the girls i fell in love with and how they broke my heart

Reads: 1038  | Likes: 9  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


it's here! the first chapter. comments, feedback and critiques are welcomed and encouraged. can't wait to continue this writing journey with you all. enjoy!



EDIT (02/07/19): Made some changes to spelling and grammar errors and fixed some inconsistencies.

Chapter 2 (v.1) - chapter one

Submitted: June 08, 2019

Reads: 98

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 08, 2019

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER one

___

2013

 

I wait for her. Sitting in the red velour booths of a local diner – Macy’s Home Style Cook-In – with a cup of coffee in my hand and the heaviest heart in the world. I sit there; and I wait for her.

I’m at the very edge of the world; fluorescent lights bouncing around my head like that of a kaleidoscope. Outside, the night is creeping across our town; draping its dark blanket on top of our beaten and bruised city. The digital clock on the wall reads 7:58.

The exact moment she walks in, I’m rising out of my seat to get another drink – my coffee had become a sad puddle in the thirty minutes of waiting – and upon locking estranged eyes, I become a statue. And there she is.

It’s been almost 8 years since I last spoke to Minerva Grange; never mind had a dinner-date with her. And as foreign as this feels, laying my eyes upon her after all this time is liberating; a weight lifted off of my shoulders, even.

Her lips quiver; dimples dance across her face as she greets me with a simple and almost bashful, “Hey.”

“Hi,” I reply; and there we are, stood in Macy’s diner. We’re stood a foot away from each other and yet I feel as though we’re on opposite sides of the planet.

She smirks at me, “Not gonna offer me a seat?”

I catch my words in my throat, gesturing vaguely at the booth. “Make yourself at home.”

Minerva really did grow up to be the actress and model she’d always dreamed of being; bouncy red curls with rosy cherub cheeks and a figure to die for. And of course, a successful career that anyone would be envious of; experience in local TV, indie films, magazines and theatre performances. She’d dreamed of entering these industries at a young age – seventh grade, maybe? – and transformed it into reality.

We sidle into our seats with a squeak of the leather chairs. The diner is bare and derelict, the walls a skeleton of a once bustling family restaurant. We are as old as the building itself; and that thought strikes me with a bout of nostalgia that is almost too much to handle.

I suck in a breath, “Thanks for meeting me.”

“Course,” she replies quickly, slender fingers fiddling together, “I’ve been wanting to see you for so long, but it never seemed as though you—”

A pause. She gnaws on her lower lip, searching for the right words.

“Had the time to see me, you know?”

Immediately, I remember her wedding: early August of last year. I also remember opening the invitation; reading the words over and over again and tucking the piece of card into the back of my dresser, never to be seen again.

“Minerva—”

She objects sharply, “Minnie,”

She sounds deeply offended that I would ever use her full name. I know, deep down, we aren’t children anymore and the use of her full name is anything but appropriate given the circumstances; so, I comply with her wishes and grit my teeth. Those pet names reopen wounds – they even add salt to the wound, dammit.

“The wedding,” I start; and watch her face crumple, “I’m sorry I didn’t show.”

When I apologise, she stalls – sinks into her seat, even. It is silence for a good couple of seconds; fryer sizzling, cutlery clacking, neon signs buzzing and the only waitress serving pops her bubblegum. I can see that she chooses her words wisely, as though she’d stepping on eggshells.

“You know, it took me a long time to get over,” she says, her voice soaking with hurt and anguish. “That I wanted my oldest friend there and she didn’t show; but I know it must have been hard for you.”

She continues, eyes deep and thoughtful, “You were dealing with so much, what with Cami’s—”

“I know,” I object. I don’t need to hear this; especially not now.

She pauses; hesitates, allows me a moment’s peace and fails to defy me, instead locking eyes. And the burn of hearing her name makes me ache. “I know it wasn’t easy. It’s hard to go to a wedding and celebrate when you have Cami’s anniversary the same week, I know. I don’t hold it against you.”

If only she knew, if only anyone knew – there was a storm of emotions and heartbreak that I got caught in; that ripped my heart apart and shattered the pieces. If only she knew that Cami was not the only reason I didn’t show. What would she do if she knew that watching her get married was too painful? That it would unabashedly destroy the cast I’d built around my broken heart. I’d spent years building a brick wall around myself; and I wasn’t willing to allow it to be knocked down.

