Misty Haze

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Chapter 6: Relationship Blunders

Mark was sitting on the end of the couch, leaning against the arm, his head resting on his hand and more bored than he’d ever been in his life. Becky was over his house, and she insisted on watching Grease of all movies. Worst of all, she was singing along, and couldn’t carry a tune for the life of her. He was sure he’d die from the torture.

It was always like this when he was with Becky, they always did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. Mark wouldn’t have a huge problem with it. However, she had none of the same interests he did, so their time together was boring and dull.

Becky’s father hated him still as well, which didn’t help matters at all. If he had things his way, his daughter wouldn’t be seeing Mark at all, but that was why they usually spend their time at Mark’s place. The only time they went to Becky’s was when her parents weren’t home. That part didn’t bother Mark so much, after all, he wasn’t the first father to hate Mark and disprove of his relationship with their daughter.

Mark was on the verge of sleeping when Matt came inside.

“Best night ever!” He said, “We had so much fun.” Becky became annoyed by the interruption. Mark was relieved.

“What happened?” He asked, and Matt giggled.

“Lori and Ashley caught Larry cheating in monopoly again, it was so funny. Oh my god you should have been there, he cried like a baby for over an hour.” Matt said before Mark could answer, Becky, glared at him.

“You interrupted Grease, for that?” She scowled, Matt glared at her.

“Last time I checked, I lived here.” Matt said, “I can talk about whatever the hell I like, whenever the hell I want.”

“Seriously?” She spat, “And you think coming in here and crashing our date night, blabbing on about Mark’s ex-girlfriend is a great topic of choice? You do know it;s a touchy subject.” Matt raised an eyebrow.

“For him?” He asked, “Or you?” Becky growled.

“I’m going home Mark, I don’t have to take this slander from your stupid brother.” She said getting up from the couch, she took her movie out of the machine and headed toward the door.

“Good riddance,” He said, waving.” Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” She hesitated, but instead of saying anything more to Matt she ignored him and glared at Mark. He raised his eyebrow in response.

“You forget something?” Mark asked, and Becky frowned.

“Aren’t you going to see me out?” She asked, and Mark rolled his eyes and got up off the couch. He walked over to her and she hugged him, it was one-sided. “Kiss?” She asked, and Mark gave her a quick peck. Becky smiled, “I love you.”

“Yeah,” Mark said, “Me too.” Matt snickered, as Becky was out the door, Mark closed it behind her and rolled his eyes. “That woman is driving me crazy!”

“What do you expect?” Matt asked, “She’s always been a few fries short of a happy meal. Why are you even staying with her anyways? Ashley’s back, don’t you want to be with her?”

“Of course I do,” Mark said and shook her head. “The problem is, Ashley and I never seem to want each other at the same time anymore. You saw the way she reacted, or should I say didn’t react to the news I was with Becky in the first place. She doesn’t want to be with me, at least not yet.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Matt asked, and Mark smirked.

“Well,” He said, “Anytime, I’m dating someone, Ashley can only handle it so long before she gets mad jealous. I figure, if I stay with Becky long enough, she’ll snap make it known she wants to be with me, I’ll leave Becky and we’ll live happily ever after.” Matt glared at him and blinked.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He said, “It’s even worse than... well its bad.” Mark raised an eyebrow.

“Worse than what?” He asked, and Matt shook his head.

“It’s not important,” He said, “But, Mark, be serious! Do you really expect that plan of yours to work?”

Mark made his way into the kitchen and Matt followed.

“Yeah,” He replied, “Why wouldn’t it work?”

“How do you know that Ashley isn’t just waiting for you to leave Becky?” He asked, and Mark laughed.

“It’s Ashley,” He said, shrugging his shoulders. “If she has a problem with something, she says it.” Matt rolled his eyes as Mark started pulling things from the fridge and placing them on the counter.

“People change.” He said, and Mark laughed.

“Not Ashley,” He answered, throwing together a sandwich.

“Mark,” Matt pressed, “As long as you’ve been dating Ashley, how many of these talks have we had?”

“A lot,” Mark answered taking a bite of his sandwich.

“Okay, and how many times did you take my advice?” He asked, and Mark shrugged.

“Barely ever,” He said, and Matt nodded.

“And how many times, did you mess up only to find out I was right all along?” He asked, and Mark shrugged.

