His face was blank, showing absolutely no emotion. We simply stood there and stared at each other. I felt like I should say something, do something, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t have said anything even if I’d wanted to. What could I say? A lot, actually. I didn’t have the guts to open my mouth, though. It was when I’d just met him. The silence was awkward and left me wondering what he was thinking.
He glanced down at what I was wearing. I blushed slightly because I was still wearing his sweatshirt. Thankfully, it was dark so he couldn’t see the color rising to my cheeks.
“What are you doing here?” he finally asked. His voice was leveled and emotionless, as if the answer to his question didn’t really matter.
I took a deep breath; my heart rate increased. “You were wrong,” I said. Surprisingly, my voice came out sounding strong and confident. Internally, I gave a sigh of relief that I didn’t stutter.
He narrowed his eyes slightly. “Oh really?”
“Yeah, I never read the paper.”
“And you expect me to believe that?”
I had to keep my façade and act like I didn’t care. So, I shrugged and tilted my head a little. “Well, yeah, it’s the truth.”
“So you’re telling me,” he said, his voice rising slightly, “that I didn’t see you with the paper in your hands?”
I shrugged again. “No, you saw that. But I never read it. I had opened your glove compartment and it fell out. So, I picked it up and put it back. And then you walked out and came to conclusions all by yourself and then left.”
“What were you doing in my car to begin with?”
“Not really sure.”
“Well figure it out.”
I dropped my stupid façade and let my real emotions show. “Jonah,” I said, my voice raising an octave or two in slight panic. “Why are you being like this?”
“You’re the one who went through my stuff.”
“I’m sorry! I don’t even know why I got in your car. But I didn’t read anything! Why is this such a big deal?”
He sighed as if he was annoyed that I couldn’t get it.
Why was he being like this? I get that it was weird that I just randomly got in his car but I mean, come on! He was acting like I had killed his grandmother or something! I was beyond pissed at him and the more I thought the more I worked myself up.
“You know what?” I said, narrowing my eyes in disgust. “No. I’m not going to stand here and apologize for something I didn’t do. I don’t see why you’re being such a prick about it. Just get over it, Jonah. I don’t give a damn if you believe me or not.” I turned around and started walking away. I paused at the end of the driveway and looked back at him. “You know, Jonah. You shouldn’t do that to people. You shouldn’t just jump to conclusions when you don’t even know what happened. For a second there I felt like I actually needed you,” I gave a cruel laugh. “Boy was I wrong. I don’t need you. So fuck you. We might not have been friends, but you knew me well enough to know I would do that. I’m done.” And this time, I actually did walk away.
I stared at the ground as I started walking home. I was so sick of people treating me like I was nothing. For a time, I had the best person in my life, now that he was gone, I wasn’t going to throw myself at people who acted as if they didn’t even care. Jonah walked around the world as if he was bored and couldn’t care less about anyone else. At times, yeah, he could open up and be amazing. But how are you going to have any kind of relationship with someone who’s half there? You can’t. And it was for that exact reason that I gave up. Why had I chased him down and begged for his forgiveness? I had done nothing wrong. I had nothing to apologize for.
I had been pathetic; it disgusted me. I kept my eyes trained on my bare feet hitting the pavement as I walked away from him. Even with all of the thoughts I was having, a small part of me still hoped that he would chase after me. I had been wrong, again. I refused to glance back. I somehow knew that he was still standing next to his car.
He was stuck in life, unmoving. Right now I needed someone willing to move forward, to make progress. I couldn’t afford to stay as I was now; it would make everything worse.
So, I kept walking, kept moving. Away from Jonah with each step, even though after all of my thoughts I still wanted to go back and try to find the part of him that amazed me, I knew I couldn’t.
When I finally arrived home around four o’clock in the morning after taking a few detours, I plopped down on my bed and closed my eyes. I had walked all the way up the hill and sat on top of the boulder, thinking of my dad. It was the first time that I didn’t cry when I thought of him. I got teary-eyed, but I didn’t cry. That was progress, right?
I snuggled into my covers and let myself warm up as sleep slowly pressed down on me.
I sat up quickly. Rolling out of bed, I glanced at the clock before stumbling out the door. It was noon. I walked downstairs and found my mom in the middle of the living room. There was shattered glass all around her on the floor.
“Mom? What happened?”
She looked distressed. “I was carrying a pitcher filled with water, and I dropped it.”
“It’s okay. I’ll just clean it up.” I noticed that she seemed to be on the verge of tears. “Mom? Are you sure that’s all?”
She sighed. “That’s all. I have a bit of a head ache, I think I’ll go take a nap.” She stepped over the broken glass and walked past me to the stairs.
I went into the kitchen and got a broom. Why was my mom on edge? She seemed to be freaking out about every little thing and I was confused as to why. Had I done something to make her like this? Was it just now registering in her mind about my dad? Almost a year later? I had so many questions, but I was afraid to ask. I didn’t know if she was going to blow up and get mad, or start sobbing.
Also, on top of everything, I was beyond late for school. I was so stupid to stay out so late, but even stupider for ignoring the alarm clock this morning. Ah, screw it, I didn’t feel like school, anyways.
“Mom?” I said, stepping into her room. “It’s almost eleven, want some dinner?”
She waved her hand at me from her spot in bed. “No, thank you. Did you go to school today?”
She would get all worked up if I told her the truth, and she didn’t need that right now. “Yeah, of course.”
“How did you get there?”
And then I told the biggest lie of all. “I got my friend to drive me.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
I nodded. Backing out of her room, I decided that I was in dire need of a walk.
On my way to the playground, I tried to block out all my thoughts. It was really useless to think about all the bad things in my life. Optimism can only bring good, right? I should try being more optimistic. Oh, who am I kidding? Everything’s shit.
I glared at the ground and continued walking. There were more cars on the road since it wasn’t too late yet. I didn’t like it. Headlights on my back every two seconds weren’t something I liked or was used to.
Before I knew it, I was at the playground. I started making my way across it, only to hear the screeching of tires. Glancing back, not particularly interested, I didn’t even bother to see who it was.
That stopped me. That stopped me cold. My name, said by that deep familiar voice, made me freeze. I turned around slowly, facing him.
He got out of his car and walked towards me. All of the thoughts of the paper and whether or not I read it slipped out of my mind when I saw him. I took a step towards him and reached out my hand, even though he was several yards away from me.
“Jonah…” I said, my voice shaking. “Who did this to you?” I took in his cut lip and bruised arms. Without thinking about it, I went to him. Even though it was probably him that needed the comforting, he comforted me. He pulled me into a hug and I rested my head against his chest. “Who did this to you?” I repeated.
His arms tightened around me.
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