But looking into her doe eyes is like staring into a looking glass, it’s like watching the past unfold in front of you. And the past hurts – it hurts, it hurts.

“I know,” I manage, the last syllable closer to a cut-off whisper than a fully formed sentence. Minnie quirks a plucked eyebrow, a silent and accusatory Do you really?

“And there’s nothing I can do but apologise and promise to be a better friend.”

I say the word friend with a hesitant approach; observe the way Minnie’s slender shoulders visibly relax and sink into the velvet of her seat. Ah, of course. Friends. That word; that label that has forever teetered us between sister and lover like that of an ill-suited see-saw.

The clashing of steel and the dying, choked-off groans of the girl I once loved are almost as real as they had been in the moment. Macy’s Home Style Diner recedes; sinking into a bottomless ditch – and I can almost see Cami’s silver Focus sliding into the sludge; I can almost smell the sour petrol from her gas tank leaking unto the forest floor. This is a nightmare that I can move in; that I can touch, smell, and hear. And yet the only thing I cannot do is change the past. Save Cami’s life.

It's also comical how routine this has become – how I become stuck on remnants of the past. These tragic events occurred so many years ago – I should be healing; and yet these semi-healed wounds have been ripped back open with a ferocity that screams: “We’re not done just yet.”

Minerva shuffles uncomfortably in her seat, which promptly awakens me from my daydream. She tucks one red strand behind her cauliflower ear and asks a quiet, almost apprehensive, “Why are we here, Honey?”

And ‘apprehensive’ is not a word anyone, especially me, would use to describe Minerva. She wants closure – she wants to close this chapter and start a fresh; and she cannot do that until we clear the air – which is why she’s here. She fiddles with her wedding ring, sliding it on and off her slender finger as though she’s in two minds – although about what, I’m not entirely sure.

“I wanted closure,” I say slowly, watch as her expression barely changes at all. Minerva’s face has always fallen in a way that prevents any emotion from leaking out.

“I was gonna come, you know,” I add quickly, trying my best not to sound condescending. “Had the dress and everything, got my mum to take it in at the hips. But then the wedding day arrived and I-“

My eyes burn. “I woke up with a knot in my stomach, and I just couldn’t move.”

Minerva considers this for a few moments; takes some time to digest my words. To my surprise, she simply turns her head and flags over a waitress – as though this is a normal occurrence rather than a lamented reunion. Her acrylic tips clack against the table as she orders a strawberry milkshake (with soya milk, she’s vegan now) and throws in a small basket of sweet-potato fries just for the hell of it. Her eyes scan mine.

“What do you want?”

“I’m good. I had a coffee whilst I was waiting.” I say.

Satisfied, the waitress slinks away and we’re thrust back into our uncomfortable but understanding silence. I’ve never been good at this, but I must try – Minerva deserves that much.

“So, how’s Peter?” I ask, and immediately regret my words as soon as Minerva replies with a scowl.

“Parker,” she says blankly, as though I should’ve known that after nearly a decade of withdrawal from Minerva and her life. “He’s good. Has me on all the veggie shakes so we have the best chances at the marathon – it’s doing a number on my sweet tooth, though.”

I’ve met Parker once – the single time Minerva visited my university for an open day and subsequently, dragged Parker along. He’s her type – almost to the letter T; sharp, angular features and an impeccable sense of style. The 3-carat ring on Minerva’s finger obviously doesn’t hurt, either.

They’re the picture-perfect couple; one half of the pristine, atomic family you see in magazine spreads and storybooks. I wonder if my life could ever be so perfect; so entirely flawless – but the doubt in the back of my mind reins that thought back as quickly as it occurred.

Minerva clears her throat, taps a single manicured finger against the table top. We’re in different worlds nowadays; communicating solely through the looking glass. We’re strangers – united solely by a shared childhood.

“Cut the bullshit,” she says slowly, pausing for a few moments as the waitress rolls by; milkshake and basket of fries in hand; and Minerva continues as soon as she sashays away.

“Why are we really here? What are you after, Honey?”

I could tell her the truth; that I’ve dreamt about this meeting for years on end – how I’ve ached to hear her voice just once more. I could tell her how – now, that it’s here, my heart is disappointed at how much she has changed. But I don’t, I can’t – not when she has her perfect life. Her Parker.

