I cried last night. Not for the cliché reasons you may think, like a family member dying or a relationship ending. But merely because I have reached a simple realization; I am pensively incapable of companionship.
My family moves every three years. If we don't, people will begin to realize that we don't age. That could never happen... Besides the fact that we are cursed to live in this unruly world for eternity, there is nothing special about my family. And that definitely does not imply that the curse is special. As if we weren't already struggling enough. My family is poor. And every new house we move into is worse than the last. Never enough food to go around. Never enough space to breathe.
I'm beautiful and I know it. I think every other girl my age knows it too. Too bad I live in a world where beauty gets you nothing but envy. Every new school I go to, I would try and shine my best smile at the groups of girls, hoping for a warm welcome into one of the gangs. But after years of death stares and eye rolls, groups gasping with laughter as I walk by, that friendly face has become non existent, numbed to the point of nonchalance. But I get it. To be raised up with the same group of people you've known your whole life. Creating bonds and sticking together through promises and pacts, thick and thin, there's never any room for a new member of the group. I've gotten used to the solitude.
So when he—what was his name? Danny? Archie?—came up to me and told me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, I figured it was a joke. I could feel a bad vibe radiating off of him like radiation.
I told him,"You smell like week old dog shit. Get the hell out of my face." He hesitated, as if he wanted to say more. But he didn't. He walked away. This wall I keep up created itself. It's strong, nearly indestructible. And there is no way I'm going to let some guy wrecking ball his way into my life. Still, I replayed his words in my head over and over again. And when I got home I cried and I cried. Until I fell into a dreamless sleep. I woke up hours later coping with the lost feeling of intoxication. I cried some more, until there were no tears left. Then I went to go find him.
I knew from his reputation as a popular kid that he'd be hanging around the pools in the gym before the first bell. I still have 10 minutes to get there and tell him.... well I don't know exactly what I'm going to tell him, but I'm sure I'll think of something. I open the safety doors to the pools, take a deep breath, and quickly let it out when I get woozy from the strong smell of chlorine. I take a second to glance over the "no life guard on duty" sign. A wave of panic washes over me at the thought of my not being able to swim, but I wave the thought away knowing I'm here for one purpose only. Opening the second set of doors to the pool room, I feel light as feathers, strutting in like a diva from a reality show that's purposely late to her own party. With every step I take, my confidence leaves me. I began catching the attention of every group of people I walk by. I see him now. This school has two rectangular pools side by side. There's a main walking aisle that splits them up. He's all the way towards the back, to the right of the pool room. As I get closer, I hear all the whispers, feel all the stares of people burning into me from every direction. That's when I catch his eye, and all my confidence floods away, making me wish I was back in my hermit shell of a room, crying my eyes out. But now our eyes are locked and neither one of us will look away.
As I approach, one of his buddies calls out, "Ooo the freaky little hottie." I'm not even sure what that means, but it sends his entire squad into a hysterical fit of laughter. So loud I can barely hear myself think. I turn away and began running. Desperately wanting to get away. I should've known not to come in the first place. I slip on the water that's covering the ground. Though I didn't feel it, I knew from the warm spill of blood going down my face that I cracked my head. Everything is fuzzy now. I hear screams. Some no's. Some calls for help. I turn on my side to curl up and die, only I'm greeted with a wet smack to the face as my body emerges under the water. In an incoherent panic, I shriek for help. But I feel weak, and extremely sleepy. So I let go.
I wake up to my room. Warm and comforted by my bed. I notice a vase of roses next to my bed. Real, beautiful, lovely roses. I feel like I'm dreaming, until the throbbing in my head pounds against my skull. I remember what happened. The laughter, the bleeding, the pool... instantly, I'm humiliated. What was I thinking? Mom walks in.
"Oh honey, you're awake!" She sounds excited, happy to see me. "You had an accident at school. I talked to your principle and you're allowed these next three days off. I picked up your homework in advance so you don't get behind." I thank her. Tell her I love her.
"Mom, you didn't have to get me roses. I know how expensive they are and honestly I'm fine, you should take them back and get your money-"
"Effy, I didn't get you those flowers, sweetheart. That nice boy who pulled you out of the pool, Robbie? He bought those for you. Stayed with you the whole time you were in the hospital. He's been by twice already to see if you've waken up. I didn't know you had friends, why—"
"He's not my friend mom," then more quietly, "he's part of the reason this even happened."
"Well are you sure? He seemed really concerned about you and—"
"Yes I'm sure, mom, please stop."
"Okay, sweetie, I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone." She closes the door gently. I look over at the flowers. I've never been given flowers before. Especially roses, a dozen to be exact. Six blood red, six pearly white, oh so very lovely/.. he pulled me out of the pool? He saved my life...? I notice a tiny point of an index card sticking out of the bundle of flowers. I pull it out and it reads, "I can't help but feel like this is all my fault. I'm so sorry. Call me." I stare at the card for a long time. Reading the print over and over again. I set the card to the side. Take the ibuprofen my mom left by my bed. And then without a second of hesitation, I call him.
He picks up almost immediately, "Hello?" He says," Elizabeth?"
