To me, birthdays are bittersweet. They’re put in place to celebrate the day you were brought into the forever evolving, messed up world we live in, and that same day is a reminder of how old we really are. Again, aging is bittersweet, to know we’ve survived that far into life, but also the fact that indeed we have already been alive for that long. Birthdays hold more than that to me. It reminds me of what I don’t have, what I don’t know.
All my biological parents left me was my date of birth and my first name, I didn’t even get one of those letters that you’re only allowed to open when you’re eighteen or twenty-one or whatever. My parents didn’t want me, and they didn’t ever want me to find them. Every year I’m reminded of that on one fateful, nostalgic day which is supposed to be a day of celebration. A day of happiness.
I looked at myself in the mirror, wondering what my parents hadn’t seen... or had seen in me, to make them want to abandon me in a basket on the doorstep of an orphanage. I wasn’t even a day old when they did. I’ve had the usual ‘they thought that you would have a better life without them’ and the ‘they might not have been able to provide for you’ speech over and over again, in a hundred different ways. The truth is that, yes, I probably was better off being an orphan, and yes, they may not have been able to provide for me, but that never stops you from wondering what kind of life you may have had. Whether it be that you somehow end up living in a mansion somewhere or on the streets barely surviving.
In every imagined scenario I create in my obscure mind, I can never seem to put a face to my parents. What did they look like? Did I get my red hair from my mother or my father? From which parent did I get my dark blue eyes? Do I look like my mother? Or am I one of those girls who end up with their father’s features on a feminine face? What did they sound like? What kind of voices did they have? Would one of them sing me lullabies when I was a child? What kind of personalities did they have? Are they exactly like me?
Or am I completely different to them?
Another big wonder is if I have a sibling. A cute princess of a sister or an annoying little brother. But, before I got too deep in thought I reminded myself of what I have now. A family, a brother, friends who apparently like me, a permanent roof over my head and food whenever I need it. It seems that every other day of the year I didn’t worry about any of this, just on my birthday. Or maybe that’s because I think about it the most on this day. This arrogant version of a celebratory day, all made worse by the fact that I couldn’t just drown in sorrow for the dwindling hours of the day and cry myself to sleep at night, because Kelley and Dave decided that they would throw a birthday party for me.
One where they would invite a whole lot of strangers that I will need to call my family, and I would need to plaster on a fake smile and fake attitude to myself so I wouldn’t seem like a bitch. Even though that’s exactly what I am. I sighed before I tugged at the skirt of this dress, the white material making me look somewhat tanned, but that was the only positive about it.
It had a tight top and a loose short skirt, had cut outs along my stomach and back, barely covered my ass. But it was a dress in general and I couldn’t take it off to wear something else that shows my own personality because Kelley bought it for me specifically for today. I smiled at myself, wondering how much the insincerity would show through. I could barely pick it up myself, so I decided that no-one else would notice. I slipped the heels next to my bed on, tucking my still warm curls of wine-coloured hair behind my ear before having one last look in the mirror. Fake a smile, get through this hell of a party, then you can take this damn dress and make-up off while you throw your heels out the window and climb into bed at four in the afternoon.
Good plan, Soraya, good plan.
I opened my bedroom door and began my awkward descent down the stairs, trying not to trip over since I never ever wear the torture devices called ‘high-heeled shoes’ for exactly that reason. They’re made for torture. I could already feel an aching pain coming from my poor feet as I took each step slowly, already needing to pull down the dress again due to the fear that someone could see my ass cheeks. My eyes began to flick around the lounge room, already filled with strangers and people I’m supposed to know but don’t.
Just get through the party, then you can do the usual wallowing in self-pity in bed with popcorn covered with butter and a chocolate milkshake.
And to add onto this whole thing Zeke had left me alone to go and visit Xavier today. He probably did it right at this moment so he wouldn’t have to deal with all of the professional looking people in the room.
***Le Minor Flashback***
“Oi, are you awake yet?!” I heard Zeke shout as he knocked on my bedroom door. I rolled over in my warm, comfortable bed to look at the door, hoping he would feel the death glare through the painted wood.