“I’m – um,” My hairline protrudes with sweat, fingernails scraping smooth skin under the table.

“I’m writing an autobiography, for my writing portfolio.” I pause. This is it. “I finally got an offer from a legit publisher.”

The words feel foreign as I say them, as though they don’t belong; as though my words are nothing but alphabet soup splattered upon a clean table. To my utter surprise, Minerva seems genuinely glad; strawberry-blonde eyebrows lifting and a small grin suddenly tugging at either side of her lips.

“Seriously?” She says, eyes glistening. “That’s incredible, Honey. Godammit, I told you so many times you could do it – and God, here we are.”

Her sanguine hands shoot out across the diner’s red-check table – they clasp themselves over my own, bitten fingertips. I almost exhale at the touch. Minerva’s skin brings back so many memories.

She runs a careful thumb across my knuckles, caressing the scar tissue present along the creases in my hands. It feels magical – to have her showing and expressing her pride. That was a feeling I’ve sorely missed; and to have it back is my long-awaited fix.

“Shit,” she breathes, soft and ethereal, “For real?”

I nod, pushing my hands against hers almost subconsciously. “Yeah. I’ve re-read the e-mail about fifteen times – it’s all so surreal.”

Minerva seems to digest this; leans back against the vinyl of her seat with an audible squeak. She tables a second to disconnect, stirs her milkshake – nibbles a handful of fries. She pushes food and drink away as though they are distractions, looks up to the fluorescent lights of the ceiling above us.

“But you didn’t come here just to tell me that,” her grin flatlines, “Right?”

Fuck. She could always read me like a book.

“What makes you say that?” I ask.

She slides up, adjusts herself quickly; shoots me a look that I’d not seen in years. “Cause’ I know you. And I know when you’re stretching the truth. You’re a shit liar. Besides,”

She finishes off the remnants of her milkshake, punctuates the start of her next sentence by crudely slamming the glass on the table in front of her. Her viridescent eyes demand my gaze; and I stand to attention almost immediately.

“You wouldn’t have called me here for something you could’ve simply emailed to me. Or called about.”

I gnaw at the inside of my mouth.

“So, what is it?”

Drawing a breath, I straighten my back and decide to bite the bullet. I’d already let Minerva down time after time, what would it mean to do it once more?

“My book—my portfolio,” I begin, forcing myself to lock eyes with Minerva. “I wanna write about my past loves, my heartbreaks, about—”

A whisper – so nobody can hear. “About us.”

That’s the cold, hard truth. I need Minerva’s permission to write about her and our relationship, whether it be in a (hopefully) future published book or for a portfolio I can present to publishers across the globe. The worst scenario goes: Minerva and/or Parker pick up the book on a whim, notice the similarities in stories and backgrounds – despite any name changes – and then proceed to blow up my voicemail and inbox with messages of “What the fuck?” and “How dare you?”

Silence settles between us like fog; invades the comfortable space we’d managed to make within the last – I glance at the digital clock, which flashes: 8:20 – twenty minutes or so. It truly feels as though we’re at the edge of the world, as though nothing outside of Macy’s diner – outside of rural England – matters; because in all honesty, it doesn’t.

I met Minerva Grange when I was twelve years old – and despite a solid thirteen years of knowing her; I have never understood her. Not once. Since the moment my eyes caught hers – that fateful summer morning during playtime, I have been utterly puzzled by the enigma that is Minerva. Minnie.

And this moment: this revelation, is not exception. The diner sinks into inaudible discomposure; a strange shade of disarray. I can hear my own heartbeat against my eardrum, can feel every single hair on the back of neck stand upwards – I have never felt so electric, so alive.

Because for the first time in thirteen years, Minerva is silent. No wit. No sarcastic comment. Brutal and unforgiving silence.

Honestly? I don’t know what I expected; perhaps a mixture of things. The Minerva I know would likely have stood up, flipped the table and given me a shower with strawberry milkshake. But again, Minerva has changed; evolved; blossomed, and her reaction is anyone’s guess. But it certainly isn’t mine.

I watch in stunned stillness as Minerva’s face crumples – her expression twisting into a concoction of confusion, resentment and pure, unfiltered disappointment. Her knuckles turn a ghostly white as she balls her fists, fingernails making themselves at home within her skin. Her auburn hair bows as she stares into her lap, looking as though she wants the floor to sink and swallow her whole.