“A few,” He answered, and Matt nodded.

“So for once, don’t you want to get it right without the mess up first? Do yourself a favor, take my advice.” He said, and Mark narrowed his eyes.

“You know something, don’t you?” He asked, and Matt shrugged and laughed.

“What make’s you think that? He asked, and Mark glared at him.

“Your friends with her, you guys are always talking.” He said, “She told you something.”

“Even if that was true Mark, and I’m not saying it is,” He answered, “But if she had, I’m sworn to secrecy.”

“I’m your brother!” Mark stated, and Matt shook his head.

“It doesn’t matter,” He said, “I’m still not breaking her trust.” Mark’s mouth dropped, and he pointed a finger at Matt.

“Aha!” He shouted, “You do know something.” Matt glared at him.

“Just do yourself a favor, take my advice.” He said walking upstairs.

“I can’t!” Mark shouted after him, and when he was gone, Mark laughed and placed his hand on the back of his head. “I can’t because I don’t remember what you said.” He was speaking to himself now, he shook his head, and cleaned up the kitchen. He thought about going up to bed but he needed some air. He walked out of the house and down the road, not stopping until he arrived at the first bridge.

Despite the late hour, he was surprised to see he wasn’t the only one there. He opened his eyes in the darkness and gasped.

“Penny for your thoughts?” He asked suddenly, and she jumped.

“Mark!” She exclaimed, “You startled me.”

“What are you doing down here by yourself?” He asked, and she shrugged.

“I needed to clear my head.” She said, “How about you?” Mark pushed his hands deep into his pockets and rocked on his heels.

“Sort of the same,” He said.

“Wasn’t it your night with Becky?” She asked, and he nodded.

“Yeah,” He replied, “She just left.” Ashley nodded.

“You have fun?” She asked, and Mark shook his head and began to laugh.

“Not exactly,” He said, “We watched Grease.” Ashley pulled a face.

“Damn,” She said, “I thought you hated that movie?” He nodded.

“I do,” He said, “I swear I’d prefer bamboo splinters being shoved under my nails.” She winced.

“That bad huh?” She asked.

“Even worse,” He said, “She was singing along, yeah, she can’t sing.” Ashley laughed.

“Sounds like you’ve had an interesting evening.” She said, and he nodded.

“As usual.” He said, and then he wiped the smile off his face. “How are you doing?” He noticed as he asked this question she became a bit uncomfortable, making it a point to look out over the water.

“Oh, you know me.” She said, “I’m doing fine.” Mark didn’t quite like the tone she used.

“And your handling my being with Becky good?” He asked, and again, she began shifting around, a bit more, before nodding her head.

“Yeah,” She said in a low tone that he could barely hear. “Of course.” Mark narrowed his eyes.

“You’d tell me,” He asked, “If it bothered you?” Ashley licked her lips, still avoiding looking him in the eyes.

“Sure.” She said, and Mark knew at that moment she was lying. He was glad that he finally knew she was, now all he had to do was get her to admit it. Yet, he knew that was going to be a difficult challenge.

Mark knew that if things were to go back to normal between him and Ashley, he first had to get her to admit that his relationship with Becky bothered her. That was the problem though, he had no idea how he was going to do that. She was obviously keeping it from him on purpose, though at this point he had no idea why.

He did know one thing, if he was ever going to get her to admit her true feelings, he’d need help. So during the following week, while she was home in Port City, he gathered the others. They were sitting in the Coates kitchen around the table, Mark stood so that they all could see him and he sighed.

“Look,” He began, “I know that my being with Becky is really bugging Ashley. I also know she’s purposely keeping that from me, for whatever reason. I need to make her admit that she is and I can’t-do that alone.”

“So you’re recruiting us?” Larry asked, and Mark nodded.

“I know that you all have done too much for us already, and I know me asking this of you is unfair. But, Ash is a stubborn person, and this is one thing that I’ll never get her to admit alone. I need help, but I understand if you don’t want to get involved.” He said, and Lori sighed.

“So, just for clarification, once you get her to admit it bothers her, then what?” She asked, and Mark nodded.

“Once I can get her to admit to me that she can’t stand the thought of Becky and me, I’ll talk to her, and hopefully convince her that we should be together. It might take me some time, but when she agrees and she will eventually agree, I’ll leave Becky to be with her and hopefully we finally live happily ever after.” He said, and Larry glared at him narrowing his eyes.

