No More Alpha Centauri
I was still shaking and sobbing by the time we got home. Seeing mom like this really scared me; her eyes narrowed into hazel-green slits, her mouth twisted into a menacing scowl, and her hands wrapped around the wheel so tightly that her knuckles turned white. She hadn’t said anything since we departed from the chaos downtown. No yelling, no crying, no nothing. She just sat there behind the wheel, fuming in livid silence. I wasn’t sure if she was just going to drop me off and go back to work or cut the engine and come inside with me. Should I say something? Should I just get out of the car and leave her alone? What if she had something important to say?
Who was that man? Why was she so upset over him?
I sighed and leaned back in my seat. I wished Hayden were here with me right now. She would know what to do. She always knew what to do. Did she notice that I was gone? Was she wondering where I went and why she couldn’t find me? Oh god this was bad. I didn’t know what to do or what not to do. I didn’t want to make the situation worse by saying or doing something that I shouldn’t. But what else was there to do? I glanced at mom again out of the corner of my eye.
She was still sitting there, staring straight ahead, as if she were seeing something that I obviously couldn’t. Her hands were still tightly wrapped around the wheel and her face was still contorted into a furious grimace. I reached out for her, but quickly recoiled and folded my hands back in my lap. Oh jeez. What should I do? What if she yelled at me again? I’d never seen her so upset in my life. It hadn’t even been a whole week since she grounded me and I was already at it again.
Stupid! I thought and mentally face palmed myself. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
The car was silent except for my own ragged breathing and the roaring of the engine running even though we were already parked in the driveway. I glanced over at mom again. She hadn’t even blinked. Should I call someone? Maybe I could call one of her friends and tell them what happened. Maybe mom will calm down if one of them came around to cheer her up.
Maybe Pattie from mom’s book club could come. Mom always said that she and her were like two peas in a pod. Or maybe Leslie or Rachael? Ugh! I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. What if they couldn’t come? Then who else could I call? It wasn’t like mom had any family out here. Uncle Jack and Aunt Paula lived all the way out in Texas and Grandpa Max had retired to Florida with my little cousins, Emille and Cassidy.
Think Katie think. Who else was there to call?
And then it hit me. I could call Aunt Josie! Mom had used the house phone the night she called her, right? Maybe her number was still in the phone. I could scroll through all the calls and messages and find her number. I reached over to unbuckle my seat-belt. There was a slim chance that it would work, but I had to try. Aunt Josie was possibly the only person that could fix this problem. Maybe if she talked to mom—
Click! It took me a few seconds to realize that mom had cut the engine and unbuckled her seat-belt. She shoved the car door open and stepped out, still looking straight ahead as if in some kind of a trance.
“Mom?” I called out and pushed my own door open.
She didn’t respond. She rounded the front of the car and headed toward the front door, keys jingling noisily in her hand, shoulders trembling visibly. I swallowed hard and slammed my door shut. Where was she going? She unlocked the front door and disappeared inside. I took one last breath and followed her.
I stepped inside the house tentatively, looking both ways before sliding the rest of the way in and pushing the door shut. Mom tossed her keys and purse aside on the floor and started for the stairs, still looking like she was seeing something in the distance. She was scaring me. Was she really that mad at me? She wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence. As if I was invisible to her or something.
Calm down Kat, I thought and followed her up the stairs.
Where was she going? What was she planning to do up here? I hurriedly climbed the steps and paused. Where did she go? The laundry room? The bathroom? Where could she—
CRASH! My blood suddenly froze over.
Oh god. She was in my room. What was she looking for in my room? I bounded down the hall toward the noise, both curious and scared to find out what she was doing in there. Oh god. What should I do? She wasn’t listening to me! She was pretending that I wasn’t even here! I needed help. I didn’t know what to do with mom like this!
“Mom—?” I gasped and threw myself on the floor.
The small glass container flew across the room and collided with the wall, showering me with shiny glass fragments and sticky, clear liquid.
What the heck was that? I sat up and scurried over to look at it… then my breath suddenly caught in my throat.
My Alpha Centari Shooting Stars perfume. It was ruined. I sat there, gawking at the broken fragments in muted horror. Oh my god. My perfume was gone. Mom broke it. She threw it and it shattered against the wall. Oh my god. She broke it. It was ruined. I slowly scooped the wreckage up in my hands and stared at it. The jagged pinkish-white glass, the flowery scent of the perfume wafting up to my nose, the liquid spilled all over my orange carpet.
