about how you guys fucked like kangaroos or some shit...” I said dismissively.

Brandon smiles at the mention of last night.

“I’m headed back over there now actually...” He said with a smile.

“Ew...” I gagged.

We wave goodbye and I note subconsciously that Hailey’s new bike is perched against the siding under her window, the driveway is empty, and her kitchen light is on.

While driving slowly past her house, I watch her shadowed figure, hidden behind the thin curtain, twirl around.

She’s so fucking bizarre.


At home, my dad nods to me as I walk past the living room.

“Night...” I said to him quietly.

“Night, son...” He said back.

My dad never pushes or pulls.

He stopped that when I was 12 and lashed out because I was angry.

I told him I wished it was him that died and not my mom.

Things changed after that.

He stopped pushing therapy, he picked up more hours at work, and I saw him less and less.

It wasn’t until last year that he started talking more again.

I haven’t dealt with it yet.

5 years of pain I caused him, and I still haven’t understood it myself.

I don’t know why I push away the people I care about most.

I don’t know why I said that about my dad. He provides for me. He gave me access to the best counseling and therapy in the world after what happened to my mom.

He offered to send me somewhere, he offered to leave me alone, he offered to hire private investigators and lawyers and whoever else to find out who did it.

He offered me the world in an inflatable bubble and I popped it in front of his face.

There are a lot of things I regret, and that’s one of them.

In my room, I sit on the couch he bought me because sleeping in bed gave me nightmares.

Tonight, I don’t stop the tears.

I let myself feel the burning ache in my heart that I keep buried finally and fully ignite.

Sorry for myself, and weighed down by years of abuse unto others, I make the decision to right some wrongs.

Apologize to my dad.

He’s step one. I should never have said what I did to him, and he should know I never meant it.

Apologize to Brandon.

I’m sure there’s some shit I’ve said to him in the past that made him mad. Like the other night when I purposefully brought up the pregnancy.

I do that shit on purpose.

I press the buttons I know will make people explode.

I need to stop doing that.

Apologize to Hailey.

She’s going to be hard. I’ve fucked her up in so many ways: to her face, behind her back, egged on Daphne and her friends when they teased her.

It wasn’t fair, and she should know that.

Apologizing to her will take time, but I think I’m ready.

No more sex.

Fuck, this one’s going to be hard, but I have to do it.

I sleep around with way too many girls and way too often. I know I won’t be able to quit cold turkey, though, so maybe blowjobs are allowed.

I mean, I am 17 after all.

Okay, so no more sticking my dick in random girls, and no more weird fucking fetishes like putting my thumb in her mouth at the same time I put my dick in her pussy, or hand around her throat when I’m getting her from behind, or weird fucking fantasies where I tell her not to come until I do—

I had to stop my thoughts when my dick stirs in my pants.

I really am fucked up.

Go back to therapy?

I’ll have to talk to my dad about this one, but it seems logical and scary as fuck.

The list isn’t exhaustive, but those are the biggest things so far.

I hide the notebook in my desk and breathe.

First step is admitting the problem, right?

For the first time in a long time I feel the beginning prickles of relief and it terrifies me.

I’ve lived with this burden, a hole in my chest, a leak in my heart since I was 10.

Who will I be when it’s fixed?

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