“Can’t he just pretend to not hate me so much? I swear he glares at me every five seconds,” I mutter, glaring back at Shane as we all continue walking into the movie theater. Justin had them all gang up on me to agree to hang with them tonight. It was a Friday night and I usually spent it alone in my room binge watching whatever obsession I’m focused on during a particular week. But instead I agreed to go to the movies and chill with them instead.
I sat with them during lunch for the rest of this week because according to Justin the day I met them was a “success” since Shane didn’t mutilate me and Lou apparently doesn’t hate me. I asked him how he could possibly know this and he told me that when she met his ex Amy she and I quote called her “A fake backstabbing bitch,” to her face. They’ve always hated each other. And Justin swears that if Lou didn’t like me she would have told me the day we met officially. She’s honest with her feelings and I admire that.
It made me uneasy talking about Justin’s ex, Amy Winters. Me and her haven’t talked in years but we had mutual friends a while back. Lou doesn’t dislike people for no reason though, and that’s not to mention all the drama Amy had caused during her and Justin’s relationship. If you so much as looked at him in what she saw as a more than friendly way, her friends would corner you faster than you could blink. I honestly just think she was highly insecure about their relationship because Justin is so sweet, popular, and attractive and she probably felt intimidated by that and felt like if she didn’t hold on tightly to him, she’d lose him. But sometimes gripping on too tight is more harmful than just letting go. Because sometimes people will leave you either way.
“Okay! I have our tickets so let’s grab some snacks real quick so we can get good seats by each other!” Amiyah exclaims before quickly dashing towards the station where they sell overpriced food. We all laugh at her excitement. She was the one who begged me the most to come. She claimed that tonight wouldn’t be the same without me, even though they’ve all been close for years and I’m just, well me. An outsider.
“Come on Lilly. We don’t want you to get left behind,” Justin flashes me his crooked smile before tugging me along with them to the counter. Everyone around me orders candy and popcorn but I just stick with a pretzel and cheese. I love pretzels from the movie theater.
“I’m impressed,” Justin comments, “I expected you to jump at the opportunity to order candy or other junk food.” I roll my eyes. He just loves to get under my skin.
“I eat other things too you know. Keep it in mind that you only see me eat one meal a day.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“You are so fucking annoying most of the time I don’t even know why I’m friends with you!” I exclaim, laughing loudly when Justin’s eyes widen and looks very offended.
“Dude you just got friendzoned!” Gracson laughs, causing me to blush. God I didn’t think of it that way. But we were just friends right? God this is making me overthink too much.
“See Justin I told you your dick-” Shane begins but I cut him off abruptly.
“Shane I swear to god if you finish that sentence I don’t care how scary you are I will castrate you!” I growl surprising myself and everyone else. Every since mine and Shane’s lovely first meeting, I mostly kept away from him. I didn’t want to give him a reason to go off. But after a week of unnecessary glares and snide comments I was fed up.
“Damn Shane you better watch out before Lilly gives you a run for your money,” Lou laughs, swinging her arm around me.
“Come on Lilly. Fuck the guys. I want to sit beside my girls.” Me, Lou, Amiyah, and Jasmine all sat by each other in one row and made the boys sit a row below us. Gracson complained for five minutes how him and Lou wouldn’t be able to have “fun” in the dark theater. Lets just say we all threw popcorn at the top of his head. The boys thought it would be funny to see a horror movie. Amiyah and Jasmine screamed the whole time, Lou laughed like a maniac, and I was just content. Horror movies don’t scare me. I swear I saw Shane jump in his seat a few times though, and that was my main entertainment.
When the movie was over we all decided to hang at Gracson’s place. His dad worked late and he said his mom doesn’t care if he has us all over. We were all in his basement sprawled out on various couches and recliners. The couches were leather and the recliners were huge. He had a giant flat screen t.v. and various game consoles including a Wii, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, etc. The place was pretty lit.
“Which of you dumb asses want to play Just Dance with me?” Gracson challenges. I think about offering to join him before Amiyah stops me short.
“Not today satan! The last time I freaking played you beat me five times and when I managed to get the upper hand during the sixth round you freaking unplugged the whole system you twat!” She screeches and as hard as I tried not to I started laughing so hard tears left my eyes. I think I even snorted a few times.
“You lost to that sore loser five times? Amiyah I had higher hopes for you,” I cackle and Gracson rolls his eyes at me.
“If your gonna talk shit Lilly at least put your money where your mouth is. Beat me if you think I suck so much,” Gracson taunts and I stand up.
“Gladly,” I say, taking a Wii controller and putting the string thingy around my wrist.
“Your writing your death warrant,” Amiyah warns.
