Be careful,” someone whispered, and then just like that the wind was gone.
Just as soon as the wind disappeared a flash of light made its way from the other side of the room towards me. I looked around, there was nowhere to run. I was trapped in my own dream with a beam of light heading right towards me. I tried to protect myself, but in a dream how much can you really do? I braced myself as the light drew closer and closer, until it was right on me. I covered my face with my arms and held my ground as the light hit me, making my arms spread out and my head buzz, and in a start I woke up.
I popped out of my sleep disoriented and sweaty. I looked at my phone, only 4:17 in the morning and no chance of going back to sleep. I went to play with my phone to pass the time, but with the battery almost dead that option passed, so I sat there, staring into the darkness until my eyes adjusted enough to make out everything in my vision. I’d sat there so long the sun started to come out, then my body decides to finally try to go to sleep, figures. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than ten minutes before I felt someone shake me and opened my eyes to see mom looking back at me.
“No luck huh?”
“Nope. She won’t even look at me.”
“Give it a little time, she’s not gonna talk immediately. I’ll fix some breakfast, maybe it’ll help.”
Mom walked back to her room and I leaned back up against the door until I heard it open, and Rita stepped out. She didn’t even turn to look at me, but I could see her eyes were red from crying. She went into the bathroom and shut the door, and I watched the door the entire time she was in there. She came out around five minutes later and went back into the room, completely ignoring me again. This was not gonna be easy, not by a long shot.
I scraped through my morning routine (mostly) and went down to breakfast, where everyone but Rita and I were already at. I sat down and stared at my food. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until it was right in front of me, but my hunger got put on hold when Rita came down wearing a giant bathrobe I didn’t even know she owned. She saw me and turned around and went back upstairs, and my heart dropped, I wanted to break down right there, but I had to stay strong if I wanted to get her back. The tension in that room was so high anything said could have turned into an argument.
“Ok, I wanna know what happened and I wanna know right now!” dad spoke up.
“It’s nothing we can’t fix dad, just a lot of confusion and misunderstanding and stuff,” I said.
“That’s not telling me what happened.”
“It’s really embarrassing dad, for both of us…”
“Well you better clear it up; I don’t like this awkward silence angry vibe thing going around in this house. Let her calm down, then fix it.”
Rita came back down, but not to come in the kitchen, just to grab the house phone.
“Hey honey, you gonna eat?” dad asked.
“No, I’m not hungry,” Rita replied.
“Why are you grabbing the house phone? Is your cell phone dead?” Aunt Lisa asked.
“I can’t find it, I’m calling Stephanie to see if I left it in her car.”
She took off upstairs before anyone could ask her anything else, mainly me. She still avoided any eye contact with me, but at least now I know why she didn’t answer her phone.
I grabbed the house phone and went back to the room as soon as I could, doing my best to deflect any questions I was asked on the way. I wasn’t angry like I was yesterday, but I was still mad. I still didn’t wanna look at him, and I still wasn’t ready to talk, so he’ll just have to get used to playing spy vs spy until I do. I called Steph so I could let off some steam.
“I’ve been calling you all morning!” Steph responded as soon as she answered.
“I can’t find my phone. I think I dropped it in your car.”
“I’ll check it later. How you feeling, are you still mad?”
“Do you even have to ask? I mean the nerve! Did he think we wouldn’t find out?”
“The fact that it’s Ashley makes me even madder.”
“What are you gonna do?”
“I don’t know, I thought I would’ve slept off the anger but I’m still mad.”
“He said he was drunk, did he look drunk to you?”
“I’ve never seen him drunk so I wouldn’t even know what that looked like.”
“First he said he was buzzed, then he said he was drunk, and then he was buzzed again…”
“Either way it’s not an excuse, especially at a party! Ashley’s party at that! How many movies do they have with that same situation and the same outcome? I mean who does that!”
“Believe me I was thinking the same thing, he got an earful yesterday.”
“You talked to him yesterday?”
“He came by not long after you dropped me off, Chris brought him.”
“Was Chris helping him?”
“I didn’t give him a chance to say anything. I lashed out at Randy the whole time until he left.”
“I didn’t say anything to him when we left, I didn’t even let him in the room, he slept against the door after begging me to let him in for half an hour.”
“I would’ve done the same thing. If you give in they think they can walk all over you.”
