Chapter Fourteen | Truth Daggers
❀ Kate ❀
I studied Sawyer’s beautiful face with caution while she waited on an explanation I wasn’t sure how to give. She was glaring pointedly, sapphire hued passion radiating from her pained eyes as each agonizing second ticked by. Everything from the perplexed crease in my girlfriend’s blonde brow, to the way she rested her chin against the palm of her hand exhumed an impatience I’ve come to expect out of Sawyer Driscoll.
It was among one of her more irritating personality traits. The one I’m having the hardest time dealing with at the moment is her tendency of doing whatever the hell she wants without consulting those involved first. Who the fuck just buys a plane ticket out of nowhere like that!?-
“Well? Aren’t you going to answer me?” Sawyer snapped suddenly, raising her wine glass so she could take a hearty drink. The question was spoken with disdain, and I started experiencing mixed emotions while racking my brain for something to say.
I couldn’t understand why she was acting so entitled over this...but, she was obviously hurting too. I couldn’t fault her for that, I’d probably be feeling pretty rejected myself if the tables were turned.
God, how could I turn Sawyer away? Is it really considered entitlement when the woman you’re with just wants to support you?
...If only she didn’t constantly distract me, then it wouldn’t be an issue.
Coming out victorious in this competition meant way more than bringing home some prize money and a trophy; It would be the closest thing to an apology I could give Amanda and our parents. Nobody else got it...not Danica, or even Tristan to a fault—and these were people who knew the full story. So how could Sawyer, who I’ve hardly told anything to? This was absolutely personal, nothing to do with anyone else, and I just couldn’t allow any road blocks to stand in the way.
Including my girlfriend, who was killing me slowly with that devastated pout she was wearing.
“You wouldn’t understand...” I spoke up at last before scraping out of my chair in a hurry. The heat rising to my cheeks was starting to make me uncomfortable, and I desperately needed some fresh air.
Sawyer remained seated and cut into her cooling pork chop, but never took those blue eyes off my retreating form as I headed for the patio. Even with my back turned, I felt the intensity of her steady gaze lingering. “I could try, if you gave me a chance. My internal organs aren’t made of stone...I’m capable of reason.”
In the short time we've known one another, Sawyer has gone above and beyond to try and process all of my weird little quirks and schedules without asking for justification. Aside from her teasing whines and longing to be attached at the hip, Sawyer respected every gym visit and training session I insisted I needed to attend alone.
I chewed a fingernail quietly as I thought it all over. Was I being fair?
Not really. Besides...you're with her; She deserves to know Kate, might as well just get into it for the thousandth time.
“Okay...” I sighed, wheeling around to address Sawyer directly again. Her face paled at my croaking voice, and she eased herself out of the chair she was occupying as I cracked my knuckles nervously. “Remember what you said...about me not being a bad person?”
My girlfriend nodded, her troubled expression deepening when I giggled sharply. I hoped against hope that she wouldn't change her mind about who I am after I finished.
“...You don’t know everything.”
Ten and a half years ago, Naples beach
“Come on Kate!! Play in the water with me? Please!?” My ten year old sister danced around our newly built sand castle with excitement, showing off her favorite baby pink frilly swim suit. Amanda’s dark brown waist length hair whipped around in the wind as she begged for my undivided attention.
I squinted at the waves critically before going back to my portable Walkman, cranking up the volume so I wouldn’t have to deal. No Doubt blasted into my eardrums, but it wasn’t loud enough to drown out Amanda’s persistent whining. “Thanks but no thanks, Manders. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t do the ocean.”
Anyone with eyes could tell that much; I lived in all black clothing, right down to the hair ties I used to keep my boring braid or pony tail (depending on the day) in place. Girls my size were better off covering up or hiding away, and I wasn’t trying to start a revolution by challenging the facts.
I’m fat, flabby, and lazy as hell; The only reason I’m here anyway is because I promised our parents I’d hang with the family this afternoon. Was it too much to ask that I get to listen to my music, on shore and away from anything that could potentially make me regret existing?
Like trudging through tidal waves in front of the entire beach?
“Fine! Meanie. I’ll just go by myself then.” I heard Amanda huff in defeat, and I impulsively pulled her into my arms to cover her scrunched, disgruntled face with kisses.
“Meanie!? Who just helped you build your sandcastle, huh? Casper?” I lived to give her shit, and knew she enjoyed my bantering ways. Despite our five year difference, we really were the best of friends.
“Hehehe...No!” My little sister shoved me away, giggling hysterically as she took off toward the tame waters a mere few feet away from us. “I’m just kidding, Kate. You’re not a meanie. Casper is for not helping us! That would've been so cool.”
What a dork.