“And how do you know that she’s only pretending it doesn’t bother her? She may have actually moved on, it’s not that far-fetched.” He said, and Mark smiled and shook his head. He folded his hands behind his back and took four slow steps toward the window above the sink.

“I know Ashley better than I know myself, when Ashley lies she won’t look me in the eye, because she knows I’ll see through it. What she doesn’t realize is that I’ve become used to this behavior, and now anytime I notice it I know that she’s not being honest with me.” He said and nodded. “It’s part of our connection. Larry laughed and held a hand out in the air.

“So you’re basing the fact that she might be pretending to accept your relationship because of some supposed connection the two of you might share?” Larry asked, and Mark nodded.

“Is there a problem?” He asked.

“Well,” Larry started, “Only the fact that your only proof comes from a notion that has no physical evidence that it even exists.”

“We’ve all seen the connection in action Larry, including you,” Lori added, and her brother rolled his eyes.

“Oh please,” Larry said, “We don’t know for sure that any of that wasn’t just coincidence. There is no scientific evidence supporting the existence of soulmates or twin flames. All we can go by is the claim him and his girlfriend makes that they can feel each other. Well explain something to me, if you both have this same connection, why has it taken you this long to realize she’s been lying to you about being accepting of your relationship with Becky because she wants you to choose on your own before now.”

“Choose on my own?” Mark asked, and Randy threw a balled up sock at Larry’s head, it bounced off his forehead and hit the wall behind him.

“Why to go bonehead,” He shouted, “Mark wasn’t supposed to know that.” Mark glared at his friends.

“Wait,” He said, pacing in front of the counter. “You all knew and never told me?” Matt flinched.

“We promised we wouldn’t say anything,” Matt said, “She was pretty persistent on that.” Randy nodded.

“So, see Mark. You can end this all with no scheme at all. You just have to leave Becky, and choose my sister.” He said and Mark bit down on his lip.

“You know what,” He said, “No, I’m not going to do that. If she want’s to play games, I’ll play the game. She made her move, now I’m making mine, we stick to my plan. I want to hear the words come out of her lips. I want her to admit that my being with Becky upsets her.” Lori slapped her hand onto her face.

“Isn’t that prolonging the situation?” She asked, and Matt shook his head.

“What is with you two and these damn games. Just talk to her, work it out.” He said, and Mark sighed.

“I’m guessing the two of you won’t help me then?” He asked.

“Well,” Lori said, “I never said I wouldn’t help.” Mark glanced at his brother, Matt sighed as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

“Fine,” He replied but pointed his index finger at Mark. “But, don’t make me regret it.”

Everything was planned out before Ashley arrived that Friday and Mark felt confident about the plan. Everything as falling into place for him as Becky had to go out of town that same weekend, Mark took it as a sign. The cards were on his side, nothing could go wrong, or so he thought.

Once she arrived they headed straight for Lori and Larry’s house as usual. Despite the cold, they figured having a bonfire that night would be the best way to spark up any feelings, and for the most part that did work.

The group brought up old times, some far back to childhood. All good moments, that surrounded the two of them. It didn’t take long before Ashley became teary-eyed and she excused herself from the others, and walked over by Larry’s shed, claiming she needed air.

Mark followed after her, she had his back to him and he jammed his hands into his pockets.

“Penny for your thoughts?” He asked, and Ashley sighed.

“Those old memories struck a cord,” She said, “I’ll be okay.”

“Are you sure that’s all it is?” He asked, and she nodded.

“Of course,” She replied. “What else would it be?”

“Well,” He said, and shuffled his feet in the dirt below his feet. “Perhaps it bothers you because you still have feelings for me.” She shook her head.

“I’m over that remember?” She replied, “You’re with Becky now.”

“I know,” He answered, “But, that doesn’t have to mean that you don’t still have feelings for me.”

“I don’t.” She lied, and he shook his head.

“Yes, Ash,” He said, “You do.” She turned around, glared at him and narrowed her eyes.

“You seem sure of yourself.” She said, and he nodded.

“Because I know you still love me.” He answered, and swallowed. “I can see it every time I look in your eyes.” She shook her head but glanced away. She was looking down now, at her feet.

“Even if that were true,” She told him, “And I’m not saying it is- but if it were true. It doesn’t matter anymore, you’re with Becky and I.. I respect that.” Mark pressed his lips together and nodded.

