Authors: Lindsay Paige
Wallace, NC, USA
© 2011 by Lindsay Paige
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or
used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living
or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely
Printed in the United States of America.
For my best friend. Thanks for believing in me and giving me
that push when I became frustrated.
For my Momma. Thanks so much for being encouraging and
pointing out my progress with my anxiety when I felt there was
I love you both so much and you are like Jake to me. You show
me that I can make it through my tough times. I'm lucky to have
you both in my life.
"There is never a time or place for true love.
It happens accidently, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing,
The Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
I kept my eyes pointed towards the floor. It wasn’t a pretty sight with shoes and legs crowded into a little space along the hallway. I hurried to my locker. It seemed to take forever to reach it. I spun the dial of my lock and grabbed my things for English, my last class. Someone rushed by, causing me to crash into my locker.
I sighed, reached for my iPod and slammed it closed. That short act of slamming the metal door closed and hearing the clack of metal on metal made me feel slightly better. It was a smaller ecstasy of doing something like standing on the top of a three-story building and throwing stuff over the edge. Seeing it fall and break into pieces could give anyone a rush. Slamming the locker was like that for me.
I rushed to my class and took my seat in the back. I plugged my earphones in and found the song that would make me forget everything. It was the one thing in this hectic world that made everything fall away and make me feel normal and whole again. The beat drummed against my ears and relaxed me. It’s funny how the rock song Monster from the awesome band of Skillet could relax me so.
I waited for the assignment of the day to be given. I hope that it would be something easy and did not require more thought or interaction. Maybe today would be a good day for once. “Today, you will each have a partner and you will be working on…“ Mrs. Park’s voice droned on. I guess it won’t be a good day after all.
I turned the volume up loud enough to feel the effect but quiet enough that the teacher wouldn’t say anything. I reached for the paper from the girl ahead of me and began reading our assignment. I used to dislike those who wanted one person to do all the work. After the past year, I’ve come to love them. Even worst, we would have to finish this project outside of class.
Seats and desks began to scrape the floor as partners began to pair themselves to whomever they were assigned. Maybe if I didn’t acknowledge that we were pairing up, I could get away with working alone. I reached into my bag for a pencil and came to look at the face of Jake Benson. He gave a slight smile and pulled a desk in front of mine.
Jake was one of the best hockey players on our team. To be sure, he would want me to do all the work. I kept my head down and started working. I was five minutes in, when something touched my arm causing me to jump. I looked up into the face of Jake. Quickly, I looked back down to avoid eye contact. I pulled an earphone from one ear and quietly asked, “What?”
His deep voice reached over and seeped into my ear. “We’re supposed to be working together.”
Oh. “I…I can do it. It…it’s no problem. I don’t mind.” I silently cursed my mother. I doodle on my sheet, waiting for a reply.
I’m not going to let you do it all yourself.”
I sigh. “Okay,” I whisper.
Okay,” he repeats.
My stomach knots up tightly and I begin to feel crammed in this class. He starts to ramble about the piece of literature of which we were supposed to answer questions. I occasionally add a quiet piece of input.
Jake’s deep voice, broad shoulders and muscular body made me feel smaller than usual. His height of roughly six feet didn’t do much to make me feel better either. I sank further in my seat and wished for the day to be over. I hated working with Jake. I wanted to keep my eyes on my desk; I didn’t-couldn’t- look at him when he asks for my input. He wouldn’t be satisfied until I looked up and answered him.
I was uncomfortable. My leg was bouncing up and down as fast as I could move it. The shrilling sound of the bell made me jump. “Are you okay,” Jake asked.
Fine,” I mumbled getting my things together. I rushed out of the class into the packed hallway, thankful the day was over. I quickly went to my locker and got the books I would need for homework tonight. I shoved them into my bag and slammed it shut.
I walk down the hall; avoiding others and watching the feet rush past me. Reaching the double doors, I pushed one opened and inhaled the fresh fall air. I walked briskly past the parking lot to the sidewalk. My home wasn’t but two miles up the road. My dad bought me a car when I moved in, but I preferred walking to school.
I could clear my head and get a little exercise. The crisp autumn air felt good against my skin. I was a mile from the school when a car slowed beside me. How could this day get any worse? Unfortunately, a familiar voice called out, “Emily, do you need a ride home?”
I looked over and focused on the car door. “No. Thanks.” I replied.
Are you sure?”
I nodded my head and turned to keep walking. Seconds later, his car went past. I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. What was his problem? I didn’t bother anyone. I didn’t talk to anyone. For goodness sake, I don’t even look anyone in the eyes! Why was he being nice?