Oh my god. My perfume was ruined. I turned my head and looked at mom, tears brewing on the rims of my eyes.
“Why are you doing this?” I screamed. A choked sob escaped from my throat. “Why…why did you do that?”
It was like she hadn’t heard me. She milled around my room with the same blank expression, ripping down my posters and throwing them to the floor, rummaging through my closet and drawers, emerging with all my Alpha Centari gear in her arms. My chest tightened and I shook with new found anger.
“I’m sorry!” I cried, my tears blurring the edges of my vision. “I’m sorry I skipped school today!”
How could she do this to me? She knew more then anyone how important Alpha Centari was to me. So this was how she decided to punish me for skipping school? By throwing everything away? I sobbed aloud as I watched her gather everything up and form a pile in the middle of my room.
All my CDs, posters, T-shirts, bracelets, pictures, perfumes, and other Alpha Centari-related belongings were thrown in, like wood to a fire. My heart dropped with each ‘thud’, ‘thwack’ or ‘crash’ each item made as it hit the ground. As mom chucked it away so carelessly like it didn’t have any meaning to anyone. I sniffled and wiped my nose with the back of my hand.
“Is this because I came home late that night?” I asked, my voice thick with tears. “Is this because I skipped school?”
She didn’t answer. Instead, she just stopped and scooped up all of my things and headed for the door.
“Mom, no!” I wailed as I followed her down the stairs. “Mom, please, no! I won’t do it again! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry mom! Please no! Mom no, please!”
She couldn’t throw it all away. That was everything I had of Eden. It took so long to earn the money to buy all of those things. But it wasn’t just the merchandise; it was the memories behind it. The long ours spent traveling with Hayden’s family to different states just so we could wait in a line for eight whole hours to see the boys. The squeals, laughs, tears, and arguments we shared together. And then the endless screaming we did when we finally got to see the boys perform our favorite songs. The moments only best friends could share.
And now she was going to take that away from me? Now I would never have those things to remember the good times by?
“I…” my mouth hung agape like a fish as I tried to get the words out.
I cried, I screamed, and gave her the most sincere apologies I could possibly manage. So why was she still throwing my things away? Why? WHY? All I wanted to do was go and get myself an autograph or a picture with them. It wasn’t like I was out in the middle of the night at raves like she was at my age. I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs. I wasn’t having sex with college boys and running off with my girlfriends to get my nipples pierced. Heck, all these things that I was in trouble for hadn’t happened because I had purposely done them. They just happened. It was my bad luck, right?
I just wanted to meet one guy. One guy. Why was that so much to ask for? I wasn’t asking for a car or money like most girls around my age asked their parents for. I never even asked mom for anything at all! So why did she think it was okay to throw away my things? At least I wasn’t dumb to enough to get pregnant as a teenager!
“I…I…” Rage simmered on my tongue.
I had the words. I knew them. So why couldn’t I just say them? The front door swung open then and mom hurried inside and up the steps, not even bothering to acknowledge my presence yet again.
“I hate you,” I grumbled as I balled my hands into fists at my side.
Mom moved past me and disappeared into my room. Louder, I thought bitterly and gritted my teeth together. How come she never cared about how I felt? Why did it always have to be what shewanted? Why did I always have to care about her thoughts and feelings when she didn’t care about mine?
“I hate you so much,” I said aloud, as if trying to convince myself rather then anyone else. This was going too far. She crossed the line and now it was time for her to know how I truly felt about her.
“I hate you!” I shrieked angrily. “I HATE YOU MOM! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!”
My heart suddenly stopped in its tracks. Mom paused and slowly turned to look at me.
We stood there, staring at each other as if we were strangers meeting for the first time. Neither one of us moved or uttered a single word; we just stood there, eyes fixed on the other’s face, bodies rigid and stiff with shock. I could feel the color slowly drain from my face. Oh god. Did I just say that? My breath caught in my throat as the realization slowly seeped into me. I did, right? I must’ve said it. Who else could have said it?
So why did I say that? Why did I say that to her? Surely I didn’t hate her. I was just upset. I mean, she was throwing all of my Alpha Centari stuff away. What was I supposed to do? She was ignoring me and she yelled at me for no reason. Why did I say that? Why…why would I…what was I…I didn’t mean it. I was just upset. She was throwing away my stuff. If she hadn’t ignored me in the first place and then I never would’ve said it. If she would have just listened…
“You…you hate me?” mom said in a small, shaky voice, breaking the tense silence that hovered around us.