I smirked with an amused shake of my head, and began skipping random tracks until I found one I felt like listening to. As I bobbed my head, I kept a distracted eye on Amanda, who was wading about happily. She splashed and goofed off, squeaking with glee in her own little world of imagination. Our parents left for the pier ten minutes ago to grab hot dogs and french fries, and I eagerly anticipated their return.
They should be back any minute...eh, I'll let Amanda have her fun until I see them.
The unforgiving sun beat down on my back, becoming intense enough for me to haul myself off the towel I’d been sitting on to grab a cold Gatorade from our shiny red ice chest. Three of my prized blue flavored ones stuck out of the crushed ice invitingly, and I selected the middle one.
That first sip though. Get in my bellllyyyy.
The playful splashing from before abruptly became frantic, and I whirled around to find Amanda fighting to keep her head above sea level. “KATE! HELP!” She looked right at me with frightened hazel eyes that matched my own. The ocean was carrying her off, further and further away; It’s tide growing with every lap. “PLEASE help me!” She coughed, and started to sob as water entered her mouth.
My breath caught at the sight. We were practically by ourselves, and pretty far away from anyone who could help her. So far in fact, there weren't any onlookers who caught wind of what was happening.
“HANG ON, I’M COMING SISSY!” I wasted no time shedding my heavy sweater and sweat pants as I made my way over hurriedly. I didn’t care who saw me panting in my bra and underwear for once, all I knew was I needed to pull Amanda out of there.
“Kate!? WHAT’S GOING ON?” I heard our mom demand urgently from several yards away as I crashed into the water. I felt my lungs burn and lurch for air, but I resisted the urge to quit. I didn't have a choice.
"Damn it, you weren't with her!?" My dad bristled frantically. I knew the rules, but she was literally just fine moments ago. I had no idea how the hell something like this could happen.
C'mon Kate...push, push, PUSH.
My thunder thighs kicked like hell until they went numb, but it wasn’t any use. Amanda continued floating in the opposite direction no matter how hard I tried to get to her. I growled from sheer frustration. My overweight body was exhausted, but I continued slapping at the dark water; Afraid if I so much as blinked, Amanda would disappear.
"I'LL BE RIGHT THERE, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP MANDY!"
“KATE! I can’t swim anymore! I’m tired.” Amanda let out a blood curdling scream, and I lost my voice pleading with her to try. Just as I was close enough to grab my sister’s grasping hand, a large wave separated us in the form of a powerful collision.
Adrenaline alone helped me ignore the pain. I kept calling for her in a hysterical state. I wasn't ready to give up and never would be until she was safe.
"AGGGGGH! AMANDA!? AMANDA!"
I couldn’t find her again. Oh God, no, no, no.....
I hardly registered Dad's booming voice carrying across the entire beach as he blindly shouted for help. Two lifeguards were already peddling in our direction, but by that time I had no idea where Amanda was and they weren't anywhere near close enough yet.
She hadn't emerged. My heart stopped beating as I went into a full blown panic attack. I kept searching, diving underneath the water in a desperate attempt to find my sister.
Am I too late? I can't be...
"IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY, DO YOU HEAR ME? YOU HAVE TO KEEP FIGHTING AMANDA! PLEASE!!"
Christ...why did I let her go all alone!?
◦◦ Sawyer ◦◦
I caught Kate right before she sank onto the couch, cradling her head in her hands as she gasped in between sobs. I couldn't stand seeing the woman I was so enamored with broken up into such an inconsolable mess. Repositioning my arms around Kate's waist, I rested my head against her shoulder and began speaking in a low, soothing tone to try and bring the hysteria down.
"Hey...you're alright, sweetheart. Let's try and relax together, okay?"
My girlfriend was so beside herself with grief, I don't even think she realized I was holding her. After a few minutes, she whimpered and groaned while blinking up at me with bright green orbs. Again, every trace of the browns and golds I adored vanished. My hazel eyed beauty transformed into someone desperately wishing she could turn back the hands of time.
I understood to a degree; Nothing stings worse than regret...
"W-when they pulled her o...out, I couldn't look...she was so bloated. I've never heard my mom cry like the way she did when Amanda...God, it's my fault Sawyer...it's all my fault. I should've just gotten in the damn ocean with her."
I bit my lip and slowly rubbed Kate's back with a hand I freed up. "You were kids, babe. It was an accident...a terrible fucking accident. How could you have known?"
"I didn't know...I didn't know." She shook her head slowly as the tears dripped onto her white tee-shirt. I sighed quietly and pressed my lips against Kate's forehead. Tenderness ripped through my core, and all I could think about was trying my damnedest to comfort this woman.
"That's right...you didn't, and I'm sure your sister knows that. Wherever she is." I wasn't sure if I bought into a supreme ruler who controlled who went to an outlandish heaven or torturous hell, but I firmly believed children and animals all found their way to paradise in the afterlife.
