I Don't Like You
As I wait for Lindsey to answer her phone, my insecurities start plaguing my thoughts. She had seemed genuine about wanting to meet up, but now that I’m actually making the attempt I’m wondering if her offer was only made out of politeness.
“Hey, Lindsey. It’s Emma,” I tell her after she’s greeted me with a simple ‘hello’.
“Emma!” she nearly squeals, and immediately my uncertainty vanishes. “I’m so glad you called. What’s up?”
I laugh before responding. “Actually, I was wondering if you’d be up for getting togeth—”
She squeals out a ‘yes’ before I can even finish my sentence. “Yes,” she says again, excitement bubbling from her lips. “When?”
“Coffee Lounge?” she says, and I grunt a ‘huh?’ before she laughs and explains. “It’s the campus coffee shop. We could meet there in ten minutes?”
“It’s crazy,” Lindsey begins as she sips her iced caramel macchiato. “I’ve wanted to get to know you for ages, but we just never ran in the same crowd in high school.”
She pauses to take a sip before continuing. “That’s not much of an excuse. I guess I was too lazy to put the effort in, and you always seemed to enjoy your solitude. I don’t think I ever saw you seek anyone out, and you seemed surprisingly okay with that. I didn’t want to intrude if I wasn’t wanted.”
I let out a small, insecure snicker before responding. “It was probably best that you left me alone back then,” I tell her, taking a hesitant sip of my scorching cappuccino.
She looks at me intently, silently telling me to continue.
“I was going through some stuff back then,” I explain, waving it off like it’s not a big deal. “You know how dramatic high schoolers are. Something bad happens and then suddenly it’s like ‘my life is over!’, ‘I hate the world!’ kind of deal.”
“Did it have to do with your dad?”
I look up shocked by her question. She seems to regret her forwardness, but I immediately answer, hoping to ease her mind.
“I can’t believe you remember that,” I respond. I glance down at my coffee before dipping my finger into the foam and sucking it off my finger.
“I just remember hearing about your dad passing away, but the news never gave any details,” she explains.
“We asked them to keep it quiet.”
I know that suffering alone is unhealthy; I’ve known it for years. I never cared to enlighten anyone about my past because I couldn’t bear to pull the images from my memory cellar. But, for some reason, Lindsey gives off a sense of complete trust. My emotions are still fragile, so I don’t go into extreme detail, but I do tell her most everything. I tell her the surface account of my father’s death; and how I dealt with all of it. I try to hold back my own grief as I give her my history, but my body won’t cooperate. I’m not even bothered by the fact that I’m choking back tears, and Lindsey doesn’t appear to be bothered either.
I guess I could have had this type of friendship sooner, but I’d never given anyone a chance. Lindsey’s genuine desire to get to know me is impossible to turn down, and her honest response to my darkest heartbreak makes me want to spill my damaged life all over her.
I’m grateful when I’m able to retell parts of my past without completely falling apart. I clear my throat to rid it of any remaining emotions and smile over at Lindsey. Her expression is warm, and I feel the tension ease from my muscles.
I’d always been told that releasing your feelings was a giant step towards healing, but I never imagined that it would feel so sickeningly horrible and yet so freeing at the same time. I could feel my spirit emerging from the depths of darkness and fluttering briefly into the light.
Once I’ve told Lindsey everything I’m willing to confess, she sits back in her seat thoughtfully. Knowing that we need a change in subject, she orders us both another coffee and some cheesecake.
Lindsey is just taking her third bite when I feel her eyes on me. I glance up with a question knitted into my eyebrows.
“Why’d you call me up?” she finally asks, tilting her head slightly in curiosity. “I’m pretty sure spilling your life story to me was not on your agenda.”
I’m immediately filled with guilt when I realize my reason for calling her. My eyes dart back towards my cheesecake, wishing I could come up with something clever; a lie she wouldn’t see through, but I can’t.
“Actually... ” I hesitate. “I was hoping to get your help on something. Or your advice. Or opinion. Or whatever really. I just need a bit of help with a situation.”
