The Art of Fields

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Fifteen: "I'm not a junkie, I solemnly swear"

My mouth falls agape, “Neymar dives as much as any other football player.” I squint my eyes at his false accusations, that everyone I’ve talked to about football, says.

Drake smiles softly, “Sorry sweetheart, he’s probably the worst footballer I’ve known.”

I thump him across the head, “You’re just making me hate you more, Drake.”

He laughs, waving his hands off the thought. “I really don’t think that’s possible.”

Apparently, everyone does deserve a second chance. Drake was a nice guy and I almost feel bad for hating on him all these years, but only almost. The punch though, he deserved that one. No doubt.

“Alright.” He says, wrapping a brief hug around me. “I’ll see you soon.”

With a curt nod and a genuine smile, I get on the bus. Hoping Alexie was on too and didn’t get a ride home from someone else. My transport home ranged from bus rides to rides home in other peoples cars, mostly because my parents thought driving to school was too much of a show-off act. They think that if I end up driving so often, I’ll get so hyped about it and it’ll end repeated fines and car crashes.

When I see her familiar blonde-brown hair, I smile with a sappy greeting. We spend the rest of the ride talking about Phillipe and Tracy.

The last couple of years for all of us has been hard, with Hunter dying in my arms and Tomlin leaving us soon after. We were mess ever since two years ago, in the starting, we’d skip curfews, get drunk and just generally be hot messes everywhere we went. At some point, I thought my parents would have a heart attack from dealing with my depression relapsing.

It’s only been a couple of months since we’ve toned down and tried to get our lives back on track. We did owe it to Lucas and Emily more than ever. Whilst we fucked ourselves over, more than a couple of times, they didn’t for the sole purpose of being sober so that we didn’t end up dead on a random street.

On top of that, I was manipulated by Tracy during those times and set the school on fire. I’ll get to the fire and it’s reasoning, later. I don’t know what haunted me to even do such a thing and with Tracy of all people. If I didn’t do that, that the crew wouldn’t have had to meet Phillipe and his steroids heightened friends, and deal with the cave being dissembled into shreds.

I let out a sigh of air, my head clouding with so many thought that I even expected my head to burst. Alexie tried to convince me that I wasn’t in my right sense as was everyone else, during those times so I had no control over what the hell I was doing. And I agree, but once everything seems like it’s your fault, you just engulf yourself in regret.

I get off at my stop and walk with heavy steps towards the house. Once I’m in, I find the aura dense and thick. Discomforting to say the least. Swinging my backpack onto the brim of the stairs, I walk slowly to the living room seeing everyone seated on the couches. The television set was off, being the number one odd thing. The second being everyone’s faces of dread and agony, pain in general as they looked at anything but each other. And finally the third, my mother slowly walking to me. Her features stiff and rigid, my dad following close behind her with the same expression.

Is this an intervention?

I’m not a junkie, I solemnly swear.

My mom’s hands are damp and cold, she motions to the empty seat on the leather couch. “Sit down, sweetie.”

My dad sighs everlastingly and finally says, “Your cousin, Ricky, has been in a car accident.”

My legs shoot up and my head spins, “What, when? Is he okay?” My eyes brimming with salty tears urging to set sail across my face. I noticed Ricky not being here but I just thought he’d be with his friends, out.

They weren’t answering me, sending my heart to hiccup and my breathing just exhilarated intensely. I whimper, “He isn’t..” I ask, not wanting to continue.

My parents shake their head furiously, my dad widens his eyes, “No, no. He’s fine, he’s just really beaten up. We’re going to visit Ricky now, you can tag along if you want or--”

“I’m coming,” I say, rushing upstairs and changing into less stinky clothes. I descend the stairs again after ten minutes, finding everyone near the door which didn’t include Sam. I ask Alan, “Where’s Sam?”

“She never left the hospital.” He says I notice his face was distraught and its the most emotion I’ve seen on him for a while. Ricky was literally the bigger brother that Alan always wanted. “She’s there with Aunt May.” I nod.

It takes us roughly half an hour to reach the hospital due to the sense of traffic lining the roads. Once we enter, we find his room easily. My heart drops, more than I’ve ever imagined, at the sight of him on the pristine white bed. My family has a record of cheating death. Our luck is bad yet good. I’ve dealt with hospital situations too many times for the people I love. It’s becoming a habit to my whole extended family. I’d like to believe though that Ricky has the after event luck that we claim to have, which was passed down to Jake. I really didn’t like the idea of having two people I card about in a hospital in the same month for the same reasons.

