M A B E L
Hayes is a fucking mess.
He’s so sad and broken and lonely, but I like that about him. I like how he’s real, how he knows what it’s like to be hurt, and not know how to come back from it. He doesn’t realize it, but he’s special to me. I wanted to keep him a secret– my secret, from my parents, from Riley. But that night he called me beyond sober, completely scared, I had no other choice but to bring my best friend with me.
I don’t think he realized it, but the moment I saw tears fall down his cheeks, the breath had been kicked from my lungs. He looks so beautiful when he cries, and that may be a terrible thing to say, let alone think, but he really does.
When Hayes cried it was silent, not a single sound came past his lips, but it felt like his falling tears caused rumbling earthquakes, and pouring rain. I pulled him close, and held him tight as if I could somehow squeeze all the broken pieces that make up Hayes Winchester back into place. But it had only made him cry harder, like he really needed someone to be there for him even if he doesn’t want to be here, alive, in the first place.
I think Hayes doesn’t know how to feel because his shit for a dad never taught him.
“Hey, dad.” I smile sadly.
The poor man has been in terrible shape since my mom left, she still hasn’t even bothered to come back home. She hasn’t called either, or even sent a single message.
What kind of mother does that? Leaves her daughter, and husband because she knows she’s getting dirt on her name?
My dad blows out a breath before pulling off his glasses, and drops them down on his bed. I can see into Hayes’ bedroom over the top of my father’s graying head, the green eyed man’s figure hunched over as he sits on the side of his bed. I avert my gaze back to my father with a forced smile, place an assuring hand on his broad shoulder, and give it a light squeeze.
“Hey, sweetheart.” He smiles to the best of his ability.
Without a word I wrap him up in a comforting hug, long arms wrapped loosely around his hard shoulders. Years in the military has done the man some good.
“I’m sorry all of this is happening.” I whisper, and I hear him sniffle. “But I just wanted you to know that I love you, and you’re a great dad. Seriously, mom is missing out on the man of her dreams here.”
He laughs lightly through his silent tears, and hugs me back. But then he slowly pulls away, wipes his watering eyes with the backs of his hands, and blows out another breath.
“Don’t worry about me, Mabel,” he forces another smile. “I’m just wondering how you’re staying so strong through all of this.”
I smile again.
“Have you been doing drugs?” He jokes, trying to lighten the mood.
Yes. “Of course not.”
He chuckles, believing my pathetic lie, which is honestly a shocker because he has always known when I’m lying. I beam up at my dad, land a playful punch to his broad shoulder before backing towards the door.
“Hey, dad,” I find myself speaking again. “Would you like to come with me to get some ice cream? I’ll pay.”
My dad smiles widely at first, and then weakly, then not at all. I’m curious as to why his mood as changed so quickly, but asking seems like it would make him in a worse one. That’s the way my father has always been, he’ll tell me what’s going on when he wants to.
“No, dear,” he shakes his head softly. “I wish I could, but I have some errands to run.”
“Okay.” I smile at him despite the worry that settles in the pit of my hollow stomach.
He smiles back, clearly not seeing how his sudden change in mood has affected me.
I’ll just ask Riley if she wants to go with me.
“Well, I better get going,” I continue, walking towards the door. “I’m starving.”
The car ride to Riley’s house is quiet, and peaceful. I was going to invite Hayes along to join us for ice cream, but I figured it would be good for the both of us to have a little time away from each other, to think. Sure, we’re friends, and he’s got a lot of things on his plate right now, but I know when Hayes doesn’t want anyone around, or doesn’t feel like talking even if I have only known him for a month.
But even I need a break from the man with dead green eyes, and Jack coated lips. Maybe I’ve spent too much time with him, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m beginning to fall for someone all over again that scares the living shit out of me.
I don’t want another repeat of Hayden Myers.
But I want Hayes and all his mental disorders and empty cigarette cartons and self inflicted scars. I shouldn’t want all that– all that danger, and brokenness, but I do. I don’t know how not to want it– him.
