Chapter 5: Friends Or Not?
After Amber and Julia changed into dry clothes, Julia helped Amber in cleaning her wound on her elbow and nursed it. Amber thanked her as she stayed in the living room while Julia walked into the kitchen. She was putting the first aid box back to its place when she felt a stink on her forearm. She rolled over her sleeve to see that she had scraped her forearm from the fall – she didn’t notice it before probably because it wasn’t too bad. She cleaned her own wound with cotton ball damped in rubbing alcohol and covered it with a bandit.
Julia couldn’t ask Amber if she was the one leaving her brother love notes after every other day. Actually, the two girls hardly communicated. Amber briefly talked about how much she likes Julia’s house and thanked her for letting her stay at her house while it was raining. Julia asked Amber if she wanted Julia to fix her a sandwich since she was about to make one for herself, but Amber politely declined – telling Julia that she wasn’t hungry. There were moments where Amber and Julia sat in awkward silence.
It stopped raining sooner than expected. The grey clouds were still engulfed over the sky. Amber asked Julia for her clothes – she wanted to leave before the rain starts again. Julia suspected that it might rain again, but she didn’t ask Amber to stay. She simply nodded and went to get her clothes which were completely dry by then. Julia went back to give Amber her clothes back to see her walking upstairs. Julia frowned and stopped her, “Where are you going?” She asked Amber. Amber stopped and turned around to look at her. She chuckled, “Do you want me to change in the living room?” She asked Julia. Julia relaxed her stiffed back and she looked around her living room – of course, she couldn’t change here with three big windows giving the outsiders the excess to look inside. Julia opened her mouth to reply to her, but instead, she simply shook her head and handed Amber her clothes. Amber smiled, “Don’t worry. I am not a thief.” She said. Julia was embarrassed – she had really made Amber feel unwelcomed, but on the other hand, she couldn’t help it. Since she was a child Julia has doubts about things and people around her. She has never been capable of opening up or making others feel easy around her – maybe because not many people ever tried to stick with her.
After she changed back into her clothes, Amber thanked Julia for helping her and letting her stay. Amber walked to the door and turned around before opening the door – her amber eyes glinted. “I don’t know if you feel the same about me, but I really enjoy your company. I know we didn’t talk much, but I have this out of blue trust in you and believe me I don’t feel like that with everyone,” Amber chuckled. She sighed and smiled tightly, “I am not sure if you want to, but I would love to be your friend. Can we see each other more often?” She asked Julia. Julia stood reticently. She inspected the face of the gorgeous girl standing in front of her. Julia has observed that Amber has good looks and she is a very personable girl – how come she doesn’t have any friends? It was like she read her thoughts and added, “I am new in town and I don’t really know many people here. Honestly, I do not like the people here much – maybe I am just frustrated that I had to move and leave my life behind so suddenly, but I really like you and want to be your friend. So, what do you say? Would you like to be my friend?” She asked again and stretched her hand out for a handshake this time. Julia didn’t vocalize her thoughts, but there was something about Amber that made her feel comfortable around her. Her presence in her house didn’t bother her as she thought it would. Julia averted her gaze to look at her hand – she bit her lower lip – she slowly and hesitantly shook hands with her.
Amber’s hand was cold, unlike Julia. Julia doesn’t like to touch so she withdrew her and put her hand behind her back and lowered her gaze – she doesn’t want Amber to feel bad about it. There is nothing wrong with Amber – it was herself. She just doesn’t like to be touched so much. Amber chuckled, “It is alright, you know. I am just glad that you agreed on being my friend. I will see you around then?” She asked. Julia only nodded her head. Amber smiled, “Thank you again for letting me stay. See you later,” She said before she turned around and left.
Later that night, Julia told her brother and Ashley about her encounter with Amber over dinner. For a few seconds both of them were astonished – it was for the first time Julia was talking about another person that she met. They both are well aware of Julia’s anxiety around other people – they know that’s she doesn’t have friends and now that she told them about Amber, her brother and Ashley were finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Garrett fixed his gaze on his sister as she tells them about the girl she met a couple of days ago at the park and how she bumped into her today and help her. He couldn’t help, but smile. His sister was finally opening up to other people as well – she was uncovering herself to others as well. It might be a slow process, he knows that his sister might take some time, but after hearing Julia talk about the girl she met – he is determined that soon she will open up to the world as well. She will live her life like other normal teenagers – Garrett couldn’t wish for more.
Later at night after Julia went to bed, Garrett and Ashley stayed up late and watched a movie together. Ashley had her head resting on Garrett’s shoulder while Garrett had her arm around her – slowly tracing his finger on her arm. They both were snuggled in a blanket as they watch a romantic movie on the television. Ashley was happy – it has been so long since she and Garrett have seen a movie like this – they mostly are very careful around Julia – they don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. In the beginning, Julia’s constant anxiety around them bothered her. She would flinch or would look extremely uncomfortable whenever she and Garrett would kiss, hug and or even show any sort of affection. She didn’t put words to her inconvenience and she is glad that she didn’t. When she came to what Julia had to go through because of her mother – Ashley felt bad for even thinking critically about her.
