The One & Only

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nicole Henderson and Christopher Marshall are best friends until things get out of hand. A story of love, loss, and heartbreak thats sure to make you tear up.

Submitted: August 01, 2012

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Submitted: August 01, 2012

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The One and Only

By Kimberley Martin

I woke up to the familiar smell of my stupid fat orange cat, Garfield. Okay, people may think that I have no imagination, but I try. How the fuck do you name a cat? Plus, he’s Garfield’s twin so it made it easy. I honestly have no time what it if since I threw my alarm clock at the wall last Monday morning. That thing was God damn annoying. I guess I’ll get out of my nice warm bed and go downstairs to eat or something.

So I pulled on some pants and skipped down the stairs, where I saw my best friend’s little sister, well I guess you could say my best friend, Nicole. She was already ready for school, her ginger hair all straightened and her makeup all done up.

She smiled when she saw me, “Chris! Hurry up and get dressed! I need a ride to school; I’ll get your breakfast.” She had a really nice smile, now that she got her braces off.

I rolled my eyes and went back up the stairs, “Aye-Aye captain.”

Just as I was getting my hair in to what Nicole calls a “Taylor Lautner/Liam Payne” look, I heard her call my name.

“Hurry up! Your toast is cold!” She creamed from the kitchen, you could tell she was getting a little impatient. But why does she wanna get to school so early anyways?

I really rolled my eyes at THAT. Doesn’t she know how long a PROCESS it is to look this good? God.

“CHRIS! Get your fat ass down here before I steal your keys and drive to school myself!”

“Psh, she wouldn’t… Well… Nah. I take one more look in the mirror and couldn’t help but notice that my blue eyes are even sharper than they usually are. Usually they contrast with my dark brown hair but THIS… It’s beautiful. ANYWAY… I head downstairs to grab my toast, lunch and keys so Nicole and I could finally be on our way. She looked up at me before I took a bite of my toast.

“What!?”

“It’s gonna be cold and gross cause you took your sweet-ass time upstairs.” I searched her face to see if she was joking, nope. She was serious.

“I don’t think so, it’ll be fine!” I say as I hop into my truck.

I take a bite and of course, it’s probably the grossest piece of shit I’ve ever tasted. But I’m ALWAYS right, so I put on a smile and give Nikki a big two-thumbs-up before throwing it out of my window, onto the street. Maybe the birds will eat it.

“Told you so”

“Shut up.” And we drove to school in silence, just listening to music.

We finally arrived at the Port Perry high school, the only one in this dumb town. The only thing to do here is play sports. It’s impossible for anyone to find a job other than Zamboni driver or something. Not that I really need one, my dad owns like 200 restaurants so we’re not really in need for any financial help right now.

Once I got to English class, I found out that I’ve failed both of the tests on the book the bitch teacher made us read. Shocker, I don’t read. Then in biology, the teacher tells me I’ve failed all her tests too. 0 for 4. Great way to start of the year, eh? Dad is gonna be so proud of his son. I walked into French class and the teacher pulls me aside, let me guess, I’ve failed her tests too? DING DING DING. 0 for 6. Two months in and I’m failing 3 of my 4 classes. In marketing, I couldn’t keep focused; I had one thing on my mind… Nicole.

I can remember the day I first met her. She was 2 days old. Her brother, AKA my best friend, invited me over to his house after our hockey game and I witnessed his baby sister bring brought home from the hospital with his mom. I was 4 or 5 at the time but I still remember that memory clear as day. And in a town as small as Port Perry, everyone’s neighbours. So since I only live a couple houses away from Ethan, I could see my best friend and his cute little sister (who eventually became my best friend)  every day. The older we got, the closer we got, not just me and Nicole, but me, Nicole, Ethan, and my adopted brother, Billy. We’ve gone through everything together and I won’t let anything or anyone come between us.

As I was standing by my car, waiting for Nicole, I suddenly felt a pair of hands wrap around my head and cover my eyes. It had to be Nicole. I smiled and turned around.

“Hey babe – Oh, Jessica.” My girlfriend

“Yeah, silly! Who else were you expecting?” She laughed and tucked her long black hair behind her ear.

I shrugged, “Oh, no one.”

She took my hand and started walking me away from my car and into the school yard. But I was supposed to meet Nicole at my car. Once she gets there and I’m not, she’ll freak, I’m her ride. I bring her home every day, at the same time, at the same place. This sucks.

“So, this year, I’m planning a SENIORS party! Like, isn’t it amazing! You’re only a senior once right, it’ll be amazing.” Oh my GOD, can you be more of a BARBIE? Like, totally!

“Sorry to burst your little bubble here, Jess, but you were a senior last year, you failed.” I chuckled a little bit because that’s really funny to me. But then again, I might fail my senior year too so I shouldn’t really be talking, should I?

She ignored my comment and kept blabbing on and on. I thought it was pretty funny, okay. My phone kept vibrating in my pocket and I knew exactly who it was. Nicole, asking me where the fuck I am. I felt like an ass, who ditched their best friend like that?