“Well, I am now!” I shouted back, and he opened the door.
“Good, first off, happy birthday, and secondly, I’m not going to be at your birthday party because I’m going to see Xavier.” He stated, I yawned while trying to hold my death glare.
“Why?” I croaked, my morning voice kicking in with full force since I think I’m getting one of those colds where it targets your throat but kills you emotionally.
“Because I want to go and see him since we fell of the roof together... and he has a fractured face... because of me.” Right, he has a point there.
“Zeke, I don’t think he wants to see you.” I stated the obvious, but he simply laughed.
“Of course he wants to see me, we went through a life threatening experience together.” I rolled my eyes in response.
“Which is the exact reason as to why he doesn’t want to see you.” I said.
“Sorry, you said that a little too quietly, I didn’t catch that. Anyway, gotta go.” He replied, even though I knew he heard me perfectly.
“Zeke, he doesn’t want to-” he cut me off like the last time this happened.
“Shhhh child, I’ve gotta go and see the love of my life.” He said before going to walk away.
“You can’t stop me!” he shouted back.
“I know! But he doesn’t wan-!” God damn it Zeke, why don’t you listen for once?
“Can’t hear you! Don’t wanna hear you! Bye sis’!” He finished the conversation, and soon enough I could hear his car rolling out of the driveway. I groaned before getting up to close my door and crawled back into bed with my face in the pillow, knowing very well that last time he saw Xav things went horribly. Well, with Xav being broken at the moment maybe shit won’t go down again.
***End of Le Minor Flashback***
Damn abandoning little shit. Of course Zeke planned it like that, the scheming, conniving little-
“So everyone, it seems that Soraya has finally decided to gift us with her presence.” Kelley stated to the mob in the room. Every single pair of eyes honed in on my awkward and uncomfortable form. It doesn’t help that I’m already an anxious person when it comes to crowds, let alone crowds that are my adopted extended family that can watch me fall over as I attempt to stand in high heels.
“Yep.” Was the only word I could come up with in that moment, and if I wasn’t red as a tomato before... I fucking well am now.
“Well, come with me Soraya, I’ll introduce you to everyone in the room.” Kelley told me, gesturing for me to follow her. Everyone then went back to their conversations in small groups, talking about what’s happened to them since the last family gathering. “You okay?” She asked me before we reached the first group of people.
“I didn’t think there was going to be this many people...” I trailed off.
“There’s this many because they all want to meet you, they all want to know how amazing you are.” Kelley stated as we almost reached a group.
“Me? Amazing? Same sentence? Sounds about right” I winked at her, a smirk on my lips as Kelley pulled me into a group of people. She introduced me to all of them, but by the time we got to the last person in the group I’d already forgotten the rest. Oh fuck, today is not going to go well. After some questioning about where I’m from and how school is going one of the males in the group spoke up.
“So what do you plan on doing in the future?” Well... that one stumped me. I don’t know what I want to do, I never have.
“To be honest, thinking about my future gives me a massive headache.” I answered.
“You can get a headache from looking at something that bright.” One of the females stated in response, if I was right that was Kelley’s sister... Hailey.
“That... was pretty inspirational. Thank you.” I replied, soon enough and the conversation ran dry, and Kelley began moving me to a different group. But I heard the door open and my head snapped that direction.
“That must be Eliana.” Kelley stated. “You’re gonna love her, and her son. She’s your aunt, Dave’s sister so-”
“The son would be my cousin, I understand how that works.” I said, raising my eyebrows. “But just the...” I paused for a moment as I wasn’t sure whether to call her an aunt or not. I wasn’t sure if it would be acceptable for me to do so. “...just the aunt, no uncle?”
“The thing is that there have been a lot of problems between Eliana and her... ex. All you have to know is to not bring it up around her, okay?” She told me.
“Why? What happened?” I questioned, and she gave me a soft smile in response.
