This week has been crappier than most. It started off with a call from my worthless father. He called once a month and each time I wasn’t ready for it. I tricked myself into believing things would be different, but they never were. The call went the same way each time.
Him: “Hi, son. How are you?”
Me: “What do you want?”
Him: “Can’t I just call to see how you are?”
Me: “You never have before.”
Him: “Well, I’m trying to start things new this time.”
Me: “I’m not signing the paper.”
That’s when things took a turn for the worse, just like always. Once I refused to sign his parole papers, he’d start cussing me out and saying what a worthless excuse for a son I am. That’s when my anger would match his and we’d end up having a screaming match.
After that call, things had basically gone downhill from there. Greer Evans wanted nothing to do with me after seeing me with Olivia. Which, I don’t blame her in the slightest. Olivia is everything I hate rolled into a mini skirt. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to meet her there in the diner. I thought she was serious when she called me up to say she wanted to talk about what she’d done. The thing is, I was never good at talking so I don’t know why I agreed in the first place.
I used to like Olivia Connors. She and I used to be a lot alike. We used to have things in common. We dated for close to two years up until last year. But for those two years, I’d been a shell of the person I used to be. I tricked myself into believing that I needed a girl like Olivia Connors to make me feel something again. The only thing I felt was anger when I finally woke up and realized the kind of person Olivia was turning me into.
Now, there’s Greer Evans. She makes me feel different things then Olivia did. Everything in me screams for her when she’s around and I want nothing more than to give into it. But I know I’m not good for a girl like her. She’s too good, too nice. I’d ruin her with all the dark parts in me. I’d smother her light and corrupt her.
But here she is standing in my doorway with tears streaming down her cheeks. I’d done everything I could to push her away. She was better off with Bash. I knew it as well as she did. He was good for her.
The part of my heart that only Greer can affect starts kicking into overdrive. I have to take a deep breath to calm myself down. Having her here in the middle of the night, with tears running down her flushed cheeks, isn’t good for my anger.
“Greer, what happened?” I’m trying to keep my voice from shaking, but I’m failing miserably.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She sobs. “I don’t want to talk at all.”
That’s a really good idea because I don’t trust the words that would come out of my mouth. I clamp my jaw closed and lead her into my living room. She takes a seat at the end of the couch and I take the other. We sit together in the darkness. She has her knees to her chest and she’s still crying. I gulp and scoot closer to her. She doesn’t even move. I put my arm around her and pull her close to my chest. She doesn’t protest. She buries her head into my bare chest and I can feel her tears soaking my skin. I know she can feel my erratic heartbeat, but she says nothing. I let her sob until her tears dry up and her breathing evens out.
I don’t know how many minutes pass until the silence threatens to crush us. I wasn’t used to the silence. It made me squirm. In my world, the silence was a real thing that made me feel uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry.” She says in a shaky voice. “I don’t know why I came here.”
My chest aches at her words. I don’t like the feeling. I want to be the person that she comes to for these things. I don’t want her apologizing for it. I gulp back the lump that’s formed in my throat. “What happened tonight?”
She’s silent again and buries her face deeper into my shoulder. She hiccups as more tears stream down her face. I sigh. Instinctively, I kiss her on the forehead to try to soothe her. I was an expert on these moments: comforting a sobbing woman. I used to have to do this with my mother growing up. I was always the one she would come to when she needed someone to talk to her, no matter how young I’d been. I wanted nothing more than to be that person for Greer.
“You don’t have to talk about it,” I reassured her, smoothing her hair away from her wet face.
“Bash broke up with me.” She cries.
A part of me wants to smile at the revelation, but I know now isn’t the right moment. Seeing her crying right now, I’ll never understand why girls are so emotional about everything. I didn’t cry like this after breaking up with Olivia. She didn’t either. She found another boy to comfort her.
“That’s wrong? You’re crying because of Bash?” I ask in disbelief.
She groans, “No.” She sighs a moment later. “Yes. It’s confusing.”
“Then explain it to me,” I ask.
“I’m not crying just because of him. I went to Olivia’s tonight.”
“Say no more.”
She’s silent or a moment before her wide eyes meet mine. I feel like she could see to my very soul with those eyes. “Why’d you date her?”
I rested my head back on the couch and sighed. I didn’t like having emotional conversations with anyone, not even Irene. But with Greer, it was different. She made me want to spill my secrets. “When I first started dating her, I was a different person. She was too. We dated for a long time and I mostly slept walked through it. I was a shell, you know.”