“This wasn’t all Randy; Ashley knew exactly what she was doing. He may or may not have come on to her but she knew damn well he was taken. I know for a fact she wasn’t drunk. This is still mostly on Randy though, HE cheated. There’s no way he mistook you for her.”
“No way in hell. And we all bought her “I changed/nice girl” act.”
“This is depressing me all over again. I don’t wanna talk about this anymore right now. Just thinking about it makes me wanna do something. Maybe I’ll walk
Tibbles or something.”
“Tibbles? What’s a Tibbles?”
“It’s the dog he got me, a cute little puppy. He slept in here with me last night.”
“He got you a puppy after what happened? How convenient. He’s trying to use a dog to get out of the doghouse, unbelievable. Don’t let it work.”
“Actually we got him before we even knew about the party. I was so happy. It’s amazing how a day can go so wonderful then turn into absolute Shtt.”
“Ok well I’ll let you go, call me if you’re not doing anything ok?”
“Ok, thanks Steph, bye.”
“Bye, and remember call me, anything happens, call me.”
I hung up and tapped my legs and Tibbles took the hint and jumped into my lap. I pet him as I contemplated what I was going to do. I couldn’t ignore him forever, but I also couldn’t just forgive what happened. What was I gonna do about Ashley? I can’t just go over to her house and smack her around like I wanna do so bad, but our father still needs her father, and I know she’s using that against us still, so I can’t even touch her. Maybe if Stephanie did the beating for me… nope, she would still loop it to come back on us. I was wracking my brain with all these questions and scenarios and I still didn’t have an answer of any one of them. You know what? Fork it. I’m not gonna deal with this today, I shouldn’t have to. I’m gonna keep to myself and not think about anyone or anything but Tibbles, because he’s the only one I wanna see right now. I got up and checked the hallway to make sure it was clear and walked the phone back downstairs and put it on the charger. When I turned around Randy was standing right there, looking me right in the eyes. He wanted me to say something, and when I didn’t he took that as his cue to talk, but when he did, I stopped him, shook my head and walked away. Not today Randy, I don’t wanna hear anything or deal with anything else related to last night, not today.
It’s been three long days since the incident at the party. I haven’t gotten a phone call from Stephanie, and so much as a look from Rita. The only bright spot in all of this was that mom, Aunt Lisa, and Chris stuck up for me, while they didn’t excuse what happened, they know it was a drunken mistake, its just too bad Rita and Stephanie can’t see it that way. This has been the longest three days of my life, and the worst part of it besides the not talking to me, is the not knowing what they’re thinking, how they’re handling it, it’s killing me. Dad has been on my Buttocks to fix this, but I can’t even strike up a conversation, let alone dissolve the issue. I had a long road ahead of me, and it was looking to be as unpleasant as possible. I was sitting on the couch (my bed for the last three days) when Rita came downstairs getting ready to walk Tibbles.
“Hi,” I tried starting a conversation.
“Hi,” was all she said back.
She didn’t break stride as she headed for the door and went out. I didn’t know what to do, it’s never been this bad, not to the point of no communicating. Mom came downstairs next and sat next to me on the couch and rested her hand on my leg in a comforting manner.
“Hey, rough few days huh?”
“That’s an understatement. She won’t even look at me.”
“Yeah, just give it a little more time, she’ll come around.”
“How much time is enough? If I wait too long I might miss an opportunity, but if I act too soon then I’m a pushy jerk who doesn’t know the meaning of space.”
“That’s how women are honey. You need to know the perfect time to say something, and you need to know exactly what to say. We’re delicate creatures; the slightest miscue could be bad.”
“That only adds a lot more pressure to an already pressurized situation…”
“I tried talking to her. She was pretty adamant on what she saw, you knew what you did.”
“I was drunk! Has noone ever gotten drunk in the history of liquor and beer!”
“Look at it from her point of view. Ashley is dressed to kill, you attest to that fact. You get drunk, possibly as a cover for something you might wanna do…”
“Come on mom that bull…”
“Let me finish. You disappear from the party after consuming a good amount of liquor to cover your story, and wind up in bed with the very person whose the focal point of all this.”
“Mom, come on, you know that is not what happened, not even close!”