“Maybe you can ask Alistair when he gets here. It’s really their story to tell after all...” she trailed off, although I stopped paying attention to her words after she said my cousin’s name. Alistair? I only know one Alistair, and I’m pretty damn sure I’m not related to him. But... I suppose I don’t know his last name and that accounts for something. You would think that by now, after the couple of months I had been here, we would have made the connection. I mean, Alistair should have been to this house before if he were my cousin, he would have recognised Ezekiel surely. So it definitely can’t be the Alistair I know, that would just be weird and strange and...
Oh holy shit.
Three people walked in the door, a young woman, maybe in her early thirties, accompanied by a boy with darker than average skin. And the third person was a red-headed girl, holding the hand of the teenage boy.
“Oh god.” I said under my breath as Kelley started leading me towards them. As I got closer I hoped it was just a coincidence that someone who looked like them had come here with the same names and this was a situation I would be laughing about for years to come. But... as Kelley and I stopped in front of the newcomers I realised that this was actually happening.
The one and only Alistair was standing next to his mother, who was clearly Dave’s sister with her warm chocolatey skin and similar eye structure. While Willow gave me a confused glance which I returned in full force. My body froze as Kelley started talking to Eliana, my only thoughts were currently about how the hell didn’t we know that we were cousins. I mean. What the actual shit?
“Hi, I’m Eliana.” The woman stated, holding her hand out elegantly and with a warming smile that immediately calmed me.
“I’m Soraya, your new niece.” I said slowly, looking at her hand and then back at her face. I took a deep breath as she started to look confused, and just as I was about to bear the imagined pain that came with touching people for the sake of not looking rude and bitchy, Kelley spoke up.
“Sorry, she has a fear of touching people.” She explained to Eliana, who nodded in an understanding way. Her warm smile still on her face, making me smile back in a mostly genuine way. “We’ll leave you kids to introduce yourselves to each other.” Kelley winked at me as she led Eliana to the middle of the lounge room for a drink, and my vision turned back to Alistair and Willow where I noticed that he was on his phone before he quickly looked back towards me.
“Are you as confused as I am?” He asked as his eyes flicked around the room, as if to make sure he was in the right place.
“Well, are you confused by a fuck tonne?” I questioned in response.
“Yep.” He answered quickly.
“Then you have the answer to your question.” My tone was slightly condescending as I looked over to Kelley, Eliana and Dave who were all talking to each other. “So Eliana, Dave’s sister, is your mother?” I asked.
“Yeah, that would be it.” He answered, but he seemed to have a questioning tenor behind his statement.
“How did we not realise? I mean... is your last name Kingston?” I questioned, not even knowing the answer to that myself.
“Yeah it is... oh Jesus, okay. So, you’re my new cousin which means that Zeke is my cousin... I thought he was still in the orphanage here, this is the new house that Auntie Kelley and Uncle Dave moved into like a year ago and I haven’t been here yet... apparently our family sucks at communicating.” He stated, and I nodded my head vigorously in response.
“Where’s Zeke?” Willow queried, bringing up my mutineer, abandoning brother.
“Visiting Xav because apparently checking on him is more important than being here for me in my time of need. It shouldn’t matter that it’s his turn to watch over Xav like some kind of guardian angel that we’ve been pretending to be.” I answered bluntly and sarcastically, looking around the room again.
“Pretending to be?” Alice asked, seeming offended.
“You know what I mean.” I responded in a serious tone, rolling my eyes.
“Yeah...” He trailed off. Great, now we’re thinking about our friend who’s severely injured and almost died on us.
“Anyway, want a drink or something? Got nothing alcoholic for us... but I got coke-”
“So, no alcohol but you got drugs?” Alice joked as we walked to the kitchen.
“Harty-ha-ha, you’re so fucking hilarious, no drink for you. Willow?” I questioned.
“Water would be great, thanks.” She responded.
“Wow, you little party animal you.” I stated sarcastically, grabbing a plastic bottle of water from the fridge and handing it to her.