She mumbles something I don’t quite catch. The lump in my throat is growing by the second.

“Minerva?” I ask, clammy palms reaching across the booth.

Her head snaps upwards, skin red and irritated, eyes bulging wide. I expect Minerva to be boiling with rage, seething at the mouth; ready to throw every item of cutlery my way. Instead, though – she is far from angry. No, Minerva is crying.

The last time I saw Minerva cry – God – that must’ve been years back. The only other time I have seen her shed tears was upon being told that her father had died. Her hard exterior; her steel walls, they are damn near impossible to crack. I know this as someone who has tried to break these walls so many times; and now I finally have – in the worst way imaginable.

“Is that-“ She starts, inhaling and exhaling as slowly as possible. Her slim thigh is bouncing up and down against the underside of the table unapologetically; causing a thunderous noise that elects the few fellow diners to turn our way with a scowl. My empty milkshake glass tips over with a thud. Minerva’s sea—green eyes fall lidded; she speaks as quietly as possible – walking a silent tightrope.

“Is that all I mean to you?” she begins, and my lips are already instinctively opening so I can protest. She thrusts a hand in front of me as if she could read my mind. Let’s be honest: she absolutely can.

“No, listen to me. Listen to what I have to say.”

As always, I succumb to Minerva’s commands. My mouth decides to seal itself – wisely so.

“You drag me out here, after almost four fucking years of no-show. No phone calls, no text messages, no e-mails. Absolutely fucking nothing.” Minerva’s voice is growing louder now - monstrous, dripping with oodles of passion disguised as rage.

“I invite you to my wedding. I beg you to meet my husband. I try and introduce you to my child – who is three years old now, by the way - not that you bothered to ask. And yet you,” Her eyes are desperately fighting back tears now, “you have the cheek to ask me here; just so you can push me into signing some fancy paper to say you can write the past, my pain, my life—”

A pregnant pause, her fists uncurl themselves as the tension rolls out of her back. Minerva’s voice lowers as she slumps further into the seat, almost whispers, “About us. Everything…”

She’s right. I know she’s right. But that notion doesn’t make this hurt any less.

Minerva tilts her head backwards against the booth divider, fruitlessly fighting back a sob, “Do you know how fucking deranged you sound, Honey?”

A strange shade of hush colours the diner: the clanging of cutlery draws to an apparent halt; beady eyes turn to glance our way; even the waitress quirks a prying eyebrow at the commotion. The stillness is deafening, and I can barely bring myself to blink, let alone begin to speak or somehow justify myself. The embarrassment trailing across my cheeks is hard to ignore.

But ignore Minerva does.

Without warning, she rises suddenly from the booth, crunching a discarded napkin in one hand and steadying her stance against the table with the other. I want so desperately to reach out; take her hand – mutter sombre words of comfort; that’s what the Honey she knew would do.

But that girl is gone; she is buried six feet under, alongside her plethora of demons and past loves. The young girl who once skipped down dreary, broken roads with a fire for optimistic naivete and a hungering for love (that pure, pure kind) – she is no more. She died alongside Cami in the clearing that night – and what remains is but an empty husk. A selfish, lonely, self-absorbed lunatic with a newfound passion for emotional machoism and opiates.

Perhaps that’s what Minerva sees reflected in her eyes; a mere silhouette of the girl she once knew – the girl she once loved; the girl who broke her heart.

“You think that that is an old, old I wound wanna open up?” she nearly spits; but thankfully, Minerva’s volume control is back – and the diner’s rushing of plates and the sizzling of the fryer has continued – as though our confrontation was a mere advert between shows. My chest heaves and my heart feels heavy within it’s own ribcage.

And then, it happens; creeping up on me like a looming shadow. Slowly, my ears begin to buzz wildly; as though the room surrounding us is drowning with static. The corners of my vision blur a deep scarlet, and all I can make out is the disheartened, disgruntled face of Minerva.

Despite the chilled atmosphere of mid-Autumn in suburban Britain – plus, the diner’s heater being on the second lowest setting, I find myself struggling to breathe through the malodorous heat sweeping through the aisles. Beads of sweat begin pooling across my skin. and I feel the hook of my overgrown fingernails burrowing their way into the dip of my wrist; a knot in my stomach so deep and tight that my knuckles instinctively seize the metal table-top. Here comes that feeling I thought I had forgotten.