“I know,” He said, “I know you respect it, but I also know it bothers you.” Ashley laughed, but it was a phony laugh and she shook her head.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She claimed. Mark sighed and glanced at the stars.

“Yeah, Ash,” He answered, “You know exactly what I’m talking about. You respect that I’m with Becky, but you don’t like it. It hurts, you pretend that it doesn’t because you think that you’re supporting me, but it does.”

“You’re mistaken Mark,” She insisted, and he smiled.

“Am I?” He asked, and took a few steps closer to her. “Because, I’m not the only one who sees it, and you know that.” She glanced up into his eyes again, as tears were beginning to stream down her cheeks.

“You caught me,” She admitted, “What do you want me to say?” She shrugged her shoulders and Mark exhaled.

“I want you to look me in the eyes and tell me that my being with Becky bothers you.” He pleaded, and she shook her head.

“Of course it does,” She said, “Would it not bother you if you saw me with a new guy every day?” He sighed and shook his head.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked, and she shook her head, as a laugh escaped her lips.

“I don’t know,” She said, “You seem happy with her, I didn’t want to take the chance away from you to find someone new.” Mark glared at her, shaking his head.

“Find someone...” Mark, hesitated, and then took the final few steps to close the distance between them. “What do I have to do to convince you that you are and always will be the only person I ever want to be with.”

“You can’t be sure of that.” She insisted, and he shook his head.

“Why the hell not?” He shouted, and she ran her hand down her face.

“Because you’ve never really been with anyone else. There could be someone out there that you actually love more.” She answered. Mark pointed up the road.

“And you think that’s Becky Hicks!” He shouted, “She’ll bore me to death, if I stay with her much longer, you’ll be visiting my grave before I’m twenty-two!” Ashley shook her head.

“So not funny Mark.” She said and he shook his own head.

“I’m not joking,” He answered. “Ash, I miss you, can we please put this aside and just be together?”

“No,” She answered, and Mark glared at her, with his jaw dropped.

“Why not?” He asked.

“Well,” She said, “For starters, there’s Becky.”

“I’d leave her in a heartbeat for you.” He answered, and she laughed and shook her head.

“Don’t you think I know that already!” She shouted, “Why do you think I kept this from you. I didn’t want you making this life-changing event just because you feel obligated to. If you choose to leave her, I wanted you to do that for yourself and not me.” Mark narrowed his eyes, shrugged his shoulders, and glanced into her eyes.

“What does that even mean?” He asked, and she sighed.

“It means, doesn’t leave her until you know for sure.” She said, and he laughed.

“Ash, I already know for sure.” He said, “You’re the one for me.” She shook her head again.

“At least give it another week.” She insisted, and he glared at her.

“You want me to stay in this relationship with her another week?” He said, and she nodded.

“One week, if you still feel nothing, then you can leave her and we can be together.” She told him, and Mark chewed his lip for a moment.

“Fine,” He answered, “But only because I already know it won’t happen.”

He couldn’t see why this was so important to her, and it would take him years fully understand. Yet, it wasn’t as if her challenge was hard, all he had to do was stick it out with the devils spawn one more week.

Mark didn’t have to stay with Becky another week to know that he didn’t want to be with her. However, he’d made a promise to Ashley that he’d give it a try.

It would be the longest seven days of his life, and yet what came next was worth that wait.

The last week would go from Sunday to Sunday, and to Mark on Sunday morning that felt like an eternity. He waved goodbye to Ashley as she headed back to Port City, and was heading to do his chores when Becky showed up and wanted to spend quality time with him.

He hated that phrase quality time but knowing that this relationship was on limited time he smiled and nodded.

She followed him to the barn and while he busied himself with chores, she rambled on and on about her visit out of town. To be perfectly honest, Mark would never be able to recall much of that conversation because he was only pretending to listen.

When he was done, he walked over to the water pump to clean off, Becky followed still rambling something about expensive pumps her father bought her. This worried Mark, what were pumps? The only thing he could think of was this odd hand tool that his aunt had at the farm a few years back that pumped breast milk for babies. Why would Becky need pumps?

He thought it best to play dumb and pretend like he knew what she was talking about and spare himself an equally boring explanation.

