Authors: Molly Owens
Tags: #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat
MESSED UP—October 2011, Molly Owens
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This book and parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual person, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
There are eight long hours between California time and that of Edinburg, Scotland. When I picked up the phone and dialed the fifteen digit number that would connect me with Hannah, I knew my call would be ringing in her sleeping house at four-thirty in the morning. So I wasn’t surprised by her mother’s less than thrilled voice, “Chelsea, do you know what time it is here?” she asked, not attempting to hide her irritation.
Sorry Ellen, but I really need to talk to Hannah. It’s imperative.”
, huh?” she grumbled, too tired to put up a fight, “Hang on.”
I could hear Hannah’s confused moan as her mom explained that I was on the phone. Her voice sounded three quarters asleep when she finally spoke into the receiver, “Chelsea? Are you okay?” she croaked, “Why haven’t you written me back?”
I’m sorry Han, it is a long story. I promise to tell you later, just not now. I need to ask you a huge favor.”
Does this have anything to do with that hot guy you’ve been seeing?” she asked with a yawn, “I knew he’d be trouble. Guys that cute always are--it’s in their DNA.”
I really can’t explain now,” I said hoping she would give me a chance to get my words out.
So what’s so important that you are interrupting my precious sleep?”
I took a breath and explained slowly, “I sent you something in the mail. When you get it, hide it in a safe place and guard it with your life.”
What is it?” she asked sounding suddenly captivated.
I can’t say over the phone. Just promise me you’ll keep it safe.”
Okay Ms. Vagueness. Fine,” she said sleepily, “But I hope you know I’m going to need an explanation for all this at some point, very soon.”
I prepared myself to say the next part; the piece that I was sure would be hard for Hannah to hear, “Hannah, if anything happens to me. If I go missing, or… die… You need to take what I sent you and destroy it. Promise me.”
Hannah was silent for a second, “Okay Chelsea,” she said in a whisper, “This isn’t funny. What the hell is going on? You don’t talk to me practically all summer, when you email it is superficial and lame, and now you call me at four in the morning with this dire request. You’re really beginning to freak me out.” I could hear a car pull up in front of my house. I recognized its quiet hum immediately. There wasn’t time for explanations.
I’ve got to go, Hannah. I’m really sorry, but please do this for me. Don’t mention it to anyone, whatever you do. Please
Hannah. I love you,” I hung up without another word. Despite her anger, I knew she would follow my instructions.
Maybe it was because I had nothing better to do that I finally relented and went out with Toby Fanning. I had never considered him attractive. He was skinny and short, no taller than my five foot three inches, fohawk included. He had small pixie-like hands that were covered with freckles. His entire body, in fact, was saturated with the little brown dots. Not that I don’t have a few myself, but there was something about his that I found excessive. And then there were his lips. They just seemed much too big for his face. Plus they looked like they would feel squishy, kind of like little Jell-O filled sausages.
He did have nice eyes, though. They were actually quite beautiful; the color of sea foam. But there is a lot more to desirability than a set of lovely eyes, and I simply was not attracted to Toby. I reasoned that, although very slight, there was a glimmer of hope that he would grow on me, and not like a toxic mold, but like the soapy flavor of cilantro—an acquired taste. Toby was friendly and outgoing, almost to a fault. He laughed at my jokes, which has always gone a long way for me. My mom would say he had a good heart. And he did. He really did.
It had been exactly one week, two days, and four hours since Hannah had left me to fend for myself for the entire summer vacation and the two remaining years of high school. Hannah Larson had been my closest friend, my only friend really, or at least of any consequence, since the fifth grade. We’d met when we were both sentenced to five consecutive months sitting next to Dennis Fabrinni and Matt Specks, the two biggest troublemakers at our elementary school. We were there to act as NATO forces, to keep the peace. Mr. Rivers hoped that our common status of over-achieving grade grubbers, would rub off on said losers. No such luck.
Every morning when Hannah got to school she would pull out her glittery purple pencil box from her desk, and carefully place her prized collection of food shaped erasers in a neat and tidy line: hamburger, ice cream cone, sushi roll, orange Popsicle, root beer bottle. I would watch her with envied fascination, as I glanced down at my own, rather uninspired heart shaped eraser. I didn’t have the courage to speak to Hannah until the third day of our stay in purgatory, when I’d offered to share my crayons with her; a jumbo box with a hundred and two different colors.
Nah,” she’d said, “Crayons get stuck in my braces.” We’d looked at each other and started laughing like that was the most hilarious thing that had ever been said in the history of the world, no, universe. From that day forward we were inseparable.
Attached at the hip
, Hannah’s mom would say. I loved Hannah’s random and bizarre sense of humor, and she was delighted by my constant scheming.
I was the one who orchestrated Hannah’s first, in a rather overpopulated series of relationships, with the tallest kid in our class, Nathan Scott. She’d spent practically every night at my house the following summer. We’d sneak out of my bedroom window and meet up with Nathan and his friends. Hannah had her first kiss on the stairs of my garage. By default, my boyfriend was Nathan’s elfin best friend, Sean. I could never even make eye contact with him. Hannah was the extrovert with all the bravado. She was the Batman to my Robin.
The next year we started at Lincoln Middle School together. All our friends became obsessed with being popular. This translated into wearing the right outfit, not eating or even sitting at lunch, talking only to the
boys, and being evil and vindictive to your friends. Hannah and I tried to do the popular thing, but failed miserably. After three months of feeling overly self-conscious and very hungry we decided to forfeit our chances at popularity and sit. We found a tree by the grass and ate our lunches. Then and there we decided two things. 1. We were best friends, but since the term,
seemed to be the kiss of death for friendships, we would stick with the label,
, and 2. As long as we had one another we really didn’t need to put up with the crap that other people were throwing at us.
Eventually, other girls joined us under the tree. We had a group of friends that would come and go. We’d watch, shaking our heads, as other girl’s best-friendships ended in turmoil. We continued this way into high school. Things got easier there. We had a large group of kids we hung around with, but when it came down to it, it was always me and Hannah. At parties, at dances, on dates, Hannah was my constant. Knowing she was there gave me courage. No matter what I did, what social faux pas I made, I wouldn’t be alone. Hannah wasn’t going anywhere. That is, until, her dad got a job in Scotland, of all randomly obscure places, right?
My life without Hannah had sucked just as much as I had anticipated. My mom, the therapist, had warned me that I would go through the typical pattern of grief that signifies a great loss. DABDA was the acronym she’d assigned for
cceptance. Maybe it was due to my current state of perpetual PMS, but I swear to God, I’d gone through each stage of grief concurrently rather than one at a time, which is probably why I felt so emotionally strung out the day Toby called.
As it turns out
is just a psychobabble term for being fed up by one’s own whiney thoughts. So basically, what I’m trying to say is, Toby caught me in a moment of weakness. The phone rang and I answered it immediately, anything to break the monotony of another boring, Hannah-less, summer day.
“Hey Chels! It’s Toby,” he sounded like a hyperactive puppy. If I could see him, I was sure he’d be jumping on all fours, his tongue hanging out of the corner of his mouth.
Oh. Hi Toby. What’s up?” I did my best to not sound pissed that I didn’t screen the call, but I was. Really freaking pissed.
I’m having some people over tonight to go swimming. You wanna come?”