Panic.

The knot in my stomach twists unforgivingly as though a knife had been plunged into my gut – and I nearly double over in a mixture of shock and excruciating pain.

Get out of there.

Minerva’s face has altered now; softened to something similar to concern. My hazed vision can’t quite lip-read; and the words are drowned out by the static stuffed in both ears, but I can faintly make out her voice shouting across the booth.

“Honey, are you okay?”

This is all your fault. You could have saved her.

My palms are soaking with sweat; my hair matted grossly against the side of my face; my fingertips are quivering manically as I instinctively pull them up and examine my own hands.

Blood. Thick tendrils of it splashed across clean, white flesh. Not just any blood: Cami’s blood.

My knees hit the underside of the table as I shoot up from my seat; knocking almost every bottle, glass and plate within arms-reach over with an ear-splitting CRASH. The bright red liquid seeps between the gaps in my fingers, sinks into the lines of my palms. Once I dare to look up, the black-and-white checkered tiles of the diner have sunken into the belly of a wooded clearing. And not just any wooded clearing – but the hellish forest I see in every dream the second my eyes close. This is the forest my mind wanders to when I’m left to my own devices for even a second too long. This forest haunts my every waking moment – this forest reeks of petrol; metal; fire.

I can’t take it anymore – the panic has washed over me like a blanket of undiluted trepidation. My fingernails dig into the palm of my hand so fiercely that it draws blood – scarlet red, a waterfall of blood streaming down fields of pale skin. And suddenly, my legs are moving on command; straight towards the nearest escape, the nearest way out. I’m in such a state of panic and unease and confusion that I very nearly knock over a table of fresh drinks and food. I’m not winning any brownie points in this diner for sure – the stern glare from the waitress tells me.

Head spinning, vision blurred, hands shaking, my fingertips find the heavy oak door of the nearest bathroom. It swings open with some effort – although my arms feel like straw at this point and my skin is slick with perspiration. I survey the stalls quickly, tapping each door open with a hesitant foot: empty, good. It’s safe.

My (still) quivering hands push the stall door open wildly and as soon as I’m over the toilet bowl, the entirety of my day’s breakfast, lunch and tea comes up. The bathroom tiles are sharp and unforgiving – and I know instantly that my legs will be bruised tomorrow; a lowly reminder of this pit within my stomach.

It’s weird, you know – being this way. I’ve come to recognise and somewhat accept the feelings that I have, the emotions I experience and the anxieties that wash over me. One part of me despises the way that I am; the way that I experience life compared to others my age. And yet, somewhere deep down, buried beneath a lifetime’s worth of blunder and hatred, I could not imagine life without these problems; these feelings – they have shaped my perspective and my emotions, however warped they may be.

My head hits the wall as my entire body slumps into an upright fetal position. Oddly, the palms of my hands are ripe with cold sweat; yet the pit of my stomach feels alight with hellish flames.

“Fuck,” I wipe the corner of my mouth messily with the sleeve of my hoodie, making a mental note to throw it out later. I feel myself let out a strained sigh, exasperated. “What the fuck.”

I’ve had episodes like this before, of course – countless ones; but never this intense, never this public, never this vivid. Sometimes, the room will sink into an unfamiliar surrounding, blackened by thick sludge, forest walls and the unknown. Sometimes, I see Cami – sugar-cookie blonde hair stained a gruesome shade of carmen; limbs twisted at unnatural angles, hands reaching out desperately as the car explodes into a bonfire of aggressive, unforgiving flames.

Sometimes, I don’t see anything at all. I like those times better.

Bang.

The bathroom door swings open, catching me off guard and wrenching my mind back into the present; the here and now. All is silent for a fair few seconds; and I can feel myself instinctively holding my breath, as though I am mere prey lying in anxious wake. I expect the sole waitress to storm in, grab me by the collar and throw me out on my rear for almost destroying her restaurant – that, or Minerva to march in with a smug smirk and an inkling to kick someone while they’re down.

As she often does.

The mint-green door of my stall sways opens almost elegantly; a pale, freckled face creeping around the corner shyly. And this face – it looks anything but smug. Concerned, afraid, nervous – but nothing that indicates a sense of superiority or “That’s what you get.”

