My parents had cooled down after a few days.
They had agreed I could have my phone back; but I was still grounded. I scroll through my social media 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 push the thought out of my mind and decide to get dressed for school. I couldn't wait to see Cal, I just hoped that he would be at school today; purely to see me. I sweep my curls into a clip and slide on a blue t-shirt and jeans. I look in the mirror, relieved to see my eyes aren't so swollen from crying anymore. I remember Cal prefers my hair down so I take the clip out, letting the curls fall around my shoulders. My phone pings and I grab it excitedly, my heart sinking a little when I see it was from Rosie.
Can we talk today? Miss you.
I type back a quick reply and grab my bag.
My Mom was waiting for me at the kitchen table, car keys in hand.
"Ready?" she snaps, her eyes narrowing at me. She was still angry, purely because I had worried her so much. I can't understand it, because whenever I thought of that night with Cal I realised it was so worth it. Mom stands up, pushing the chair away as she does, 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 nod glumly. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep away from him if I tried.
Nothing compared to him, ever.
We leave the house and my eyes search the road, just in case Cal was waiting for me. I feel disappointment when I see that he isn't there, and slouch into the passenger seat of my Mom's car. We drive in silence, until she drops me off right outside school.
"I will pick you up after school."
"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 leans over me, opening the car door, signalling for me to get out. I climb out and watch her drive away. Jeez, she was really pissed. I don't get it- I'm safe. It clearly didn't matter, this was her way of dealing with it.
I follow the throng of people making their way painfully slowly to school and I find myself searching for a familiar face. Eventually I spot Sienna leaning on her car, wrapped in a winter coat. She begins waving frantically when she sees me, and I walk over to her as she holds her arms out.
"Hey, are you ok? I texted you, called you, no reply? Was you with loverboy?'"
Her eyes roll as she speaks, her arm linking with mine as we walk into school.
"It's complicated, I'm sorry I didn't get back to you. My dad took my phone from me..." I explain with a loud sigh, unhooking my black leather bag from my shoulder, dropping it at my feet whilst I open my locker. I was distracted by the sound of a basketball being bounced loudly in the hallway, to hollers from the guys who were attempting to play the game in between throngs of people.
"No shit, why?" she exclaims, her eyes wide as she looks at me with surprise. I get it- I'm not the rebellious type. I pull my books out and slam my locker shut, before turning to face her,
"Oh Si, I spent the night with Cal and I didn't tell my parents where I was."
Sienna makes a face as she places her hands on her hips, peering at me curiously.
"Ok, who are you and what have you done with Gretchen? You're a real rebel now!"
She says this proudly at first, but her expression changes when she sees the sadness in my eyes.
"Luke went to my house and of course; I wasn't there."
We walked forwards, trying to avoid the basketball that was still being tossed about.
Her eyes flash as she throws her hair over her shoulder with a frown, glancing at me, clearly as confused as I was about the whole situation.
"What the fuck did Luke go to your house for?"
"I know right? I saw him the other day with Krystal, and then he was with some random person at The Rink..."
"Well I mean, there's moving on, and then there's that. So why turn up at yours?"
Sienna fumbles in her bag for a moment before slipping gum into her mouth, offering me one as she does.
I take it, popping it into my mouth. We start 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 shrug, allowing her to piece together the rest in her head.
"Oh no...So they took your phone away?"
I nod as we make our way into our Psychology Class.
"I can't see him anymore, and I'm grounded for life."
My eyes threaten to fill with tears again as she squeezes my arm.
"This is horrendous Gretchen. Listen, we will talk more after class, yeah?" Sienna nods at me kindly before making her way to her seat.
My eyes sweep over the empty seats behind me and feel a pang in my chest. I notice Luke walking in, his hair clearly still wet from the shower. He sees me and chooses to avoid my furious glare, sliding into his seat and joking with Finn. Finn glances at me and gives me a half smile, which I coolly ignore and stare out of the window.
I hope Luke doesn't expect me to speak to him. I want to poke his eyes out with my nails for looking so 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 had texted him, but he didn't reply. My heart felt like it was being crushed.
I'm in the library with my feet curled under me, reading my favourite book. Whenever I felt stressed, reading always soothed my soul. The rain lashes on the windows, the sky dark and foreboding. I shiver and pull my hoody around me tighter for the extra warmth. I flip my hair over to the side parting and lean back, trying to get back to the book. Pretty soon I was absorbed and I didn't realise how much time had passed when the bell rang. I sit up to gather my things, dropping my book in the process. I lean down to pick it up when someone else's fingers beat me to it.
I look up in surprise to see Luke, as he hands me the book whilst I marvel at his audacity. I snatch it from him, pushing it deep into my bag. He looks at his feet, his 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 swing my legs down and stand to face him.
"Is that right?" I say angrily, my body trembling. "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 move to go past him when he grabs my wrist.
"Wait," he begs, as I pull my arm from him like I had been burnt, and turn 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 see the hurt in his eyes as I spin on my heel and storm away. My eyes are blurry and filled with tears as I make my way out of the school, heading for my Mom's car which was waiting in the pouring rain. I slam the door behind me as I climb in, tears spilling down my face. My Mom looked at me with concern.
"Babe? What's happened?"
She attempts to move my hair out of my eyes, but I move away. She draws her hand back slowly as I shake my head, staring out of the window glumly. Mom didn't get it did she? My life is falling apart in front of my eyes and all she can do is ask what had happened? How can I say, well hey Mom, I'm 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 I haven't heard from Cal in fucking days.
My tears fall silently as I stare 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 wouldn't 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 remember his arms around me and I could feel 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 am interrupted by a knock at my door and I turn on my side, refusing to acknowledge it; I'm too angry and hurt. I hear the door open softly and I feel the bed go down as someone put their weight on it.
My father's voice causes a fresh lot of tears to fall down my cheeks.
"Gretchen, you need to look at me honey."
His voice is soft and calm, but I shake my head. Didn't he know the damage was done? My father sighs, and I hear him sip from his glass of wine. There is silence between us until he speaks 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 close my eyes as he continues.
"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 chuckles 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 open 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 breaks a little then and I sit 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 shakes his head. "Mothers are always right you know," he says softly as I stare 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 snaps up at this.
"Cal cares about me Dad, he really does. He would never hurt me. I love him, Dad.'
He nods sadly, before giving me a warm smile.
"I thought as much. If that's 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 being grounded. If your grades slide, it stops. Am I clear?"
I threw my arms around him.
"Thank you, Dad."
Immediately I want to run to Cal's house, in my pjs, barefoot. I need him so much I felt like I was slowly dying inside.
Dad pats my arm and kisses my head.
"Please Gretchen, don't ever do that to us again."
I squeeze him tightly and nod.