Her lower lip trembled as she said the words. “Do you really hate me Kitty-Kat?”
“I—I didn’t—y-you ignored me—I wasn’t really—I—”
With a loud cry, I turned on the ball of my heel, tore down the stairs and flung myself outside before she could say anymore. I couldn’t bear to look at her again; the trembling lower lip, the watering eyes, the hurt and disbelief in them. Stupid! Why did I have to say that? Why did I have to go and hurt her feelings like that? Why was I even running away? Shouldn’t I be at home with her trying to comfort her rather then myself? Ugh!
Why did all of this have to happen anyway? I bit down on my lip. No. I didn’t deserve to cry. All this happened because I went to see Eden today. If I never went, then mom wouldn’t be this upset with me. She would be the happy, high-strung person she’s always been, laughing and joking around like she normally did. She should’ve been the one running away not me! I knew she was upset with my coming home late and I knew it was a bad idea, but I went to go see the boys anyway. Why did I do that? Why did I let Hayden talk me into it in the first place?
Why did she even have to come and tell me anyway?
I wouldn’t be in this much trouble if she would’ve just gone off without me. It was her fault I was in so much trouble. So where was she now to come and apologize to me? Where was she now to grow up and own up to her part in all of this?
“Stop it, Kat,” I whispered and dried my eyes with the back of my hand. I reached up and pulled the rubber band out of my hair, letting my reddish-brown curls fall around my face.
“I hate my life,” I mumbled with a glum sigh. “I hate me.” I continued my walk. To where or when I would stop I didn’t know, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Just walk and not turn back.
I sat there in a plastic chair in the semi-empty waiting room of the hospital we were in and stared down at my new finger brace in glum silence. I wasn’t sure how long we’d been in this hospital. It was surprising enough that no one had followed us. Not the media. Not the obsessed fans. Absolutely nobody. As if we were just regular people that no one bothered to pay any attention to. But for how long would that last? What would be our next move? Was the meet-and-greet still on? Were we going to stay here or were we going back to Los Angeles?
“Hey,” a voice said. “How are you doing?”
I sighed and looked up into Kelsey’s worried face. At least she and my grandma were okay. There was still no word on Alex or Kai. I shrugged a shoulder in response to her question and looked down at my finger again. I could help it; I just felt bad. About everything that had happened so far. Even since I’d run into that girl, things just seemed to be spiraling out of control. And now, the meet-and-greet was probably going to be canceled. I wouldn’t be able to sleep together knowing that all those girls at home were probably bawl their eyes out in disappointment. I quickly pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. Maybe I was just getting too attached to these girls. After all, it wasn’t like I knew them personally to be so worried about their well-being. But even so, it did hurt.
I just felt like I was being unfair to them. But was I?
“Eden,” Kelsey started and squeezed my shoulder with one of her small, freckled hands. “It’s alright. There will be more in the fu—”
“Yeah, I know,” I said impatiently and shook her off. “But that doesn’t change how I feel. For one thing, I’m pretty ticked off with the way they were acting. You know, like it was like they were going crazy or something and not in a good way! Like in an obsessive psycho-maniac kind of way. But on the other hand, I feel like we should’ve seen this coming somehow. Even if it’s never been as crazy as this encounter.”
I sighed and dropped my head in my hand. “It just sucks.”
“Eden, I can sympathize with that, but—”
“Suck it up,” someone interjected. “It’s part of the job. Leave if you can’t handle it.”
I didn’t need to look up to know that Kai had said that. I just rolled my eyes at him.
“Mind your own business,” I growled without looking at him. “No one asked for your opinion last time I checked.”
I heard Kai take a sharp intake of breath. Kelsey tensed beside me.
I was growing tired of Kai and his stupid attitude. He thought he had problems? He thought he was the only one that had it tough? Grow up. And even if he did have it hard, what right did he have to treat anybody like he did? It sure as hell wasn’t our fault for whatever it was that he was going through. I swear, sometimes all I wanted to do was get up and swing on him as hard as I could—
“Please, Kai,” Kelsey pleaded in a shaky whisper as he approached us slowly, clearly fuming.
“We’re in a hospital you two. Don’t start anything,” she warned. “Especially you Eden. Not now.”
I cringed. Me? Me? What the hell did I do? I wasn’t the one trying to pick fights with anybody! Couldn’t she see that? Why did everyone always like to entertain Kai and his stupid issues? He was nothing more then a stupid bully. When he decided to pick on me, everybody liked to act like nothing was happening. However, when I decided to defend myself and try to put him in his place was when I was the bad guy all of a sudden? What was up with that?