“Gracson is not that good you just suck,” Jasmine teases, earning a slap from Amiyah. Justin smirks at me when I look at him and I glance away quickly. Keeping eye contact with him makes me too nervous. When my eyes flicker to Shane I’m not surprised to see him on his phone looking bored. How they are even friends with someone as rude as him I will never know.
“I’ll let you pick the song,” Gracson says as I flicker through them.
“Good I was going to anyways,” I say, going through all of the choices before I settle on one I like. Uptown Funk.
“Yes this song is my shit!” Lou shouts, pumping her fist. I laugh before I get ready for the song to begin. The first few moves are pretty simple and I find myself falling into a steady rhythm. Gracson has a good lead on me but I can catch up. Everything goes smoothly until the chorus where the moves get hard.
“Dude what the fuck!” I laugh, trying to keep up with the girl on my screen. Surprisingly Gracson is freaking doing great and hitting every move on perfect.
“What was that again Lilly? Who’s a loser now?” Gracson mocks.
“Stop winning you dick!”
“You can’t stop perfection baby- HEY!” He shouts as I shove his shoulder, making him miss some moves. I laugh hysterically before he pushes me back. By then we were both yelling and pushing each other and losing tremendously and before we knew it the song was over. He still won.
“HA! This is proof that cheaters never win!” Gracson shouts. I roll my eyes.
“More like proof that only dicks do.”
“Hey! Don’t talk bad about my junk. I haven’t gotten any complaints yet-”
“Gracson Monroe Lewis! Don’t you dare finish that sentence! I thought you were still a virgin!” Everyone jumps and glances quickly to his mom. She was a gorgeous woman with curly blonde locks and baby blue eyes identical to her sons. We were all deathly silent before Shane of all people started cracking up. His dark hazel eyes actually lit up and he was literally rolling on the floor. I was so used to anger or carelessness radiating from him that I was shocked to see him look so... carefree. It was refreshing in a way.
“Um, look mom that’s not, uh, what I meant...” Gracson fumbles for words and I see Lou’s cheeks have extremely reddened. His mom keeps her strict composure for a moment longer before cracking a small smile that turns into a full out grin as she starts laughing hysterically. We all end up joining her and laughing too.
“Silly boy. You’re just as gullible as your father. You think I don’t know that you haven’t abstained from sex? Lord you and Louisa have been together for three years and I know how boys were at your age. Don’t take me as a fool son,” She gives us all another wicked smile before setting down the brownies she had brought for us all and scurrying back upstairs.
“Your mom is awesome,” I laugh, staring in wonder where she had disappeared. If only my mom were that cool. Lately we can’t even be in the same room together.
“No, god she’s so embarrassing!” He moans, falling on top of Louisa and burying his head on her shoulder. She pats him affectionately and I smile. They are so cute together. You can tell how much they love each other. It radiates off of them both. I can only hope to have someone that makes me that happy some day.
“I heard that boy! Don’t make me come back down there!” She shouts from upstairs and Gracson is quick to shut his big mouth. Aw who knew he was such a mommas boy?
I go to take the only available spot on the love seat next to Justin. He smiles coyly at me.
“I love your dancing. It gives me naughty thoughts,” Justin smirks when my eyes widen. I punch him in the shoulder, hard.
“Justin if you don’t take that back I swear-”
“What? You’ll fight me? That won’t change anything. It might actually give me more interesting thoughts...”
“You piece of shit!” I yell, going to attack him before he snatches my wrists quickly. I try to pull from his grip but he’s too strong.
“Let go of me you douche!” I laugh, trying to break free from his hold. He lifts my arms and pins me to the couch. I feel the cool leather behind me and get chills. Even though I am more than positive they aren’t from the cold. He straddles my waist and puts all of his weight on me.
“Goddamn you’re heavy,” I pant. How much does he even weigh? I swear he feels like a bull dozer. “Get off of me!”
“Not until you apologize,” He smirks, leaning even more on me, bringing his face very close to mine. I feel my breath hitch. My stomach is clenched tight but it’s not in an uncomfortable way. Everything around us feels heightened, the air charged with our energy. I don’t know what this is but I want more of it. The anticipation of what’s coming next is almost unbearable.
His eyes are so much prettier up close. He has thick eyelashes, and they remind me of thick trees, reaching for the deep green recesses of his eyes. It’s like opening your favorite book and being captivated by the beauty of its writing. His pink lips are parted and I swear I can feel his exhales against my own. He has a little cupids bow on his upper lip and his bottom one almost sticks just a little bit behind his upper lip. Its different and thrilling. Everything about him is thrilling.
