Porcelain Skin

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I Need To Tell You

I make it back to my dorm, surprisingly dry-eyed. My emotions are in turmoil, and I feel like all the progress that I’d made over the past two or so years has crumpled. All the effort of trying to overcome my own guilt and heartache, the blame and regret—forgotten. The work I’d put into being a better person, someone who’s worth having around—erased.

I’m sitting on my bed when there’s a light tap on my door. I’m already sure of the fact that it’s Trevor. He’s been calling and texting like a madman, so it only makes sense that he’d resort to searching me out. I know he feels bad. I also know that he meant nothing by his words. It’s a phrase that people use all the time jokingly and without thought. Maybe it was the thought of having kids that was too much for him. Or, maybe he was talking about the location; he’d rather die than live in a cabin on the lake. Though, I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t appeal to him.

I almost feel bad for causing him such guilt because I know he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but my emotions won’t allow me to feel anything but heartache from those three simple words. Was that my father’s last thought? That he’d rather die than strive and fight for me to be happy? He’d rather die than waste another second of his life fending for my needs? That he’d rather die than watch me grow up, or fall in love, or graduate, or get married? He’d rather die than walk me down the aisle and give me away? He’d rather die than wait for another man, a man who loves me, to take away the burden of providing for me?

I shuffle over to the door and yank it open.


My eyes widen when they meet the bright blue orbs of Lindsey’s own gaze.

“Hi.” I stand frozen with my hand on the edge of the open door.

Lindsey slowly lifts up a bag, which I assume is filled with every kind of delicacy within a five-mile radius, and then she invites herself in, plopping herself down on my comforter.

We’ve spent the last hour stuffing our faces while I release my feelings. It’s wonderfully therapeutic. I’ve got a Mars bar in my hand, waving it around, as I dramatically explain what it was exactly that set me off.

“I get it,” she says calmly, a perfect contrast to my frazzled state. “It’s only natural that you would try to find any possible explanation for why your dad did what he did, and when you couldn’t find one you blamed yourself. Happens to a lot of people. But...” she lowers her head so that she can get into perfect alignment with my gaze, and I’m forced to focus on her. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“I know.” I sigh as I tangle my fingers into my hair and bite off a large chunk of chocolate, caramel goodness. “I know. I just... I heard him blame me for his stress, and... I mean he really didn’t like me. Two weeks later he was dead! What was I supposed to think?”

“Emma.” Lindsey grabs my floundering hand and steadies it in her own. “I’m sure he didn’t mean those words. They say that alcohol brings out the truth, but I don’t believe it. I think it just makes you say stupid things that you never normally would.” She tightens her grip on my hand. “In this case, you just happened to overhear. He didn’t know that. Maybe he never would have even said that if he’d known you would have heard it.”

“Yeah.” I fall back onto my bed, forcing Lindsey to release her grip. I’m feeling an overwhelming tiredness set in, and I just want to stop thinking about it. I don’t want to be reminded of my father.

Seconds pass of Lindsey eyeing me with concern when the door suddenly swings open.

“Hiya ladies!” Mercy belts, but the smile on her face morphs into worry when she takes in my disheveled appearance and the candy wrappers scattered across the floor.

“Uh oh. What did he do?” she asks as she flings her bag to the floor and snatches up a bag of Sour Patch before shoving her way onto my bed. I shift slightly to make room. “He didn’t break up with you, did he? I didn’t even know you guys were dating.”

“We’re not,” I inform her forcefully. The bitterness in my words is undeniable. I see Lindsey and Mercy glance at each other out of my peripheral vision.

“What then?” She pops a couple candies in her mouth and leans back against my pillows.

We go into agonizing detail about the events of my childhood, and how Trevor’s words sliced right through my wall of security.

“Can I tell you a story?” Mercy suddenly asks and I shrug with a quiet ‘sure’. “Okay, now, don’t judge me, but I used to have a huge thing for Superman.”

“Superman?” I question. I can hear Lindsey snicker beside me.

“Yes, now shut it and listen,” she says casually, popping a few more candies in her mouth and mumbling around them. “Have you guys ever seen the movie ‘Above Suspicion’?”

Lindsey and I both look at each other before wagging our heads ‘no’.

“Okay,” she goes on. “So he played in this movie and his character was paralyzed. It’s a brilliant suspense, thriller movie by the way, and you both should definitely watch it.”

“Who are we talking about?” Lindsey asks.

“Christopher Reeve... superman?” Mercy explains as if we’re both stupid.

“Where ya going with this?” I ask, confused.

“Don’t interrupt.” Mercy reprimands and takes a deep breath before continuing. “I just remember not being particularly pleased with his ability to play a handicapped guy. I just remember thinking, ‘come on man, you can do better.’” She eyes us both seriously before going on. “Fun fact—did you know that Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams were roommates at Julliard?”