Becky didn’t shut up the entire time, actually, he wasn’t even sure if she’d taken a single breath. She rambled like Six from Blossom and most of the time he couldn’t understand a word she was even saying. Mark walked into the house, plopped on the couch and picked up the remote. Becky sat down next to him, her lips moving a mile a minute. Now he thought she said something about school, but he wasn’t completely sure. Mark turned on the TV in hopes to drown her out but she only raised her voice. Matt entered the room, glared at her, turned and walk out of the house.

Lucky shit. Mark thought to himself.

He pointed the remote at the TV and turned the volume up, and drowned her voice out. After a good twenty minutes, she was nudging him, he hit the mute button and glanced at her.

“Yeah?” He asked, and her eyes were an icy glare.

“Have you been listening to a word I’ve said?” She asked, and Mark broke into a sweat.

“Yes?” He meant it more as a statement, and yet it came out as a question. She raised an eyebrow at that.

“Name one thing that I’ve talked about.” She said, and bullets of sweat appeared on his forehead.

“Pumps.” He said, and her face twisted into anger.

“That was over an hour ago!” She shouted, and Mark shrugged.

“I’m sorry!” He said, “I’ve had a long weekend, I’m tired.”

“Really?” She asked, with that glare of hers pierced into his eyes. “What did you do this weekend?”

“I hung out with my friends.” He answered, and she rolled her eyes.

“So, she was with you. Is that what tired you out?” She asked and Mark narrowed his eyes.

“What exactly are you implying?” He asked, and she shook her head.

“You know I hoped in time this would change, that just maybe I wouldn’t come in second to her

anymore. That maybe, even for a split second you’d look at me the way you do her, that you’d listen to me the way you listen to her. That’s never going to happen is it?”

“I’m with you aren’t I?” He asked, she laughed and shook her head.

“That’s not an answer,” She said, “That’s only avoiding my question.”

“What do you want from me?” He shouted, “I can’t just erase my past with her. I’m with you now, can’t you just accept that.”

“Yeah,” She said, “You are with me, but you spend nearly the same amount if not more time with her than me.”

“We remained friends,” He answered. “So what?”

“Are you still seeing her?” She asked, “Behind my back?”

“No, of course not.” He said, and she rolled her eyes.

“You answered that pretty quickly.” She said, and he narrowed his eyes.

“Because I’m not.” He answered, “What’s with you anyway?”

“What do you mean?” She asked, and he glared at her.

“I don’t know, you seem really moody.” He answered, and she became furious with him.

“Maybe I wouldn’t be so moody if you didn’t spend all your time with your ex-girlfriend.” She screamed. Mark shook his head and laughed, as he stood up and glared at her.

“You know what Becky. It’s getting late, I’m tired, I think you better leave.” He said and she blinked her eyes, as she too stood and placed her hands on her hips.

“What?” She asked, “I can’t stay over? We haven’t seen each other all weekend, and you barely ever ask me to stay. Ashley used to stay over here all the time.” Mark glared at her, he could feel his blood begin to boil.

“I’m not in the damn mood,” He spat, “Get out!” He shouted pointing to the door, she glared at him, her mouth plummeting.

“Fine!” She screamed and stomped her way to the door. When she reached it she twirled around, flipping her hair dramatically to the left. “Sometimes Mark, you can be such a jerk.” She wrenched open the door.

“Yeah?” He shouted, “Well sometimes, you can be such a b-” The door slammed on the last word, Mark growled and threw the remote violently on the couch. He glanced up and found Matt sitting on the bottom of the stairs, he was peering over the top rim of his glasses, the creepiest grin upon his lips.

“Just one more week,” He said, “And you’ll be rid of the wicked witch for good.” Mark exhaled, his anger fading quickly.

“Yeah,” He agreed, “If I can make it that long without ripping my eyeballs out of their sockets.” Matt tossed his head back and chuckled.

“I’d tell you it’s not that bad,” Matt said, “But, I can’t-do that Mark because it really is.”

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Mark said, walking past him and climbing the stairs. Matt stood and chased him up. They entered their bedroom and Mark flopped down in his bed. Matt sat on the edge of his own.

“Why Ash thinks its remotely possible that I could ever love Becky is beyond me. I can only pray to god that I can make it through the next week.” He replied.

“Well,” Matt said, “How often has Ash seen that side of Becky Hicks?” He was pointing downstairs.

