My parents had cooled down after a few days and agreed I could have my phone back, but I was still grounded. I was sat in my room scrolling through facebook idly, catching up on the events I had missed in such a short space of time. I hadn’t heard from Cal, but I didn’t know if that was because my parents had been particularly extreme and blocked him on my phone, or whether he had simply tried not to contact me. I pushed the thought out of my mind and decided to dress for school. I literally couldn’t wait to see Cal, I hoped that he would be at school today, purely to see me. I swept my curls into a clip and slid on a blue t shirt and jeans. I looked in the mirror, relieved to see my eyes weren’t so swollen from crying anymore. I remembered Cal preferring my hair down so I took the clip out, letting the curls fall. My phone pinged and I grabbed it, feeling my heart sink a little when I saw it was from Rosie.
′Can we talk today? Miss you.′
I typed back a quick, ’Sure, see you soon.′ reply and grabbed my bag.
My mom was waiting for me at the kitchen table, car keys in hand.
She asked, her eyes narrowed at me. She was still angry, purely because I had worried her so much. I tried to understand but whenever I thought of that night with Cal I realised it was so worth it. She stood, her blue eyes piercing into mine.
′Keep away from Cal, for your own good. I can’t force you, but I am trying to help you. Now get in the car please.′
I nodded and sighed, this was so hard. I couldn’t keep away from him if I tried. Nothing compared to him, ever. I just would have to not be so vocal about him at home. We left the house and my eyes searched the road, just incase Cal was waiting for me. I felt disappointment that he wasn’t there, and slouched into the passenger seat of my moms car. We drove in silence, and she dropped me off right outside.
′I will pick you up after school.′
I tried to speak then, ′Mom I -′
′No, Gretchen. You don’t get to say anything about this. Until you learn how to behave like an adult, you will be treated like a child.′
She leant over me and opened the car door, signalling for me to get out. I climbed out and watched her drive away. Jeez. She was really pissed. I don’t get it- I’m safe. It clearly didn’t matter, this was clearly her way of dealing with it. I followed the throng of people making their way painfully slowly to school and I found myself searching for a familiar face. Eventually I saw Sienna leaning on her car, wrapped in a winter coat. She spotted me and began waving frantically. I walked over to her and she held her arms out.
’Hey, are you ok? I texted you, called you, no reply? Was you with loverboy?′
Her eyes rolled as she spoke, her arm linking with mine as we walked into school.
’Its complicated, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you. My dad took my phone from me...′
I unhooked my black leather bag from my shoulder and dropped it at my feet whilst I opened my locker. I was stopped by the sound of a basketball being bounced loudly in the hallway, to hollers from the guys who were attempting to actually play the game in between throngs of people.
‘No shit, why?!’ She exclaimed, her eyes wide.
I pulled my books out and slammed my locker shut and turned to face her,
′Oh Si. I spent the night with Cal and I didn’t tell my parents...′
She made a face and held her hands out,
‘Ok, who are you and what have you done with Gretchen? You’re a real rebel now!’
She said this proudly but her face changed when she saw the sadness in my eyes.
‘Then Luke went to my house, I wasn’t there.....’ I sighed as we walked forwards, trying to avoid the basketball that was still being tossed about.
Her eyes flashed as she threw her hair over her shoulder.
’What the fuck did Luke go to your house for?!′
She furrowed her brow, as confused as I was about the whole situation.
‘I know right? I saw him the other day with Krystal, and then he was with some random at The Rink....’
She shook her head.
′Well I mean, there’s moving on, and then there’s that. So why turn up at yours?′
She slipped gum into her mouth and offered me one.
I took it, popping it into my mouth. We started walking through the crowds, the different voices and sounds dulling our conversation.
′To see me, but I wasn’t there. So he told my parents Cal was a waster, pretty much. Then I didn’t come back home....′
I shrugged, as she pieced together the rest in her head.
’Oh no.....So they took your phone away?′
I nodded as we found ourselves in the Psychology Class.
′I can’t see him anymore, and I’m grounded for life.′
My eyes threatened to fill with tears again as she squeezed my arm.
′This is horrendous Gretchen. Listen, we will talk more after class, yeah?′ Sienna nodded at me sadly and made her way to her seat.
My eyes swept over the empty seats behind mine and felt a pang in my chest. I noticed Luke walking in, his hair clearly still wet from the shower. He saw me and avoided my furious glare, sliding into his seat and joking with Finn. Finn glanced at me and gave a half smile, which I coolly ignored and stared out of the window. I hope Luke didn’t expect me to speak to him. I wanted to poke his eyes out with my nails. He looked relaxed and happy, not like someone who was actively ruining two lives.
