Lauren hands me the opened box of pregnancy tests. I leave Jonas and her in my bedroom while I sneak the tests in the bathroom with me. Locking the door, I chew on my lip as I take one out. Plus means yes. Minus means no. Easy enough—even for someone like me.
I set them on the counter and sit myself down on the toilet. With my pants around my knees, I grip the test but freeze. Blood. A little splotch of blood in my underwear.
I return to my bedroom with the supplies two minutes later and face them. “That was easy. I’m not pregnant. I just got my period.”
“What? Just now?” Lauren asks, taking the tests.
“Yeah. There was some blood in my underwear. I have to change, but I’d rather be on my period than pregnant,” I explain as I pull out the top drawer in my dresser to grab new underwear. “I really got lucky this time. Maybe my body is just trying to teach me a lesson for taking random pills and not knowing if it was—”
“What if it’s a miscarriage?” She says, making both Jonas and I look to her.
“It was just a little blood. Not a lot. Wouldn’t there be more blood?”
Lauren stands up from my bed. ”I don’t know.”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Jonas intervenes. “Maybe you should see a doctor or something—just to be safe. I think you should tell your mom, Emma.”
“No, no, no, not her. It’s just my period.”
Lauren taps away on her phone, reading speedily and scrolling. “A miscarriage usually results in the loss of an amount of blood between these numbers” she reads aloud, “but closer to that of a regular period.”
“Stop trying to scare me,” I say, crossing my arms, not feeling angry or annoyed or frustrated, but... Sad? Worried? What’s happening inside me?
“You should just get checked out,” Jonas says. “We can go to a walk-in clinic or something.”
“I don’t have a car,” I say, trying to find any reason not to.
“We’ll take mine. Unless you want to get your mom.”
Clenching my jaw, I drop my arms. “Fine. Fine. Just let me change.”
We walk swiftly and silently to Jonas’ house. “This is just a waste of time,” I call back to them, walking ahead and wanting to get this over with. At least I’ll be right and they’ll be wrong and maybe I can redeem myself. I wonder how much this will cost. Maybe I should make them pay for it because they can sure afford to see a doctor for fun while I have to attend Stanford in the fall after losing one parent.
We reach the house, and I head straight for the garage where Jonas’ car is kept.
“Brandon is still here. You wanna tell him?” Jonas says. His eyes drift to a parked car across the street that wasn’t there before, and suddenly he seems to forget about everything.
“Who’s car is that?” I ask, receiving a weird feeling in my gut, and not just because I am bleeding for a reason that is still up for debate. Jonas turns to Lauren and me with a small frown. “You know what, I’ll check on Brandon.”
I hear Jonas call behind me as I make my way to the door. It’s locked, so I knock and knock again from impatience. My heart vibrates in my chest, and my fingertips have gone numb. Not able to wait a moment longer, I rush around to the back, hearing Jonas call my name. Voices grow between the chirping of birds and rustle of wind against trees. I slow down and slip through the gate.
“No, no, Jess got me from the airport. I wanted to surprise you,” a voice says, soft and familiar.
Jess. Is that her car out front? A Blue Mini Cooper that makes me want to throw a rock at the windshield. I take a careful step closer against the house, wanting to peek around to see what exactly is going on here.
“Well, you definitely surprised me. Matt’s not with you this time?”
With my hands against the wall, I inch over and peer past the corner.
“He’s too busy with his friends, of course. I just had a free day and wanted to see you; make sure you’re doing okay.”
That’s his mom. I remember her from when I made a fool out of myself after drinking too much with Jonas. She’s sat on the patio furniture with Brandon and Jess. The two of them are sitting beside each other while his mother is across the table. They’re close, a little too close for my past self to take.
“When you told me that you and Jess were seeing each other, well, I had to come see that for myself too, right? I’ve been waiting for years now,” his mom says, smiling with sunglasses perched on her nose. My stomach shoots up to my throat, and I hold back a violent cough. Seeing each other? What’s going on?
Jess laughs and grabs Brandon’s hand. He looks to her, and I grip the wall hard enough to make my knuckles turn white.
“You’re right. It’s about time,” he says. “I think there’s always been something between us; it just took a little time to sort it out.”
Jess gazes up at his face, her eyes nearly shimmering in the sun. “Yeah, I think so too.”
I look back and see Lauren standing at the open gate.
“What are you doing?” She asks.
Worried they might hear and not wanting to see anymore, I rush over and snatch her. I drag Lauren back to the front of the house and let go at the sight of Jonas. Before anyone can say anything, I take over.
“I’m not going to the doctor. I can’t do this right now—I can’t do anything right now. Just please just leave me alone. Just leave me alone and let me go.”
I walk off to the road, and Jonas pursues. “What are you talking about? What happened? Where’s Brandon?”
“You know who’s car that is!” I face him with hot cheeks. “You know that’s Jess’ car.”
“I don’t know why it’s here,” he says.
“It’s here because they’re together!”
I shake my head and wipe the tears from my eyes before they can spill all over the place. “Go look for yourself. They’re in the back talking to his mom. Talking about their relationship. About they’re feelings,” I mock. “He’s your friend, Jonas! You told me I could trust him, but that’s clearly not the case if he’s with Jess! Jess. I saw this coming. I knew this was coming. It’s this town and these people—they’re all snakes. Hunter, Milo, Kaden, Brandon—all snakes. Do me a favor and tell Jess to get out while she can—”
“Emma, will you just—”
“She should get out because he’s just a manipulative asshole. He manipulated me! He convinced me that he wouldn’t hurt me, Jonas!”
He reaches out for me, but I quickly step back. “Don’t follow me,” I say. “Just... don’t follow me.”
I walk off with a sense of unreality. Nothing feels real and all I can hear is the sound of my footsteps. I’m that girl from last summer again, the heartbroken girl who’s life is over and who may as well give up on love altogether. It’s never cut so deep, though. I can’t feel my body. Everything around me seems as if it’s on a TV screen and I’m some girl I don’t recognize. My head is in one place but I’m physically somewhere else. None of my thoughts make sense, but I don’t care. The only thing that makes sense is the thing that doesn’t at all.
Soon enough planks are beneath my feet. I can’t stop walking, and the dock is going to end. There needs to be a crash before I can feel better. I need to crash and tumble and touch the rock bottom.
If I close my eyes, it’s nearly like night time. Kaden’s voice plays in the back of my head, and his ghost hands caress me. I keep stepping until the planks run out and in the dark, he pushes me into the water.
Then it’s cold and wet and black. And I feel the rock bottom against my feet before I float to the surface. My eyes shoot open. Boats surround me. I swim past them, weighed down by my soaked clothes. I swim out into the open water, out to where I can see the beach lined with people.
I float here for a while—out in the water where nothing matters, where I could be nothing but a wave, or a shimmer, or a girl.