LATER IN THE day I’ve managed to pull myself together. I bandaged up the cuts so that they don’t sting as much, and I’ve shrugged on my leather jacket to try and conceal the pain from only hours ago.
I wouldn’t be leaving my room if it weren’t for having class, but I can’t miss this early in the semester. Especially since I’m on scholarship. Campus is flooded with people right now as all of us try to find our afternoon class. Some are coming out of the coffee shop while some are just sitting on the grass laughing hysterically to enjoy the remaining hours of sunlight. It just makes me wish that I could be like them, so happy and carefree.
I wonder what it would be like to be normal. I wonder what it would be like to not feel the need to harm myself in order to feel better. It must be nice to sit on the grass and laugh as if nothing is wrong.
Clutching my fingers tightly around the strap of my backpack in frustration, I sling it more onto my shoulder and pick up the pace so that I won’t be late. I end up working up a sweat though; the leather sticking to my arms from it being so hot. I would give anything to take it off.
I hear her voice. I would know it anywhere. It’s confident and strong, and within moments I see her bubbly self walk in stride next to me.
I don’t want to talk to her today. She is reminding me too much of Mia. Plus, she wouldn’t even want to talk to me after hearing that I relapsed again. Who would? I’m a loser.
“Elena.” I nod slightly, keeping my eyes fixated on the pavement. I can’t look at her right now. If I do, I’m going to lose it and break down. I don’t want that.
“I take it you changed your mind about being friends?” She teases. She may act like it doesn’t matter, but I can tell when my gaze finally meets hers that she’s hurt by it. I know I should have called her, but after everything that’s happened I just don’t think It’s smart. I need to be better.
“How did you find me here?” I ask to try and avoid the question.
“I’m a student too, you know. You’re in the center of campus. I just got out of psychology.”
Feeling stupid, I reply, “Oh.”
We walk together in silence for a couple more minutes until the building that I’m supposed to go in comes into view. I can feel the awkward silence between us, and I can also feel her gaze on me. I can’t bear to meet her eyes again. It’s just too much.
“Is everything okay?” She asks.
No! I want to shout. I am broken.
“Yup.” I end up saying, but she doesn’t buy it. She tugs on the sleeve of my jacket and turns me to face her. We’re in the middle of the traffic flow, so a bunch of students become annoyed as they push their way around us.
“What’s up with you? You’re acting weird.”
“I’m not acting weird.” I scoff. “I just need to get to class. I’m running late.”
When she doesn’t say anything I move my eyes to hers again and see how much she’s trying to read me. I wish she’d stop. I wish she didn’t care so much.
“I need to go inside.” I state, clutching onto the handle tighter. I hate the way she looks so pretty today. Her hair is in this ponytail that’s curled, and it lands just in the middle of her back.
“So you really don’t want to be friends? You want us to go back to being strangers?”
“Wouldn’t that be best?” I shoot back, anger suddenly beginning to rise inside of me. I don’t want her to see this side, the side that can be terrifying, so I let out a deep breath and close my eyes. “Look, you’re interesting, alright? You’re hot, you’ve got a good sense of humor, and yeah, maybe we’ve got similar issues, but that doesn’t mean we automatically have to be friends. I know I offered it, but I changed my mind. It was stupid to even suggest it.”
“Wow.” She deadpans, rolling her eyes in disbelief. “Really? Where is all of this coming from? What happened to the guy that let me sleep in his bed the other night?”
I want to tell her that’s the real me. The unbroken me. The sober me. She experienced the little ounce of happiness that I have tucked away inside of me, but little does she know that my demons come out to play a lot more than she thinks. Right now they’re taking total control over me.
“You’re not special.” I spit icily at her. “Just because we’re both trying to stay sober doesn’t mean we need to be close. I let you sleep over because I was hoping to get lucky. That’s it.” As soon as the words leave my lips I instantly regret them, but all I can do is press my lips together while her face pales and she steps back.
It takes a minute for her to come up with an answer, but eventually she says, “This isn’t you. Something happened. What’s wrong?”
Did she not hear what I just said to her? Why isn’t she pissed off?
“This is me. You just saw the guy that wanted a piece of ass.”
“No.” She shakes her head and steps in front of me when I try to move around her. One of the students cusses at the both of us and shoves their way through the middle. “This isn’t you. I saw the real you, just like you saw the real me. I know I’m not wrong.”
My frustrations seem to become stronger. I can’t seem to shake her, and the reason is because she knows me. She can see through the facade that I try to show everyone. I think she can even tell that I relapsed because she’s looking at me with sympathy almost.
“Just stop.” I grit my teeth together, almost pleading that she can sense that I need to be left alone right now. I’m not in a good place after this morning. I can still feel the stinging on my arm.
“You know what? Fine.” She laughs and throws her hands up into the air from defeat. “If you want to act like the asshole you swear you are, even though you aren’t, then I’ll let you. It’s really fucking sad that you can’t let at least one person give a shit about you. It really is.”
“Well why the fuck do you give a shit?” I explode, and now a few students turn to look at us. I don’t even care because I’m so pissed. “Seriously, why don’t you just leave me alone? I’m a fucked up person, Elena. I’ve got real issues that are way worse than yours. Trust me.”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if you knew mine.” She’s got tears in the back of her eyes that are just dying to spill out. I’m starting to feel like shit now for getting angry with her, but I know that I can’t be around her. Dion is right. I care way too much about others to the point where I stop caring about myself. I just met her, and after three and a half weeks I relapsed. Being in contact with her is just going to be a dangerous situation for me.
“Well, I don’t want to know them.” I choke out, even though I know that she’s hurt. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my fucking class.”
She stares at me in disbelief when I push past her, trying everything in my power not to turn back around.