“So, what do you think babe?” She asked me.

It took a while for me to even realize she was talking to me, I’ve been zoning her out a lot lately, she talks about things that have no purpose what so ever in my life.

“Oh, yeah, great, look, I have to go now so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Her eyes widened, trying to make a puppy dog face. Uh, that didn’t really work, unless she was trying to imitate a dog that just got hit by a car. “Where? You’re just going to leave me here all ALONE! What kind of a boyfriend are you?”

“Sorry Jess, I gotta get home, I’ll see you tomorrow or something.” So I kissed her on the cheek and jogged off to my car, where there was no Nicole.

Once I got into my truck, I checked my phone to see there were 12 messages and all of them were from Nicole. Shit.

“Hey! (: I’m at your truck.”

“Where the fuck are you?”

“Hello?”

“K, I’ll call Ethan if you don’t show up soon.”

“Are you even at school?”

“Are you drunk?”

“K I called Ethan.”

“I’m leaving in 2 minutes so hurry up.”

“WHERE ARE YOU?”

“K, Ethan’s here.”

“You could at least answer your phone!”

“K bye”

 

Great, now I’m gonna have to explain to Nicole how I ditched her for Jessica. Whatever, I sighed and started the truck to get home. I’ve got a butt load of explaining to do to dad tonight about me failing and all that.

It’s been really hard to focus lately, since my mom died. People think I use that as an excuse for my grades but it’s not, losing my mom was the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me. She was my best friend, she taught me everything and I could tell her anything.

Then Nicole got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which is like bipolar disorder but a little milder. She gets constant mood swings, happy or depressed. More often depressed than happy.

A year later, I couldn’t take it anymore so I started drinking and thought that helped e drown my sorrow a bit. Then it became a habit. I quit school for a while and went drinking, not many people knew, the school thought I was sick. But Nicole found out and got me into rehab before it was too late and I can’t thank her enough for it.

As soon as I walked through the door, the questions began.

“Christopher Marshall, how the hell are you failing all of your courses so far? I understand school is tough for you, I know what you’re going through but… Failing? Have you slipped? Have you been drinking again lately?” my dad said, angry.

I put my head up and forced myself to look him in the eyes, as much as it killed me to see the disappointment on his face.

“You have NO idea what I’m going through. None. I haven’t fucking slipped and I don’t plan on it either.”

There was silence when my brother Billy walked into the kitchen he stared as me and my father stood just inches apart, ready to just throw a punch or two. Billy was ready to jump in in case a fight did start, so he could break us up.

“I lost my mom when I was your age too, son. But you know what? Life. Goes. On. No matter what. You can’t put your life on hold just because of something that happened years ago.”

That triggered something. I don’t know what it was but it made me yell. Loudly. It was the first time I’ve ever raised my voice at my father. I just had this part of me who couldn’t stand it when people talked about my mother. Even if it was to say how great she was, even if it was just to say they were sorry. Sympathy, it’s what I hate the most.

“This isn’t ABOUT mom! It’s about me failing, okay? Mom has NOTHING to go with this! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been passing with D’s or C’s; marks just good enough for me to pass the grade. You know why? Because I can’t READ. I can’t write either. I can’t tell which letter is which and I never mentioned it because I thought it would get better. But it never DID! I can’t tell which number im dialing on the phone. They all get mixed up. I can’t tell the difference between Nicole’s phone number, your phone number and Billy’s phone number. To me, they’re all the same. They’re just a number. So now you know. That’s why I’m failing. And it’s not my fault, I’ve tried to get through it but it’s just so hard. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid. Afraid of the people who would treat me like a RETARD.”

He looked up at me with those eyes. The eyes I didn’t want to see, the eyes filled with sympathy. I hated it. It’s the reason I didn’t want anyone to know. My father’s expression softened, and so did Billy’s.

“Son I really didn’t know,” no shit. “Look, we can go see some specialists tomorrow, honestly, I can drive you down to the – “

“DAD! This is the reason I DIDN’T want to tell anyone; you’d bring me to the hospital and they’ll ask me hundreds of questions I can’t answer and they’ll prescribe me to a bunch of pills and everyone will be pointing and staring and talking about me at school.”

“Chris this is a REALLY common disorder. Many people have this, it’s not like you’re a freak or anything. Look at the bright side…” Billy tried to cheer me up. It really didn’t work. It was like he was talking to me as a patient.

“Shut up Billy, you’re not in this.” And he backed down.

My dad finally calmed down and backed off. He looked at me and I saw more sympathy. I rolled my eyes and took a beer. I told myself I wouldn’t slip, I promised Nicole. But one beer wouldn’t hurt right? So I’ll only take one. Then I went for another, and another and then another. Shit, I slipped. After about my sixth or seventh cold one, I was too lazy to go get a new one in the garage so I decided to pass out right where I was. I couldn’t really move so it worked out great.

