Cameron drove and I watched him.
It’s just that simple because everything else around us seemed quiet. He kept his eyes on the road, giving me an occasional look but I wasn’t bored, how could I be when I’m with him? I’m at the edge of my seat with nerves about this date or whatever Cameron thinks it is. I have high expectations but at the same time I know better than to set expectations.
Why would I set expectations for people instead of allowing them to show me who they are? It was a great flaw of mine that I’m working hard on. I’m far from perfect and I will never pretend to be flawless, if someone is taking a chance on me then I won’t let anything stop me from taking a chance on someone - especially Cameron.
“Tell me about your tattoos,” I ask him suddenly. He never really went too far in depth with the significance of any of his ink, maybe this car ride would give us a chance to talk about the small things.
Cameron glances over at me with his brows furrowed in confusion, “Why? It’s tattoos. Nothing special.”
I raise an eyebrow at him and laugh lightly, “Why not? Unless you have something better to talk about?”
He runs his fingers through his dark hair, looking at the tattoo on his forearm that was a small skull outlined. Not a lot of detail and very simple, “That’s a skull.”
“Ya don’t say,” I roll my eyes at his sarcasm, “Why did you get a skull tattooed on you?”
“I don’t know, Olivia. Because when I walked into the tattoo shop there was a warning label on the alcohol bottle and it was a skull,” He shrugs his shoulders and stops at a red light, “Sorry to disappoint you but there’s no deeper meaning to these things. Not for me.”
I wasn’t going to settle for such a basic answer. He permanently inked his body and there’s no way he did that without thinking through exactly what he was marking on his skin, “You have one on your chest.”
“What does that one mean to you?” I ask.
“Olivia, I have five tattoos on my chest. You’re going to need to be more specific.” He seems annoyed but I know that he isn’t, when he’s annoyed with me his voice becomes rougher and he shows it on his face expression.
I remember when Cameron took his shirt off when we were making out in the bar, a ram of some sort, “The ram.”
“I’m an Aries. It’s my zodiac sign.”
Finally, I managed to learn something about him, “When is your birthday?”
He’s so short with his answers but at least I’m getting answers from him, “That’s soon. Do you have plans?”
“Lets do something,” I suggest, thinking of ways that we can celebrate Cameron’s birthday on such short notice, “We can get all of your frien--”
“No. I don’t celebrate it,” He says, he’s serious - that’s something I can tell right off the bat and I want to know why he doesn’t celebrate but I know better than to push my luck. Cameron quickly changes the subject, “What about you, huh? I know you don’t want to be a bartender forever. What’s your plan?”
That’s a good question. Truthfully, my first goal is to go to college, but it isn’t like I can tell Cameron that without him knowing that I’m still in high school, “I haven’t really thought about it. I’m happy where I am at my life so I guess it hasn’t crossed my mind just yet.”
As Cameron drives he responds to my statement, “You deserve a hell of a lot more than working in a bar, you know that, right? There has to be something that you’re passionate about, you’re good with money stuff. Why don’t you be a banker or something?”
“Just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean that I want to do it for a living,” I giggle softly, leaning back in the seat and pursing my lips slightly, “I don’t know. My parents always made me feel like I had to follow a certain path in life so the pressure makes everything feel so forced. I want to do something willingly and in a way, I want to do the opposite of what they expect of me just to do things my way. It’s messed up, right? It’s like I’m focused more on proving a point to my parents instead of actually doing things for me.”
I’m surprised with Cameron doesn’t respond right away, his expression is unreadable and his eyes stay on the road until he pulls into a parking lot. As he turns off his car, Cameron turns to me and takes his seat belt off, “You shouldn’t give a fuck what your parents think now. You’re an adult, Olivia. They can’t control any aspect of your life.”
But I’m not.
“I know, I just...” I feel everything that I’ve lied about building up inside of me and for the first time I’m scared. Not because I could possibly get caught and get in tons of trouble, but I’m afraid of losing Cameron, someone who I’ve grown to have a connection with.
Cameron is the kind of person who rarely opens up but he has given me more than I could have asked for from him. He’s trusting in me and believing my every lie which was building up day by day.
“Hey...” I feel Cameron’s thumb on my cheek, wiping away a tear that I never knew had fallen, “Don’t let anyone get to you like this. It’s your life, do it your way.”
“Cameron it’s not just that... I am a complete screw up,” I tell him, suddenly feeling my voice cracking and wanting desperately to just tell him everything no matter how bad the consequences but the fear was far too crippling, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ever making you feel like you’re the one with the issues when I’m possibly more messed up than you are. There’s so many things about me that are a complete mess. I should have never judged you for being your authentic self.”
He seems confused, not knowing where any of this is conversation was coming from. I notice his tongue slide across his lower lip as he struggles to find a response to my mental breakdown, “We’re going to change the plans I had for today. I have something better for you.”