“I know right.” She replied in the same tone as I grabbed a can of lemonade, hoping that if I spilt it on my dress that it wouldn’t leave a stain since it’s a clear liquid. Before we could continue the conversation Kelley pulled us all outside, introducing me to even more family members, and I know I don’t have first-hand experience with families, but this seemed larger than it should be.
After half an hour outside with new people, all of which I couldn’t remember the names of, I walked inside to be surrounded by more strangers I’m supposed to call family. I needed some fresh air, to be outside by myself for a few minutes so I could catch my breath. I somehow made it to the front door without being noticed and slipped outside to sit on the bench under the front porch.
There was a slight breeze that helped to loosen my lungs, allowing me to breathe properly. God damn, it was getting claustrophobic in there... although that could have just been me getting overwhelmed. I don’t know how long I was sitting there for, but I was just going to go inside when I heard a familiar, overly loud engine.
I watched as the car pulled up and into the last free spot on the kerb, the engine shut off and the brown-haired driver stood up and made eye contact with me. I rolled my eyes before turning on my heel to go back inside, I did not want to deal with him right now.
“Ray! Wait up!” he shouted, my hand was on the door handle, and as I turned it to walk inside he shouted again. “Please, Soraya!” I heard him running and I dropped my head backwards as I realised that I couldn’t just ignore him and slam the door on his face... well I could but that wouldn’t solve anything. I turned around to face him, his feet just reaching the porch as I did so.
“Go away, Ashton.” I stated clearly, he tilted his head to the side as if he was trying to work his way out of the shit-hole he was in with the tactic of a puppy. I can tell you two things, one, Ashton wasn’t a fucking puppy, and two, that trick doesn’t work on me anyway. He sighed before biting his lip.
“I can’t... not until we sort this out.” He stated, and I shook my head.
“Well maybe if you hadn’t of shouted at me for something that’s not my fault, then this wouldn’t have happened. Now fuck off.” I instructed, but he didn’t listen.
“Well maybe it wouldn’t have happened if you had just told me in the first place...” he trailed off as my glare hardened and I clenched my jaw so much my teeth began to hurt.
“If you’re here to keep arguing about this, you can seriously go before you end up with a broken nose.” I stated simply, he began nodding slowly before speaking again.
“No, I came here to apologise. I’m sorry... about everything.” He ‘apologised’.
“Oh yeah, I definitely believe that.” I stated with heavy sarcasm, turning around to get through the door and away from him.
“Soraya, really, I’m sorry.” His voice was soft and genuine, making me turn around again. He looked to his feet before making eye contact with me. “It’s just... I thought Xav trusted me enough to tell me something like that.” God damn it.
“I understand...” I trailed off, he shook his head. “And I suppose I can forgive you, but don’t think for a second that I’ll forget it.”
“I know you won’t forget it, that’s why I got you a present...” he stated, pulling a piece of seemingly blank paper out of his pocket and handing it to me. “A little bird, not named Alistair, texted me saying that it was your birthday today, so not only is that a ‘forgive me forever’ present, but it’s also your birthday present.”
“Whatever...” I shook my head, taking the plain piece of paper with an eyeroll as his jaw dropped in shock, what? Was he trying to go for the whole ‘it’s the thought that counts’ approach and hope I’d fall at his knees with forgiveness? Because I can tell you now he had another thing coming if he did.
“Dude, you have no idea how much of my own savings I had to spend just to get you that. So you better not be thinking I’d give you just a piece of paper. Open it.” He told me, one side of his mouth twitching up in his Ashtonesque smirk, which regrettably made me smile as I unfolded the paper... holy shit.
“What the hell?” I whispered to myself as my brain caught up with what exactly I was holding in my hand. My eyes snapped back up to him in shock, confusion closing in. “Are these... are these computer printed tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays home game next weekend?”
“Yeah, they are.” He answered, and I then realised how close these were to home plate. I had looked at these kinds of tickets a few times every week, wondering if I would ever be able to afford one, and here one is just sitting in my hand like it was a simple piece of paper.