Cal didn’t show that day. Or the next, or the one after that. Against my parents strict orders I texted him. He didn’t reply. My heart felt like it was being crushed. I was sat in the library with my feet curled under me, reading my favourite book. Whenever I felt stressed reading always soothed my soul. The rain lashed on the windows, the sky dark and foreboding. I shivered and pulled my hoody around me tighter for the extra warmth. I flipped my hair over to the side parting and leant back, trying to get back to the book. Pretty soon I was absorbed and didn’t realise how much time had passed when the bell rang. I sat up to gather my things, dropping my book in the process. I leant down to pick it up when I saw someone elses fingers beat me to it. I looked up in surprise to see Luke. He handed me the book whilst I marvelled at his audacity. I snatched it from him, pushing it deep into my bag. He looked at his feet, hands in his pockets.
‘I know you hate me Gretch,’ he put his hands up, his eyes wide and genuine. ’But I need to explain....I did that for you, not for me.′
I swung my legs down and stood to face him.
‘Is that right?’ I spat. ′Well thank you but I’d much rather you hadn’t had bothered.′
I was tired of apologising to Luke, taking his name calling and now this. I moved to go past him when he grabbed my wrist.
‘Wait,’ he begged. I pulled my arm from his like I had been burned and turned to face him.
‘No I will NOT Luke. Don’t ever think you have done anything for me. I never want to speak to you again.’
I saw the hurt in his eyes as I span on my heel and stormed away. My eyes were blurry and filled with tears as I made my way out of the school, heading for my mothers car which was waiting in the pouring rain. I slammed the door behind me as I climbed in, tears spilling down my face. My mom looked at me with concern.
’Baby? What’s happened?′
She attempted to move my hair out of my eyes, and I moved away. She drew her hand back slowly as I shook my head and stared out of the window. She REALLY didn’t get it did she? My life was falling apart in front of my eyes and all she can do is ask what had happened? How could I say, well hey Mom, I am in love with a felon who I stayed out all night fucking, and for some reason you won’t let me see him and now my ex is making my life as hard as possible. Oh and now I haven’t heard from Cal in fucking DAYS. My tears fell as I stared stubbornly out the window, refusing to communicate with my mom.
Time passed and I struggled to function. I was going to school, avoiding everyone, coming home and crying, sleeping then repeating the pattern. I hadn’t heard from Cal, and I was worried something had happened to him. He would never just leave me, not without explaining it to me first. My mind was in overdrive, my thoughts meshing together and causing a chaos I couldn’t even begin to make sense of. My parents were happy though, I heard them laughing at ridiculously mundane tv shows and living their life. Together. I felt empty inside, but I was powerless. The only options I had was to break more rules and go and see Cal at his house, or sit and wallow in my self pity. I lay in the darkness, listening to the silence. My phone pinged and instead of leaping up like I had been, I ignored it, slipping the volume key to silent. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. Without Cal in my life I didn’t feel I could exist successfully. I remembered his arms around me and felt my heart break with longing, his soft lips on mine, his striking eyes. His fingers as they laced with mine as we lay in bed, in a world that was totally our own. The pain I felt pretty much every day was becoming so familiar I felt like I had to do something. I heard a knock at my door and I turned on my side, refusing to acknowledge it. I was so angry and hurt, this hadn’t eased for me at all. I heard the door open softly and I felt the bed go down as someone put weight on it.
My fathers voice caused a fresh lot of tears to fall down my cheeks.
‘Gretchen, you need to look at me honey.’
His voice was soft and calm as I shook my head. Didn’t he know the damage was done? My father sighed and I heard him sip from his glass of wine. There was silence between us until he spoke again.
′The day you were born was the happiest day of my life. I didn’t think I could’ve loved anyone like I loved your mother, until I met you.′ I closed my eyes. ′You always have amazed me. I watched you learn to walk, to talk, to laugh. I love the person you have become. You are intelligent, beautiful and usually, very sensible.′ He chuckled at this part. ‘When you didn’t come home the other night, when we couldn’t reach you...I haven’t ever felt fear like it. Then Luke came over and told us about this boy you were seeing and I actually hoped you WERE with him.’ I opened my eyes in surprise. ‘The thought of you being with someone who cared about you was a damn sight better than those I was imagining.’ His voice broke a little then and I sat up. He looked over at me, his eyes wet. ‘Your mother and I didn’t sleep at all that night. I wanted to call the police but your mother knew it had something to do with this boy.’ He shook his head. ’Mothers are always right you know,′ He said softly. I stared at my hands. ’So anyway Gretchen. We were so worried. I’m sorry you feel so sad, it kills me seeing you this way. I don’t want you anywhere near someone who could hurt you.′
My head snapped up at this. ′Cal cares about me Dad, he really does. He would never hurt me. I love him Dad.′
He nodded sadly.
′I thought as much. If thats the case, nothing or no one will keep you apart. So, you have a curfew young lady, but you aren’t grounded anymore. One red flag and you are back to grounded. If your grades slide, it stops. Am I clear?′
I threw my arms around him.
Immediately I wanted to run to Cal’s house, in my pjs, barefooted. I needed him so much I felt like I was slowly dying inside.
He patted my arm and kissed my head.
‘Please Gretchen, don’t ever do that to us again.’
I squeezed him and nodded. ‘I won’t.’