Morning came and I woke up from a gentle tap on the shoulder, getting harder and harder by the whack. I opened my eyes and saw girl’s toes in those whore sandal things. And beer cans, I tried to reach for one but the whore sandal kicked my arm.

“Chris! CHRIS! CHRIS-FUCKING-TOPHER! Wake up. This isn’t a joke, I can’t believe you slipped! Oh my GOD!”

Slipped? What? I MIGHT be a little DAZED from the beer but hungover? I doubt it… I didn’t have that much to drink… Okay never mind, I’m hung over.

“Chris, wake up,” wait… Who’s Chris? Is that… Oh wait, it’s me. “Chris! We gotta get to school! It’s Nicole! Let’s go!”

The girl kept pushing and shoving me and kicking me and slapping me. I wanted her to get off because it actually started to hurt after a while.

“Wait… Who’s Nicole?” With that, I got a slap across the face and the Nicole girl out of my house. Finally, I can pass out again and wake up next year or something. I guess she’ll walk to school… I go to school? Is Nicole my sister? Wait isn’t Ethan my brother? No wait Ethan is my neighbour. Nice boy, that guy. I had so many questions. Whatever, I’ll know when I’m sober. Right when I put my head back onto the floor, I fell asleep.

I woke up with a jolt and thought… What the hell did I do last night? I can’t really remember so I guess it was fun. And I guess it involved beer or alcohol of some sort because my basement was spinning uncontrollably. Was that conversation with Nicole legit? I checked my phone, 7:18 PM. Great, I guess it really was.

I decided to send her a text or two to apologize.

“Hey (: “ Okay, I gotta be honest, that text didn’t really work in the apologizing department, I guess I’ll have to go a little deeper.

“Nicole, I’m really, really sorry. I know I messed up but there’s a lot going on and I’d really like to make it up to you. So if you accept my apology, please walk over to my place tonight, no one’s home so we can talk about everything. Please? At around 9.”

I actually had no idea where Billy and my dad went but I hope they won’t be home before 10. I really had to talk to Nikki in private. At exactly 8:50, my doorbell rang and thank God it was Nicole.

“You came?”

“Dude, you’re my best friend. I can’t let you messing up ONCE ruin our friendship.” She smiled a fake smile and walked in.

“Look, I wanted to explain how things have been rough lately, I’ve been failing all my tests lately and I think I’m dyslexic. That’s why I started drinking yesterday and when I started, I really couldn’t stop and I shouldn’t have said some of the things I said to you when I was still, let’s say dazed. I was thinking about how everyone is going to stare at me, talk about me. It’s a lot to take in, y’know?”

Her expression softened. Great, more sympathy. But I guess I needed hers, since I was on the edge of tears and a hug from her could make me feel better in a second.

“Chris, I’m so sorry, hun, really. I love you, okay? And I’m always here for you. By the way, you’ve said worse things to me when you were drunk, you didn’t say anything horrible today.” She winked.

Then she leaned in to give me a hug and I think we both knew that I really needed that. I hung onto her for a minute or two and took her face in my hands.

She was about 6 inches shorter than me so I leaned in on her and kissed her, on the lips. The only thing I could think of was how good she smelled. Mango. I was sure of it. It smelled so good, I never wanted to let go. Then one thing passed through my mind… Jessica. I guess Nicole caught me pulling back a little and stopped us completely, putting her strawberry-blond hair into a bun.

She looked beautiful like that, hair up and no makeup.

I decided to tell her, “You’re beautiful.”

She blushed then turned serious, just like Ethan would. “And you have a girlfriend. Shouldn’t you be telling her that?”

“Look, that didn’t really happen, okay? I don’t want everyone talking about it at school; I’d rather tell Jessica myself.”

A confused look fell upon Nicole’s face, “tell her what? We hardly did ANYTHING.”

I had to smile at her.

“What!”

“It’s not what I’ve already done with you; it’s what we’re going to do. Come on, I’ve been wanting to break up with this bitch for a while anyway.”

She smiled back and took the hand I held out to her so I could lead her to the basement couch.

My dad got home at around 10:30 so I quickly pressed play to whatever movie was in the DVD player so he wouldn’t really… suspect anything. OF COURSE Billy and Ethan were watching porn last night so I put Cake Boss on the second he walked down the stairs to the basement. Buddy was making a synchronized swim team cake.

“Oh, Nicole, you’re here too.” He remarked.

She nodded and said, “Yeah, it’s Friday, so I’ll leave at 11 or so if it’s fine with you Mr. Marshall, and my dad was looking for you today, he wanted to know if you still had our lawn mower.”

“Oh, yes I do, I was going to return it tomorrow morning. Christopher, can I talk to you please? It’s important.”

I was annoyed with him so I guess I kind of wanted to piss him off a little. Let’s play BE AN ASSHOLE.

“Yup, talk.” My dad sighed and rolled his eyes at that smartass comment. He pointed to Nicole, clearly asking if she knew about the dyslexia. I just decided to stop being an ass and nodded, telling him that I told her.