"Effy? I like that name. Are you, uh, okay?" I say nothing. Only because I don't know if I'm okay. I don't know if I'll ever be okay.
"Hello?" He waits. "Look I'm really sorry about what happened. My friends, they're douchebags. You were coming up to me weren't you?" Still, I say nothing. He sighs. "Will you meet up with me? I'll skip school today. I'll pick you up. We can talk." I still don't say anything. "Get ready, I'll be there in twenty." This time I'm about to protest, but he hangs up the phone before I can get a word out. My heart starts racing. I don't get it. Why do I get a million emotions when I talk to him? I don't even know him. Still I get up, I get dressed, and quite as a mouse, I slip out of the front door before mom sees me.
It's a bright sunny day today. But not as bright and shiny as Robbie's white Chrysler 300 that pulls up into the driveway in front of me. That car looks so beautiful and so out of place in this shabby neighborhood. I brush the stray hairs out of my face and his shiny green eyes catch mine. He smiles at me. Gorgeous. Contagious. I smile back and get in the car as if I've known him forever. A bad vibe slowly rolls off him and lingers in the space between us. I ignore it.
"Where are you taking me?" I ask.
He laughs softly, "I fear if I tell you, you will change your mind about coming with me." I leave it at that, and stare out of the window. I can feel his eyes on me, trying hard to get my attention. I ignore him. "You're very withdrawn." He points out. I shrug my shoulders, as if to say, you actually noticed?
The rest of the drive is quiet. When we arrive the area is unfamiliar. "Where are we?" I wonder.
"This is my safe place," he tells me," I've never brought anyone here before. It's sort of a mini get away for me when I want to be alone. I've been coming here since I was little." It's beautiful. It looks like someone found a perfect spot in the woods to create a long flower filled winding path. Jasmines and tulips, blue roses and white roses, flowers I couldn't even name. And oh, the wonderful smell! Like something I could eat or wear for the rest of my life. Though I couldn't see it, I could hear a waterfall nearby. The cherry on top to this long, beautiful winding path. "Shall we?" He asks, with an extended hand towards me. I take it. He twirls me into his side. Then back out again. Never losing grip of my hand. I smile. This is fun... he spins me around like a ballerina, all the while dancing harmoniously around me. Twirl, twirl, twirl, down the winding path, laughing down the trail as we go. Music begins playing, I'm not sure where it's coming from and I don't stop to find out. We move to the melody, perfectly in sync with the rhythm. We spin until I'm dizzy, and can't balance any longer. I notice we made it to the end of the path. The serenity of the waterfall is breathtaking. I lay down before it, enjoying the cool, misty breeze coming from the face of the downpour. Robbie drops down on top of me and I feel like I've known him forever. He's beautiful. He stares down at me with solid green eyes, a kind of green I've never seen in eyes before. Bright as a green apple, eyes that could glow in the dark. I run my fingers through his jet black hair. Soft, loose, messy curls sprawled all over the top of his head. Then down his sunkissed cheek, and under the chin of his perfect, squared jaw bone.
"Elizabeth..." he says, voice so deep it could move mountains.
"Effy." I correct him, grabbing the front of his black v-neck t-shirt and pulling him down into my enticing, everlasting kiss...
When I open my eyes, the world that I knew is completely lost. Gray and black and cold and sad. Silent and lonely and perished and lost. Then the memories come flowing back to me... total world destruction. Nothing left but ashes and dust. Not a soul alive in this new world order. Robbie's thunderous laughter echoes.
"Every. Single. Time." He slaps me hard. Total world destruction caused by Robbie. I taste blood in my cheek.
"If we're really meant to be, then why are you such a slut?!" He picks me up telepathically and throws me against a tree. I scream in pain as my bones break against the bark.
"Do I have to remind you, this is a fresh start?!" He picks me up by the hair and stands me on my feet. Heals my broken bones and grabs my face, kissing me furiously. I kiss him back. And now we're taking off each other's clothes. My shirt. His shirt. He pulls back and slaps me hard across the face. I fall to my knees. "I'm sorry Robbie, I'm so sorry. Please..." I cry out to him, "please find it in your heart to forgive me..."
"What you did was unforgivable." The flowers are gone. No more beautiful aroma, no more dreamy waterfall. Only the silence, the memory, the pain, and the dullness inside my heart. "But we're going to start fresh. And we're going to make this work. Just stop acting like everything is normal. Because it's not." No shit, I think to myself.
"You want me to not act like myself. You know I can't remember this life. I'm just being me."
"Well don't. Put your clothes back on you dumb bitch. Let's try this again."
"Please, Robbie. I'm sorry, I love you."
"I love you too. That's why I need this to work. Ready?"
I shake my head no slowly, too tear streaked to speak.
"Here we go." The darkness fades. The emptiness of black and gray slowly receding into lovely purples and blues and pinks and yellows. The water rushes back. Spilling over, right where it left off... the beautiful peace of the woods brought back, comforting and cradling and pulling me deep into the perfect lie that it all is. Washing my memory of the truth away, down with the rush of the flowing river as it fills the empty spaces between us, disappearing into the distance, lost in the song of the birds above us.