I’m not in the mood for this shit, so I manage a weak, “If you’ve come to gloat--”

Minerva’s expression is anything but self-congratulatory. Her eyebrows furrow and the scowl she shoots my way is piercing. She holds this stare as she takes a meek step towards me. Challenging, daring, daunting. This is the playground game we have played for twelve years now.

“Don’t be an idiot,” she says, in the softest tone I’ve ever heard leave her lips. Christ, like butter wouldn’t melt. “I may be pissed at you, Honey – but I would never want to see you upset or hurt. What happened back there?”

I wish I knew, I want to reply. But the truth is that I don’t. I haven’t felt this way for a long, long while, thanks to some counselling and the gift of time – and that is a blessing that I recognise that I will no longer be able to afford moving forward. Perhaps I shouldn’t have invited Minerva here – maybe seeing her face after all these years has dragged me back to square one; pried open a can of worms I simply wasn’t ready for. But if not now, when?

“A panic attack,” I answer softly, tracing barely-there lines across the lines of my palm with an index finger. The knot within my ribcage is slowly starting to unwind, my clenched fists starting to dry out like overdue laundry. I don’t know why, but the clean, almost sterile atmosphere of a bathroom helps to calm my mind. It’s quiet, almost medical.

“Wait, shit,” Minerva interrupts frantically, taking another step towards me as though I’m a minute away from death, “Fuck…You want me to call someone?”

If my chest wasn’t still somewhat knotted, I’d surely laugh. “What? Call 999? They’ll hang up on you.”

The eyeroll I receive in response is almost comical. Minerva extends a pale arm towards me; beckoning me with a come-hither motion. It sends icy shivers along my spine.

“Come here.”

Nearly four years. One thousand three hundred and eighty-seven days. I know this because the calendar on my kitchen corkboard might as well be a cruel, mocking reminder. Four years since Minerva and I have spoken, reconciled or even discussed what had happened so many years prior. This feels like the right time.

It has to be.

And as we perch ourselves on the marble-finish counters of the women’s restroom in Macy’s Home-Style Diner, my head lolled against Minerva’s chest – I realise something: this has been a long time coming. The reunion, the argument; the bottled-up rage that has been festering inside of us – this has existed since we were teenagers, when we just hopeful young girls with an affliction for romance stories, coke floats and cherry-flavoured lollipops. When we were innocent.

That innocence vanished for me in the forest that day; with Cami. 9th of August 2009. I’m not sure about Minerva, but innocent slipped off of us before we had a chance to understand it, revel in it; expose it.

The bathroom is eerily quiet; filled with just the sound of the air conditioning whirring and the yellow lights above us flickering every few seconds. We don’t speak as Minerva holds me close to her – we don’t need to. The radiating warmth from her porcelain skin and the sensation of her fingers tracing mine is louder than words.

We remain like that for a while – minutes, half an hour, an hour – who knows? Minerva always knew how to wrap me around her little finger. My aching head rests against her slim chest, listening to the music that is her heartbeat, noticing how it speeds up as my hands trace along the creases in her knuckles.

It’s embarrassing how quickly my body relaxes when Minerva lolls her own head against mind; tucks a tangled piece of my hair behind my ear. She doesn’t seem to care that I probably reek of vomit, stale coffee and fresh teardrops. She just holds me; and I feel myself holding back a long-waited sob. One thousand three hundred and eighty-seven days; and it was damn worth the wait.

She mumbles something and at first, I don’t quite catch it.

“Huh?”

“I’ll do it,” Minerva says simply, moving her head away from mine; eyes blinking straight ahead nonchalantly, “I’ll be in your writing portfolio. I’ll let you write about whatever you want.”

I fail to hide my expression of shock, eyebrows shooting upwards. “Are you sure? Even about—“

“Yes,” she interjects sharply; and although her tone is strict, those slender fingers continue tracing my hands softly, holding me as though I might break.

“If this helps you get published, then it’s worth it,” She replies, sliding down from the counter quickly, and I notice my skin burn at the absence of her touch. “No matter the risk. No matter the sacrifice. All I’ve ever wanted is to see you succeed, and if I can help to make that happen, then I’ll do whatever it takes.”

