I Pretend I Don't Care

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Summary

I Pretend I Don't Care Claire is done with the male gender and wants nothing to do with men or the unrealistic ideals that society has about love in general. She's been jaded and heartbroken to the point where she feels like trying isn't even worth it. That is, until she meets Alexander who unlike other guys, actually attempts to change her mind

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
Stephanie Harper
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
11
Rating:
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Untitled chapter

Chapter 1

I hate anything with a penis.

If it has a penis, keep it far away from me.

In fact, I think my hatred for people with penises is growing so serious that I would voluntarily take action to live in an alternative universe where that gender of people don’t even exist... if it were possible.

There is trap called love that I will never walk into.

It’s like swimming in a tank of sharks, hoping you don’t get bitten.

Like confessing your secrets to a gossip, hoping they keep their mouth closed.

Like being naive enough to believe there is gold at the end of the rainbow.

Comparable,

to giving your heart to someone, hoping they don’t break it.

“Love”

Something I actually used to want.

Something I craved.

Now,

I’d rather my heart get old and withered and gray. Alone.

Than to willingly give it to someone else.

They’ll break it. Treat it as if it is nothing valuable.

Like a piece of trash blowing along beneath a freeway overpass.

Like it never mattered.

My mom has recently signed up for a dating website.

She told me it’s because she’s been feeling lonely. She and my dad were high school sweethearts. They married after graduating from college and conceived me on the night of their third anniversary. By their fourth anniversary, she discovered his infidelity. Before they even made it to a fifth anniversary, he was packed up and moved out.

Not because she made him leave, but because he wanted to.

He said he hated her for making him miss out on life and he claimed that she stole his youth.

She didn’t tell me about it until I was older but when she told me, it made me sick. Because it just doesn’t make any sense.

My mom is really pretty and she’s very accomplished.

She’s a really good woman and she’s been through a lot because of him.

How could he do that to her? What in his brain told him that was okay?

My dad disgusts me. I could literally gag just thinking of him.

He sends child support like he’s legally supposed to,

he sends birthday and Christmas cards,

he visits once yearly,

and he tries to call me sometimes.

Even so, I want nothing to do with him.

The little things he does for me are because he feels obligated.

Not because he loves me. Because he doesn’t.

If he did, he’d be here all the time. Or most of the time. Not just once every November. He only comes so he can claim that he isn’t totally absent from my life. His once yearly visit, which never lasts more than thirty minutes, doesn’t count. He might as well not show up at all.

If he loved me he’d see me on my birthday and on Christmas. Not send a generic envelope of twenty dollar bills.

If he loved me he’d try calling me ten times in a row just to hear my voice. Not just once every two or three months and then give up so easily when the call goes to voicemail.

When he visits, I keep it at “hi” and “bye” and he doesn’t seem to mind. He has other things to do that are clearly more important.

He repulses me.

I work at a cafe.

Selling muffins and donuts and things.

There’s this young couple that always comes in on Sunday mornings. There’s so much animosity between them. Tension.

He always hisses at her and he grips her too tightly.

I always wonder why she doesn’t just leave him.

There’s nothing to gain from being with someone like him. Regardless.

The couple gets to the front of the line to place their order.

“What do you want?” the man asks his girlfriend.

She scans the menu for a moment.

“Shit, Lauren. Move,” he says rudely, stepping in front of her. “Can we get two cappuccinos and a cinnamon bagel?”

I stare at the man without attempting to hide my distaste.

It’s men like him that bring me confirmation.

I’m not crazy for feeling the way I feel about the male gender.

They really are dreadful creatures.

I’m not even sure if they’re human beings or an entirely different species.

Are they aliens?

The man stares at me right back and then cocks his head to the side in annoyance.

Harold, my asshole of a manager, steps up beside me at the register.

“Is that all you’d like, sir?” he asks.

The man nods and Harold rings him up.

After the couple leaves, Harold turns to me with his arms crossed.

“What was that, Claire?”

“I’m sorry but he was being a jerk.”

“It’s wise not to bring your hasty opinions into your work environment. Don’t get involved with other people’s shenanigans.”

“Harold, he bullies her every time they’re in here!”

“And that has absolutely nothing to do with you.”

I bite my tongue and turn around to rearrange the pastries on the shelf.

“Claire?” Harold asks, his arms still crossed.

“Yes?” I ask.

“Can you please clean up that spill?” he asks pointing.

Someone has spilled coffee on the tile floor. I grab the mop.

The soapy braids of the mop head swirl around into the pale brown puddle on the floor making it look visibly worse before making it better. My manager watches to make sure I don’t miss any of it.

I’m getting tired of the redundancy and tediousness of life.

It’s the same bullshit every day.

