Chasing Bad [Currently Being Edited]

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Summary

Noelle Roberts, a girl who has lost one parent to suicide and seems to be losing another is met once again with a life-altering challenge when she soon becomes intertwined in the life of her schools' juvenile delinquent. [PUBLISHED ON WATTPAD]

Genre:
Other / Drama
Author:
kalonanomalous
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
52
Rating:
4.0 1 review
Age Rating:
16+

Prologue

Rubbing my hands together in an attempt to calm myself down, I watch Dad anxiously as he downs a third cup of coffee. He rubs his head repeatedly as if to try to relieve at least a little bit of the tension. I stare at the empty beer bottles, each of them scattered all over the table.

Cans upon cans and empty cigarette boxes, I catch a glimpse of red splattered across the end of the table. It only takes a single glance for me to notice that this isn’t juice or red soda, no, this is the blood he has spilled. In a morbid way, it kind of signifies the blood he will spill one day once he goes tumbling and I’m not here.

A lot of hard work and some bleach will be able to scrape away the blood, but it will never be enough to erase all of the memories.

Dad reaches for the bottle across from him before I could stop him. Dad’s grip tightens on the bottle as I desperately try to pry it away from him. Every time I see him it feels like there is only an ounce of life left. That there’s only a matter of time until just like Mom, he will no longer be with me.

“Please,” I whisper. Meeting his sullen expression, I continue to plead with him. “Just have another cup of coffee, alright? If you care about me at all, you won’t do this. At least not right now,” I add quickly, noticing the way his face distorts from one of exasperation to one of guilt.

For a brief moment, we stay like this, his hazel eyes shifting between the bottle and me. I refuse to walk out of this house knowing that I could come home this afternoon to find him how I found Mom, holding on for dear life. If only I can rewind the time...

As soon as his grip loosens on the bottle, I snatch it away from him and his shoulders slump in defeat. Shuffling over towards the kitchen counter, I place the bottle on top and prepare him another cup of coffee. I peer over my shoulder at the clock on the wall and suppress a groan.

If I know one thing for sure it’s that Ms. Sanders—my principal who, I think, closely resembles a cockroach—will want to have a long discussion with me later this afternoon about my tardiness. The last thing I need today is a lecture on my poor attendance, hell, I’m lucky not to be considered truant yet.

“You should go to school, I’ll be fine,” he croaks out, making the effort to sound reassuring.

The words ‘I don’t want to lose you’ are at the tip of my tongue, but I can’t bring myself to say them. The last thing I want is for him to feel ashamed, there is already so much going on. I want to cause him as little stress as possible, none if I can help it.

Pouring him some more coffee, I set the mug down in front of Dad. He shakily reaches for it. I place a hand on his shoulder, lean down, and peck him on the cheek. “I will see you this afternoon. Please try not to drink anymore while I’m gone.”

A half-smile makes its way onto Dad’s face briefly before disappearing. To most people, such a small gesture would mean so little. But to me, it means the world. I don’t quite remember the last time I ever saw him smile; all I know is that it has been far too long. These days, he does not have a lot to be cheerful about.

Quickly exiting the house and closing the door behind me, I hurry over to his truck. I feel around in my pockets for the keys, open the door, and get inside. Letting my backpack drop onto the floor, I struggle to get the key into the ignition.

I begin to pull out of the driveway after spending a good five minutes trying to get the truck started and allowing my nerves from earlier this morning to settle down. He is going to be okay, nothing bad is going to happen. I drive further off down the road, repeating the words in my head like some kind of prayer.

Perhaps if I’m lucky, he’ll survive another day. Maybe he’ll actually be awake when I come home instead of passed out on the couch. But that is only wishful thinking; I know he will be drunk out of his mind. I can only pray that this time there are no shards of glass, there is no struggle, or ear-piercing screeches passing his lips.

If only God were listening.


Hurrying into the classroom, I smack the late slip onto the desk, startling Mr. Jacobs. I offer him an apologetic look as he glares at me, clearly unhappy with how I entered the room. As I turn around to begin walking to the back, my whole body tenses at the sight of almost everyone staring directly at me.

You arrive late and suddenly you’re looked at as if you killed somebody.

I do my best to ignore the stares and take a seat next to Heidi, a close friend of mine for the past several years. Staring at the rose-colored hijab on her head in confusion, I lean over towards her. “Thought you didn’t want to wear those?”

“It was a gift from Papa’s new husband, Aadil. Papa says it would be, like, impolite not to wear it. Aadil believes all good Muslim girls should be wearing one,” Heidi hisses in my ear, nostrils flaring. “Utterly unbelievable!”

“What’s so wrong with wearing one? They look nice!”

“There’s nothing wrong with it! I just don’t feel I ought to wear one. I even got these cornrows put in the day before. I was so excited to show them off!”

“Have you—”

“Ladies!”

Both of our heads quickly turn in the direction of Mr. Jacobs, his gaze shifting aimlessly between the two of us before exhaling slowly. “Care to share what’s much more important than my lesson?”

Opening my mouth to reply with a snide remark, Heidi takes the liberty to speak on both of our behalfs. Almost as if she already knew exactly what I was going to do. Then again, it would not be the first time my comments have landed me detention.

“Sorry, won’t happen again!” Heidi chirps, smiling brightly. Her words don’t seem to comfort Mr. Jacobs at all. All three of us know that we’ll be running our mouths again tomorrow.

But neither of us wishing to be scolded twice in the same day decide to follow along, reserving our conversation for later this afternoon. Fortunately, due to the fact I was late, the bell rings a lot sooner than I had originally assumed it would. But I’m not complaining.

