16. INNOCENT PHENOMENA
“Are you sure you don’t want to come home for a few days?” My dad asks me through the phone. “I can come pick you up, Cals.”
I look out my window, the sun is setting and it’s a beautiful hue of deep orange and pink, “No, dad… I’m fine, really,” I tell him, I know why he is saying this. Today is my mom’s birthday. We both know it but neither of us mention it or say anything about her. I hate it.
After a few minutes of convincing him I am fine and I have a lot of studying to do, he finally tells me to take care and call him more often.
I hang up and continue staring out the window. I’m not fine, not really but I don’t want my dad to worry about me. I know he has close friends and his brother – my uncle – to keep him company if he needs it, I’ll only be a burden.
I change into a hoodie and sweatpants before going downstairs. I tried to keep my mind occupied the whole day, I went to class and then finished all my assignments. However, now that I have nothing left to do, it keeps wandering to a place where there’s emptiness.
Liv and Zach aren’t home, Friday is usually date night for them or a frat party – I assume it’s the former since they didn’t pester me to come like they usually would if it’s a party. I haven’t seen Ace in a week, since last Friday night.
My mind occasionally wonders to him… occasionally is the wrong word. I can’t get him out of my head would be a better way of saying it. Everyone else seems to know where he is, except me. I don’t know anything – but why should I? And most of all why does it bother me that I don’t?
I open the cupboard and in front of me is exactly what I need. Alcohol. I hate alcohol, I hate the way it makes me feel, like nothing is real. But that’s the point right now, I want to escape reality. Will I ever get over the fact that she’s gone? Everyone says time heals all wounds but how long, or is my wound an empty hole?
I take the bottle of alcohol and make a mental note to replace it – whosever it is, even though I doubt they would mind.
It’s dusk and I find myself walking towards the edge of the deck on the lake. There is no cloud in the sky and I twist the lid of the bottle, taking a mouthful. I cough from the methanol taste and almost throw up. How anyone drinks this for ‘fun’ is beyond me. I swallow and take another mouthful.
It’s not long before it’s pitch black but the darkness produces the brightest stars. I lay down and look up. The wind is chilly and the stars burn with the glistening pallor of electric light. I pretend that I see my mom, in the stars, in the lake, she’s all around me but why do I feel so alone?
My head spins but I barely drank anything, I take another sip and lay back down. Occasionally, I see a shooting star — I don’t why people wish upon them. They are just an innocent phenomena.
I see him before I hear him, am I that drunk?
“Why are you here?” he speaks, his voice is rough and demanding.
Huh? He is actually here and rude like usual, “Ace?” Shouldn’t I be angry at him? I can’t remember.
“Were you expecting someone else?”
I wasn’t expecting you.
“Um no but-.”
“Good,” he says, sitting down against the wooden pillar.
I roll my eyes and push the bottle of alcohol towards him, “I don’t drink,” he tells me. I scrunch my face but then I remember that I never saw him with a drink.
“I don’t either,” I say.
He looks at me and raises an eyebrow. “I don’t,” I say. “It’s my mom’s birthday…she’s dead,” I add. He doesn’t say anything and I don’t know if it’s the alcohol that makes me want to tell him or just… him. “Car accident, two years ago on Christmas Eve.”
“It was my fault, if I didn’t make her turn around because I forgot my stupid journal, we would have already been home-,” I begin to explain.
“It’s not your fault,” he interrupts, leaning over me so I look at him.
“It is,” I tell him.
“No, Calla, it’s not. You can’t blame yourself for something like that.”
“Ace, if I-,”
“Fucking don’t,” he warns and places his hand on mine. “Don’t do that. Don’t blame yourself, it’s unfair and it will ruin you.”
The way he looks at me, makes me feel like I am the stars when all I ever felt before was the darkness that surrounds them. He makes me feel insanely sane for the first time in my life.
“It already has, Ace.”
He doesn’t say anything but he is here… sitting next to me in the middle of the lake and the moonlight pours over his skin.
I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol or the way he looks at me and a small smile appears on his mouth.
Definitely the alcohol.
I don’t know what I’m doing but I am suddenly on his lap. My knees are on either side of his hips and I notice how tired he looks. Where have you been, Ace? The silence is becoming more frequent between us, more delirious.
I trace the dark circles under his eyes and notice the way his body stills. My fingers trail down to his lips, my thumb brushing against them ever so lightly, savouring every single moment, every single touch.
He catches my fingers with his hand and my eyes snap up to his. They are dark but captivating, I can’t look away even though I’m crumbling underneath them. His eyes look like they have the whole world in them.
His damn eyes are fucking me over.
“Calla,” he whispers my name and leans in closer, “Tell me to stop.”
“Stop,” I say but my body is saying the opposite as my hands tangle in his hair, pulling him closer.
“Mean it, Calla,” he says in a low voice, tightening his grip around my waist. My body is burning everywhere he touches me and I don’t want it to stop.
“Fuck,” he swears and suddenly all I can taste is him.