“I’m just telling you how it’s probably playing out in her head. Women have a way of breaking down every scenario and being very stubborn about it, so it’s very possible that she’s thinking exactly what I just told you. Just her walking in on that was enough to run ideas through her head, after everything you two have been through, she was hurt.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little too convenient to play out like that?”
“It’s not about what I think, it’s about what she thinks, and she thinks you cheated, knowingly.”
“But I didn’t! I swear I thought she was Stephanie. I can’t believe this!”
I covered my face with my hands and leaned forward on my elbows, trying to process all the new information I just received. I took a deep breath and sat there, feeling mom’s hand caress my back, which reminded me I still had a huge mess to clean up.
I sat up and looked mom straight in the eye. “What do I do?”
“What you’ve been trying to do this whole time, talk to her, there’s no other option.”
“Mom she won’t even look at me…”
“Then make her. She’s had three days to mope and be mad, that’s the minimum, now she’s in the “you have to suffer” stage, and she’ll drag it out as long as you let her. Some things have to be forced on us, not all, but some, or we’ll always get our way. Think about it honey.”
She kissed me on the cheek and went back upstairs. I stayed there pondering everything she just said. I know she had my best interest at heart, she explained everything so fluently and with emotion, and plus she’s my mother, and mom’s all have that caring nature when it comes to their kids, even though our situation is a little different from most other kids. She really hit home, she made a lot of valid points, and took me inside the head of a women, and if I wanted to get Rita back, I needed to capitalize on this opportunity, and I needed to do it now.
I walked past Steph’s room, and once again, she was on the phone, with Rita, ranting. I leaned against the door frame and waited until she got off; I needed to talk to her. After what seemed like an eternity she finally hung up, and looked towards the door and saw me standing there.
“Have you seen Rita’s phone? She lost it a few days ago,” Stephanie said.
“Is it in her car? Her house somewhere? Leave it at Ashley’s house?”
“No, no, and no, noone remembers seeing it.”
I stared at her, not saying anything, quickly getting back on the subject of why I came in here. She looked away, then back at me I guess hoping I left, but I stayed put. I wanted to know what was going through her head, I wanted some answers, and I wasn’t budging.
“Don’t look at me like that!”
“It isn’t fair he’s getting all the blame you know.”
“It isn’t fair what he did, and Ashley’s not off the hook, we’re just more pissed at Randy.”
“It’s kinda cruel, and unlike either of you,” I said coming in the room and closing the door.
“I don’t regret it. Even through all that “cruelness” he still didn’t even say he was sorry!”
“Saying he’s sorry would be admitting to cheating, and he didn’t.”
“Ashley even said he wanted to kiss her…”
“And you immediately believe it? Even though it came straight from the main person involved? Yeah because that’s what you’re supposed to do…”
“I know what my eyes saw Chris, they saw Randy kissing Ashley.”
“Your eyes deceived you. If you believe he’d kiss Ashley you don’t know him at all.”
Her face narrowed and she crossed her arms. “Why are you even defending him?”
I mocked her same movement. “Why are you defending Ashley?”
She sat there stunned, like either she didn’t expect me to say that, or that it might have had some truth to it. “I’m defending my eyes, I know what they saw.”
“Oh my god you keep saying that! It’s Ashley! Really Steph?”
“That makes it even worse! If he’d mess with her then he’d mess with anyone.”
“He practically hates her, you and Rita know that.”
She stared at me cross armed again. “So you’re convinced he didn’t cheat? That this was all just a drunken accident? That we’re punishing him for no reason?”
“Think about it Steph, he has two girls, and they’re both at the same party. You’d have to be the dumbest person in the world to try to get away with something like that!”
“Maybe two wasn’t enough. Maybe he’s always secretly had a thing for Ashley and used hating her as a cover. Maybe he used being drunk as an excuse to do it, but we all know he wasn’t drunk, he clearly caught himself in that lie.”
“That’s a lot of maybes. And he didn’t get caught; you just used women logic to twist his words around. Don’t forget you two were off flirting too, we weren’t all together the whole night.”
“Don’t try to flip it. He probably planned the whole thing.”
I was getting frustrated. “DAMN IT STEPH, HOW ARE YOU BEING THIS STUPID!”
“WATCH IT CHRIS! HE CHEATED NOT ME! DON’T YELL AT ME LIKE THAT!” Stephanie yelled back.
I regained my composure. “We’re not even with them! This whole thing is a cover remember?”