I just want something new or interesting to happen.

I

just

want

to

get

out

of

here.

My manager Harold is a sexist pig.

It’s sad because he’s twice my age and this is what his life is… Managing a pretty unpopular local cafe for a couple more dollars per hour than me. He’s always saying subtle things to piss me off. If I could quit I would, but finding a job as a high school student in this town is the ultimate challenge.

I live in Waltman Hills.

It’s this boring, unremarkable, suburban town in the middle of California.

3:00 pm rolls around and I can finally clock out.

My best friends Sabrina and Tucker are waiting for me outside.

I’ve known Sabrina and Tucker since elementary school, sandbox days. They started “dating” each other in sixth grade. They haven’t broken up since. In my opinion, they’re pretty stable. They rarely fight, they don’t have any problems with jealousy or anything, and I appreciate that they keep their public displays of affection to a minimum when they hang out with me.

I’ve personally been single since my last relationship crashed into oblivion.

Therefore, I’m Sabrina and Tucker’s permanent third wheel.

They used to jokingly ask me when I was going to start dating someone new. I don’t find the topic of me dating amusing in the slightest.

My answer always remains the same: “Never.”

Sabrina tells me not to let what happened with my ex-boyfriend, Danny, affect me for the rest of my life. What they don’t understand is that it has nothing to do with Danny.

At least, it’s not his solely Danny’s fault.

I’m repulsed by the male gender for many more reasons than just Danny alone… he was just the icing on top of the cake that pushed me towards having the mindset I currently live with.

Danny.

We got together during our freshman year of high school.

Stayed together until the end of junior year.

Happy, in my opinion.

I gave him all my time.

I gave him all my attention.

I helped him pass his English class when he was on the brink of failing.

I spent hours watching superhero cartoons with him because he liked it.

I went to all of his basketball games and sat in the front row.

I gave him the things he asked for so that he was happy.

For some reason, whenever he was happy... it made me happy too.

No one takes high school sweethearts seriously

but I think our high school love was the purest thing I ever had.

It was before we got older, doused in the heartbreak and trust issues and dreadful experiences that gather naturally as time passes and you get older. When we were younger, we gave into love completely and wholly. Our entire bodies became consumed by it and we had no control over the matter.

Even if we did have control, we didn’t want it.

We wanted each other so badly sometimes it was hard to think rationally.

Logic disintegrated quickly between us.

We were in love.

We felt each and every emotion so strongly inside us, every sting, every wave, every peak.

We fell for each other so hard

and so deep

it seemed that nothing after

would ever be able to compare.

It seemed like we would never be able to let go of each other,

because our grips on each other were so tight.

Our age only contested to the gravity of what we were feeling.

We didn’t have a chance to get played and used and hurt by other people.

Our hearts hadn’t yet been corrupted when we fell for each other.

We felt everything so deeply,

because everything was new to us

and fresh.

We fell in head first,

not thinking to look beneath us at what was to come in the future…

how hard we were going to crash.

The concept of loving someone

and being loved back by them

was something we’d both never felt before.

I thought we were the “lucky ones”.

Because we had found that,

so naturally and so easily

with each other.

I learned that your heart is never really the same after it’s been broken.

Even when you meet someone new.

Your heart is never perfectly as intact as it is when you’re young.

When we came together, we were blank slates of innocence,

untouched and untarnished.

Until we shattered each other emotionally and ruined everything.

After someone breaks your heart the first time, you’re never the same and all of the people you meet after it’s been broken, will have to deal with the repercussions. Even if you try to hide how much you have been hurt.

It was the deepest I ever loved someone and I’ll never be the same.

The act of “reflection”

Reflecting on the past,

Reliving moments in history… It fucks me up every time.

He was my high school sweetheart.

I remember this specific night we had...

We were side by side.

He made me feel naked,

even though I was fully clothed.

Because he knew every detail about me

about the inside of my mind

and my heart.

He had me floating on top of the clouds

because somehow he caused the time itself to be lost.

And he was able to cancel out all of the noise around us.

He made it feel like it was just us.

We gave each other our time and listened to each other’s words.

He made me feel like I mattered.

That’s something I never really felt growing up.

I imagine sometimes where we’d be had we kept our promise of “forever”.

I loved him.

Just wanted him happy.

Even though we were only kids.

Thinking back on the way I used to feel for him makes me want to throw up.

I went on vacation with my mom for a week and when I returned, I was overwhelmed by rumors floating around the hallways of my high school.

I must have heard from thirty people in thirty different ways that Danny had cheated on me with Mandy Gleason while I was away.

Mandy is the school’s designated skank who wears stripper heels to school and will sleep with anyone for five minutes of attention.

