40. BLACK HOLE
I’ve finally begun to feel normal again. I’ve slept more this past week than I have in the last few months. No nightmares. I notice myself smiling more, laughing more. I don’t have to pretend that I’m okay because I am okay. I might finally be even more than okay.
“I still can’t believe you ditched me last weekend and slept in an actual bed while my blow-up mattress kept going down,” Mia says, eating a sandwich. There are only a few people left in the café and I subtly stretch my body.
“Didn’t seem like you minded sharing a tent with someone else,” I give her a wink.
It didn’t take long for Mia to tell me that Theo slept in her tent, she texted me Sunday morning demanding to know where I was and didn’t fail to pop that detail in. However, she was adamant that nothing happened. “What do you mean nothing happened?” I had asked her on Monday at work.
“You know, just kissing,” she waved her hand like it’s a small detail that seemed pointless to mention.
I guess kissing for Mia means nothing. I doubt Theo has the same opinion on that, he’s been acting strange all week. More questions about Mia and she’s not ‘that weird girl’ anymore as he used to say when referring to her.
“You know, someone has a crush,” I tell Mia referring to Theo.
“I don’t think so,” Mia quickly dismisses the idea. However, as if on cue, Theo wanders into the café, heading straight for us. I give him a smile and he returns it but his focus is set on something else. Someone else. I wonder who it could possibly be.
“Hey, guys,” Theo says, leaning against the front counter, his muscly large figure taking up the whole space. I look over at Mia and raise my eyebrows, conveying to her that Theo does indeed have a crush.
“Hey, Theo,” Mia replies ignoring my persistent looks.
“Did you want to go to the movies or something next week?” Theo asks Mia, his usual confident playful self no where to be seen. I haven’t seen Theo like this, almost nervous.
Mia considers this for a few seconds, mine and Theo’s eyes never leave her. She looks at me and narrows her eyes before looking back at Theo, “Sure, we can go to the movies. Calla would love to come to,” she adds.
“I would?” I ask confused. I glare at Mia, trying to silently tell her that this isn’t what Theo had in mind.
“Yeah, of course. Invite Josh, maybe Liv and Zach could come too and Ace?”
“Uhh,” Theo scratches the back of his head, it looks like he wants to say something but dismisses it, “Umm yeah sure.”
“Cool, it’s a plan,” Mia says cheerfully and stuffs the remainder of her sandwich in her mouth.
Theo stands awkwardly at the counter and then turns to head out, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Calla.”
“Yeah, see you,” I tell him. Tomorrow is the big fight between Ace and Logan. Even thinking about it makes me nervous and I’m not even the one participating in it.
“What was that?” I ask when Theo leaves, obviously confused by what just happened, as am I.
“What was what?”
“Is he not your type?”
“Mmm he’s everyone’s type, Calla,” Mia replies nonchalantly like it’s a no brainer and it isn’t. Not with Theo’s looks.
“Then what’s the problem? He was clearly trying to ask you out,” I tell her but I’m positive she already knows, she’s not stupid.
“And I agreed,” she says, going to lock the front door after the last of the customers leave.
“You invited the whole damn squad, Mia. I don’t think that classifies as a date.”
She shrugs, “Baby steps.”
Whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.
It’s Friday and Ace has gone to see Ellie for the night since his mom is working a night shift. I would have loved to go with him, I miss Ellie, but I have already skipped two weekends of work and even though Brody hasn’t said anything, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for this job.
I’ve basically moved into Ace’s room, it’s easier since I’m always in here. His room is much bigger and don’t get me started on the size of his bed. It also means I don’t have to share a bathroom with Liv and Zach, who knows what kind of stuff they like to do in there since I witnessed them coming out together with red faces. It was either a steamy shower or well... a very steamy shower.
I have a shower and lay down in Ace’s bed, my phone lights up with his name.
“Hey,” I answer the Facetime call.
“Callaaaaa,” Ellie says into the phone, her bright green eyes looking into the camera and then she moves it so I can see her outfit.
“Ellie, I love your onesie!” I tell her. It’s bright purple with a unicorn hoodie.
“It’s my favourite, Acey bought it for me,” she says and Ace takes the phone off her.
“Go get ready for bed, it’s late. I’ll be there in a second,” Ace tells Ellie. She pouts but obliges, waving bye to me and I wave back.
“Are you in my bed? Wearing my shirt?” Ace asks when Ellie is not in the room anymore.
“Mmm yeah,” I say, gently biting my lip.
We’re special, the way we talk and laugh around each other is different. And I will never meet anyone that is like Ace. His presence shifts my whole mood.
“What the fuck? Are you doing that on purpose? Do you have any fucking idea what that makes me want to do to you?” Ace asks. His hair is dripping wet and his body is glistening with the droplets, I assume he just had a shower too.
“How about you tell me,” I say, smiling and leaning back onto the headboard. I slowly pull up the shirt, watching Ace’s face tense in anticipation.
“Aceyyy, I’m ready for my bedtime story,” I hear Ellie call and a smile forms on my face. She’s so cute.
“Fuck,” Ace swears.
“Goodnight, Ace,” I say and end the call before he has time to respond. I’ll almost certain that he will be calling me back later.
I stand up and walk around Ace’s room. I pick up a book that’s on his desk and read the back of it.
I spot a piece of paper next to the bin like Ace threw it here from his bed but missed. I pick up the scrunched-up paper off the floor with the full intention of putting it inside the bin, but curiosity gets the better of me and I slowly unfold it, careful not to tear the page.
When I realise it’s a page from Ace’s journal, I want to throw it in the bin – I don’t want to invade his privacy, however, that all changes when my eyes unintentionally skim over his writing.
I read the page once. Twice.
I don’t register it at first, not wanting to believe it. There has to be an explanation, this couldn’t be real. I feel like I’m being sucked into one of my nightmares. Sucked into a black hole.
My body begins to shake and my lungs contract, not letting any air through. I physically cannot breathe. My mind runs at a million miles per second, thinking of every single scenario, of every single fucking clue. This has to be a mistake.
The last few months race through my head at full speed and my vision blurs.
Stay out of my way.
Don’t fall in love with me.
I’m not good for you.
The floor spins beneath me and I’m struggling to keep my balance.
I don’t drink.
I squat down and place my head in my hands, closing my eyes, hoping that I will wake up. But I don’t because this isn’t a dream. It’s worse.
I’m a monster.
Ace’s words race through my head and I piece the puzzle together.
My heart hammers inside my chest and I keep reading the page that’s filled with Ace’s handwriting over and over until my hands are shaking so much that I can’t focus on it anymore. With each word my stomach flips.
I reach for my phone and fumble with the screen. It takes me a minute to find Ace’s contact because I can’t control the shaking of my hands.
“Did you miss my voice already?”
I try to breathe so I can form words. Anything.
“Is everything okay?” he asks when I don’t say anything.
“Is it true?”
“What? Calla, are you okay?”
I open my mouth, but I can’t say it, the words are stuck in my throat. Instead, I say, “I found a page from your journal.”
Silence and I know he knows what I’m talking about.
“Is it true?!”
“Let me explain...”
But there is nothing to explain, I just need an answer.
“Answer me,” I manage to say, my voice almost breaking and I’m hoping with everything that I have that this is all a misunderstanding.
The silence is killing me and I hear Ace’s breathing deepen. I swear a whole minute feels like an hour.
“Yes,” he finally says, his voice soft.
And my heart shatters instantly because I was hoping he would say no. I collapse onto my hands and knees, my breathing shallow and quick. I hear Ace’s voice through the phone, but I can’t focus on anything he is saying.
I need to get out of here. Out of his room. Anywhere but here.
Away from him.
I don’t know how but I manage to get to the front door without collapsing, I step foot outside and the chilly breeze hits me instantly. The air out here is easier to breathe but nevertheless, my lungs burn with every inhale and exhale. I don’t realise I’m crying until my vision goes blurry again.
I look up at the sky to clear the tears that are now flowing but instead I see multiple red-glowing shooting stars fill the sky.
The stars will burn in flames.