Chapter Twenty Eight
A month had nearly passed since Cerise had drunk Smoothies with her best friend, Drake. In that short amount of time, she found that her entire life had been turned on its head. Desmond had broken up with her, she'd fallen for an old friend, and then found out that he too harbored a deadly secret. Hers, though not so monumental, was that she needed a guy to love her.
It had begun in grade six, when all her friends teased her for how ugly she was. They laughed at her braces, at her crooked teeth that hid behind thick, metal wires. One of them, whose name still sat in her mind like a rotting corpse in a grave, had nearly turned the entire class against her.
During the hot, early months of summer, she would sit on the swings, completely alone.
She could see the other girls, playing and laughing with one another. They'd tease the boys in her class, causing them to chase after them. In later grades, especially grade six, they began to do other things with those same boys.
With curiosity and sad, pitiful envy she'd watch the girls and boys do something that she'd never seen before: flirt. They would tease them, follow them, laugh at their stupid antics, cling to them, hug them, and kiss them. When this happened, she noticed their large grins, loud giggles and the boys glowing adoration written on their faces.
That following summer, before elementary school turned into junior high, she was determined to make a boy feel the same way for her. Steven, who'd been her best friend all her life, was her first choice.
And, to her amazement, he did fall for her. Though he broke her heart in the end, she remembered how good it felt to be wanted. She was just like the other girls, the popular, happy girls in her class. When she came into junior high, she hid her braces behind a tight, teasing, close-lipped grin.
Makeup adorned her face, while junky, sweet and salty foods were put away.
She followed suite of the other girls, teasing the cute boys, flirting with them and eventually garnering their undivided attention. It was an addicting pursuit. The more the boys liked her, the better she felt, the more they wanted, and the more she gave.
Her childhood dorkyness was thrown away and replaced by a playful, teasing side of her.
Then it became all of her.
When Desmond entered her life, she'd already given her heart to so many guys; it was a tattered, bruised and rotting thing. Still, she hid the scars and bruises well under hollow laughs, biting kisses, and late nights wondering why the sex felt so empty.
Now that Desmond had ground her heart to dust and Steven was a bitter disappointment, she realized how empty she'd become. Her heart, nothing but a ghost, only served to haunt her with memories of the 'had been'.
Staring at Drake, who was sitting by himself at a table in Kildonan Place's food-court, she saw how happy he was. No one had ever fallen for him, he wasn't a role model or someone people looked at enviously, but there was satisfaction in his eyes.
He hadn't needed validation from others, in fact, he thought of it as amusing.
Sitting there, waiting for her, he didn't mind that none of the nearby girls cast him longing, desperate glances. She suspected that he was incapable of noticing others in that kind of way, to him, they were all equals. They were all good people.
He wasn't naïve, he knew more then anyone else how cruel the world could be. Yet, he wasn't bitter or resentful, he'd accepted who he was. Unlike most, he wouldn't spend minutes glancing wistfully into a mirror, or staring at others with envy.
Drake may have wished, underneath it all, to be handsome; but that wish was so much stronger in her and others. Funny how the good looking wanted so much to be more, while it was the unattractive that were the most content.
"Hi Drake," she came up to the table, giving him a short wave.
"Cerise." Grinning, his narrow eyes lit up. "You look amazing."
She smiled, wishing for once, that she didn't. "Thanks."
His upper lip lifted into a half-grin, as he cocked his head towards Booster Juice. "Shall we?"
"You read my mind," she winked.
His half-grin turned into a full one as he led her through the tables, towards a line of people also wanting to get their smoothies.
They ordered their drinks, Drake paid for both, walked to a different table, sat down and talked for a good hour or so. His eyes always on her face, soaking in her presence as if she was someone he'd been waiting his whole life to meet. When both of them had finished, she suggested they go back to her place and watch a movie.
"Drake," she put a hand on his arm as he was about to get up. She'd never known how strong his muscles rippled. Her eyes sparkling, she waited until Drake was back in his seat, staring at her with inquisitive eyes. Twin dimples appeared on his face as his smile grew.
"You were right," she swallowed nervously, "about Desmond, about Steven, about everything. I was always so eager to give my heart away, to feel love back from every guy I met. But what I always needed, what I always wanted, was someone like you, Drake. A guy that would love me unconditionally. Even when I threw that love back in your face, you were always there for me."
"I was?" he smiled, staring at her with eyes she'd never noticed were so bright. Welcoming.
"You were." She reached over the table, kissing him on the cheek.
For one crazy second, she considered kissing him on the lips. But they both knew that a relationship between them would never work. Even when Drake confessed his true feelings for her, he later said that he regretted it. He did love her, but in a way so different, perhaps even deeper then the love she'd felt for Desmond, even Steven.
A love that would cause him to throw her out of the way of a speeding car.
A love that would keep him at a theatre, holding true their arranged meeting, even when she completely forgot about it.
A love that Cerise had been so desperately searching for, though she never knew it. Instead, she'd been allured by the thrill, the passion, when really, all she needed was a guy to tell her 'no', to wrap her in his arms and hold her tight.
To be there for her no matter what.
Drake had been that guy-he'd shown her that love.
She hoped, that one day, she could show him that love in return.
Cerise sat on her living room couch, sitting comfortably beside Drake as the television in front of them showed their favorite movie: (500) Days of Summer. A bowl of popcorn sat between them, which they both snacked on.
Watching the movie distracted her from the pain that had lurked behind every thought and feeling.
She wondered if tonight, she would go back into those crazy dreams.
If Steven was there, what would she do?
A part of her wanted to slap him across the face, demanding to know how he could've been so cruel. Only, most of her didn't want that at all. She actually understood now that she'd come onto him so strong, and while he was certainly to blame for a lot, she'd been so desperate to feel love again that she'd nearly demanded it from him.
So, if she did dream with him, she would tell him that she fully forgave him.
Though she had to swallow a good dose of bitterness, there was peace in knowing she could tell Steven, 'I forgive you'. Also, she would tell him to love Julia with all his heart, that she'd be a friend, but nothing more.
Her days of dependence were over.
She stole a glance at Drake, who was munching on a mouthful of popcorn. "Thirsty?" Her own throat was scratchy and dry from all the popcorn.
"I am," he reached over to the remote and paused the movie.
Together, they got up and went into the kitchen. He brought out the glasses and the ice; she dug inside the fridge, finding Ginger Ale. Though she was tempted to grab a little wine, her parents were still home and that would do little to ail her thirst.
"My favorite," he put the ice in the glasses, she finished them off with Ginger Ale.
They each grabbed a glass, clinking them together.
"To the start of an amazing year," she laughed, and he murmured his agreement.
Their eyes met as she sipped from her drink, relishing how the fizzy drink bubbled inside her mouth. Swallowing, she was about to take another sip when she heard a knock on the door.
Cerise put her glass on the marble countertop, walked back into the living room and towards the doorway. Pulling the door open, she was startled by a glassy-eyed, drooling and red-faced Desmond.
His eyes met Drake's and filled with hellish, uncontrollable rage. Taking a shaky step forward, he reached behind him. He roared, "I want her back!" And swung a knife at her.