“Me?” I questioned and narrowed my eyes at Kelsey. “I’m not doing anything. It’s him not me. Always has been.”
I took a deep breath to try and calm my bubbling irritation. Kai scoffed aloud in annoyance. You’re not the only one who has the urge to kick somebody’s ass there buddy, I thought bitterly and rolled my eyes again.
“Have you heard anything about Alex?” Kai asked.
Kelsey blinked a few timed before responding. “Uh, no I, uh, haven’t. I just that Paul is trying to get a hold of a nurse—
“Useless,” Kai hissed. “You’re just useless.”
“Don’t talk to her like that,” I snapped and leveled my glare on his face before I could stop myself.
He had a bandage on his chin from where one of the fan girls scratched him, but he looked alright. Nothing broken unlike me. the air seemed heavy all of a sudden, tense and very still, like time has suddenly slowed down. Kelsey grabbed my elbow and squeezed it in warning. I shook her off again and twisted around in my chair to face Kai.
“She’s not your wife or anything so don’t talk to her like that,” I advised him.
Kai scowled at me. A scowl that sent a wave of Goosebumps up my arms. What was I doing? Shut up Eden. Just shut up.
“Mind your own business brat,” Kai retorted menacingly. “No one asked for your opinion last time I checked.” My cheeks suddenly grew warm. He was using my own words against me! That heartless bastard!
I felt my mouth twist into a fierce scowl. “Go screw yourself Kai.”
He took a step forward. “Watch who you’re talking to, you little brat,” he replied through gritted teeth. “I’ll flatten you in a heart beat.”
“I’m not scared of you,” I said and pretended to examine my nails. “If you think that I’m simply going to sit here and let you do so without doing anything about it, then you obviously don’t know me very well.”
Where was this all coming from? Why was I so daring today? Stop Eden, I scolded myself. Stop while you still have your limps in tact. What was wrong with me? I knew better than this!
“Guys please,” Kelsey began. “It’s just calm down and—”
“Stay out of this,” Kai said, his eyes narrowing into black slits. “This is between me and Goldie Locks, not you. Butt out.”
My stomach muscles tightened. “I thought I told you not to talk to her that way,” I growled. “What, you don’t understand English or what?”
Whoa. Where the hell was this all coming from? I wasn’t a coward, but I knew not to press Kai’s buttons either. The guy had the shortest fuse I’d ever seen. Just looking at him the wrong way could get you beaten black and blue. I would know. So why did I keep going at it? Why wasn’t I walking away this time? Kai looked taken aback by my response, which didn’t surprise me in the least. I was surprising myself. Nobody ever talked to him like that. Not even Alex and they were somewhat close.
“No seriously, Kai,” The words seemed to tumble out of my mouth through clenched teeth. “What. The. Hell. Is. Your. Problem?”
“Eden!” Kelsey gasped. “Please don’t do this! It’s fine. I can handle it—”
“It’s not fine, Kels,” I replied without looking at her. “And you know it.”
Kai seemed to be seething in his shoes. I could feel his eyes burning holes into my forehead, but for some reason I didn’t care. But I should’ve cared. I was treading on thin ice right now and it could break under my feet any minute now. Kai could blew up and snap my neck with two fingers. So why was I feeling so indifferent? Why didn’t I care?
“You little shit,” Kai growled as he stomped toward me. “You little son of a—”
“Good news!” Manager sang gleefully from down the hall.
The few people in the waiting room turned and stared at him expectantly. I sighed with relief. Kai looked as if he was debating whether to come and strangle me or not. His fists clenched and unclenched themselves as his jaw twitched frequently.
i mentally rolled my eyes and turned my attention to Manager as he made his way toward us.
Kelsey straightened up and forced a smile on her face. The scowl on my face deepened. She was all nervous and anxious because of Kai and I didn’t like that.
He wouldn’t let this go. This much I was sure off. He would get me back because unlike Alex or Kelsey or anybody else, Kai hated my guts. Therefore, he would never let me get away with doing something bad to him. Never.
“Alex is alright,” Manager said and clapped his claps like a little schoolgirl. “His ankle should be fine as long as he stays off of it.”
“Great news!” Kelsey chimed in. “I’m so glad!”
Kai simply smirked and I was left sitting in a plastic chair wondering when Kai would hand me my beating.