“Okay then, me and Billy went to see a doctor today and got you an appointment for tomorrow after non at a special dyslexic place.” I thought about it for a second… Today was Friday which means that tomorrow is Saturday…

“But dad, tomorrow’s Saturday!” Saturday’s my only day off. I had a lacrosse practice today but didn’t go because I was too hung over.

“And…?” My dad looked annoyed but I didn’t care, I’m saving my only day off if my life depended on it.

I sighed as I knew I was headed into a long explanation.

“WELL,” I started. “One, it’s Saturday, so no one should be working, including doctors, which means the dude we’re going to see is probably some lost and lonely man who used his work to cover up his empty time and all he does is work 24/7. This leads us to think he’s probably a psychopath so we REALLY shouldn’t trust him. Two, Saturday is my only day off and a teenager being on the go like me, all week, and not having a day off then going to answer a bunch of gay questions with a psychopath might fuck up the results. Because I shall have you know I haven’t had my day off yet. Tomorrow would be my day off, let’s go Monday instead. Not that I want to go anyway. Speaking of gay, the doctor MAY be gay. Not that I’m a homophobe or anything but he might be ashamed of his relation belief thing and work away the pain or something… HE’S PROBABLY A PSYCHOPATH!”

My dad officially looked really annoyed. Yeah my speech didn’t really work out too well. I think I’m gonna end up going anyways.

“Christopher Marshall,” oof, full name, “you’re going to that damn appointment tomorrow whether you like it or not.” And he walked off.

Nicole stood up and clapped her hands together. “WELL, as fun as that was,” she said with a wink, “I gotta go, my dad’s probably looking everywhere for me.”

I didn’t want her to go. I wanted to hold her just a little longer. So I took her hand and pulled her close.

“No, please stay, you have to!” I pleaded

“Sorry, I gotta go!” And she kissed me on the cheek and walked back upstairs.

I’ve never wanted to be the first one to admit I have feelings for someone, usually they’d tell me first or I’d find out but… Nicole Henderson, I’ve got feelings for you. I fell asleep wondering what the appointment will bring tomorrow.

RING, RING, RING, RING, RING, RING, RING. Oh for the love of GOD, somebody PLEASE pick up the phone! RING, RING, RING, RING – Thank you! I’m never going to fall asleep ever again. I got up from the basement floor and noticed that I fall asleep in the randomest places ever. How did I even get on the floor? Whatever, I learned not to question it anymore. I walked into my kitchen and saw Ethan sitting there all dressed up in baseball gear… What the hell? It’s my day off, I have nothing planned, why is he here…?

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

He finally looked up from his cereal bowl. What’s so entertaining or interesting about his dumb cereal bowl that he can’t just look at me? GOD! It’s just Frosted Flakes, he has them every day. Every day for the past 12 years.

“You said you’d come to my baseball game.”

Fuckfuckfuck. “Right, I’m a little busy today… doctor’s appointment and stuff like that; can I get a rain check for next week?”

His smile turned into a serious frown.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Something’s wrong. Is it herpes? Or AIDS? I can help you, trust me. Oh God, it’s AIDS, isn’t it? Shit, I knew this day would come but I didn’t think it would be this SOON! I’ll give you a ride to the hospital…”

“IT’S NOT AIDS YOU DUMBASS!” Ethan put his hand through his “Pauly D hair”, feeling guilty, I guess.

“Oh damn, sorry man, it was just a joke.”

“It’s okay, sorry I blew up. It’s cause I’ve been failing lots so we think it’s dyslexia of some sort… I have an appointment today.”

“I don’t wanna sound stupid or anything here but isn’t there only one sort of dyslexia?” I gave him a look. “Sorry! I don’t know anything about this!”

“No, there’s not.”

“Oh, okay then… Well I gotta get to baseball, peace, I’m outta here!”

Ah, his signature goodbye, ‘peace I’m outta here’.

“K, bye, and see you later, text me if you win or lose or whatever, sorry I can’t make it, rain check for next weekend.”

As he got into his new Toyota truck, he yelled out, “sure thing, and keep me posted with your doctor shit, alright?” So I just nodded and went back inside.

I had to go get dressed and get ready for this psycho doctor guy. Seriously, he’s probably a lunatic. I looked at the new stainless steel stove, 3:49. Great, 10 more minutes before I have to hit the road and go to the clinic. Doctor Crazy, here I come.

Just as I was putting my shoes on, the doorbell rang and Nicole was standing in my doorway with her arm crossed.

“Sorry, I gotta go to the doctor’s but Billy’s here if you want to hang with him, which I don’t see why anyone would…” I said as I was tying my shoes.

“Yeah, no. One, I’m not here to hang with Billy. Am I ever? No. Two, I’m here because I’m coming with you, retard!” She smiled and took the keys to my truck, “Come on!!” and she ran onto my driveway.

When we finally got to the doctor’s place, I found out that he might not be COMPLETELY crazy and that he might be able to help me… Maybe.