Heidi and I waste little time in getting our materials and heading out the door, careful to avoid Mr. Jacob’s beady eyes. Despite the fact we heard him call our names twice, we did our best to get through the sea of students in order to avoid speaking with him. My eyes shift between each of the students within close proximity of me, and I sense my whole body beginning to clamp up. I can feel every one of their eyes glued to my stiff frame, and I am vaguely able to hear their giggles and repetitive speech. The only thing at that moment I am able to clearly hear is the shuffling of feet and the sound of my own heartbeat. It keeps getting louder and louder and lo—

Suddenly being yanked out of the cluster of students, I let out a shaky breath. I look around for a brief moment, taking in the sight of everybody moving about as usual. No one was staring, or laughing at me. No one noticed a thing. I smooth down my blouse and suddenly become conscious of Heidi’s presence. Offering her a tentative smile, she takes my hand, giving it a firm squeeze. I lean up against the wall for support, keeping my eyes directly on my feet. Everything is okay, it’s all in your head.

“Do you need me to get you anything?” she asks, taking note of my vacant expression.

“N-no, I’m okay.”

Heidi purses her lips, appearing to be thoroughly unconvinced. “Look, I know you like don’t particularly enjoy talking about your feelings and everything, but like I really think that—”

“I’m okay, I just—”

“It could be beneficial for you—”

“Heidi, seriously—”

“Lots of people have—”

“I’m fine!” I snap, glaring at her stunned expression. “Why can’t you just leave it alone? There’s nothing wrong with me!”

She shakes her head, at a loss for words. A mixture of frustration and worry appear on Heidi’s face, and I turn away from her. Though she may be right, that talking to someone may be helpful, I honestly don’t want to. She already knows too much about my life since Mom; I would rather not have to share it with anyone else. Only four people know, one of whom I deeply regret. I will not go through that again.

“Don’t be that way, Elle,” Heidi urges, tugging gently on my arm. “You know I don’t mean harm, I just really want you to consider talking to someone about your anxiety issues. Maybe we could get them sorted, find some way for you to cope or—”

“Class is going to be starting soon,” I chime in. She pinches the bridge of her nose.

“We’re going in the same direction anyway, wanna come to my locker with me for a bit?” Heidi notices my narrowed gaze and rolls her eyes. “I won’t bring up anything about this for the rest of the day. I promise.”

I examine her for a moment. She holds out her arm with a mock elegance. I chuckle, linking mine with hers. We head off down the hallway. Trying to stay focused on what she is saying proves to be difficult. There are so many things swarming inside of my mind, there’s no way I am going to be able to get them all sorted. I wish there is a pause button, a way for me to check out and take a moment to breathe. Unfortunately, that is not available.

As we stop at her locker, I can’t help but pick up that she has at least mentioned Marcus’s name, a close friend of ours, multiple times. Though Heidi and I have hung out with him quite a bit, I wasn’t aware that they had kept in contact since he went out of the state. They never appeared to spend time with one another without Paige, another friend of mine, or me.

“Marcus is coming back from his trip in a few days!” Heidi elaborates cheerfully as she gathers her things, stuffing each of her notebooks into her binder. “His grandma suddenly feels ill so they decided to return a little bit earlier.”

A smirk makes its way onto my face as she continues to speak. I’m quite surprised Marcus has stayed so oblivious to how crazy she is about him for years. I wouldn’t be shocked if half of the school was aware of it; she isn’t very subtle about it.

Noticing the smug look on my face, Heidi places both hands on her hips. “Don’t do that, we are strictly friends and nothing else! That’s like a thing, ya know. So what you are thinking is all a lie!” Heidi scolds, her tone resembling one of a mother’s towards a child.

It’s pathetic.

Heidi quickly follows after me as we hurry down the halls, only having a couple of minutes left before the bell rings. Though this does not stop her from continuing to mutter under her breath about ‘not being interested in him’, and talk of how ‘Papa would not mind at all that he isn’t Muslim, but Aadil would.’

If I didn’t know any better, I would say she is more lost in life than I am.

Both of us end up parting ways due to different classes. I head up the stairs and almost reach the very top before tripping on a loose slab. In the process of trying to stop me from falling, I lose my grip on the textbooks, and my jaw rams into the railing.

Still not the worst day of my life.

Quickly looking around to see if anyone witnessed the accident, I let myself relax slightly at the fact that there is no one else roaming the halls but me. Not wanting to stand around for too long, I hurry to get a hold of my things and try to ignore the searing pain in my jaw. Worse things have happened.

The sound of the bell ringing makes me take off into something between a walk and a run. If I am caught running in the halls or late again, for like the fourth time this week, I am screwed. Dad will most likely have to come up here for my so-called irresponsible behavior.

A sigh of relief surpasses my lips as I make it to Ms. Baxton’s classroom; she always seems to show up around twelve minutes late. Which gives a lot of us more time to arrive. Just when I place my hand on the knob, I am knocked out of the way by a much bulkier build.

“You know for a fact you saw me about to open that door!”

The figure turns around, and I come face to face with a pair of narrowed dark brown eyes staring back at me. His jaw twitches slightly as the corners of his mouth drawback into a sneer. If he is trying to intimidate me, it isn’t working.

Before he can respond, the sound of heels hitting against the floor caught my attention. All I actually need is a glimpse of dark red lipstick, and I instantly find myself rushing into the room. Confrontation is the last thing I want this morning, and to be caught by Ms. Sanders as well is definitely not a top list of my priorities. As I hurriedly seat myself in the back, a sinking feeling tugs in the pit of my stomach.

Please let all be well

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