“Ashton, these cost like 300 dollars...” I trailed off, shaking my head. “I can’t take that... you have to get your money back-”
“It’s your present, no givesies-backsies.” He stated in a serious tone.
“I can’t, Ashton, these cost way too much.” I pointed out the obvious.
“I know, trust me... plus you have two to take whoever you want. So you better appreciate them.” I bit my lip as he spoke, happy tears began to sting my eyes as I hoped they didn’t spill. I laughed a little before I did the most un-Soraya thing in the entire planet...
I hugged him.
My arms wrapped around his neck as he stood still and his muscles stiffened. Before he relaxed from his shock and his arms slowly made their way around my waist, and even though my heart was racing a million miles per hour, my eyes closed. For some reason, I didn’t get the burning sensation that normally comes with human contact, but instead I was filled with comfort and contentment. Is this what hugging normally feels like? Because this... this is pretty alright.
“This is the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten... thank you.” I whispered, one of his hands began rubbing my back before I let go of him, his limbs falling by his sides in response. “Seriously, thank you.” I couldn’t stop one of the tears from falling down my cheek, I went to wipe it away but Ashton got it before I did, his thumb brushing my cheek lightly.
“That’s alright. Now what the hell was that?” He asked, making me laugh.
“I think people these days call it a hug.” I answered with a soft smile.
“Are you feeling okay?” he laughed as he questioned me, and I shook my head.
“No... something’s wrong with me. I might be slightly screwed up, and it might be permanent.” I answered with a slight sarcastic tone.
“I could get used to that.” he answered honestly, making me raise an eyebrow.
“Okay, you can go back home now.” I told him, he laughed but I cut him off. “I’m serious, you can go now.”
“I just gave you two 300 dollar baseball tickets, for the Rays and Red Sox, who just so happen to be my favourite team, and you’re going to get rid of me?” he asked sceptically.
“Yep.” I answered simply.
“What happened to me ‘always being welcome in your household’?” He quoted me from when he and the other boys turned up at my house before we all watched Annabelle.
“The only exceptions are A; when I strongly dislike you, and B; when there are about seventy strangers in my home that I am apparently supposed to call family.” I responded, then I decided to ask him something else and change the topic completely. “Did you know Alistair and I are cousins?” his eyes narrowed in confusion at me. “Good, because I didn’t either.”
“Wait... oh. That makes sense, you two have the same last name.” he stated, and I rolled my eyes.
“You knew we had the same last name and didn’t think to tell either of us?” I asked with slight disbelief.
“Yeah... I didn’t think much of it. Probably should have.” He responded. “Can I come in? I’m good with names and I might know some of the people in there anyway.” I thought about it for a few minutes.
“Fine, but only because you’re going to be useful.” I responded, opening the front door and walking into the stuffy lounge room. “Okay, here we go.” I said as everyone’s focus seemed to be on me and Ashton, I smiled before walking through the people with Ashton behind me. “Alice and Will are out the back, I’ve gotta put this in my room before I lose it. Be back in a second.”
He nodded in response before I walked towards the stairs and up to my room, placing the ticket on my bedside table. I smiled again before deciding that I was going to get changed out of this dress. I grabbed a cropped shirt and my favourite pair of ripped skinny jeans, before slipping on a pair of Vans. I threw my hair into a high ponytail, feeling more confident in my own style of clothing instead of that dress.
I started walking down the stairs after that, noticing how all of the faces didn’t pay any attention to me whatsoever. They were completely oblivious to the fact I had come back into the room, and that was something I appreciated greatly. I made my way outside and towards Ashton, Willow and Alistair, hoping Kelley wouldn’t see me not in my dress.
“Now that’s my Ray.” Ashton stated, making me rise my eyebrows.
“Your Ray, huh? I didn’t know you owned me...” I trailed off, he laughed lightly.
“You know what I mean.” He responded, and I couldn’t say that I disagreed.
“Yeah I do, this definitely feels better.” My words were honest as my eyes flicked around the backyard to all of the still strange and unknown people.
“It looks better.” I made eye contact with Ashton when he finished speaking, another smile making its way onto my face.