As Nicole opened the doors, the smells of hand sanitizer and disinfectant took over our noses. It actually smelled like despair and sadness, which took a little bit of my hope away. How am I going to be cured from this stupid dyslexia in a place that smells like death 24/7?

“Ew, I HATE the smell of doctor’s offices,” she said, covering her nose.

We approached the receptionist who was on the phone and waited. I felt so nervous to what the doctor might say. I guess Nicole felt I was nervous because she took my hand and held it until the fat receptionist got off the phone.

“May I help you?” She said a little colder than a receptionist should, with an obvious fake smile with it. Her brown eyes look even more tired than a normal person’s should and her brown hair looked way to grey for someone her age. I guess she was just working a little bit too long and a little bit too hard.

I cleared my throat, “Uh, yeah, my name is, uh, Christopher Marshall and I have an appointment…” I said slower than usual.

“Okay, what time? And with who?” she asked really slowly, as if I was stupid.

“It’s at 5:00 but I’m not sure who it’s with.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes because I guess I’m making her do a little more work than she’d hoped for, “okay, I’ll look you up.” She looked at Nicole, “And you are?”

Nicole released my hand and looked at the receptionist with a death stare.

“Nicole Henderson. I’m Chris’ friend.” She tried to say calmly though I could hear her fighting back the swears and the yells.

“Do you have an appointment or not?” The woman said sharply.

“No. As I said about two seconds ago, I’m Chris’ friend. I’m here for him.” Nicole was about to jump, I could feel it so I took her hand in mine again and she smiled.

“Then go sit in the waiting room. You too, Christopher, they’ll call you when they’re ready. No guests allowed in the room.” She said, still looking at Nicole.

I nodded my head and we both made our way to the waiting room.

Nicole rolled her eyes. “Touchy.” And I laughed.

I started playing a game on my phone when a nurse called my name. I had no idea what the feelings were that I was feeling. It’s not like I’m going to die or get cancer or anything but I’m finally going to figure out if I’m just stupid of if I’m dyslexic. I’ll be able to get help. After all these years. I guess the feelings I’ve been feeling are relief.

“Good luck, I’ll be waiting right here when you’re done.” She said, and those words really comforted me more than she would ever know.

I nodded. “Thanks.” Then I followed the nurse to a doctor’s office down a really long hallway, which seemed to last forever.

“You wait here, Christopher, the doctor will be here shortly.”

The room was filled with papers and pamphlets explaining dyslexia and all that. I picked one up but could hardly make out the words so I put it back where I found. On the walls were pictures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Goofy and that dog thing of his, I guess it was for the kids who came here. Just then, the doctor popped through the door. Well, he didn’t look 100% crazy… Maybe only about 25%. He was in his mid-thirties, black hair and brownish eyes and walked really calmly.

“Christopher Marshall?” he asked almost as calmly as he walked.

I nodded and he smiled. “I’m doctor Ryan Scott, and im here to check you, see if you have any kind of learning disability, and most importantly, if you have dyslexia.”

I nodded again, anxious of what the result may be. At least he has a normal name. Then I thought of Nicole waiting for me in the waiting room. The thought of seeing her face the minute I get out of here calmed me down a little bit.

“So let’s get started, shall we?”

The tests finished in about 45 minutes and I was out in the lobby to see Nicole. She was sitting in the same chair I left her in and when she looked up and saw me, she jumped up and smiled, which made me smile back. Her smile always made me smile. She stretched for a second and walked towards me.

“Hey! How was it?” She asked, hugging me.

I hugged her back and pulled away.

“It was fine, they’ll tell me the results on Tuesday, hopefully over the phone but I might have to come in.”

“So he WASN’T crazy after all, was he?” She smiled and I laughed.

“No, turns out he helped me.”

“Yeah, that’s what he’s here for! Anyway, what did you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Just a couple tests, one was like an eye test, you know, they put a letter up and you say what you see, it was a little confusing at first.” Nicole nodded and I continued, “Yeah, then there was a reading test, I had to read a text, then finally there was a writing test.”

“Oh okay, cool. Sounds good, are you ready to go?” She asked.

I nodded and took my keys out of my pocket. “It’s finally about time to get out of this place.” I said with a little laugh.

Once we got home, it felt like everyone was there, waiting. Billy, Ethan, my dad, Nicole, Nicole’s dad, it felt a little awkward. As soon as I walked through the door, Billy asked me the question everyone was waiting to hear the answer to, “Are you dyslexic?” and they all turned to stare at me.

I shrugged and explained to them everything that happened and how I’ll get the results on Tuesday. They understood and they finally all backed off. I decided that this was the perfect time to turn the attention to anything but me.

“So, Ethan, did you win your game today?” I asked and everyone turned to him.

He nodded.

“Yeah, 11-4. Our team played a great game.”

“How did you play, like individually?” I asked again, keeping the attention focused on him.

“Oh I played pretty good.”

