The Nerd Diaries: Arnold

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Sixteen: The Patient's Impatience

“You had a very normal reaction to a high-stress situation, Arnold,” the Doctor explains.

I woke up about twenty minutes ago in the emergency room with a Doctor pushing a needle through my skin in order to stitch shut the gash in my head.

“Sometimes people will feel chest pain or even faint all together.” He points out my bandage. “This did not help your case any. You probably wouldn’t even have needed to come in if you hadn’t hit your head.

The bleachers did a number on me, apparently. At some point, Tommy went looking for me and found my unconscious body. He had panicked when he saw the blood and brought me here instantly--He’s waiting outside of the room now even.

Though I’m thankful, he’s not the one I had hoped to see when I first opened my eyes.

“Can I go?” I ask the Doctor. It’s early in the morning, I was sleeping for most of the night and until a couple of minutes ago, but I don’t care. All I can think about is Prescilla; all I can see is her leaving with so much hurt in her eyes.

The hurt that I unintentionally inflicted.

“Yes, you’re all clear.”

I rise and head for the door immediately. “Take it easy!” The Doctor calls out.

Tommy jerks to a stand as soon as the door shuts behind me. He looks a little worse for wear but not as bad I think because he was passed out while I was. My unconsciousness was caused by a sharp wound to the head and heart, his was the fucking pint of vodka he drank from a damn water bottle.

“Let’s go,” I order.

“Yes, Sir.” He salutes, mocking the white bandage around my head.

We get into his jeep and the moment we arrive back at the school I’m itching to get into my car to go find Prescilla. Even if that means showing up at her parent’s house.

“What’s the rush?” Tommy asks as I fumble to get out of my seatbelt.

I need to find Pre,” I explain. “She saw Winnie come onto me last night at the game and she thinks I was cheating.”

“Ohh...” He grimaces. “Good luck. Call me if you need help, I guess.”

His ease in trusting me has me off-kilter. “You believe me? Just like that?” I ask him.

Tommy nods. “Yeah. If I didn’t know you cared about Pre or couldn’t see how much with my own eyes, maybe I would doubt you. But, that’s not the case. Whatever is going on with you two I have no doubt that you’ll figure it out.”

I really hope that’s true.

I say a quick goodbye and get in my car to set off toward Prescilla’s house. I’m halfway there when my phone starts ringing in my pocket. It’s Tommy?

He whistles dramatically when I pick up. “You’ll never believe who just called me.”

“Was it Pre?” I press, desperation in my tone.

“No,” he answers. “It was Jonny.”

I curse out loud and hangup, dropping my phone in the passenger seat as I make a u-turn and drive as fast as I legally can toward Westwood.

Prescilla hasn’t disappeared there since that time all those months ago. She never talked about it, but I know what sort of mindset leads her there.

Knowing she’s there now because of me is tearing me up inside.

I’m anxious as every minute passes and as every dashed line in the middle of the road flies by on the way to Jonny’s house.

When I pull into the familiar driveway--with the same asshole blocking the door--I’m almost to my breaking point.

“Nerd,” he tips his head in greeting. A dark sound comes from my chest and he sighs in defeat. “Jonny told me you were coming, relax, the princess is inside.”

The door is held open and the moment I’m inside I take in the destruction that only a big party could cause. All over the floor, on any viable counter space are cups and empty beer cans.

Since it’s approaching noon, I guess that’s the only reason that there aren’t any bodies littered here and there as well.

I walk through the house and keep looking until I find Pre sitting at a ping pong table by herself. She’s wearing nothing but a guys t-shirt and it damn sure isn’t mine.

“Pre,” I say in a strained tone.

Startled, she looks up at me with wide, glassy eyes and then averts her gaze just as quickly. “What are you doing here?” She asks, her voice sounding tired and unsteady

“I’m here for you,” I admit. “I’m taking you home.”

A single soft laugh escapes her and she grabs a red cup closest to her and chugs it down.

I close the space between us and kneel by her side since she won’t look at me for even a second. “Prescilla, please look at me.”

She remains still, the only movement in her trembling hand that holds the cup of alcohol. I reach out and take it from her, setting it aside and clasping her empty hand in mine. I have to turn her face just so she’ll look at me. It stings. A lot.

“Let me take you home,” I plead.

When she says nothing, I give up hope that she has any rational thoughts left in her mind. I pick her up, ignoring her short protest, and carry her out to my car.

For the briefest moment her small hands dig into my back as she pulls me against her in a hug I hold her just as tight, but as quickly as it happened, it’s over and she’s putting her feet down to escape me.

The slightest feeling of hope obscures my insecure doubts from that one embrace.

I watch Prescilla settle into the passenger seat of my car and close the door for her before taking my place in the driver’s seat.

My grip is tight on the steering wheel as I watch her out of the corner of my eye. I can see her forlorn, dead expression, and that fucking shirt that’s on her that is driving me insane with what it represents in my mind.

“I puked on my clothes last night,” she mumbles, so quietly that I almost don’t catch her it. Tension fades inside me and my grip on the wheel slackens. Until her words sink in.

She got drunk last night at the party, and if I hadn’t of passed out like a damn sissy then I could have stopped her, or at least helped her then. “I’m sorry, Pre,” I apologize--for not being able to stop the inevitable and for hurting her no matter what the technicalities were.

“Just take me home,” she whispers.

The rest of the drive is spent in silence. I’m not sure what to say, or if I should say anything more while she’s in her current state.

When I pull into her driveway, we both remain still. I take her hand in mine and kiss the back of it softly, my chest hurting when she sniffles and still won’t voluntarily look my way.

So I wait.

With her hand in mine, her softness soothing every worried nerve I have, I know that as long as we have this, waiting won’t be so damn hard.

Her hand tightly squeezes mine and then she’s opening the car door and getting out. “I just need time, Arnie,” she says softly.

I wait until she disappears inside to leave, her on my mind every second of my drive home. And even more the next day, that’s spent alone and hopeful.

***

I last a week.

One week.

On the second Monday without smelling her scent, feeling her touch, and hearing her voice, I can no longer put up with seeing her in the halls and making eye contact but not saying a damn thing--not doing a damn thing.

It’s after the end of our last period when I catch her in the hallway and pull her aside.

“Prescilla, please talk to me,” I beg, struggling not to tug on her hand and eliminate the worst thing in history between us--space.

“It’s been a week, Arnie,” she says it like it’s not enough. It makes my stomach drop because, for me, one week has been too fucking long.

“Pre, I just,” have no fucking idea how to fix this, “I don’t know what to do,” I say honestly.

“I--” A door slams near us, making Pre jump forward. Her warmth makes me react immediately, every part of me comes alive at her touch and especially when her hands fall against my chest as she steadies herself.

“Make up already?” Winnie smirks as she walks past us. “His dick wasn’t that impressive, but suit yourself, Prescilla.”

Rage burns inside me at her words but the abrupt loss of Prescilla as she recoils from me in more ways than one distracts me from letting it rein free.

“Pre--”

“Space. Just give me more space,” she mutters, shooting a glare in Winnie’s direction and then takes the nearest exit out.

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