Without another word, Cameron drives out of the parking lot and begins to drive in the opposite direction then we were originally headed. I choose not to ask any question but instead do exactly what Cameron asked of me and trust him.
He wanted to play hero and I would give him the opportunity.
As Cameron begins to drive further and further from the area in which I’m familiar, I become more curious of where he is taking me. There’s not much happening outside of the car, just lots of grass and an occasional gas station. It isn’t until Cameron pulls into a parking lot that I realize where he decided to take me.
“A batting cage?” I ask, unable to keep the confusion out of my voice, “Uh... That’s creative.”
“You need to get some anger out,” He tells me before he gets out of the car and closes his door, “When I was a teenager I would come here whenever my step dad got on my nerves. I was only about fourteen so it helped until I realize that using my fists on people made me feel a lot better than hitting a stupid ball could ever do.”
I follow him to the small shop to get a key for the batting cage, “So you turned to violence?”
He nods, not seeming to care that violence isn’t anything to brag about, “Yup. And when my mom had to pick sides of course she chose him. It all worked out, anyway. I got my independence at an early age. Now look how amazing I am.”
Cameron never did lack confidence, even in his flaws he seen himself as a perfect specimen. I wish I could view myself that way, but like most girls, I see all the bad in me and never the good.
I stay quiet as Cameron grabs a key and leads me to the batting cage. As he unlocks the door, he looks over at me and directs me on what to do, “It doesn’t matter if you hit the balls, okay? It’s the swinging that helps you get out your anger and if you do manage to actually hit one, then it just feels even better.”
“Wait... Can’t the ball hit me if I don’t hit it first?”
Cameron places a helmet on my head and adjusts the straps to keep it secure. He taps the top of it and grins at me, “Oh, it’ll definitely hit you at one point. Another plus to this whole thing, you build strength.”
As he begins to walk towards the automated ball throwing machine, I grab the baseball bat and panic, “No, no, no. I am not okay with this. Cameron, I bruise easily.”
“You’ll be fine,” He says as he flicks the switch.
I hear the machine start, loud noises coming from it and Cameron begins to load baseballs into it. I’m terrified. There’s always been something about things coming straight for my face that scared the shit out of me and this was just toying with my anxiety.
The first ball flies out and I jump to the side in order to avoid it. I didn’t bother swinging the bat as I’m too afraid of my body being damaged and having another thing to explain to my parents. After I dodged the second and the third ball, Cameron groaned.
“Try to hit it, for fuck sakes.”
“Shut up, Cameron! You can’t just push me into this situation and expect me to reach okay!” I yell over the sound of the machine running and after dodging a few more balls, I took a deep breath and began to position my bat.
This is complete bullshit. This is the furthest thing from calming or helping me deal with my underlying issues. I swing the bat as a ball comes towards me and as expected, I miss.
“Agh!” I groan as it hits me in the leg. I send a glare towards Cameron and raise my voice, “Shut it off, Cameron!”
“What? I can’t hear you...” He calls out to me but I know he’s lying.
Son of a bitch.
“Cameron, I swear to go--” I swing the bat quickly as another ball shoots out of the machine and I surprise myself by actually hitting it this time. Once another shoots out, I hit it again; this time harder than the first.
“There you go.” I hear Cameron say but I ignore him, continuing to swing at the baseballs as they attack me.
I’m surprised by how good this feels. I focus all of my anger and secrets on the balls, hitting one after another. My age, that’s a hit. Lying to Cameron is another. I think about the legal problems that I’m getting Cameron into without him knowing and I swing the bat even harder. Thea knows my secret and could exploit me at any time, she thinks so lowly of Cameron and I can defend him as much as possible but I’ll never be able to express my support for him the way I want to. I can’t tell my family about him, I can’t try to be anything serious with him without people finding out what kind of mess I have made. Everything is slowly building up and sooner or later Cameron will learn that I’m not twenty-one. I’m graduating high school in two months and I’ll be going to college. There’s only so much one person can hide before it explodes.
Hit after hit, after hit.
The balls stop coming and Cameron begins to walk towards me, holding his hands up in defense, “Alright, Brookes. Put the bat down...”
I drop the bat, hearing it hit against the ground with a hard thud. When I look at Cameron I can’t help but smile, excitement radiating off of me, “That was amazing!”
“Yeah? I told you to trust me.”
I unhook the helmet and toss it aside, laughing as the adrenaline continues to consumes me, “You were right. It felt good and it’s like there’s so much weight lifted off of my shoulders. Thank you... Thank you for bringing me here.”
The look that appears on Cameron’s face tells me that he wanted to make a move once again, but he didn’t. He didn’t lean in for a kiss, nor did he touch my hair. Cameron simply smiled at me and extended his hand, “How about we grab lunch?”
I’m not sure who this guy is, but he wasn’t acting like the arrogant man that ran a bar in downtown Chicago. He actually seemed like a gentleman, a normal human being without a dirty mind and bad temper. He seemed like a guy that I could see myself having lunch with.
“That sounds great.”