Billy cleared his throat, “Yeah, I imagine, you’re the best baseball player in Ontario, you better have had a good game!”

Ethan shrugged his shoulders, “Nah!”

I kept the attention on him, “Sure you are! Plus the best hockey goalie! Heck, you have to choose between a baseball and hockey scholarship! You’re amazing!”

He blushed, which made most people laugh. Just then, Nicole’s dad told us that the Henderson’s had to leave to go eat supper. We all said our good byes and my house finally got quiet again.

I was really tired, despite it being like 6:30, so I said goodnight to my dad and to Billy and started to get ready for bed, when my phone rang. My Hedley ringtone filled the room for a minute until I found my phone in my bed and answered it.

“Yeah?” I answered.

“Hey baby! It’s Jess! Wanna come over and hang out for a while downstairs, maybe watch a movie or something?”

“Hey Jess, uh, I gotta tell you something.”

“Tell me when you get here!”

“No, I wanted to tell you in person but I just can’t wait until then, okay. I wanted to tell you that we’re over.” And I hung up. Finally, I could go to bed without stressing out about anything.

Tuesday came in a blink of an eye. Every time my phone rang, I thought it was the doctor but most of the time it was some random person with the wrong number or someone asking me about why I broke up with Jess because we were ‘such an amazing couple’. At around 9PM, I got the call and thank God Nicole was with me.

“Hello?”
“Hi, is this Christopher Marshall? This is Doctor Scott.”

“Oh, hi Doctor, yeah, it’s me, how are you?” Nicole’s eyes widened when I said Doctor.

“I’m fine, thanks. I have your results.”

“Okay, can I hear them or should I come in?”

“Yes, after analyzing, we’ve discovered that you do in fact have dyslexia.”

“I do? Is this for sure? And what type is it?”

“Yes, this is for sure, we’ve analyzed more than once and we’ve found out that it’s between the most severe and the medium dyslexia, so it CAN be treated with time. It would be easier to explain if you came in person. When can you come by?”

“Im free next Saturday, if that’s okay.” I said.

“Okay, come down at 2, I’ll write you down for an appointment.”

“Thank you, okay bye.” And I hung up.

 

Nicole was looking at me and I nodded. She cried and gave me a huge hug, which I really needed. But Nicole really shouldn’t be crying.

“Nikki, you don’t have to cry! Today isn’t any different from yesterday, just because I’m diagnosed. It’s actually a good thing! They can help me, I’ll get extra time in class now, and I won’t fail! Honestly, you should be happy!”

She put her head up and nodded so I wiped the tears off her face. She stopped crying and let go of me slowly.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been crying. And yeah, it is a good thing you’re diagnosed, you can finally get help.”

“Yeah, I should probably tell my dad…” I said; kind of hinting for her to leave.

“Oh, okay, I should get going anyways.” And she gave me one last hug and a surprising kiss before leaving. Her lips tasted like tears, even though I knew she stopped crying.

Now, all that’s left to do it to tell my dad. I found him in his workshop working on something for our neighbour.

“Hey, dad? I gotta tell you something.” I said slowly, and he nodded, telling me to continue. “Uh, well the doctor called and he told me that after the tests, they’ve analyzed and I’m officially dyslexic.”

My dad put down his work tools and looked at me.

“Son, I’m so sorry…” he started.

“I’m not. Dad, all my life, I’ve been thinking I’m stupid, my teachers have thought that, my friends have thought that, I’ve always just been the stupid jock. But now I know it’s not my fault. It’ll get better and I’ll be fine.”

My dad smiled, “I like the way you think, Chris.”

Thursday night in bed, the only thing I could think about was my mom. And Nicole’s mom. They both died in a car accident with me and Ethan in the back of the car. We were on our way home from a hockey tournament up north and my mom hit a deer just a town over from ours. Both our moms were killed instantly and Ethan broke two of his ribs. I was lucky to have only come out with a sprained wrist and a couple bruises.

The crash kept repeating in my mind but it HAD to stop. The provincials for lacrosse start tomorrow and I HAVE to get some sleep.

I got up from my bed and went to my bathroom where I could find some ZZZ QUIL which helps you fall asleep. After I took a spoon full, I fell asleep instantly. Thank GOD.

“CHRIS!” Ah, waking up to the voice of my best friend. “Chris, wake up! It’s PROVINCIALS!” I laughed, “I’m up! I’m up! Calm down!”

I got dressed and checked my gear twice. I was pretty sure I got everything, but I was stressed out so you never know. I grabbed my keys and hopped into my truck with Nicole.

“They boys are going to be happy to see you today.” I said.

Nicole looked up as me, “Yeah? Why?”

“As if you didn’t know.”

 She looked puzzled. “Know WHAT!”

“You’re like our own cute little mascot, and it’s a team superstition, we think we’ll lose if you don’t come, because you’ve come to every game so far.” I chuckled.

She blushed, “I’m not cute.”

“Beautiful.” And she blushed again.