“Thanks.” I said slowly, trying not to do that stupid girl thing and blush. I felt a light tap on my shoulder, and I turned to see Kelley.
“What happened to the dress?” She asked, with a stern look.
“Um... uh... well... you see-”
“It’s fine.” She started laughing at my stuttering sentence. “I get it, I’m the same.”
“Thank fuck, I was actually worried.” I said with a smile, she laughed a little more before speaking again.
“Okay, well have fun, um most of the people are going to leave within the next hour because they have places to be and other people to see. I’m going to start moving all your very original presents to your room and then we’re going to cut the cake. So get ready for judgemental looks from Dave’s side of the family since they’re mostly uptight, except for Eliana she’s chill, some of my family are too, and I think they expect a speech from you. So, you might want to think about that before it happens.” She smiled before swiftly walking away.
“What?! Kelley!” I shouted after her, but she ignored me and kept walking away without so much as a small piece of recognition that I had even spoken.
“Have fun with that.” Willow stated as I turned to face the three idiots again.
“Excuse me, but I’m going to pull it off.” I responded sharply with a smile.
“You suck at public speaking on the best of days...” Alistair pointed out the obvious.
“Shut. Up. I am going to crush it.” I tried to be positive, and I thought friends were supposed to support you in times like this.
“I don’t know... Alice is right, you suck at public speaking.” God damn it Ashton, god damn it. I gave that tight smile that shows you hate them but don’t want to seem overly rude in response.
“Fuck. You. All.” I stated slowly, going to walk away from the group.
“Come on, Ray, you know we love you.” Willow said, and I snorted out a laugh.
“Yeah right.” I stated sarcastically, going to walk inside to get the cake out onto the table from the freezer. Kelley came back down the stairs, and soon enough I was standing behind my rainbow ice-cream cake with everyone singing happy birthday to me in a horrible, out of tune way.
After everyone had some of the cake in a small, plastic bowl with a plastic spoon Kelley gave me ‘the look’. The one that meant I had to speak now, or everyone in the house would hate me forever. Okay, maybe that’s an over-exaggeration but that’s not the point.
“Okay, uh...” I said all too quietly. “Hi everyone!” I shouted, everyone turned to look at me, and I had to remember that this would be over in a few minutes. I put my bowl of ice-cream cake down on the table before I began to shake with the nerves of having everyone’s eyes on me.
“First off, I would like to thank everyone for coming today. I know that you don’t really know me, but I really appreciate it, and if I see you later and I don’t remember your name please don’t be offended because I am absolutely horrible with remembering people’s names.” Everyone laughed at my statement, so I took that as a good sign. “Um, I know this is going to sound weird and sappy but this is my first proper birthday party with my own family, and you will probably never understand how much that means to me, today has been great, meeting all of you and getting to know you. I know that people say you can’t choose family, but the fact is that you can. Kelley and Dave picked me to be a part of their life, for what reason I won’t ever know, but I can tell you that I couldn’t have asked for a better family. So, I guess what I really want to say is ‘thank you’... for everything. For getting me away from the foster home and letting me into yours, for accepting me for who I was and for supporting me through everything, even playing on the guys baseball team at school.” I bit my lip as I saw Kelley tearing up, Dave putting an arm around her shoulders. “Uh, and thanks to my friends too. I suppose you’re alright.” I joked, again making everyone laugh.
My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I finished my speech, and I felt a hand going to hold my own as everyone went to talking in their groups with the ice-cream cake. When I looked next to me I found Ashton being the one holding my hand, he lightly took my other one as if to try and calm me down.
“God damn, you were shaking so much.” He stated, his amusement clear, making me roll my eyes.
“Thank you Captain Obvious.” I said as my heart rate began to slow and my hands stopped shaking. He was somehow calming me down, and I was somehow okay with that. I slowly pulled away from his hold, looking around the room and making direct eye contact with Kelley.
“Anytime, Ma Colombe.” God damn it Ass.
“I still don’t know what that means.” I stated, and he nodded.