He is a canvas I want to explore, a book with a new chapter I haven’t discovered. A page spilling with words waiting to be read. All for me to unravel.
“Can you guys not have sex in front of us all? Some of us are still innocent here,” Shane mutters, rolling his eyes while effectively ruining our moment. Justin is quick to scramble off of me. I sit up, trying to keep my breathing down to a minimal amount. They definitely don’t have to see how much that affected me. I can’t believe that just happened.
“Okay this is awkward,” Jasmine says, breaking the silence. “It’s starting to get late anyways. I don’t want to keep my grandma up waiting for me.” She sits up, beginning to gather her stuff. Amiyah follows her lead and grabs her purse. Before long everyone is preparing to leave. I stand up too, making sure I don’t accidentally lock eyes with Justin. I definitely need some air.
“Okay so Jasmine, Shane, and I will be in one car since we all live by one another. Are the rest of you fine with who you’ll be with?” Amiyah asks. When no one says anything she nods in affirmation. I follow Justin and Lou upstairs and out into Justin’s car. I try to take the backseat but Lou shoves me to the passenger seat. She winks. I hope it’s too dark to see my blush.
“Who’s that boy that walked you to our door?” My mom queries, scaring the life out of me when she pops out of nowhere. I had just finished locking the door behind me and I just wanted to go upstairs and change into some pajamas. But I guess not.
“He’s just a friend,” I muttered, pushing past her lightly to grab a water bottle from our fridge. I feel her staring at my back.
“That’s not what your face said when you secretly watched him from our window walk back down the driveway and drive off.” I curse silently under my breath. God does she have to watch and know everything I do?
“He is just a friend mom,” I say firmly, slamming the fridge when I grab my water.
“Okay then. If that’s what you’re telling yourself,” I sigh loudly before chuckling softly. God she doesn’t give up.
“Goodnight mom!” I shout, scurrying past her and upstairs into my bedroom. I make sure to lock the door behind me. I don’t want or need anymore teasing tonight. The whole car ride from Gracson’s Lou made multiple suggestive comments. She teased us ruthlessly. I miss the times when I thought she was an intimidating mean girl. Unfortunately for me she’s an extremely goofy and sexual teenage girl who is not afraid to tell you exactly what’s on her mind. She apparently “ships” me and Justin and can’t wait until we have sex. Which she said. Out loud. To both of us. Then when I begged her to quit she not so subtly suggested that I would be begging for something else soon and I turned around promptly and slapped her. She just laughed. You gotta love Lou.
I grab my pillow and scream into it. What have they done to me? Specifically what is Justin doing to me? I haven’t had feelings like this for anyone or anything in a long time. Sighing, I grab my notebook with a pencil and begin to write with so many thoughts and emotions circling my mind.
I miss you so much. Words can’t even describe the ache in my chest since the day you left. I had a wonderful day today, and I’ve made what I think I may be able to consider life long friends. I didn’t think it was possible to make friends and enjoy myself again after you left. Between you and Dad leaving I was so heartbroken and lost... I still am. I still haven’t forgiven Dad and if you actually read this I can see you shaking your head already, muttering under your breath about how stubborn I am. I like to imagine your eyes shining bright with life and happiness like they once used to. Your hair is still cropped short in my mind like it was when I saw you last. I wonder if you’ve let it grown out. I don’t even know what my own brother looks like anymore and it kills me. We used to know each other like the back of our hands.
But that was before. Before you left. Before you let so many addictive things consume you and your life and we were all too blind to see how much it affected you.
Mom failed you. Dad failed you. Alex, I failed you and I can’t forgive myself for that. Please write me back. It kills me not knowing how you are and not being able to see you. I send these letters futilely, not even knowing if they make their way to you or if you even read them. If you even care at all. Mom and Dad promise me that you’re okay but I can’t believe that until I see or hear from you myself. But you don’t want to hear from me.
While I miss you desperately.
With all my love,
I sign the letter before ripping it from my notebook. I remove the scrunched up edges on the paper left from the spiral of the notebook. Afterwards I grab an envelope, scratching the address of the dreaded place he’s stuck at on the front. Folding the paper neatly, I slip it inside before licking my lips and sealing it. I’ll ask my mom for a stamp tomorrow.
Setting the envelope containing the love and regret I harbor for my brother on my desk, I walk to my queen bed and snuggle beneath the covers. When my heavy lidded eyes finally give in to sleep, I have dreams of my sweet older brother who used to sleep in my doorway to make sure no monsters would grab me when I was younger. I am grateful that my dreams weren’t tampered by the man he became over the past year. I always awake in a cold sweat when those dreams consume my mind. In their place though were the dreams of a certain boy who took my breath away.
I slept comfortably.