 

We arrived at the lacrosse field at 10AM, one hour before the championship game. If we win this, we’ll be the first Port Perry team that has ever brought home a provincial.

I quickly got changed into my equipment and ran onto the field to get warmed up. Just before the game started, when all the bleachers were filled up, I went to talk to Nicole.

“Hey Nikki, before I get out there and play the biggest lacrosse game of my life, I just wanted to tell you that you’re the reason I keep going. You’re the reason I keep trying, through everything, through mom, through dyslexia, through any tough time. And I love you Nics, I really do.”

She paused for a second and looked into my eyes. “I love you, Chris. Now, go get ‘em.”

Everyone was telling me good luck but Nicole’s was the one that mattered most. She was our mascot, anyway.

As the game went on, I noticed that it was the best one I’ve ever played and I’ve scored the most points I ever have in a game. In the end, we won 7-2., which means “VICTORY PARTY AT MY PLACE” I yelled out after the game, everyone was invited.

We got home and Billy already had all the party stuff set up for an amazing party, this is going to be awesome.

The house filled quickly. Everyone in town was here and it felt like everyone was bringing some awesome beer. I knew Nicole wouldn’t really like me drinking but come on, I just won the championship game and Christmas break is coming up. Oddly enough, we didn’t have any snow yet, which is weird for here in Ontario. As I started drinking, I couldn’t help but notice a girl who kept walking by me a lot. Finally, I went up to her when I was on my 10th or 12th beer, I lost count.

I was really drunk so I put my hands in hers so she could help me up. “Hey…” I said, really drunk. She smiled, and then laughed. “Hi, you’re an amazing lacrosse player.”

And before I knew it, we were making out and we somehow ended up in my room. She started taking off my clothes and I did the same. We got under the covers and I don’t really remember the rest.

I woke up naked the next morning beside the hot girl and I heard footsteps coming upstairs, whatever. Then I suddenly hear the door open. It’s Nicole. Her 1000 watt smile turned into the saddest, most surprised look in the world. My vision was still a little hazy, due to the excessive amount of alcohol last night but I heard her turn around and run down the stairs. Then I heard her turn one of the loudest door slams of my life.

The girl woke up with a jolt from the noise, “What the fuck?”

I looked at her seriously, “You should go.”

She nodded and got dressed as I put my sweatpants on. I showed her out and started walking down the street to Nicole’s house before I noticed I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I rang the doorbell and Nicole opened the door, saw me and slammed it again. I sighed and went under her open bedroom window to talk to her.

“Nicole! Just listen to me!”

I saw her head come to the window.

“No, you listen to ME, Christopher. I hate you. I don’t even want to LOOK at you, talk to you or let alone LISTEN to you! You’ve hurt me more than anyone ever has and I hope you’re happy. One minute you tell me you love me and the next you’re SLEEPING with a complete stranger! I’m transferring schools next week and I never EVER want to talk to you, EVER again.” With that, she closed and locked the window.

I figured it was just her Borderline Personality Disorder speaking and she’d forget about it all by the next day but it wasn’t, and she didn’t forget. She really didn’t want anything to do with me and she really did transfer schools. At least I’m leaving to University in a couple of months.

The last months of school were the worst months of my life. I guess Nicole really was the reason I kept going and she’s gone. What’s the point in even trying to keep going if she’s not there with me? But I finally got my diploma and graduated from Port Perry High School. I haven’t talked to Nicole since the day at the window.

The day I was leaving to LAU, Los Angeles University, on a lacrosse scholarship, was the day I decided to try to speak to Nicole again. I went over to her house and rang the doorbell. Ethan answered the door with a smile and hugged me, for a little goodbye.

“Hey Chris, I heard you were leaving today! I’m gonna miss you buddy! Everyone will! Our special little lacrosse star.”

I smiled, “Thanks bro is Nicole home?”

Ethan got a little tense, because of what I did to his little sister and I understood why but it’s been 6 months, I thought everyone could just let it go.

I frowned, “DUDE! Just let me say goodbye, please?”

He nodded and went inside. A couple minutes later, he came back, shaking his head, to tell me that she didn’t want to see me. I understand, I guess. I put her through hell; she shouldn’t have to see me.

And so that day, I packed up my belongings and took a long flight to the University of Los Angeles, to start my new college life.

In my 5th of 6 years in computer science at LAU, I saw a perfect red haired but pop out of a FORD F150, the same one that Ethan had a couple of years ago. Then she came out. What. The. Fuck. I heard she got accepted into a University in California but I didn’t know it was LAU! After Ethan drove off, I walked up to her, to talk to her for the first time in 5 years.

“Nicole?” I said, shaking.

She looked up and her eyes widened in disbelief.

“Oh my GOD, Chris! You look great!”

“You look better; I don’t feel so great though.”

Her eyes lowered then looked back up at me with care.

“Awe, why not?”

“I’ve been missing you like crazy!” She wrote her dorm room number on a piece of paper and handed it to me.