His brown hair was tousled and spread over the full pillow. His eyes closed but his chest movements reassured his presence. His face was an ashen colour, too pale for any of our liking. I see Sam under Ricky’s arm, her eyes shut and she was asleep even under the beeping of the monitor.

I spent two hours in the room, sinking my head in memories of happier times. Reminiscing didn’t get Ricky back though, it was heightening the pain I was feeling. The doctors said that he would wake up soon, he wasn’t yet medically declared to be in a coma. He had three broken ribs, a fractured arm and a scarred face.

I’m still a hot mess.

That’s what he would’ve said if he was awake, and saw a mirror with a cheeky grin on his face. A girl arrived just before I was about to leave. She was thin and tall, her straight flowing blonde hair collapsing over her shoulders and her blue eyes looking all kinds of dread. She was almost like a life-sized model. I was at the door and she looks at me panicking, “He’s in there, isn’t he?”

I give her an unsure nod, not knowing who she was. She slips in and sits next to his bed, a single tear only streams down her face. Aunt May and Uncle John had gone to take Sam out, in the fresh air for a while since she was too coped up inside. I walk back into the room, out of precaution. My voice a little weak, since I hadn’t spoken for the last two hours. “I’m sorry, who are you?”

“Eliza.” She says, her eyes meeting mine. Her lips purse together, “He never told you? I’m his girlfriend.”

“I guess not,” I reply, burying my hand in my jean pocket. Pushing the thought of why he didn’t to the back of my mind, maybe we weren’t as close as I thought. Or I can correct that, maybe he didn’t tell me things about him as I did. I was too busy trying to fill in the gap of having an ignorant brother like Alan, that I just vented to him, not really listening to him. “Alright, I’ll be heading out. His family will be back soon.”

“You’re Ashley?” She asks as I turn towards the door, her eyebrows quirked up. I nod. “You know, he thinks of you as his own little teenage sister.” Before I can respond, her lips tug upwards, a beautiful smile on her face over the tears. “He’s such a dork, he enjoys the gossip you tell him and say you’re in love with some guy called Jake? But you refuse to admit it all the time.” When she looks at my overwhelmed face, she stops talking. “Oh shit, he’ll kill me if he finds out I told you.”

“Why on Earth would I do that?” Ricky says, his voice gruff and sleep-deprived. We snap our heads to him, shock covering our faces. Eliza leans in and gives him a peck on the lips before hugging him, until he pulls away from his, presumably, aching ribs. I grin widely and hug him too, not nearly as tight.

“I don’t like Jake,” I state, not knowing what else to say, but I knew I was thrilled seeing him awake. I scavenge for my phone and call up his parents. Eliza dismisses herself to the bathroom to wash off her dripping makeup. I sit on the chair next to the bed, and look around aimlessly. “You feel okay?”

Ricky shrugs, “Sure, but I’m a hot mess for sure.” I snicker at the line. “Hey listen, you aren’t mad at me right?”

“Why would I be?” I ask, knitting my eyebrows and lighten the mood, “Did you steal my bagel again?”

He chuckles softly, not too hard damaging his fragile ribs. “No, but about Eliza.”

“I’m not mad,” I say truthfully.

“You’re hurt.” He states, sitting up, supporting his back on the pillow tower.

I shake my head, my lips cracking into a smile. “You aren’t obligated to tell me anything, you don’t want to.”

Ricky nods, “I really don’t know why I didn’t though. You’ll like her, she’s spontaneous.”

I snicker and give him a half nod, “Ricky, guess what?” He mumbles, attempting to sound not interested but after what Eliza said, I was convinced otherwise. “I punched Drake.”

He shoots up in his seat, and groans at the pain. He pulls his hand out and I give him a high five, delightfully before we talk some more. This time, I did more listening. After a few moments, everyone rolls in and greets Ricky with heartwarming smiles. He was still in pretty bad condition though, however, it didn’t spare his parents’ yelling at his ignorance whilst driving.

I left an hour later. Ricky would get out of the hospital in a few days so I knew he’d be fine, especially with the luck we’ve got. I took the car and drove to Zoey’s place that night, rounding up Alexie and Diane as well. The four of us were a squad, as many would call it, and there was nothing more I would love to do than spend time with them after visiting the hospital.

We spent the whole time, stuffing our faces in all varieties of junk food, watching the best chick flicks of all time and ranting about life in general. The classic sleepover with best friends, no unnecessary energy wasted either. Eventually, we fell asleep over the tower of DVDs and food. It was more comfortable than I make it sound.

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