Sometimes I would question how great Heath’s and Devin’s relationship really was. I mean, he never said a harsh word about her, and he always defended her when our buddies or I would say something derogatory about her. She never thought poorly of him, but I recalled a certain episode I stumbled upon between the two of them. Enough tension built between them that it came to blows, and none of the students knew what to do about the brawl in the parking lot.
It was our junior year—October because girls were wearing small pieces of costumes to school in preparation for the festivities usually partaken at Ethan Carr’s house. It was close to the beginning of November because club soccer was winding down for the first time since August, which meant Heath would have more time to hang-out and just chill with the gang. Anxiety was building across the students as the football team finally made it to the state play-offs for the first time in the school’s history, and all of the festivities and drinking involved with tail-gates seemed to cool us off.
I lumbered over the steps after staying after school for about ten minutes to receive some tutoring for diagramming a specific sentence. I have yet to diagram another sentence since that one class—maybe people in a certain field actually use it. My teacher glared at me like I was asking for fellatio instead of assistance when I managed to build the courage to confront her about the problem. Either way, a simple dissection was done, and I was off to the races to head home.
The first thing I saw was a group of people crowding around a specific area of parking lot that Heath’s jeep usually sat at. The first thing I heard was a ridiculous yelp that was reminiscent of a dog’s sharp yip.
“We’re going to the hospital!” I heard Heath bellow.
“Shove off!” And then the soft clap of a slap resounded, and the crowd, stunned and shocked, released a single gasp as if from one set of lungs.
I separated the people as I slithered through the crowd anxiously. I brushed past several people I knew usually had appointments after school, so I knew this altercation had been occurring since the bell rang—if not before. Even though Heath did not have an affinity for skipping classes, he occasionally was forced to because of prior “engagements,” which usually involved the petite blonde girl who was always with him when he wasn’t with us. I finally made it to the concave opening of the circle and froze.
Heath’s cheek reddened from the impact, and I wondered what he was willing to do next or what he was thinking about doing. He brushed his fingers through his hair and muttered, “You’re making a scene.”
“You’re the one making the scene. I’m not going to the hospital!”
My gaze shifted from the statuesque Adonis to a small girl—ragged and wild-eyed. My own eyes widened as I further investigated her appearance. A scab was forming on the side of her forehead, and blood seeped through the knees of her pants. She spat to the side, almost hitting my shoe before she gave Heath the finger.
“Devin, you are getting aggressive,” Heath mentioned calmly. He snatched her wrist and dragged her a couple feet before she anchored down to the asphalt.
“Let go of me!” she hissed.
“No, we’re going to the hospital, and that’s that! Six minutes and thirty-four seconds. We’re going.”
As Heath’s face turned on a swivel to glare down upon her, she launched a calloused fist into the middle of Heath’s nose. He immediately dropped her arm, and she collided into the asphalt, scraping her elbows as she slid. His hands shot to his nose, blood pouring over his fingers. He released a resigned sigh, allowing his hands to peel away from his face. “This, this is why we have to go to the freaking hospital, Devin. If you weren’t so aggressive, I would have let it slide.”
“Fuck you!” She threw her foot into Heath’s shin.
Heath grabbed his shin and then reached for her ankle. He ripped her forward, the gravel could be heard scratching her back as she slid. She struggled to kick out of his grip, but Heath’s claw remained fixed on her. She shoved her other foot into the ground and shot to her foot. Heath dropped her appendage as she attempted to punch him again; he slapped her hand away fiercely, stepping back away from her. “Devin!” he scolded.
“Hit me!” she screeched. She slapped him again, and a ferocity began to swell inside of the normally calm individual. “Hit me, you coward!”
My stomach turned violently as I couldn’t find a way to end this or how to react to this whole situation. I didn’t want to participate in this nascent gaffe.
She lurched forward, grabbing his collar, and then he reciprocated, yanking her forward. Both of their fists managed to smack the other one across the cheek, and Heath’s shirt ripped from the force he exerted into Devin, throwing her to the ground.
“Oh my god!” whimpered a girl from the crowd.
“Heath!” I screamed hoarsely. I had never seen him hit another human being in my entire life until that one moment, and he hit a girl.
Heath glanced at me, and his eyes fell back to the normal green hues of amiability and joviality. He then noticed the crowd and scanned all of the faces in a moment before turning back to Devin. She peeled herself off of the asphalt and stood on her weak knees that visibly shook. She clenched her hands into taut fists and pulled them up to protect her face. She took a timid step toward Heath hesitantly.
I don’t think she was expecting him to hit her either.
Heath nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders and mentioned, “Don’t make me do this, Devin. You don’t want me to do this in front of everybody.”
The girl tackled Heath to the floor by his waist, and he slammed into the asphalt just inches from the bumper of someone’s Corolla. He wrapped his arm around the girl’s neck before rolling over, forcing her underneath him. “I’m tired of your shit!” He shoved both of her shoulders into the asphalt rebelliously, forcing her to dip her chin. He hissed, “We are going to the hospital, right now.”
Saliva shot from her mouth and collided into Heath’s face just below his left eye. He gingerly wiped it away after clenching his eyes shut. She murmured, “Stop bothering me, and let me drive home!”
He confronted, “You can’t! You haven’t been able to since sophomore year, moron. You’re forgetting things right now. We need to go to the hospital.”
And then she suddenly collapsed into herself, and her body fell limp. She shuddered suddenly, and then Heath let go of both of her shoulders as she began to sit up. She cuffed her hands over her face, and then her shoulders shook. I incredulously viewed all of this, expecting more blows and angry remarks from either one of them, but Heath just longingly stared down at her, pulling a tendril behind her ear. “That’s my sweet girl,” he murmured before pressing his lips against her forehead.
Heath swiveled his head to stare at me incredulously as if I was the one who just fought a tiny girl in the parking lot of our school and was surrounded by a small crowd of people instead of being the one questioning if he was okay. His eyes frantically glanced at all of the faces and then turned back to the petite girl. He gently wrapped his hands around her forearms and pulled her to her feet. Her eyes appeared wet and red, preparing for an onslaught of tears. She nailed her gaze to the ground as Heath silently escorted her to the passenger side of his jeep. She obediently climbed into the passenger side and curled into a small ball of bone and flesh.
Heath sauntered around to the back of his jeep and glared at the crowd.He growled, “What?! Get lost.” The crowd remained even when he started up the engine and whipped the jeep out of the parking spot toward the exit. All eyes remained on the vehicle until it was lost to our vision.
Lily mentioned, “God, what a psychotic bitch.”
I turned to my girlfriend in the crowd and muttered, “What’s wrong with her?”
She shrugged. “No one knows—probably not even God.”
And that episode remained in the forefront of my mind for nearly three months every time I hung out with Heath, afraid to infiltrate the fury that awakened in him that day. I had never seen him so readily infuriated and anguished from just one incident, from one person, and I never saw him that way again. With that episode etched in my mind, I wondered why Devin would still be so in love with him. Maybe that episode was just an example of their relationship—so emotional and explosive. Maybe they deserved each other because of each other’s faults, and maybe they deserved each other because of who they were.