“What made you change?” She asked me.
“It’s like I woke up. I opened my eyes and I saw what kind of person I was becoming. I didn’t like it.”
“So, you dumped her?”
I nodded, “I did and it didn’t take her long to find someone to replace me with.”
“I’m not.” I give her a weak smile. “It wasn't love. It was something that I tricked myself into believing that I wanted.”
“What were you doing with her at Pete’s?” She asks.
“Olivia had called me up and asked to talk.” I roll my eyes. “I should’ve known it was a lie though.” I pause and study her. “I’m sorry for what she said to you.”
“She’s just a bully. I don’t know why I let her bother me so much.” She groans.
“Liv is just insecure, Greer. That’s why she bullies everyone, especially you. It’s jealousy. Trust me, I know Olivia better than anyone does.” I explain to her.
“Usually I wouldn’t let her get to me as she did, but this thing happened with Bash. I was extra vulnerable and she knew just where to push.”
“Yeah, what did happen with Bash?”
I see her shut down immediately. She pushes herself away from me. My arms start tingling as soon as she leaves them. My heart once again picks up speed. It’s like my whole body is crying out to have her near again. “I thought we agreed that Bash was off limits.”
“I’m just trying to help,” I say weakly.
She sighs, closes her eyes, and rests her forehead on her knees. “I know and I appreciate it.”
I watch her in silence, my eyes memorizing every part of her. I never want to forget it. I want her image to be engrained behind my eyes forever. I want the feel of her to be etched into my skin. I want the sound of her voice to seared into my brain. I want her.
The realization comes sudden and all at once. I feel stupid for not noticing it before. Before, she was just a girl that I thought I needed to get out of my system. She was just a girl like all the others. But now I know that Greer is not like any other girl.
“I like this side of you.” She gives me an easy smile and I know that it’s over.
I want to tell her that this side of me only comes out around her. It’s the side that I’d buried and pushed away all these years because I thought it was easier. Something about Greer makes me want to be that person again. She makes me want to face all the darkness that made me into the shell that I am today. She’s chipping away at the mask that I’ve been wearing for years and I don’t know how to handle it. The part of me that is like my father wants to run away. The worthless part of me thinks it would be easier to forget that Greer Evans ever existed. But then there’s the bigger part of me that knows I can’t live without her. I’d revert back to the shell I had been and I know that’s far from living.
“Kaleb, are you listening?” She asks, her eyes crinkling as she studies my face.
I clear my throat and shake my head, “Yeah, sorry. I was just thinking.”
“Must have been some thought, because you looked a million miles away.” She laughs.
It wasn’t a million miles, just a few inches.
I stand to my feet then, because I’m restless and my body is tingling. I need to do something with my hands before they grab onto her and never let her go. I put distance between us because I trust myself sitting beside her.
“Kaleb, what’s wrong?” She moves until she’s sitting straight up. She’s staring at me with her wide eyes and I know I’m about to give in to every thought that’s running through my brain.
“It’s late.” I clear my throat because my voice sounds rough coming from my throat.
She nods, her eyes cast down to the floor. “Oh, of course. Yeah, I’ll just get going.”
“No!” I yell, taking a step towards her. She looks startled. “I mean, I just think you should stay here. It’s too late to drive. You can stay in the guest room.”
“Are you sure?” She asks me. “Will Irene mind?”
“She’s at her mother's with Sofia,” I tell her. I think I’m the only teenaged boy who actual wishes he had parental guidance in this situation.
“Oh, okay.” She stands to her feet, straightening out her shirt. “Thanks, Kaleb.”
I really wish she’d quit saying my name.
“It’s no problem.” I take a step back as she takes one close to me.
She notices my uneasiness but says nothing.
“It’s just upstairs,” I tell her and lead her towards our guest room. When I push open the door and she steps inside, I make sure to stay in the hallway. I can’t be alone in a bedroom with her right now. “Good night,” I say quickly.
She stops me, “Kaleb, wait.” I stop midstride and turn around to face her. “Thank you, really. This means a lot to me.”
I nod, “It’s fine, Greer. I’ll see you in the morning.”
I really hope my uneasiness didn’t come off wrong. I shut myself quickly into my bedroom. I lean my forehead against my closed door and take in a deep breath.
Lord help me, I’m done for.