“Becky has been plenty mean to Ashley over the years,” Mark answered.

“True,” Matt said, “But, that’s different. Ash has only seen Becky being pleasant towards you. Plus, Ash sees Becky girlishness and she is pretty at least on the outside.” Mark shrugged.

“Well,” He said, “Ashley’s beautiful.” Matt grinned and nodded.

“Yes,” Matt said, “But that’s one thing about her she refuses to see. She has a very different perception of herself than whats really there.”

“That’s just her insecurities though,” Mark said, and Matt nodded.

“Exactly,” Matt added, “And because of them she’ll always view girl’s like Becky a better choice for you. Even when in truth they are a complete nightmare.”

“Complete nightmare?” Mark said, “Be real, Becky is the nightmare of all nightmares.”

Over the next few days, Mark attempted to avoid Becky the best he could. He figured the less he saw of her, the better. Yet, by Thursday, Becky had tracked him down at his locker. Mark was already in the middle of the hall when he spotted her, she’d already seen him so he had no choice but to continue on to his locker.

“What’s with you?” She asked, and Mark shrugged.

“I’ve been busy.” He said, dryly. “I had a lot of homework and chores.” She frowned as he opened the door of his locker and started putting in the notebooks he had in his hands.

“You’re not upset with me over Sunday night are you?” She asked, and Mark shrugged.

“Maybe a little,” He admitted. “You did say some pretty messed up stuff.” She shook her head and sighed.

“I don’t know what got into me,” She said, “I was so horrible to you and about the Ashley stuff. I don’t blame you for being angry with me.”

“Look,” Mark said, “I get it. Everyone has their days.” She nodded.

“What are you doing after school?” She asked and he sighed.

“I’m still loaded down with homework, and I have to do all my chores when I get home too.” He lied, and she nodded.

“So, I guess that’s a no on us hanging out?” She asked and he shrugged again.

“I’m sorry.” He answered, and she sighed.

“We’re still going to hang out over the weekend right? She asked Mark shifted his feet as he removed his books for the next class, and shook his head.

“I don’t think so, Becky.” He said, “I need some time to myself. I’ll call you later, okay?” With hurt written on her face, she nodded.

“Okay,” She said, swallowed and walked away.

When she was gone, Mark rolled his eyes and slammed his locker shut. Just three more days to go. In three more days you’ll be rid of her forever. He thought to himself, and for the only time in his life, Mark wished he had a device that could fast-forward time because he couldn’t wait for that day to come.

That weekend, Ashley had a project and couldn’t make it, Friday night, Mr. Thomas sent Mark over to Cheryl’s with a jug of fresh milk and a dozen eggs. Randy was upstairs in his bedroom. Mark entered the kitchen, and Cheryl instructed him to place the items down on the table, before leaving the room to find her wallet. As Mark set the items down something caught the corner of his eye.

Ashley had forgotten her diary, it was sitting on the kitchen table unlocked. Mark gulped and bit his lip. For years he wanted to know what was written on its pages and she would never tell him. As if a gift from God, it sat there waiting for him to take a peak. Mark knew it was an invasion of privacy, but he was too curious for his own good. He pulled the diary over and began slimming through it. There was a lot of passages inside about him, some good, some bad.

Mark was more interested in some of the more recent pages.

When he got to the last page, his mind was blown. The contents of that diary changed everything. He finished reading it, reached into his pocket and pulled out a copper penny. He placed this on the last page of the diary, shut it and slid it back into the same place he found it, just as Cheryl reentered the room and gave him the money. He thanked her and saw himself out.

He took the money to his dad and went up to his room, where he laid down on the bed, his arms folded behind his head and he’d think about what he’d read.

A lot of the pages were about things he already knew, relived memories and conversations between them, arguments that he’d rather forget. Then there were the things he didn’t know. Her deepest thoughts on everything. Even though she’d said he had until Sunday, she still wanted him to just male the decision whenever he might want to. Mark inhaled a large breath and then exhaled.

He knew what he had to do, and nothing was going to stop him. He jumped from the bed, racing for the door, ran out of his room and down the stairs. Without saying anything to his family, Mark ran out the front door and to the shed, where he started his bike and took off. His destination was the Hicks home, the mission? Operation Break Up.