“Mercy... what’s the point of this story?” I’m laughing as I ask.

“Fine. Since the two of you are just so patient.” She huffs in annoyance. “Did you know that that movie was released six days before his riding accident?” She looks at us both expectantly, but we just stare back. “... the accident which paralyzed him?”

“Okay?” Lindsey says, looking at Mercy with scrunched brows.

“My goodness! You two are impossible.” Mercy starts to chuckle as she throws a few more candies down her throat. ”I was the one who wished he could play the part better. I was the one that basically wished that accident upon him. I was the one at fault.”

“Pffft,” I laugh at her lame reasoning. “That’s ridiculous. How were you at fault for something that was no one’s fault?”

“Exactly...” she says as she gives me a smug look and leans back with arms crossed.

“So you’re comparing her story to yours?” Lindsey asks Mercy.

“It’s basically the same thing, right?” Mercy questions, but she doesn’t give us a chance to agree or disagree. “From what you’ve told me, Emma, there were a lot of things that factored into his reason for ending things. First,” she begins as she counts them off on her fingers. “His job was just plain stressful anyway. Second,” another finger, “he had just discovered that a man he imprisoned had hung himself. Third, he had just separated a daughter from her mother. Fourth, the man who hung himself... or is it hanged? Whatever. The guy who hung himself turned out to be innocent. Oh, oh, oh!” She’s getting excited now. ”And, he was an alcoholic. Am I right?”

“Yeah,” I answer suspiciously.

“So, what you’re saying,” Mercy begins, “is that out of all of the crap going on in his life, the fact that he had to buy you food without you saying ‘thank you’ is what put him over the edge? Come on.”

“She’s got a point,” Lindsey agrees.

I glance back and forth between the two of them before throwing my hands up in defeat.

“Fine,” I finally pout. “You guys are right.”

“See,” Mercy sounds far too proud of herself. “You blaming yourself for your dad’s death is almost as stupid as me blaming myself for Christopher Reeve’s paralysis. So stop being stupid.”

This girl is blunt, but I guess that’s partly why I love her.

“Oh and just so you know—” Mercy is cut off by the sound of someone knocking on the door. I glance at my two friends to see if either of them seems aware of who might be out there. The guilt on Lindsey’s sheepish face is obvious.

“Sorry, I kind of told him that you were free to talk,” she defends.

I roll my head back on my shoulders with a dramatic groan.

“I hate you right now,” I mumble, as I get up and walk to the door.

“Hey,” he says when I pull the door open.

“Hi,” I answer, feeling really stupid for my dramatic exit earlier at The Lounge.

“Can we talk?”

I glance behind me to see Lindsey and Mercy shooing me to leave, so I give Trevor a nod before pulling on my coat and leaving the room.

“So,” Trevor says.

We’re parked outside of Merv, but we decided to stay in the warmth of his car instead of freezing our butts off outside.

“So,” I echo.

“Look, about what I said...” He runs a hand through his hair messily.

I watch as a single strand stands straight up, and I can’t help the tiny smile that graces my lips. Trevor must notice because he ruffles his hair again to calm it down.

“Listen,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking at all when I said that. I didn’t mean it literally at all. I wasn’t even talking about you. I was talking about the entire circumstance. I’m most certainly not ready to be a dad, and I would rather die than live in a haunted house in the middle of nowhere. Most likely next to a lake that has creepy children popping out of it. I just—”

“Trevor.” I reach over and grab his hand. It’s warm and calloused beneath my own.

He lets out a sigh and my senses are bombarded with the hint of cinnamon. The reminder of what happened the time I asked him why he smelled like cinnamon hits me, and suddenly it’s much too crowded in here. I pull my hand away before the heat becomes too much. I feel his eyes searching me, and I look up. A hesitant smile touches his lips when our gazes meet.

“I know you didn’t mean anything by it.” I finally say.

“I just,” he begins. “I just feel like I keep screwing up when it comes to you. I’m always doing something stupid that I have to apologize for, and I’m just really sorry about that. Something about you just makes me crazy stupid. I don’t think when you’re around,” he pauses, pulling in a breath. “You never told me that you were the one to find him. I had no clue. I can’t even imagine how that affected you. Emma, I’m so sorry... about everything. For being an idiot.”

With each word he says, the tornado tormenting my insides grows stronger and fiercer. Is this his way of admitting to having some amount of feelings for me? Without even thinking about it, I’m suddenly spewing words that I never thought I’d be saying to Trevor, but for some reason I know it’s time.

“Trevor,” I whisper. He lifts his head to look at me. “I think I need to tell you what happened.”

“What happened?...” he asks, even though I’m pretty sure he knows what I’m talking about.

“With my father.”

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