Ashley pity Julia. She knows what that poor girl has been through – she saw things at such a young age that she shouldn’t have seen and that has impaired her. She has seen her mother showing affection to different men every night, she has seen her mother trying to force her to do unholy things that she used to do, to other men. She has seen and felt everything that she should not have seen or felt. Ashley sighed and kissed Garrett’s cheek softly – Garrett averted his eyes from the television to look at his beautiful fiancée.
“I am so happy today,” Ashley said as she looked into the eyes of the man she loved while her head rested on his shoulder. Garrett smiled and nodded – he knows what she is talking about – she was feeling happy for Julia, “So am I,” He replied. “I have been so worried about her – I never thought that she would ever meet another person. I hope she soon starts to open up to other people as well and leave every bad memory behind,” Ashley told Garrett – who stared into blank space as he nodded.
Garrett blames himself for what his sister went through. He should have stayed with his mother and Julia – he should not have believed his pathological liar mother. He still remembers when he was going to Denver for college – the way his ten-years-old little sister came to his bedroom a night before he left with tears filled in her eyes, “When will you be back?” Ten-years-old Julia asked her elder brother who was packing his bag. He remembers how his heart ached to see her gloomy sister – he could see the fear in her eyes. He could see that little Julia was more scared of her mother that she was upset by the fact that he was moving away for college. Garrett was the one who used to keep her protected from their alcoholic mother. He should have never believed their mother. “I am better now, Gar. I feel so much better. I haven’t drink for four months now and I am so happy. There is so much I want to do for you two. I am so sorry that you two had to see me like that. I promise that you two will never see me negligent again.” Sharon, their mother’s eyes filled with tears. Garrett thought that he saw a glint of hope in her eyes. He thought that he saw a gleam of determination to do better in her eyes – he believed her. He believed her when she apologized, he believed her when she promised to never drink alcohol again. He believed her when she swore to take care of her daughter. How much he wishes to turn the time back and could have chosen to stay for the sake of her sister. If he didn’t act so selfishly – he could have saved his sister from the mental trauma she went through. He partly blames himself for what Julia had to go through. He should not have believed their mother – he should have known that she would break all her promises.
“Garrett, are you listening to me?” He heard his name being called. He looked at Ashley and blinked multiple times. He went so deep in thought that he didn’t even realize that Ashley was saying something. He heaved and rubbed his eyes, “I am sorry, honey – I was just thinking.” He told her. Ashley knows what he must be thinking about. He has told her numerous times how guilty he feels for leaving little Julia with their mother – he must be thinking about it. Garrett always seems troubled whenever he thinks about his mother. Ashley rubbed his arm, “Hey, it wasn’t your fault. It is okay.” Ashley whispered in his ear. Garrett sigh confirmed that he was blaming himself again and Ashley didn’t like to see him so depressed. She drew closer to him and turned his head towards her before placing her lips on his. After a couple of seconds, Ashley started to feel his stiff body losing up and soon they were making out on the couch with no light on, but just the luster from the television falls on them. Garrett pulled Ashley closer to him and made her sit on his lap. Her hands already reached under his shirt. She ran her cold delicate fingers on his warm skin. His finger got lost in her hair as he traced his tongue on her sweet lips. The kiss intensified – both of them started to breath heavy when they heard an ear piercing scream. Ashley jumped off his lap and together they looked at the top of the staircase where Julia stood with her hands clenched into fists by her side. Tears running down her face as her eyes gaped – staring right at them. “Julia,” Garrett worriedly stood on his feet causing Ashley to follow his lead. “Julia, it is okay.” He spoke slowly and he ploddingly moved towards the staircase as he sees tears one after another – running down his sister’s cheek.
Julia was shaking, “She is here, Garrett.” Julia’s voice wobbled. She turned her head towards her wide open room’s door. Garrett slowly climbed the stairs, “Who is here, Julia?” He asked her. Julia whimpered, “Mom,” She whispered to him. Her eyes gaped with horror, cold sweat formed on her forehead. She could feel her fingers getting numb as she shakes in panic. Her hair sticks on her face, “Garrett, she is here to take me – please don’t let her take me.” She sobbed. Garrett reached out for her sister and hugged her. She circled her arms around him and clutched onto him. Garrett mumbled the words of comfort to his sister. He turned to look down at Ashley who was still standing beside the couch.
They didn’t have to exchange words. They communicated with their eyes. This is not the first time it has happened. Julia often claims that she sees their mother and that she wants to take her away. She often wakes up in the middle of the night panting and in sweats. Garrett and Ashley often wake up in the middle of the night by her deafening screaming. It might be appalling and unusual for others, but it was quite common for them. It is a chaos at night and quotidian the other day. Ashley nodded her head at Garrett as he takes Julia to her room. “It is okay – it is all okay. Let me check your room – if she is here I will make her go away, okay? I will not let her take you.” Ashley heard Garrett comforting his sister as he takes to her room. Ashley sighed and decided to bring water for Julia.
Julia has been getting nightmares a lot lately. She got so much better, but now she was slowly slipping away and it concerned Ashley. Maybe it is time to seek Dr. Lisa Wang’s help once again, Ashley thought. She was able to help Julia before – she might be able to help her again.