Mark was driving through town, with one goal in his mind. It was finally time for him to leave Becky. It was about eight o’clock in the evening. The ground had a light dusting of snow, so he was driving slower than he usually would. Yet, Mark had it all planned out. He would arrive at Becky’s and ask her to come outside because he wasn’t really allowed inside because of the stunt he pulled a while back. Mark would tell her that they needed to talk and then he would carefully explain that he just didn’t want to be with her, that he was in fact still in love with Ashley and wanted to be with her. He realized it would probably hurt Becky, and he was prepared to stick around and try to console her if she desired that. It was the least he could do after crushing her the way he would.

After that, he would get back on his bike, drive home and give Ashley a call. He’d tell her that he’d ended things with Becky, and before the end of the call they’d be back together and planning their upcoming wedding.

It was a simple and perfect plan, nothing could go wrong, could it?

As he was driving it began to snow, it didn’t seem to be anything to worry about. It was a light snow, visibility was good, there shouldn’t be any problems at all.

Mark lucked out when he pulled into the Hicks driveway. Becky’s parent’s car wasn’t there, and Mark had a pretty good idea, that they weren’t home. He took a deep breath as he climbed off his bike, walked up to the door and knocked.

It took a few minutes for her to come to the door, and when she opened it, her eyes looked as if she’d already been crying. Becky rested her head against the door, her eyes meeting his.

“Mark,” She said slowly, “I thought you needed space?”

“I did..” He said, “I do.. am I able to come in?” She stepped aside.

“Sure,” She said, “My parents are gone to a wedding, they won’t be back for hours.” Mark walked into the house, and she shut the door. He removed his boots and then followed her into the living room. Mark rubbed his palms together and pressed his lips together.

“We really need to talk.” He said, and she nodded.

“Yes, Mark,” She sighed, “We do, I have something to tell you that your probably not going to be too thrilled about.” Mark narrowed his eyes, had she cheated on him? That would be something that she would think would make him unhappy. In truth, it would make things easier on him. “Come into the kitchen, I’ll make some tea.” She walked toward the kitchen and he followed behind. Mark pulled out a wooden chair, as Becky filled the kettle with water and put it on the stove. She turned the burner on and grabbed two cups out of the cupboard. She placed them on the counter and got a spoon out of the silverware drawer.

“You seem upset tonight, is everything okay?” He asked, and with her back still to him she sighed.

“Yes,” she said and nodded her head, “And no all at the same time. It really depends on how you look at things.”

“Did you have another fight with your father again?” He asked, and she nodded her head again.

“Well,” She said, “Yeah, sort of... I mean I guess you could call it that. He’s not very happy with me at the moment, and more so than usual.” Mark narrowed his eyes and shook his head just a slight bit.

“Was it about me, again?” He asked, thinking at the very least him leaving would be able to patch things between them again. The Kettle squealed and Becky removed it from the burner. She opened a canister nearby and placed two tea bags in the cups, picked up the kettle and poured the water in.

“Well,” She said, moving her head from side to side. “I suppose you could say that, in a matter of speaking.” She swished the spoon around delicately in the cups, removed the tea bags and tossed them in the trash. Then she added a bit of sugar and cream to each of them and carried them over to the table and placed one in front of Mark, and one in front of the empty seat that she pulled out and sat down in.

“I’m completely confused then, what’s going on?” He asked, and Becky sighed. She was glancing down into her steaming cup of tea as she twirled the cup in her fingers, bent down and blew gently across the top of it.

“Mark,” She said and gazed up at him. “You noticed that I’ve been a bit moody lately, haven’t you. I mean more moody than usual?”

“Yeah,” He replied, “It’s been the main source for most of our arguments lately. Why, did you find out you’re bipolar or something?” He asked, and she shook her head.

“No, Mark.” She answered, and sighed again before taking a tiny sip of her tea.

“Then I don’t understand,” He said, “Like at all.”

“My parents noticed my mood swings among other issues I have been having lately. I’ve been getting sick a lot and eating a bit more than I normally do at night. Sometimes, even strange things that I normally wouldn’t eat.” She said and sighed again, “They took me to the doctor this morning, and had a series of test done on me because they were worried about me and not surprisingly, one came back as positive.” She said and Mark shook his head.

“What, are you dying or something?” He asked and this actually made her chuckle a bit.