Pulling into Riley’s driveway, leave on the ignition. She hadn’t replied to my calls, or texts, so I thought I would just come by. Maybe something’s wrong, I’m not sure, but I need to check up on my best friend.
It’s freezing outside, I can feel the cold air hit my cheeks the moment I open the car door. The trees are bare, rattling together in the December breeze, and I can vaguely hear a barking, angry dog from several streets over as I make my way up to her front porch. Her car is parked in the driveway, so the girl has to be here, probably sleeping in her bedroom.
“Riley!” I call out, not bothering to knock since she never does either when she comes over.
I’m grateful for the amazing heating in her house, my fingers tingling as they slowly begin to thaw. I kick the door closed behind me, walk into her empty living room, and then peak my head into the kitchen.
“Hey, bitch!” I call out again, but the only response I get is a sudden bang, and then an incoherent curse from her bedroom.
I walk to her closed door, girly stickers, and magazine cutouts taped to the white surface. There’s shuffling on the other side, then another bang. Without a word I slam the door open, suddenly curious as to what my best friend is up to.
What the fucking fuck?
Riley is standing in the middle of her messy bedroom, shirt halfway over her bare upper half, and underwear halfway up her thighs. I gape at her, and then I notice him on the other side of the room– close to the window where he was about to make a quick escape.
Hayden Myers with his jeans undone, and shirt balled up in his hand. His blue eyes are wide with shock, both of them looking like two teenagers being caught in the act.
I forget how to breathe.
“Mabel, I can explain.” Riley urges, steps toward me after she manages to make herself somewhat decent.
I step away from her, eyes burning– chest tightening. I feel so betrayed, feel so hurt because Riley was the one person I thought would never even think about hurting me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I’m not thinking at all when I turn on my heel, make a mad dash out of her bedroom, and through the living room. A scream is caught in my throat, and I nearly let it out, but I think it freezes there when I walk out into the cold winter air. There’s a flame in my chest, burning so hot, and bright it makes it hard for me to breathe– my lungs being filled with ebony, choking smoke.
I gasp– curse because my heart has never been in so much pain. There’s quick footsteps behind me, footsteps that I know are Riley’s, and I glance over my shoulder for some fucking reason. Then I make eye contact with her, wild, angry eyes locked onto shocked, wide ones.
I jump over the three steps that connect the porch to the cement driveway, and stomp to my still running vehicle while swiping at the wild brunette hair that whips me in the face with vigor.
“Mabel!” Riley yells after me, running outside in nothing but one of my old t-shirts, and underwear.
I stop, whirl around to face the backstabber with as much anger that I can muster.
“You fucked him?” I snarl, don’t think I can control the raging hurricane within me much longer. “You have got to be kidding me?! I thought you had my back.”
Riley walks closer, but I match her steps back until I’m up against the cold metal of my truck, fists clenched, and shaking at my sides.
“I do, Mabel,” she nods, her face a canvas without any paint. “But you guys broke up, and–”
“That doesn’t fucking matter! You’re fucking the asshole who cheated on me, do
you not get that? You’re a bitch, Riley, a backstabbing bitch. You’ve been with him the whole time, haven’t you?! Fucking him while we were together, am I right?”
The little bitch definitely was, I know her.
She seems to grow angry at my words, stomping closer until we’re chest to chest, and out of the corner of my eye I see Hayden standing on the front porch. He seems just as emotionless as Riley was just mere seconds ago, and I’m thankful his clothes are on his body.
“He came running to me because you couldn’t give him what he wanted,” Riley spits, words venomous on her tongue. “That’s right, Mabel dearest, while you were off being the perfect little golden girl of Seeder Grove, Hayden Myers was in my bedroom fucking my brains out because you were too much of a pussy to let him.”