My cheeks burn from smiling; my fists curling inward with excitement. It takes every ounce of willpower I have not to wrap my arms around Minerva and show how grateful I am. Somehow, I manage it, speaking as softly as I can manage.

“Thank you.” Minerva turns on her heels to face me, green eyes shining with a complexity that is hard to place.

“And I’m sorry,” I add, facepalming internally at how much of an afterthought this apology sounds, “I’m sorry for everything. For not calling, for blowing off the wedding, for…just being a shit friend?”

Minerva takes a step closer, peering in the mirror and adjusting her blouse before redirecting her attention to me. I know she’s trying to hide it, but the faintest of smirks pull at her lips.

“Hey, I’ve not exactly been a perfect ten-out-of-ten either, you know. This thing works both ways,” At ‘thing’ she gestures loosely between the two of us.

I sneak a look at the clock above the door, which points at 9:00pm exactly.

“Shit,” I huff, searching for my phone in my back pocket; fishing it out and immediately ordering a cab for ASAP. “I gotta go, Minerva – got a speech for tomorrow morning. Fucksake, haven’t even sorted my papers out yet.”

“Minnie.”

I quirk an eyebrow, “What?”

She’s taken another step forward, pulling a sympathetic smile – a world of sadness behind her eyes. “Minnie. We’re friends again now, right? So it’s Minnie, never Minerva.”

Forcing a weak grin, I nod. “Minnie. I never forgot.”

You know when you have an out-of-body experience? Astral projection, I think it’s called – but there’s this phenomenon where people can see themselves in the third person, as though they’re floating from above or watching a really good film. The next few seconds, I see from a bird’s eye view.

Daringly, almost dangerously – Minerva takes one last step towards me, pushing against me with her weight so that both her legs are between my thighs. Her thin knuckles slide across the length of the bathroom counter, until both curled fists are situated either side of my body. My chest heaves; burns hot – eyes widen like saucers.

Minerva towers over me at the best of times, but at this angle – her nose teases the edge of my hairline; her breath is hot against my forehead. It’s commanding, powerful – her stance is anything but vulnerable; and it’s concerning how quickly I melt against her.

I try desperately to choke out her name, or something that sounds vaguely like it – but the unfiltered shock is rendering me utterly speechless – vocal cords snipped, and tongue completely tied – double knotted, actually. She must catch on to what I’m trying to gasp; since she leans in even father forward and whispers slowly, sounding out the syllables,

“Minnie.”

And just like that, it’s almost as though we’re back to being seventeen – desperate and aching behind corner shops or at the back of Minerva’s garden during sunrise. Nostalgia steps into my life once more without even wiping its feet or shutting the door.

Her hands, hot and heavy – are trailing across my face, eventually settling to cup my chin. Her long eyelashes fall lidded over sparkling green irises as she leans in, further and further – closes the space between our lips. And the rest is moonlight and stardust.

She kisses me, deep and holy as though it’s the only thing she’s ever wanted. The coldness of her wedding ring presses against my throat with intent; and yet I can’t find the level-headedness to give a damn. Instead, my thumb rubs harsh lines across her hands; pressing inward as she towers over me. Her scent is overpowering; sticks to the inside of my head as I open my lips and allow her inside.

Her lips are soft, puckered and willing against my own. This is how I remember it.

She tastes distantly of strawberry milkshake, peppermint and a delicate, sweet perfume. Up close, this scent elects to claw its way through my subconscious and crawl along the slope of my throat. A light bulb flashes inside of my brain: This is the perfume I bought Minerva for her 21st birthday.

She wanted me to get up close and personal with her, so I could notice the smell and recognise that she had made an effort (for me). Choosing that perfume was anything but a coincidence or happy mistake.

Internally, I curse myself for choosing cheap coffee from the menu, though Minerva is far from complaining. Absolutely nothing is enough to distract me from Minerva’s kiss – because finally, she is here; all over me, and my senses are overwhelmed by Minerva, Minerva, Minerva.

“Minnie,” I manage to croak out, through eager, wilting lips - yellow lights flashing erratically above me. Her mouth starts dipping at my neck, leaving light, innocent pecks in its wake. Once she hears me, her grip on my face becomes stronger, more demanding.

“Say it again.”

The word is nothing short of music to her ears. “Minnie.”

