I throw everything into my backpack that I need for school while glancing around to make sure nobody’s around to see me. A wave of adrenaline shoots through me as I pull a navy blue beanie over my freshly trimmed curls and a pair of sunglasses shield my eyes from the nosiness that fills the world around us. The best part comes from a leather jacket I found in the back of my closet.
This kinda reminds me of the times when Xavier and I would run around the house when we were younger, throwing on some of Dad’s old clothes that he hadn’t worn in a while. Those times were just for a game of pretend where we could be different people for just a moment, but now, I’m not pretending, I’m on a search to find me.
All these clothes are just insurance that I’m not recognized five seconds into me showing up at the school building.
“I’m heading to work now, I’ll see you when I get home!”
“Yep, bye Ma!” I yell back as I force myself to sit down on the bed and pull a pair of black Timberlands onto my feet that fit a bit on the snugger side, but I could really care less.
“Remember, you can call if you need me.” I nod even though she’s not in the room to see it, which is actually a great thing considering the fact that I’m supposed to still be in bed.
I hear the sound of the front door closing.
“No backing down, Shawn. No backing down,” I mumble out beneath my breath over and over as I march my way down the stairs similar to a soldier. My backpack hit me with each pounding step I take towards freedom, my heart following the same exact rhythm as I think about if Mom comes home to see I’m not here. “You’re gonna be home before she is, there’s no need to worry,” I try reassuring myself, but there’s no point.
If she finds out, she finds out. There’s nothing I can do about that. I can accept the punishment for that relieving feeling of liberty that will come from not being cooped up in a house which is all too similar to the hospital.
I throw my bag into the passenger seat before hopping in right beside it, immediately ready to start this drive which is something I never once thought I’d feel. How sad is that? As a teenager, in their senior year of high school, I’m desperate to go to the hell that is high school.
When I turn in my seat, my hand on the headrest of the passenger seat, my eyes fall on a red and blue checkered car seat, a Flash action figure in the seat. I reach out to touch it, a stray tear streaming down my cheek but I quickly swipe it away.
I shake my head clear of Aaron, the boy whose heart I broke, before pulling out of my driveway and heading on the way to school. It doesn’t take me long to get there, especially with the thought of Xavier deciding to rat on me plaguing my mind. I don’t think he’d do it, but I guess there is always a small chance that he might make that choice since he thinks it’s protecting me. I know he’s not going to think it’s a good idea for me to be here, but maybe I can convince him to be on my side over this.
“Oh shit, Amaya. What am I gonna do when I run into her?”
I place my head on the steering wheel before slightly lifting my head to see Amaya walking up to Xavier with that stride of hers I swear she does on purpose half of the time. I bite down on my lip. I stop to stare fully at the scene in front of me. My eyes narrow a bit when I notice a redhead that immediately brings my girl into a hug that she reciprocates.
A fairly large part of me considers jumping out of this car and storming over to them to rip the lanky kid to shreds so quick that people would think I could be a running back, but I don’t. If I don’t want to draw attention to myself then getting into a fight would be a terrible way of maintaining that goal.
It’s a painful decision to make, but I force my ass to stay planted where it is until I decide to pull my phone out of my pocket and call one of my favorite people in the world.
The dial tone goes for a solid five seconds and I watch her face from exactly where I am with a smirk now making an appearance that makes my cheeks hurt. I’m pretty sure this counts of stalking, but I don’t think I actually care. “How are you doing, Beautiful?” I swear I can see her blushing from all the way over here.
It’s nice to know I haven’t lost my touch.
“What do you need, Wonder Bear?” she sighs out, grabbing the attention of all the guys including the redhead. I watch as they huddle a bit closer around her, trying to catch parts of the conversation that hasn’t even begun yet, but she doesn’t place the phone on speaker. I wonder why.
“Do you like it when I tell you that I love you?” I ask bluntly, without a care.
“What?” she asks, clearly stunned by the question.
“Do you like it when I tell you that I love you?” I repeat the question with a kind smile. I figure I should ask the question since Xavier’s comment about her maybe feeling a bit uncomfortable when I say the things that I say to her on a daily basis.
Her breathing becomes uneven, I can tell by the shallow breath that come from the phone with a slight shake.
“Amaya, answer me.”
“Why are you asking me that?”
“Because I want to know and you’re the only person that can answer me. Do I make you feel uncomfortable at all, or does it make you feel all warm and tingly? When I kiss you, lost in me like I get lost in you?” I let out a small sigh at the end as I start to think of her, like really, really think of her.
I watch her pull the phone away from her ear before she hangs up on me to instead text me.