She doesn’t respond, but I can tell she’s intrigued, so I continue. “See, there’s this boy... ”
She’s instantly nodding her head as if she had figured it all out already. She smiles softly but doesn’t say anything.
“I um... well, he hates me. And for good reason too.” I pause to figure out what I’m really trying, or wanting, to say. “See, when my dad died I lashed out. I turned dark and cruel, and I took my anger out on... ” I pause to pull in a deep breath. “Trinity Nixon.”
I take a bite of my cake and instantly regret it. The reminder of my cruelty does not sit well in my stomach and adding cheesecake just makes me nauseous. “I ruined her life,” I say. “Literally. She left the state because of me.” I don’t look up at Lindsey until I see her hand glide across the table and gently touch mine.
“That was in the past. Apparently, you’ve changed. A lot,” she tells me. “Please continue. You’re getting no judgment from me.” I give her a small smile before continuing.
“I didn’t have any friends. I was completely out of the loop when it came to gossip and rumors, and since Trinity showed up to school a couple weeks after her brother, I never put two and two together. Unfortunately for me, I was... I am,” I glance at her sheepishly, “head over heels for this guy.”
She stares at me for a moment before her eyes widen. “Trevor?” she nearly gasps.
“Trevor Nixon! My brother’s best friend and roommate?”
“What?” Now I’m the one gasping. “Roommate?”
She gives me a triumphant smile.
“Wow, this has just made everything a hundred times easier,” I say.
I set down my fork and lean forward on my forearms. “Could I ask a massive favor of you?” I feel extremely stupid as soon as I ask. Seriously, who asks someone a question like that when they barely know each other?
“Anything. Ask away,” she says, giving me a mischievous look, excitement glinting in her eyes.
“Well, I only know a few definite facts about him, other than the fact that he hates me.” I start naming off the things he had listed to me earlier. “He can play the piano.” Lindsey wiggles her eyebrows at me and I suppress a laugh before continuing, “He can crochet, and he plays soccer.” I point to my second and third digit as I count out each fact.
“He wants to learn how to knit, and he sings in the shower,” I finish quickly.
She snorts at the last two and a grin flutters across my lips.
“I’m hoping that I can somehow get his attention,” I explain. “Since you know him better maybe you can help, or get your brother to help.”
She’s already shaking her head. “My brother would never, ever, help with something like this. Besides, he’d be spilling all of our secret plans to Trevor and we can’t have that.” She taps her fork against her closed lips as she thinks.
“Okay,” she says after we’ve bounced ideas off each other for nearly an hour. “I’ve got it. You’ll think it’s stupid, and it kind of is, but it’s also kind of cute. Please don’t shoot down this idea until you think about it, okay?” She actually looks nervous as she chews the end of her fork. “You mentioned something about knitting, right?”
I’m already not sure I like the direction this conversation has taken.
I’ve just finished Statistics and am slowly making my way across campus towards my psychology class, feeling everything but excited.
What I’m not expecting when I walk through the door is to find Trevor already in the seat next to my usual one; a worried look plastered on his face. He’s watching me as I make my way to him. His expression is causing anxiety and confusion to swirl in my gut.
I take my seat and he instantly turns to face me. I look at him from the corner of my eye before slowly turning my head in his direction. I don’t say anything. I just wait.
“I need to apologize,” he says, while tapping his pen against his thigh. “What I said to you the other day was completely out of character for me. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like you. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but can you really blame me?” he shrugs as he asks. “You sort of ruined my family. I think you’re selfish and callous, but that’s beside the point,” he pauses. “Sorry for that too.”
He runs a hand through his hair, sighing with a hint of frustration. “I try to be a nice guy. No one deserves to be treated badly. Not even you. That doesn’t change how I feel about you in the least, but I’m hoping to get through this stupid project without either of us strangling each other.”
“I get it,” I say.
He just stares at me as I smile and turn to grab my notes from my bag. I can tell he’s still looking at me when I turn back to face the front of the class. I peek over at his confused face.
“I was a horrible person,” I tell him. “I did horrible things. You deserve to strangle me. I get it.” I let a couple seconds tick by before looking down at my fingers that are busy picking invisible dust off my desk. “Thank you,” I nearly whisper. “For, you know, apologizing.”