He took her to Waltman Hills Pier, the place where he took my virginity, and fucked her in the backseat of his car.

I felt like disappearing.

I thought that vanishing into nothingness would be better than facing what he’d done.

I had to let him go.

I really didn’t want to.

I didn’t answer his calls or texts and I didn’t acknowledge his presence at school. I pretended that he was this invisible wall that I could see through.

It was the hardest thing I ever had to do… Pretend that I didn’t care.

Pretend that I was completely carefree about the whole ordeal when in reality, I cared more than anything.

It made me fall apart, on the inside.

I felt like my heart died and the rest of me was just this empty shell, drifting about.

It’s so weird being with someone for so long. They become a part of you, legitimately. And when they’re gone, it feels like part of you is gone too.

My emotions were

weighing

me

down,

making my entire body weak.

I decided that instead of feeling what I was feeling, I could force myself not to feel anything at all.

My heart turned into stone.

There’s a couple of rules I now live by.

1. Never go out of your way for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Girls do their full makeup, spend hours on their hair, buy expensive new outfits, and change their walking route between classes just to bump into the guy they like. Guys are so idiotic and selfish minded that they don’t notice how special a girl is or how hard she is trying. If he wouldn’t go to all extremes to impress you, then don’t waste your time trying to impress him. If he wouldn’t change his route for you, don’t change yours for him. Etc.

2. Never trust. Almost everything that falls out of their mouths is lies. “I’m listening”, “I care about you”, “I wasn’t looking at that girl”, “I’m different”, “I’m sorry”, “I love you”. Etc.

3. Never let a guy fuck with your money or your time. Your boyfriend doesn’t like that you’re scheduled to work on Friday nights so he wants you to quit or call out sick? No way. Your boyfriend wants you to give him a blowjob but you two are supposed to be studying for your math test tomorrow? No way. Your boyfriend wants you to solely come up with the cash to pay for a movie and dinner? Fuck no. Etc.

4. Never go back to an ex -boyfriend who fucked you over. Regardless of how terrible or serious his offense was, you left him for a reason. Don’t be weak and naive.

5. Never beg him to come back to you, if he chose to leave you. He dumped you for a reason. Let him leave. Him leaving opens up a new space and opportunity for you to meet someone taller, cuter, better, etc. Or gives you time to focus on yourself and finally realize how irrelevant guys are when it comes to being happy in life (like me).

6. Never forget. Go ahead and FORGIVE his idiocies and mistakes and fuck ups all you want. But NEVER FORGET them. Or how they made you feel.

7. Never have high expectations. Don’t expect him to put any thought into anything. Don’t expect flowers. Don’t expect surprise romantic dates. Don’t expect shit. The higher your expectations are, the more let down you’ll be because he will constantly fail you. If he ever does do anything sweet for you then it will be a pleasant surprise. But don’t expect it. Odds are, he doesn’t care enough or he’s too oblivious to make stuff like that happen.

8. Never get attached. Stop investing emotions into someone who has not clarified what his intentions are with you. Stop clinging to someone who isn’t willing to reciprocate. Stop thinking sex will make him fall in love with you or make him want to stay with you. Those pathetic ways of thinking are what have caused girls to get fucked over throughout history! Girls will latch on wholeheartedly to a guy who feels nothing back. A guy can easily emotionally detach himself and disappear off the face of your earth as if he doesn’t even know who you are, leaving a girl confused, heartbroken, and distraught. Just remember that while you’re crying over him and having difficulty getting him off your mind, he’s out somewhere absolutely not giving a fuck.

9. Never let him disrespect you. “We allow what we think we deserve” so with that in mind, no one deserves to be disrespected. Him calling you a derogatory name such as “bitch”, “slut”, or “hoe” is unacceptable. Him pressuring sex or anything of that nature after you’ve already said no is unacceptable. Him being more than thirty minutes late for plans without explanation is unacceptable. Him completely bailing on plans without an adequate excuse is unacceptable. Him flirting with other girls in your presence or behind your back is unacceptable. Him talking to you in a way that’s harsh enough to invoke emotion in you or cause you to cry is unacceptable. Him walking all over you is unacceptable. Be assertive or else you’ll come off as weak and he’ll know that he can get away with all of his bad behavior. Voice your opinions and tell him bluntly that what he’s doing is not okay. Unless you’re okay with being disrespected.

10. Never lose yourself and who you are, because of him. You are still a person, minus him and whatever additions he adds to your life. You’re just fine with or without him. Think of boys as replaceable and disposable. Often times that’s how they view females so it’s smart to balance things out by viewing them in the same way. You can’t forget your personal identity because you’re so wrapped up in a guy. Especially if he’s broken one or more of any of these rules. He’s just not even worth it…

I remind myself that being at peace and being content on my own is better than dealing with boys and the messy, emotional destruction they always tend to cause.