My eyes glare down at the ellipses that shows me she’s texting, but don’t give me a single hint as to what she’s writing me. The whole entire thing just taunts me and I hate being taunted.
“I have to go into school in a minute, we can talk about… that later,” I read the message aloud before shaking my head as I still can’t get this smile off of my face. “If only she knew how soon that later truly is.”
The bell rings loud enough to make me jump in my seat.
My eyes stay on Amaya until she’s lost in a sea of children that each drag their feet into what most of them consider to be a personal hell. Some of them also happen to just be dead inside and are tired, which is a terrible combination that I feel I can relate to a whole hell of a lot more than I used to.
I wait for them to be in for the most part until I get into the very back of the group with my head hanging so nobody can catch a good look at my face.
Apparently, that plan isn’t enough for me because not even ten steps into the school building a hand grabs me from behind before I’m freezing at the tightness of the grip.
Fuck me! I couldn’t get this one thing!
“What the hell are you doing here? Are you trying to get me in trouble?” Xavier forces me to face him, an icy glare meeting my eyes; I yank my arm from his hold.
“Please don’t draw attention to us.”
“You think you’re so damn sneaky, don’t you? Wearing different clothes to make yourself look different, I’ve known you my entire life. The guys and Amaya are going to recognize you too,” he scolds me, sounding similar to Mom, though his scolding actually sounds angry, hers are usually full of love.
I take a deep breath before moving my sunglasses onto the top of my head so he can see my genuine pleas.
“Don’t tell Mom. Please. I’m begging you.”
“She’s going to kill me if she finds out that you’re here right now and I didn’t call her. You’re meant to be home, worried about your recovery, not in school with-” he starts to yell but I stop him with a single deadly glare. Did he really have to mention that whole recovery bullshit?
“You need to quit this shit, okay? All I wanted when I came out of the hospital was a sense of freedom, how am I supposed to get that when I haven’t been out of the house in the two days since I’ve been back. Mom is in mother bear mode and she thinks that this is keeping me safe, but I can’t deal with this.
“I need to do something that doesn’t constantly remind me of how I got jumped. Everyone brings up this whole “recovery” shit whether they notice it or not.” I give him a look at that part. “All I’m asking for is a few hours to figure out who I am without being interrupted. Please, Ave, don’t ripe this away from me.”
“Fucking sob-story guilt-trip behing the goddamn shit too,” he mutters out before making direct eye contact with me again. “You know we’re screwed, right? I’m putting my ass on the line for this big damn request of yours.” I knew I could get him to be on my side.
“It’s only a half-day.”
“First off, this is the half-day before we go on Winter Break, which means that shit is going to go down whether we want it to or not. If there happens to be a situation, don’t get involved in it.” I nod with my hands in my pocket crossed. I don’t care if it’s a bit juvenile or not, if I see one of my friends in trouble I’m going to get involved, not questions asked.
“Second, it doesn’t take a full day of school for Mom to find out something we want to hide. She always finds out. This is also something that she doesn’t want to be tested on. You are aware, right?”
“You can pretend that you didn’t know I showed up here. I’ll take the fall for everything. I don’t plan on staying for all the periods anyway, on Rafton’s, lunch, and gym class.” Xavier hits his head twice before counting to ten and looking back to me. What the hell is up with him?
“You hate Rafton’s class, why do you want to go there?”
“I know I hate him, he and his class are on the list of things that I can actually recall, he’s such a shit-eater.” Xavier laughs at the last part, dragging the attention of others onto us; I pull my sunglasses back over my eyes.
“I want to go to his class because it’s one of the only classes I can get close enough to Amaya in. He’s not going to notice if I show up or not, too.” I think those were the only reasons I had for wanting to go to Rafton’s class.
“How about you just go to lunch and gym? During lunch, they don’t take attendance so you can go under the radar in there and in gym Ms. Harvington doesn’t really pay much attention to the people there.”
“Fine, I can do that.”
“Alright, now where do you plan on ditching at?”
“The normal spot.”
“I’ll come get you when it’s time for lunch, that cool with you?” I agree before he starts heading off to class and I go off to the football field as quick as I can. I’ve got an entire two and a half hours to do whatever the hell I want. I can’t help smiling at the sense of liberty that rings through to my core.
"Holy shit, what the fuck happened to you?" I can feel Xavier's eyes on me as I roll on the ground, laughing. "What the hell has you laughing so much?"
"Man, I don't even know. I'm flying hiiiiigh," a child-like voice comes from me that I almost don't recognize. I literally couldn't care less, this is amazing. The world is so beautiful and bright and pretty. Mother nature knows what she's doing.
"Are you high?" Xavier asks in disbelief towards what he already knows. I raise a hand to make a half and half table. "God dammit, Shawn, why did you have to come to school and do some dumb shit like this? How do you expect us to hide this from Mom?"