I don’t think, can’t comprehend what I’m doing until I raise a clenched fist, pull my arm back, and land a punch to her jaw. Tears are threatening to spill down my cheeks as I watch her go sprawling across the cold cement, scraping her bare knees, and arms. But I force myself to swallow them down, too angry to show any weakness. I’m shocked with myself just as much as Hayden is when he scrambles off the porch to help the poor little girl to her feet.
She spits angry curses up at me, holding her reddening face.
“Lets see how well you can suck his dick now with a bruised jaw.” I scream it so loud my throat feels like sandpaper, loud enough for the houses several blocks over to hear.
I’m still so angry I can’t think clearly, one punch isn’t satisfying enough, and all I want is more more more. But I force my feet to move, and I’m jumping in the driver’s seat of my truck at the same time Hayden is pulling an injured Riley up off the hard ground.
I’m gasping as I speed out of her driveway, holding in the sobs by pressing my throbbing fist into my mouth with the cold December wind blasting me in my tear stained face. I can’t seem to get enough air in my begging lungs, and all I can keep doing is gasping and coughing and choking out angry curses. All I can possibly think through this angry red haze is that I want to forget this rage– want to calm the raging storm within me.
She slept with him.
She stabbed me in the back.
My fingers are throbbing, knuckles red, and split open as I grip my phone in my shaking hand. I’m not thinking clearly, I know it, but I can’t seem to calm down, all I want to do is turn this truck around, and finish her off. But I can’t, I know I can’t.
I don’t realize I’ve called him until I hear his voice on the other line. I don’t realize a lot of things, like the fact that the pain in my chest is spreading fast, and spilling throughout my whole body. I want to punch the steering wheel.
“I’m coming over.” My voice is cold gravel, and I’m not sure how I managed to hide the fact that I’m on the verge of crying. “Fuck any plans you have, I’m coming over right now.”
He’s quiet a moment, probably confused, and then,
“You’re angry.” It’s not a question, more like a statement that he voices aloud– a spoken thought.
A part of me wants to spit out something filthy, something sarcastic, but I bite my tongue– taste copper on my tastebuds.
“Okay, Mabel,” I imagine him nodding his head thoughtfully, imagine him taking a long drag from a cigarette rested between his pierced lips. “Just don’t do anything stupid from now until you get here.”
I laugh humorlessly.
“You sound like a fucking hypocrite.”
He chuckles on the other end, and I hear the vague sound of liquid against glass. He must be drinking, and I hope there’s still some left by the time I make it to his house.
“Yeah, I do.” And he cuts the call.
It’s like he somehow knew that I’m not that far from where he lives, from where we both live. I’m not even one street over when I press harder on the gas, tingling fingers curled tightly around the steering wheel, knuckles bone-white.
I want to punch something until there’s a hole in a perfectly intact surface.
Just three houses away from the green eyed man’s house, I let out a bone shattering scream, grip on the shitty steering wheel tightening.
I scream until my throat burns, scream until my lungs beg for air, and the tears in my eyes crave to fall. I scream because right now it’s the only thing that can rid my body of some of this anger– just a bit.
I sound like a maniac as I pull into Hayes’ driveway, but I don’t give a single shit. I don’t even put the truck in park because I’m already clambering out of the driver’s seat, needing to get out of such a cramped space.
I punch the door, and it slams shut. I’m breathing heavily, every tornado starting from A to Z whirling around in my small, unbearable body. My hand feels as if I’ve broken a couple knuckles, trembling, and bleeding. But I shake it out because the pain is what helps me calm down, at least a little, and I storm up to Hayes’ house.
I don’t even make it up the steps before he’s walking outside, face neutral, and eyebrows drawn together in curiosity. He’s not shocked in the slightest to see me so angry, so shaken up, it’s almost as if he knew I could be this angry all along.
He steps towards me, and the tears I’ve tried so hard to push down cascade down my face like boiling hot waterfalls. I crash into his chest, bury my face into his nicotine smelling sweatshirt, and gasp.
And this time I feel like I can actually breathe.