"...No she doesn't, because she's dead. Amanda isn't ever coming back..." Kate spat, catching me off guard. I watched speechless as she bolted from the couch, grabbing at the roots of her hair out of stress. The storm that'd been tearing my girlfriend apart was in full swing, and all I found myself able to do was spectate.
"I wanted nothing to do with the person who let her drown. I changed overnight; Got in shape, started showing an interest into sports. Then I found the swim team, and after I graduated I'd set my sights on life guarding so I made it happen. Who I am today would've been able to save her..." The faraway look in Kate's eyes broke my heart. I couldn't imagine.
"I'm really sorry, babe...I guess I just don't understand why you wouldn't-"
She cut me off with a broken chuckle. "Soy...it's not that I don't want you to watch me compete on Monday; It's just...I can't stay focused when you're around me. For the first time since Amanda's death, I have something...someone...new to think about. I loved Danica, I won't stand here and lie to you, but it's different with you."
I cocked my head to the side, rubbing the back of it sheepishly. "...I know how important this is to you now more than I ever did before, Kate...why won't you let me be there for you? I'll be quiet! Sitting as far away from wherever you're at as possible-"
"It's not about that, Sawyer...when I feel your presence, it's like...I always need to make sure you're safe. You panic easily, and the idea of me not being there when you really need me isn't something I can take when I'm in Virginia, trying to win." She took a few steps forward, cupping her clammy palms around my jawline. Her misty eyes found mine, and even though I wanted to look away...I couldn't. "You dummy...did you really think for a fraction of a second that I just didn't want you around?"
I shrugged plaintively and swallowed back tears of my own. "Nobody else does..." The confession wasn't spoken for pity, it's just the truth. Erin was right; I literally have nobody...not even her anymore. It's just me and Kate, and more than anything else, being alone absolutely terrified me.
Which was a funny realization; I've practically been alone all my life. Visitors come and go, but nobody stays. I kept people at arm's length, because whenever I let someone in I wind up regretting it.
Now here I am again, ensnared in my intense feelings for Kaitlyn Lovelace, and all I wanted was to be apart of everything she valued.
"Everyone who pushed you away is stupid as hell..." She muttered against my cheek before kissing it softly. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling a warm sensation caress the skin.
"No...it's me; I pushed them away. Everyone. Even Erin."
"Wait, the girl who was with you at the beach? You're not talking anymore...?" Kate pulled away to search my eyes for more information. I smiled through the tears, shaking my head to confirm we weren't. "Oh Soy Bean...I had no idea."
"It was only a matter of time." The stoic expression I was used to wearing for all to see returned, and I wiped my eyes hastily. "...I don't want to return my ticket; I want to support you-"
"And you can do that by staying here, Sawyer. Please." Kate gripped onto my shoulders and eyed me evenly. "This is the chance I've been waiting years for...my closure. I've worked so hard and I'm ready to prove myself. So I'm asking out of respect...don't come. I'll ask Tristan to record some of my events so we can watch them together when I get back, but I just can't be worried about you...and I will be. Every second."
I still didn't get it; My chest felt like someone was sitting on top of it, and I wanted to scream. Kate waited impatiently for an answer until I finally scoffed, staring at the carpet trying not to break down again.
Kate's facial muscles relaxed, and for some reason that irritated me like crazy. "Thank you for understanding, baby-"
Understanding? That's not what I'd call it.
"You know what? I'm really tired all of a sudden." I mumbled, placing my hands of my knees to push myself off the couch. "...Feel free to wrap dinner up and take it home, or you could eat here...I don't care, but I'm going to pass out."
"What?...It's only eight..." Kaitlyn's hurt tone sounded confused, and although I wanted nothing more than to turn our night back around, I felt too mentally drained to make the attempt. It's like she didn't trust me to handle my own affairs and emotions. How hard could it be, blending into a crowd?
I mean I wasn't used to it, but we've all got to deal with uncomfortable situations sometimes. Right? It was worth it for me to try, but apparently that didn't matter.
"I'm well aware." I responded coldly on my way to the bedroom. "You're leaving tomorrow morning...and all I can think about is how you really feel about me deep down, like I'm some hapless lamb who needs constant supervision." Just before twisting the silver knob leading to a night of restless sleep, I shot Kate a wounded grimace. "...I thought you knew me better than that."
I didn't want to be saved, just loved.
"I guess I don't." She fired back, tight lipped. My heart writhed in pain as I quietly closed the door behind me. Biting a knuckle, I listened intently to Kate curse and storm around for a few minutes.
The second I heard my girlfriend's harsh exit ringing in the air, I slid down my bedroom door with my back pressed tightly against it and bawled uncontrollably into my hands.
Doesn't ANYBODY have faith in me?