“That’s why I’m still calling you that... if you found out, I probably wouldn’t call you that anymore. It’s part of the fun.” His words made me realise something, how much I needed to figure out what he had been calling me. Not that it would be easy considering it was probably French and I don’t do French.
My hair surrounded me as I lay on my bed, thoughts running around my mind. Finally the strangers that filled my house were gone, I was allowed to go to my room and hide myself away from society... mostly.
“So, anyway, after I got that second draft back from Mr Winston, he told me that I was one of the slackest students he’d ever had and that I needed to actually fix everything he wrote on the draft or he’d fail me in psychology, not just for the assignment but for the entire subject.” Willow stated, and I sat up after she finished speaking. I’d heard this story five times in the past few days, it wasn’t anywhere near as hilarious as the first time. Although Ashton and Alice seemed to think so. The two boys laughed as Will grabbed more chips from the bowl on the ground.
“Don’t mind him, he seems to think that about everyone.” Alice stated.
“Speaking from personal experience are we?” I questioned.
“You could say that.” he responded with a shrug, grabbing the bottle of soft drink and taking a long chug.
“ALISTAIR! WE HAVE TO GO!!” I heard Eliana shout from downstairs, making him choke on his drink before spitting it back into the bottle.
“That is fucking disgusting.” Ashton stated, his face looking just as horrified as mine.
“It should be fine mate, you just-”
“Don’t. I don’t want to hear the end of that. You need to take the bottle with you and do something with that...” I trailed off, standing up when they did to be nice and do that hostess thing where you go to the door to say goodbye. They left soon after and Ashton and I walked back up to my room, I pulled my laptop out and crawled onto my bed.
“Get the food.” I instructed him, and he did so before getting onto the bed next to me.
“What are we watching?” he asked before shoving some chips in his mouth.
“Well, we never did get to finish Unfriended...” I trailed off, only slightly joking. Okay, I wasn’t joking at all.
“No no no, we do not need to finish that movie. I’m fine without seeing the end of it.” He stated, almost going pale.
“But I’m not, and it’s my birthday in case you’ve forgotten.” I stated with a smirk, clicking on the movie and skipping to the part where the chubby kid was getting his throat caught on the blender.
“We can watch it if you’ll be my cuddle-buddy.” He bargained, rolling my eyes I got into a position where it would be comfortable to hold him, opening my arms. “Wow, I didn’t know it was that easy...” he trailed off, a stupid smirk on his face.
“Fine, watch the movie without emotional support.” I crossed my arms over my chest, waiting for his response.
“Hang on a second...” I pressed play before getting back into my closed off position. “...I didn’t- I- oh shit.” His words slowly became more disgusted in tone as more blood went everywhere and everyone else left alive was still screaming. I didn’t have a choice as tough ol’ Ashton wrapped his arms around my shoulders and hid his face in my hair, I could feel his breath on my neck which was making my heart-race but not because of my fear...
“Alright, readjust.” I stated, hoping I didn’t sound as out of breath as I felt. I leaned against my bedhead, one of my arms behind Ashton’s torso as he rested his head on the front of my shoulder. His arms wrapped around me like they did when we watched Annabelle, I took a deep breath.
“If you don’t want me to hug you anymore, just tell me instead of running off to the bathroom like last time, okay?” oh Jesus, he had to bring that up didn’t he?
“You knew...” I trailed off as I began to ignore the movie completely.
“Of course I did, and I’m sorry for that too.” He stated, after that we fell into a comfortable silence... well as comfortable as a silence can be with a ‘horror’ movie playing in the background. The blonde girl who couldn’t shut up ended up dying next, a straightener shoved down her throat, that left three of them, one of the guys went, and then the other, only the main girl was left. As the end of the movie came closer a clear through came to my mind. One thought only....
“This has been the best birthday I’ve ever had.” I said out loud, just before the ghost of the dead girl that’s been haunting them closed the main girl’s laptop before jumping forward to kill her. Ashton jumped so bad and his body was shaking as the credits cut in, we didn’t even get to see anything gory, just the face of the ghost.