“Okay, people,” the teacher announces a few minutes later. “Your topic for today: Discuss a dominant feeling that you have towards your partner.”
I want to groan... loudly, but I suppress the urge.
She passes out packets of paper to each group as she explains our tasks. “The goal of this entire assignment is to dissect human behavior; to do that we need to get to know our partner. You should know a bit about them by now, so use what you know already to discover more. Dig guys. Dig,” she says, turning to head back to her desk. “You have the rest of class to work.”
I can’t help but wonder when she’s actually going to start teaching. I’m tired of having to awkwardly sit here with a guy who hates me while we skim the surface of each others psyche.
“I hate to bring this up after just apologizing for my rudeness,” I hear Trevor saying. I turn towards him. “But, if I’m being honest, the most dominant feeling I have towards you is anger or bitterness. I guess those are pretty similar.”
It doesn’t feel good to hear this, but at the same time, just to have him speaking to me like a human seems to be progress. I fight down the urge to pity myself by plastering a tiny smile on my lips. I grab the packet we were given and begin to leaf through it.
“Okay, anger,” I read as I glance through the material. “Says here that anger is usually referred to as hot. Like boiling liquid pumping through your veins. Lava.”
I look up at Trevor but he doesn’t seem convinced as he scratches his left temple with the end of his pen.
“What about hate?” I ask as I flip a couple pages. “Hate is described as cold. Hard. Stagnant.” I look over to see him grimacing back at me.
“That one actually sounds a bit more accurate,” he says.
Why does he look so guilty and apologetic when he’s admitting to hating me? You don’t pity someone you hate. Trevor is stranger than I thought.
“Are you afraid of me?” I inquire, while still reading the pages in front of me.
“What? Seriously?” Trevor asks, straight-faced.
I laugh lightly. “It says here...” I scan my finger over the page to find my place again. “A quote by Cyril Connolly, ’Hate is the consequence of fear. We fear something before we hate it.”
“Uh, right. That’s a load of crap,” he laughs, and it’s just enough to snag my attention. He looks so easygoing and relaxed when he laughs. It’s beautiful.
He must notice my expression because the smile instantly falls from his face. The moment is over.
I sigh inwardly as I continue to read. “Once we begin to remove hate from human interaction, and eliminate the cause of our hatred, we begin to give love an opportunity to ignite and blossom...” I mumble a bit as I hurry through the rest of the article.
The word ‘love’ got me flustered and I don’t think I’ll manage to finish off the article without Trevor witnessing my flaming cheeks.
“Okay, my turn,” I say, hoping to change the topic. “I could say that mine is also hate,” I begin.
I can see that Trevor is about to argue with me, but I hold up my hand to stop him. “I don’t hate you.” I clarify. “But looking at you, and you know... remembering, makes me hate myself. I hate who I was. I hate what I did. But to keep this project interesting I’ll go with a different emotion.” I pause to think, but it doesn’t take long because I instantly recognize the emotion that I feel each time I look at Trevor. “Regret.”
Trevor snatches the packet of papers off my desk and begins to read once he’s found the right category. “Researcher Neal Roese has performed studies which revealed that younger people have shown that regret is rated more favorable than unfavorable, primarily because of its informational value in motivating corrective action.” He pauses and frowns as if unimpressed by the information. “Life is a journey. Everyone makes mistakes. Regret is a teaching tool guiding us on how to react, improving our values and illuminating our triggers. It teaches us how to better take care of ourselves.”
He stops briefly as his eyes scan the article. “That was completely unhelpful,” Trevor says as he lays down the packet.
What he doesn’t know is how useful it really is. I can see all of those qualities in my own life. Regret has transformed me - awoken my inner self. I feel that I know who I am now, and I’m willing to fight to become a better person so that I never have to feel regret again. Though I may slip into moments of despair occasionally, I can at least see something brighter, shinier on the horizon. And that’s where I’m headed. I’m walking towards shiny.
My first step is to correct my actions. I have yet to actually apologize for what I’ve done, but I’m hoping that after tomorrow Trevor will know that I’m being for real. I’m no longer the foolish girl that I was in high school.