And just like that, we’re kissing again – as though a switch had been flicked in both of our heads; as though our bodies are nothing if not magnets. I push back again her, grind my hips against the tops of her thighs. It’s desperate, bittersweet – and yet guilt and shame are already digging their way into my chest. I’ve wanted this; her taste, her smell, her kiss – and now that I have it; the sensation burrows deep inside of me, makes itself a home and nest in the darkest pits of my belly.

A thought pricks at the back of my incessant, racing mind; prompting me to pull away swiftly, “But – Parker?”

She shoots an irritated eye-roll my way, instead squeezing my thigh tightly; the skin there beginning to sizzle and redden at her touch. Playing with Minerva had always felt like playing with fire – and here I was, smack-bang in the middle of her roaring flames.

“That’s the last thing I wanna hear right now, Honey,” And so she punctuates that point with another light peck against the corner of my mouth. She inhales quickly; exhales sharply. “Do you know how many times I’ve thought about this?”

I sigh deeply at this, head hitting the mirror; eyes glued to the cracked, white ceiling, “I don’t wanna be your second choice – your cheap hookup in a public bathroom. That isn’t me, Minerva, and I think you know that.”

Upon my admission, Minerva pulls an expression that is hard to box or categorise. Her hands stay situated on the tops of my thighs, but she loosens her grip; and I notice how her fingernail markings in my skin barely fade. Her touch has permanently bruised me.

“Don’t be simple,” she says fiercely; then leans in so we’re eye-to-eye, “You were never my second choice. I chose you every time – every single time.”

Minerva takes a moment to absorb my expression, tilts my chin forward with a soft but assertive fingertip. Her chest heaves; rises and falls.

“I’m sorry I’m not like her—”

The tops of my arms burn and I instinctively shudder, “Don’t.”

She persists, and I curse her for it.

“You have to talk about her eventually, you know,” Minerva says, all matter-of-fact; and although she’s completely right, the thought of talking about her makes my stomach clench and twist; it makes the room surrounding us darken and become half-tile and half-forest.

“She’s not a ghost,” Minerva says, barely audible; and I want to laugh because she doesn’t fucking understand. “She was a person; a person who loved you. Talking about her isn’t going to make the world end, far from it.”

“Shut up, Minerva,” My teeth are gritted; face clenched as I spit, “You have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”

With that, her arms withdraw themselves from my thighs, her hips retract from between my limbs – her expression sinks back into one of apathy and detectable disappointment. She straightens her skirt, dabs at her ruined make-up with a piece of blue tissue paper – and like that – the old Minerva is gone; and everything that remains is everything I hate about her.

The faintest of sounds tears our meeting apart, an insistent buzzing noise coming from my phone. I flip it open – and feel a massive bout of relief when an unknown number flashes on the screen.

Minerva looks down at me, eyes wide; blouse ruffled and lifted in certain places. Those entrancing irises give me a brief once-over; watch as I decline the call and take a few steps towards the bathroom door.

“What?”

I frown slightly, “My cab. I gotta go.”

It’s only once we move away from each other that the reality of what has just happened begins to daunt on me like the aftermath of a bad dream – Minerva’s lipstick across my mouth feels like a stain rather than a blessing – and the mark of a ring against my throat is keen to leave a brutal reminder in the shape of a bruise in the morning. Guilt tugs at my chest in kin to heartburn.

She stands there, expression gaunt as though she’s naked and vulnerable. This feels unfinished, entirely unjustified – but kissing and making up in public bathrooms is not exactly on my agenda for tonight. I want to leave wordlessly; go home and pour myself some liquid remedy. Instead, though, Minerva catches my wrist before I reach the exit; stops and spurs me in my tracks.

“She’s not coming back, you know,” she offers weakly, “Four years now, Honey. Or near enough. Are you gonna spend the rest of your life chasing a ghost?”

My heart sinks as I grip the door handle with my free hand. Minerva had never been one for empathy; and the venom in her voice and her vice-like grip on my skin damn near proves that.

I loved her,” I manage, throat dry and coarse. I snatch my wrist out of her grip, nearly hissing the words, “And I’ll never love somebody as deeply as I loved her.”

Finally, I allow a long pause to sweep the space between us as the bathroom door swings open. I offer one final sentiment before I choose to venture back to the very edge of the world.

“Not even you.”


© Copyright 2019 beccamidmoores. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments: