Agape

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Don't call me that

Chapter 26

Ella:

A boundless bottomless ache sits somberly in my chest as I lay in my mom’s bed. Silently my tear ducts leak and soak her pillow all the while watching Queen’s Gambit with Olivia and Wes until they finally dry out. Although I love the show, I can’t focus on it. Not when every little sound my ears pick up causes me to jump in panic. Or the fact that Declan’s not here, not holding me, not telling me everything going to be okay, not in my sight, and not being my shield.

It’s not that I don’t want him here, it’s more that he can’t be here. He hurt me more than Hayes ever could, he lied to me, he broke a promise, he ignored me. As much as he claims he doesn’t like secrets between us, he sure has a funny way of showing it. When I look at him my heart breaks over and over again. Each time it does I remember why and that’s exactly why I can’t forgive him. Or at least trying not to.

Hayes didn’t show up at my house because of me, he showed up because of Declan. I’m collateral damage in a family feud I have no part in, Hayes said so himself. I’m in danger because of Declan, and my mom was part of that danger not that long ago. As I run the facts through my head, I try to think logically weighing the pros and the cons. But nothing my mind comes up with changes the way I feel about Declan. Not even the fear for myself.

It doesn’t matter how much he hurts me or how badly he hurts me or how badly his family hurts me. It doesn’t matter because I love him with a force that even I don’t know the depth of because that’s how deep it flows. It scares me; to admit it scares me more. In the back of my mind where the dark corners wreath with shadowing despair, an inkling of forgiveness sits boldly in the blackness twinkling brightly in my denial. He’s a star in my mind, one that will always be forgiven no matter the circumstances because sometimes that’s just how it goes.

But in spite of how much he hurt me, telling him is not on the top of my priority list. Just because I’ve forgiven him doesn’t mean he needs to know it, and it doesn’t mean that I’m okay with what happened. Quite the contrary. Hurt doesn’t just disappear. It routes itself into you making a home for itself in the empty cavity of your chest, twining weeds around your ribs sometimes choking you from the inside out. Branding you, marking you, scaring you from within like your very own fabricated insignia.

Being with Declan is dangerous, but being without him is something I can’t even contemplate let alone visualize. Maybe I’m selfish or maybe I’m stupid. Maybe I’m both.

Olivia and Wes spent the night last night, knowing my fear of being alone. Wes slept downstairs on the couch while Olivia slept beside me. They even went as far as skipping school today.

Thomas came home shortly after Declan left yesterday, he was working out at the gym while I was running for my life. He didn’t suspect a thing nor did he let up on the disappointment he had towards me. He made it crystal clear he wasn’t fond of my ‘attachment’ to Declan and I was beginning to understand why. Declan was everything to me, and in Thomas’s mind, no one person should be everything. They can be a big part of your life, but they can’t be what controls your life. Apparently, it’s ‘unhealthy’.

That’s exactly what my mom said the day we fought. Maybe they’re right. But what Declan and I have feels like the sun streaming in your veins, energy that burns between us and never fails to dim. To break it would be like the pain of millions of stars splintering apart if that were even possible to begin with. Thomas wouldn’t understand that but weirdly enough he appeared to like Wes, more than I thought he would.

Through my bottomless well of a mind, I wonder why exactly my mom hasn’t shown up yet. She should have come home last night at least at some point, but she has yet to show up. She hasn’t even called to check in or say she would be late because she had to work overtime. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been waiting for her arrival, waiting to see her and feel some sort of warm safety with her presence.

“Ella.” Olivia’s voice pulls me out of my head.

I turn to her, glad that my cheeks are now dry since I’ve already cried out every last drop of water. “Yeah?” I question, picking at my long fingernails that desperately need to be cut.

“Your phone has been ringing, aren’t you going to answer it?” I glance sideways at my buzzing phone, seeing the name of my boyfriend, and shrug in answer. He didn’t answer my phone calls and if I answer him I’ll give in at the very sound of his voice and he’ll come running. A part of me is angry at him, though Hayes coming to my house isn’t his fault, it still happened and it wasn’t just because I called him over to hangout. “He’s worried about you, and he’s been blowing up Wes’s phone too.”

Grinding my teeth, I keep my face neutral. “Now he knows how I feel.”

Olivia sighs. “I’m always on your side Ella Bella so don’t take this the wrong way, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

My skin warms at her words, and I can’t help it when I snap. “Yeah, and one right doesn’t just fix a wrong. Don’t play therapist with me when you don’t even know how I feel.” She presses her perfectly glossed lips shut as if stunned by my response. Tearing my gaze away from her shocked caramel irises, I push the hot covers off of me and swing my feet sideways feeling every centimeter of pain shoot across my stomach. She gasps jumping out of bed as I hiss. Wes pushes himself off the floor where he was just propped against the end of the bed.

Throwing my hand up, I grit out, “Don’t touch me.” The words are directed to both of them. Wes freezes but Olivia keeps moving. My dried out tears seem to find an extra pocket of water as my emotions strike me and pour out through my eyes.

“You’re going to hurt yourself.”

Continuing in my attempts to get up, my feet hit the carpeted floor, each movement miserable. “I’m already hurt.” I deadpan.

Wes takes a cautious step forward, seeing the agony in my eyes. “Ellie—”

That name hits home, like a punch to the gut. “Don’t call me that.” My voice cracks, but I take a step forward and then another avoiding their concerned looks as I attempt to walk to the bathroom on the other side of the room. I need distance, space to breathe, to cool down, to figure myself out. That nickname only makes me think of the boy who’s not here, the boy who I shooed away claiming I needed space. That nickname makes my knees weak, and my bones tremble. That nickname only sounds right when it comes from his lips and his lips alone.

Hayes called me that too.

I didn’t want space even though I said I did.

“I’m sorry,” Wes says quietly.

My insides clench and burn with each new movement; hot tears trickling my swollen cheeks. Olivia tries to grab my arm but I yank it away, I’m furious but not with them, it’s just coming off that way. I keep moving around the bed not too fast, but not slow either. “I’m pretty sure I can pee by myself but thanks.” I jab, feeling horrible right after it comes out.

When I reach my mom’s bathroom door, I hurry in and slam it shut locking the small brass lock. Stinging flames singe my belly as my quivering feet lead me to the double sink. My hands grip the marble vanity, knuckles white at my tight grip. Turning on the sink, I splash arctic cold water onto my beat red face. Only when my skin turns numb do I switch the sink off meeting the reflection in the rectangular mirror.

Puffy eyes, flushed streaked skin, fat lips, runny nose, and matted hair. The girl in the mirror looks like a stranger, weak and brittle and frail. She looks vulnerable and helpless and beaten down. She looks like an atrocious mess who is scared and scarred in ways she never thought she could be. She looks like washed-up goods somebody else would prey upon. She looks like a ghost wearing human flesh here on earth where she doesn’t belong. She looked haunted. Not by the demons underground but by the monsters walking the land of the living.

Lifting my shirt, the jagged deep cuts of the words ‘eyes open’ stare back at me. A warning and a lesson. Ugly and completely permanent, decreasing my value and increasing my insecurity. A reminder of how defenseless I am, how easily accessible I am to hurt.

In one swift movement, my fist collides with the mirror shattering the glass instantly on impact. Shards clatter onto the marble, into my skin, and all over the tiled floor like a hail storm but more intense. And through the pain etching my arms and hand, I feel nothing but the clarity of warm goo coating my skin like paint bleeding onto a portrait scaling every emotion with art.

It only takes a second for the clarity to be corrupted with the noise of male and female voices, Wes and Olivia. “Oh my god Ella, are you okay?” Olivia rushes out.

Duel footsteps stomp across the floor, loud and hurried. “What the hell, was that the mirror?” Wes questions with a taut line of concern.

Ignoring the questions, my eyes survey the damage, grateful my reflection isn’t gazing back at me. I’ll destroy and ruin myself before Hayes ever gets the chance. My nerves twitch from head to toe with all the feelings trapped inside beneath the surface. Fury, fear, hurt, hate, self-pity, and anxiety are a suffocating silhouette shackling me in imperceptible chains. I’m not okay. Declan and I aren’t okay. My moms not here. Nothing is okay.

The door handle begins to rattle as my saltwater tears mix with the blood oozing out of my arms. I want peace and quiet and warmth and safety. But all I have is hostility, loudness, brittle cold, and an uncomfortable embrace of threats. At least my blood is still red and not blue, at least that is still the same.

“Come on Ella open the door so I can help you.” Olivia pleads, sounding scared. “I’m sorry for upsetting you, just open the door.”

My bones begin to shake, trembles licking my spine as my legs collapse out from under me. The numbness leaves then and the pain ricochets through every incision of glass as my stomach ripples with agony. I collide with the floor, more shards piercing my sensitive palms. “Please just go away.” I croak, my voice sounding of a strangled plea as yesterday’s events replay behind my eyes, terror simmering beneath my skin haunting me all over again.

He won’t leave me alone.

“We’re not leaving you Ella so get the thought out of your head right now,” Wes says, a different part of him coming out, a more serious collected part.

Curling into a ball, I lay shaking on the floor, eyes blurry. Fresh waves of pain prickling my cuts as if Hayes is here pressing his blade into my skin. Another set of footsteps meet my ears outside the door. Hayes footsteps. I squeeze my eyes shut, praying to God, hoping he can hear me. “What the hell was that noise? I heard it all the way from my room, it was that loud.” Thomas, it’s only Thomas.

After a moment, a soft knock sounds on the other side, just barely noticeable. “El,” Thomas murmurs. “I’m right here babydoll, can you hear me?” I choke out a noise, maybe a hiccup maybe not. “Focus on me, okay? What’s going on? Give me a number to go off of.”

My heart lurches, ringing my ears raw. Through the haze, I think of a number scale, trying hard to tune out the ache and the visions if only for a second. On a scale of one to ten, the pain and anxiety and fear combined is a nine. “N-nine.” I rasp, shaking my head trying to get the woods and the trees and the pine needles out of my sight.

“Listen to my voice babydoll, keep listening to my voice,” Thomas instructs gently, as he begins to talk. I try to listen. I really do, but the sound of birds tickles my ears, whistling wind against my skin, the scrape of bushes as animals rustle around. It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real. But it seems so vividly real. His chuckle, his taunting, his torture of wielding my fear to his benefit. I am the prey in the woods running away from the hunter who enjoys the thrill of the hunt.

With a click and a rattle, the door opens with a creak as I lay helplessly curled on the icy floor in a puddle of trepidation. A single pair of light footsteps pad in, then hands touch me causing me to flinch. They pull away for a millisecond before touching me again. “It’s only me, babydoll,” Thomas murmurs, pushing his hand under my knees and behind my neck lifting me slowly off the floor. “I got you, okay? You’re safe.”

“I’m s-sorry.” I stutter, referring to the stupid fight and the mirror and making him come home because he was worried about me.

Thomas pulls me close to his chest trying to secure my trembling body, shaking his head. “You have nothing to be sorry for, not right now.”

*

Okay, hopefully I can begin updating regularly again. I’ve been applying for colleges but now that I’m done, fingers crossed I can to concentrate on writing again! I hope you enjoy this chapter, sorry it’s short but I just wanted to get something out. Please tell me your thoughts! P.s. yes I’m posting this at one o’clock in the morning lol.

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