“No, Mark,” She replied, “I’m not dying, I’m pregnant, Mark. I’m pregnant and you’re the father.” Mark’s eyes grew wide, and his jaw dropped, he shook his head, he couldn’t have heard her right.

“Excuse me?” He choked out, “I don’t think I heard that right.” She sighed again.

“I’m really pregnant. We’re going to have a baby together, you and I.” She said, and Mark shook his head automatically.

“No, we’re not.” He answered, “The test is wrong, get another.”

“My father made them run three more after the first, there’s definitely a baby in there.” She said, and Mark shook his head again.

“Well it can’t be mine, you must have cheated on me, because there is no way it can be mine!” He said, his voice rising a few octaves.

“I counted back the dates Mark, it’s yours,” She said, but Mark was still frantically shaking his head.

“I only slept with you that one damn time, when I was drunk.” He argued, and she shrugged.

“It only takes one time.” She said, and Mark jumped up, bumped the table and the tea went everywhere.

“Mark!” Becky shouted, and grabbed some paper towel from the counter to mop up the mess.

“No, no, no!” Mark shouted, “This can’t be happening! You can’t be serious... there’s no way, you made a mistake it can’t be mine.” She glared at him.

“You’re taking this even worse than I expected.” Becky said, “It’s true, it’s real, it’s happening.”

“Get rid of it!” He shouted, “I don’t want this! I don’t want it, not with you!” She glared at him.

“Oh I see, this is about her. Surprise, surprise!” She shouted, “I’m going to pretend you never just said that horrible stuff to me about our unborn child because I can see it comes as a shock for you. But, get out, I’m so angry with you right now I can’t even look at you.” He gazed at her in shock.

“Are you freaking kidding me? We aren’t even out of high school yet, we aren’t ready to be parents! Look at me, you think I’m ready to be a father? It’s not just her, it’s a lot of things.” He admitted and she glared at him.

“So you admit that it is partly her?” She asked, and Mark nodded.

“Of course it’s partly her. She’s the person I’m supposed to be with, she’s the one I want to be with. If anyone’s going to have my child it’s going to be her!” He shouted. She shook her head slowly.

“News flash!” She shouted in his face. “It’s too late for that because I’m carrying your child right now!” Mark growled and threw the chair onto the floor.

“This wasn’t how this was supposed to go!” He shouted.

“Would you mind not smashing up my parent’s house?” She shouted, and shook her head, chuckling. “I should have known, that’s why you’ve been acting so weird, that’s why you came here tonight, and why you wanted to talk. You planned on leaving me for her.”

“Of course I did!” He shouted, “I love her, I’ve always loved her and I will always love her!”

“Leave!” Becky shouted, “You get the hell out of my house now!”

“Fine!” Mark shouted, and stormed to the front door, he pulled his boots on, wrenched open the door and stormed outside slamming the door behind him, so violently, he heard something fall off the wall inside and smash into thousands of shards.

The weather had gotten much worse, it was snowing hard now, and blowing fiercely. Visibility had gotten much worse. Mark, tightened the collar of his jacket and struggled to get to his bike, He wished he’d brought his helmet, the mask would have helped him be able to see better. What a night this was turning out to be. What the hell was he to do now? He’d always said that he’d never turn his back on his child, but he had no feelings for Becky at all. How the hell was he going to tell Ashley? Would she hate him forever? At this moment, he was more scared than he ever been in his life. He climbed onto his bike and kicked it started and sped out of the Hicks driveway.

He was so upset, he wasn’t thinking about how fast he was going in the bad weather, he could think of nothing else, but the conversation he just had with Becky and how it would ruin his life and plans, no matter what path he chose.

He could see nothing, but was clipping along at high speed, he’d be home any minute and then what? Call Ashley and tell her about his biggest mistake ever? The one he’d never be able to take back or fix it anyway? What did this mean for them now? Could they be together? Would she even want to be with him anymore? Mark glanced, up and saw it only a second too late, he gasped and tried to apply the brakes as he closed his eyes.

There was a grinding, a loud crashing, followed by many snapping and popping sounds. Mark felt the back of his head smash the road, and everything went black.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d blacked out for a while before he attempted to open his eyes, but there was some warm sticky fluid obstructing his vision badly. The only thing he could see for sure was the flashing lights in the night sky, and shadow figures looming over him and calling out his name. He tried desperately to answer them, but he couldn’t seem to speak, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and everything went black again.

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