The way I see other girls around me,

flailing to find relationships and be loved,

is all sort of repulsive to me.

Just doesn’t make sense.

“Claire?” Sabrina asks.

“Yeah?” I respond.

We walk along the sidewalk together towards my house.

“Are you okay?” Sabrina asks.

“I’m fine,” I respond.

I open the front door and see our cleaning lady, Martha, scrubbing the kitchen counters.

“Hey, Claire,” she says to me smiling.

“Hey, Martha,” I respond.

Tucker, Sabrina, and I go upstairs to my room.

Martha is a young mother of three. Her husband left her without explanation. He created children with her and then fell off the face of her earth. My mom pays Martha triple what she should really be earning because my mom understands that Martha financially struggles.

“I wish my family had enough money to afford a maid,” Tucker mumbles, plopping down onto my bed.

“That would be a waste of money,” Sabrina retorts, “She’d clean your room and then it would be messy again in the next hour!”

Tucker rolls his eyes.

Sabrina sits down on my plush bean bag next to my window and I sit down on the top of my bedroom desk.

“So what are we going to do for prom?” I ask.

Sabrina shrugs, “Honestly, Claire… Tucker and I were thinking about… you know… going.”

“What?!” I shriek. “We’ve had this agreement forever. The three of us are ditching prom to do something worthwhile! You can’t be backing out now!”

“Actually,” Tucker says, chiming in, “We already purchased our prom tickets.”

I gape at my two best friends in shock.

“Claire, come on. It’s prom,” Sabrina says to me, “It’s the closing cap of high school. The biggest event of senior year and we don’t exactly want to miss out on it. It’s supposedly a magical night. And shit.”

“Well I guess the two of you can go and have a grand old time. And I’ll just be here. Doing crossword puzzles. I’m pissed.”

“Why are you pissed?” Tucker asks. “Why don’t you just go?”

“Yeah, Claire. You can just come with us; it will be fun!”

“You two are a COUPLE. I’m not going to sit there as your third wheel at prom.”

“The three of us already do everything together anyway,” Tucker reasons, “It will be like any other day, we’ll just be all dressed up.”

“Just shut up,” I respond. I cross my arms and shut my eyes, in an attempt to shut out my irritation.

I sit down in the middle of the grass in the public park near my house while Tucker and Sabrina buy ice cream cones and hot dogs from the cart vendors that walk around during the day time.

There are trees everywhere that bring the perfect amount of shade, and different people walking their dogs in every direction. I draw my knees up towards me and watch people pass me by. I consider this one of the most peaceful places in my neighborhood but also one of the most melancholy.

Not quite sure why I do this to myself.

I examine the families I see

and the little children who have their fathers.

and it makes me want to strangle someone.

It makes me angry.

Revisits the bitterness I harbor.

When I was with Danny, we’d come here together sometimes.

Leaning my head on his shoulder would somehow make everything okay.

It feels, now, like I have no one to lean on.

I remember how it felt to have the heaviness of my body supported by someone stronger than me,

someone who I thought cared about me.

Bittersweet nostalgia.

I felt completely encompassed in his love.

Or whatever I thought that was.

Tucker, Sabrina, and I walk home from the park, brainstorming ideas for what to do for the evening.

We end up watching a DVD and eating caramel popcorn.

I’m not really absorbing the movie.

I’m thinking about escaping reality. It would feel nice to be drunk right now.

“We’re going to head out,” Tucker tells me, standing up. He takes Sabrina’s hand.

“Where are you guys going?” I ask.

They smile and I already know what that means.

“Alright well I’ll see you guys later,” I respond.

I pretend I don’t care that they’re leaving but I really wish they’d stay. I don’t want to be a “cock-block” so I keep my mouth shut, but I hate how it feels when they leave.

I shut the movie off and glance outside my window.

I watch them walk away, down my street toward Tucker’s place, holding hands. Walking close to each other. I watch them until they turn the corner and then I stare out beyond the houses into the hills and watch the sun start to set. I don’t get to watch the full sunset because the hills and houses block my view but from what I can see, it looks beautiful.

It feels easier right now to stare out the window

thinking about Danny

then to find a thousand things to do

to distract myself from thinking of him.

It’s exhausting sometimes, forcing myself to think of other things and biting my tongue so I don’t mention his name in front of Sabrina and Tucker but I’m robustly working on it.

I’ve lead the world around me to believe wholeheartedly that I don’t care about Danny or the events that occurred while he was in my life. My facade will sooner or later turn into a reality. I just need to hold on and keep trying a little while longer.

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