“Here, Im in the East wing, come over and help me unpack and maybe we can talk about hanging out again some time.” She said with a smile and started walking down the path towards her dorm.

A couple days later, I knocked on the door to Nicole’s room. I heard a muffled “come in” so I walked in and saw her buried in a pile of clothing.

“Oh, hey Chris, perfect timing, I can’t find my purple sweater ANYWHERE, could you help me please?”

I winked at her and said, “Oh you don’t need a sweater.”

The last week of summer and the first couple weeks of school were the best weeks of my life. Nicole and I hung out nearly every day. We’d go public skating, swimming, to the beach, I’d tour her around LA, anything she wanted to do, and we’d do it. I guess Nicole forgot about what happened 5 years ago and decided to put it behind her.

One year later, we were as close as ever, but I had to leave, I finished my courses here at LAU and decided to go home, I had to find a job. I knew it would be hard but I could handle it. Nicole only had 3 years left at LAU then she’d be back home in Port Perry, Ontario with me, where she belongs in the first place.

There wasn’t one day of those 3 years that I didn’t miss or even think about Nicole. To be honest, she was ALL I could think about. The day she came home was one of the happiest days of my life. Then it turned into the worst.

Nicole got out of her truck and into my arms at around 3PM one April afternoon and I wanted to take her for a little walk. I took her down the street, to the little creek. Then we crossed the bridge we made about 15 years earlier. And I brought her to her favorite place on the planet, the biggest oak tree in Port Perry. We used to climb it ever day after school and watch the sunset. Rain or shine, you would see us there every day.

I helped her up onto out branch and hopped up next to her.

“Woaah,” she said, her voice shaking. “Will this old thing still hold us?”

I nodded, “Of course! It still holds Billy!” She laughed at that. “Enough about that, I have a really important question to ask you, Nicole.”

She looked at me intensely with her beautiful eyes.

“Nicole Henderson, will you please marry me?” I finally asked. I did it. I actually did it.

“Chris. Oh my God, Christopher,” she said a little softer than I would’ve liked. She got down from the oak tree and I followed her. “I can’t. I thought we were just friends, like old times. You’ve hurt me so many times. You’ve hit me when you were drunk, you slept with another girl the day you said you loved me, and you turned me into a self-conscious bulimic.”

I froze and turned around at those last 3 words.

“You’re bulimic!?” I asked, shocked.

She looked a little guilty, then covered her stomach and nodded.

“I started the day I saw you with that girl and I’ve been to the hospital 4 times since.” She broke into tears, “I can’t stop, Chris!” She said through sobs.

I took her in my arms and held her there for as long as it took, all I could think about is how I caused this, I was the one at fault. It always worked though; all Nicole ever needed to feel better was a hug. After about half an hour, she looked into my eyes, tears still dripping down her cheeks.

“I’m so sorry Christopher, but I can’t marry you. Save this for someone special.”

As she said that, she loosened her grip and ran back home, leaving me in the field beside the oak tree all alone, with a ring in my hand and tears stinging my eyes.

Once I got myself together about an hour later, it was already dark so I made my way back home. I walked into the kitchen and threw the engagement ring into the garbage, without noticing Billy watching me the whole time.

He surprised me when he cleared his throat, “Look, Chris, you can’t have them all, right? I talked to her before you came in, she left and – “

“Left? Wait, where did she go?” I cut him off.

 He shrugged his shoulders, “I think she said something about being able to get a job in the West of Canada.”

I wanted to kill someone. Honestly. My life sucked so, might as well start drinking.

Before I knew it, my dad was threatening to send me back to rehab so I decided to just go have a day with Ethan since he just got back from a trip. As soon as I walked through the door, I knew something wasn’t right.

“Hey Ethan, what’s wrong?”

His eyes were full of tears, and he gave me a letter that said Christopher in perfect cursive, it was Nicole’s.

The letter read:

“Dear Christopher,

By the time you’re reading this, I will have already served my time here. When you asked me to marry you, I knew I was going to die, which is why I ran away. My bulimia was out of control, my purging resulted in Hypokalemia. It made my heart beat irregularly, and will lead to death. The doctors couldn’t have treated it because they diagnosed me too late. I’m sorry for whatever pain I’ve caused you and I forgive you for the pain that you’ve caused me. Please remember that this is not your fault, and that I meant what I said when you proposed, use that beautiful ring on a beautiful girl who you truly deserve, because you honestly don’t deserve a broken train wreck like me.

I love you and I always have, you’ll always be in my heart. I miss you. See you soon, but hopefully not too soon, stay safe, don’t drink too much. xxxx Nicole.”

When I finished reading the letter, I felt it slip through my hands and I fell to the floor, that’s when it all went black.

Once I woke up, I thought this was all a dream, but it wasn’t, it was 100% real. Nicole was dead. She’s never coming back. We decided to bury her under the oak tree and I went to see her every day for 22 years. She was my love, my light, my laugh and my life. She was my best friend and no one could ever replace her. She was my one and only.


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