He didn’t like me. No one did. Well, my dad did, but he’s my dad. He didn’t think I was pretty, because I’m not. I don’t say much, so maybe he thinks that I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. That’s it! Jake thinks I’m stupid and has pity for me. I don’t need his pity. I get enough of that from my dad. My walk was over and I didn’t feel any better.
The driveway was empty. Good. I didn’t feel like seeing my dad right now. I pulled my key from my front pocket and unlocked the door. I shut it behind me and made my way inside. My house was a simple two-bedroom house with a side garage. I loved the hardwood floors and the coolness of walking barefoot.
My dad on the other hand doesn’t. It’s apparent due to the many rugs scattered throughout the house. My room was the only room in the house without a rug and I loved it. I had a canopy bed that I love to flop onto its plush mattress. I sank into it and felt like I was on a cloud.
My bed and the floors were my favorite and only features of my room. It was otherwise bare. Something my dad has tried repeatedly to make me change. The walls were white. The only other things in the room were a dresser and a nightstand. Simple.
That’s what I call it and that’s how I like it. Outside of my room, pictures line the hallway and cover as many surfaces as possible. There used to be pictures of my mom, my dad, and me. After the past year, my dad threw away or hid all the pictures of my mom. He didn’t want me to look at her. So now, the pictures were of my dad and me. A few pictures capture moments of pure happiness of some friends and me.
Those friends are gone. I’m a loner now. Those moments of pure bliss are gone. Those moments full of fun and life are gone. Sometimes, it feels like those moments will never exist again. Thanks Mom.
Honey, supper is finished.” My dad’s voice carried to my room. I finished my homework an hour ago and spent the rest of my time staring at the ceiling. I rolled off my bed and walked to the kitchen. My feet felt like lead. I always despise this. After the past year, my dad insists that we eat together at the table like a family. News flash Dad, families talk during dinner.
When we eat, I always feel awkward. I sat down and fixed myself a plate. Tacos were one of the few meals my dad could cook. With my food on my plate, the routine questions begin.
How was school?”
Any plans this week?”
How about we do something? We haven’t done anything fun in a while.”
I don’t feel like it.”
This is where our conversation changed. My dad sighed and said, “Hon, I know your mom put you through hell, but you can’t just stay in the house all the time. You need to get out, have fun, and get back to normal. I know it’ll be hard, but I’m here for you.”
This time I sighed. “I am back to normal.”
My dad spoke quietly, “Honey, you are not back to normal. You won’t even look me in the eye, much less anyone else. You hardly ever talk. Sometimes, I think you’ve lost your voice! Moreover, when you do talk, it’s so quiet. I have to strain to hear you. You don’t hang out with your friends anymore and you stay home all the time. You used to be so full of life, hon.”
My eyes welled up with tears. I looked down into my lap and tried not to break down. “I’m fine.” I cannot hang out with friends when I don’t have any. Moving to a new school and being the new kid doesn’t help making friends any easier. I’m not going out alone to be uncomfortable. How come he cannot leave me alone?
I’ll help you work through this. Please just try.”
What do you want me to do?” That was probably the longest sentence I’ve spoken all day.
There’s a hockey game Thursday, right?” I nodded. I could hear the smile in his voice. “Well, we will go to the game. You’ll love it. It’s not NHL, but it’s still hockey.”
He was using my love of hockey against me. We used to go to games all the time. I suddenly had the urge to go to the rink. I wanted to feel the crisp coldness as it attacked my skin, which would make tiny chill bumps pop up. I wanted to get mad as hell at the ref for making a bad call. I wanted to pull my hoodie off because I would get too hot from cheering.
I was a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but we lived in North Carolina. We would go and watch the Hurricanes play, especially when the Penguins were in town. They would be in town next week.
I took a quick breath and asked, “Can we go see the Pens play next week?” I peeked up and saw his grin grow wider.
Of course! You can go buy the tickets after dinner. You can invite a friend too, if you’d like.” Tears sprang to my eyes again. I pushed my plate away and excused myself.
I all but ran to my room. I shut my door and collapsed onto my bed. I buried my face in my pillow and cried. I cried for all the things I lost and asked the same question I always do. “Why me?”
An hour later, my eyes were dry and I was exhausted. I stumbled over to my dresser and brought my laptop to my bed. I searched for our usual seats on the first level, behind one of the goals. I was thrilled that they were available.
My dad’s credit card information was in the system from previous purchases. I ordered two tickets and double-checked our mailing address. They should be here in a few days. For the first time in a year, I was excited about something. I went to sleep with a smile on my face for the first time in what seemed like forever.
I closed my locker and turned to find Claire looking at me expectantly. “Yes?” I asked leaning back against my locker and crossing my arms.
The Fall Formal is coming up,” she said with a gleam in her eyes.