“Yeah?” he questioned with a voice a tenor higher than normal.
“Yep.” I responded with a small smile on my face. He slowly got up from my hold, and even though he was pale from fear he managed to smile at me.
“Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?” he asked me next.
“Good, definitely a good thing.” I answered.
“Okay, well we need to give you an actual birthday party-”
“No.” I cut him off. “Seriously, no.”
“But Ray, you need-”
“I don’t need one, nor do I want one.” I cut him off.
“You realise people are going to wonder why you didn’t have a party, right?” he asked.
“Does it look like I’m the kind of person who would care?”
“Touché.” He looked at his phone screen. “Oh shit, I should get back home, the girls are home by themselves.” He said before crawling off of my bed, I closed my laptop before following him. As we started to walk down the stairs I decided on something.
“So uh, are you free next weekend? Because I have two tickets to a baseball game, Rays versus Red Sox, if you want to come.” I asked like I got the tickets myself, making him laugh as we reached the ground floor.
“How generous of you.” sarcasm was clear in his voice.
“You don’t have too, I’m sure I could find someone else.” I pointed out the obvious, shrugging my shoulders as I spoke.
“Don’t bother looking for someone else, I’ll go with you. Have you been before?” His words made me raise an eyebrow and shake my head. “Right, okay. Well you’re going to get the full on experience first up then.”
“Thank you for the tickets... again.” I don’t think I would ever be able to thank him enough for them.
“You’re welcome.” He stated before grabbing his car keys out of his pocket and opening the front door. “I’ll see you at school.”
“I suppose I will.” I agreed.
“Bye Ass.” I closed the door behind him, moving to the window to watch him drive away like the little creep I am.
“So... is he your boyfriend?” Kelley asked, making me slightly confused.
“No, we’re just friends.” I answered honestly.
“Friends that hug and hold hands when one of the friends is afraid of touching people?” she asked in a questioning tone.
“Mhmm.” I responded, nodding my head. “I might be slowly getting better, but slowly and at the moment my contact with Ashton has been the most direct human contact I’ve had in years, I’m trying to not make a big deal out of it, okay? Just... I don’t know.” I kind of explained.
“Well, on a different note you got two birthday cards in the mail.” She handed me two envelopes, another smile making it’s way onto my face.
“Awesome.” I said.
“Alright, well I have to go to work, Dave’s already managed to clean everything up, bless him, so you can do whatever for the rest of the day.” She grabbed her keys and got to the door. “Okay, see you later.”
“Bye... um...” no, don’t bring that up, that’s just weird. She would probably say ‘no’ anyway.
“What is it?” She asked, seeming slightly worried.
“Would it...” oh god here we go. “Never mind.” I shook my head.
“Alright, see you later.” She gave me a soft smile.
“See ya.” Shit, I can’t believe I was about to ask her if I could call her ‘mum’. I laughed at myself before opening the first envelope, finding a card from Daniella, the last foster parent I had, the one that sent me off with Kelley and Dave. I opened the next one, reading the words carefully.
To my dear Soraya,
Happy birthday, your seventeenth if I remember right. I mean, you were twelve when you stayed at my family’s house, and that was five years ago. I loved sharing a house with you actually, I’m kind of hurt that you don’t feel the same way. I thought my family treated you well, thought I treated you well. I’m going to visit you at some point, probably during the holidays, it’s been a while since I saw you last.
Looking forward to it.
“No.” I whispered to myself, immediately shoving the card in the bin. Fuck. He can’t know where I am, he just can’t. I kept myself from making any social media accounts specifically because of him. How can he know? How did he find me? “How the fuck did he find me?” I asked no one, my eyes looking around the room as if he would come out from behind the furniture.
The worst part was the fact that I couldn’t tell anyone, telling them would mean telling them everything about me. The reason behind why I’m afraid of touching people. The best thing I could do for now was ignore the card, ignore the fact that he said he was going to visit me and hope he was bluffing.
Why couldn’t he leave me alone?