"Mom is such a nice person. She's so forgiving and loving, she does so much for us. I love Mom. You love Mom too, right? It'd be hard not to, right?" I ask with a boyish smile.
"Why the fuck did I agree to help? I'm so fucked." He starts to pace before looking to me as though the pieces have fallen together in his head. "How about I drive you home now and we tell Mom you feel trashy?"
Xavier holds a hand out for me to take so he can help me onto my feet, but I only slap it away.
"She's gonna get all worried and not let me leave her sight, I'm begging you. Don't do that."
"Fine," he huffs out before helping me onto my feet. "We're going to get some food into your system and then we'll see about working the high out of you."
This is one of the reasons I love Xavier so much, he's always trying to make sure that I'm okay. "We'll be going home after that. Cool?"
He walks alongside me to the cafeteria, glancing over to me every couple of seconds. When Amaya's eyes that I swear God spent some of the longest time working on fall on us, I notice how they slightly widen but she doesn't say a word. Not until we're directly in front of her.
"How long have you been here?"
"Our whole lives, but you never noticed," the words fly out of me quicker than I can comprehend, but it doesn't matter. Not when it's some of the truest words that have left my mouth.
"What's up with him?" the same redhead I saw hugging Amaya earlier asks with confused eyes.
My smile disappears as I watch him. "Who are you exactly?"
"You don't remember me?" I can hear the strain in his voice as he pops down across from me; I shake my head while watching him closely. Should I remember him? "Stanford Ace Bentley, I go by Ace, and when I started coming here you didn't like me much either, but we did become friends."
"Do you like her?" I motion to Amaya, my eyes looking intimidating as hell most likely as a hint of fear takes over each of his features.
"Please ignore Shawn, he's a bit influenced at the moment."
"Why you gotta go and tell on me?" I whimper out with a pout.
"What did you take?" Amaya asks while taking my face in her hands and tilting it down toward her.
I don't answer her as I stare into those breathtaking eyes through the dimness of my shades. I lean into the soft caress that is her loving touch. The moment she tries to pull away from me, I wrap my arms around her waist.
"What. Did. You. Take?" she emphasizes each word.
"Edibles. Lots and lots of edibles," I come clean while still refusing to break eye-contact. Why did I say that?
"Give me your keys," Amaya commands with disappointment painted across each of her facial features; I follow her orders without argument. "Get up." I stand from my seat at the same time that she does. "Xavier, I'll handle him, and if you go home to see your mom there but we aren't, tell her I came by to speak to him and we went out, capiche?"
"Alright Shawn, let's go." I oh so eagerly move with her out of the school building before we get into my car. "Put on your seatbelt."
"You know, I like it when you command me." Why am I admitting to shit so much?
"Can you not say things like that?" Amaya's voice lowers as she reaches over to me and pulls my sunglasses from over my eyes. "I can't speak to you without looking into those saint-like orbs."
"Damn, I said that aloud?" I chuckle while leaning towards her. "None of that." She throws a hand over my puckered lips.
"Can I ask you a question?" I ask once she pulls out of the parking spot and starts to head onto the main road.
"You're going to ask the question no matter what I say, so go ahead, have at it." I bring her smaller hand into my own, and this time, she just lets it happen.
"Why did you volunteer to spend the day with me?" I ask as I peel off my leather jacket and start reaching for my shirt. "You don't seem like you want to be around me."
"All you want is to be freed from being cooped up indoors, who would I be to stop you? Right now, I'm helping out a friend… and we also have to talk about earlier." She glances over to me through the corner of her eye. "And why are you taking off your clothes?!"
"Calm down, I wasn't even gonna take off my pants. All I was doing was taking off my shirt, I'm hot as hell." I rip the beanie off of my head.
"It's literally December."
"Baby, I'm hot year-round, the majority of the time I sleep naked or in a pair of boxers, nothing else." I watch as she starts to nibble at her bottom lip.
"Do you now?" I cock an eyebrow.
"Jonah, Aaron, and I were living in your house before we started living in the apartment. You and I were sharing a bed." You're telling me Amaya and I were sharing a bed for an extended amount of time and I don't remember any of that? What type of bullshit is this?
"Where are we going?" I change the subject.
"To get food before bringing you back home." I throw my head back before dragging a hand down my face. "Don't do that." How the hell could she tell, she isn't even looking at me?
"Please don't bring me home."
"Shawn, I have to take you home, you're high for Christ's sake. The best idea is for us to get food in you and let you rest. I'll even stay with you for a bit, alright?" I guess I can't argue when I get to spend time with her in the end.