As soon as I said that it hit a nerve, with both of us. How we could get so caught up in feeling that shouldn’t even exist is beyond me, yet there we were, both hurt by my last statement. Steph held her gaze to her lap and me at the wall. We’d forgotten this was all supposed to cover up our actual relationship, but instead we broke the cardinal rule…don’t get attached. We messed around and actually started to care about the relationship that wasn’t even a relationship, and in return everyone got hurt. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
I sat down next to her and took my hand in hers. “Look, we haven’t known them but half a year, but the way Randy feels about Rita, and even you, he’d never cheat on either of you.”
“What do you mean even me?”
“If Randy and Rita weren’t messing with each other he’d definitely be dating you, same with me and Rita, we’re all just drawn to each other I guess.”
“Drawn together, we’re a little more than drawn together Chris,” she said smiling up at me.
“You know what I mean,” I said as I squeezed her hand.
She squeezed my hand back. “If Randy didn’t cheat, then what really happened?”
“I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but there’s more to what you saw. Your eyes aren’t lying to you but they’re not showing you the whole truth either, its way too convenient.”
She went to say something, but before she did her phone started ringing. I thought it was Rita, until she meanmugged the phone when she saw he ID.
“Speak of the devil, it’s Ashley calling now.”
“What the hell does she have to say to you? Don’t even answer it,” I said angrily.
“But I want answers. I won’t get them by putting her off.”
I sighed, knowing I couldn’t deter her away from answering the call, I figured I might as well warn her. “Don’t let her mess with your head, be smarter than she is.”
She nodded as she answered the phone. I got up and left, knowing I’d be shooed out anyway. I went back to my room and sat at my computer. How could a night go from the best night ever to the worst night possible? Whatever happens with that phone call, I hope she doesn’t buy into anymore of Ashley’s bullshit and see her for what she is, a manipulating liar. I hope she finds out the truth soon, Rita too, for Randy’s sake.
I waited on the porch patiently for Rita to get back. She was gone a long time, longer than usual, but it gave me time to decide what I was gonna say when she came back. She finally turned the corner with Tibbles and headed back to the house. I got up off the steps and met her on the path leading up to the door.
“Can we talk?” I asked.
“I’m not in the mood,” she said plainly.
“To talk or just not with me?”
“Come on Rita, it’s been three days of no talking.”
“It’s not enough, I’m still mad, pissed, whatever, I’m still upset.”
“With what you saw I don’t blame you.”
“Finally coming clean? Took you long enough.”
“I’m not admitting anything, I’m just gonna try to explain what I remember.”
She sighed. “And I thought you finally owned up to what you did. if you’re not gonna come clean then there’s nothing to talk about,” she said as she took Tibbles in the house.
I followed right behind her up to our room. “Rita I didn’t know!”
“Still going with that? You see how far that’s gotten you so far.”
“I can’t believe you don’t believe me, not even a little bit,” I said hurt.
“It’s hard to discredit what my eyes saw very clearly Randy.”
I closed the door behind us once we got in the room. “It’s Ashley! This is exactly the reason mom and Aunt Lisa told us not to trust her, and we were stupid and didn’t listen. You don’t think it’s just a little bit of a coincidence how everything just happened to fall into place?”
“Yeah I do, I was a mighty big coincidence how you got drunk and slipped away.”
“I didn’t slip away I was carried away! Chris had to carry me up the stairs. I could barely stand!”
“You were walking just fine when we caught you…”
“Rita I didn’t do anything, I was with you guys and Chris the whole night, you and Stephanie were the ones flirting with other guys while we were getting drinks!”
Her face twisted up, and right then I knew I screwed up. “Try to flip it on us to get yourself out of trouble, nice. Good talk Randy,” she said as she left the room, leaving the door wide open.
I sat down on the bed and stressfully ran my fingers through my hair. I managed to make it worse. I actually got her to talk and I messed it up by pointing the finger at her, great. I looked up at the door and saw mom leaning against it nodding her disapproval, like I put my foot in my mouth, and I did big time. How the hell do I go about turning this around?
I pulled up in front of Ashley’s house. She called me while I was talking to Chris, and I only picked up the call because I wanted answers, and to punch her in the face. I knocked on the door and she let me in, and I bore a hole right through her as she looked back at me. I followed her to her room, the last place I was in when I was in this house.