Black Eyed Junkie"I saw the craziest thing Friday, you're not gonna believe it." I tell Zarik and Adeline at lunch Monday morning. It's weird, even though I can't stop thinking about it, I didn't get any scary nightmares from it. That's got to be the first.
"Try me." Zarik says humorously, like he's seen everything the world has to offer.
"Well. . ." I start hesitantly. "It was right after I dropped you off," I said looking towards Adeline. "I was about maybe two miles past the restaurant when I saw this dark figure in the middle on the road, right outside that liquor store on the right. I got in the right lane and stopped to see what was going on. And get this, no cars were in sight." Zarik and Adeline gape at me, they know exactly how busy it is. "Exactly! It was strange. Anyways, I asked from my window if he was okay and the dude just ignored me. I thought maybe he didn't hear me, so I asked again. He turned to face me and then opened his mouth crazy wide and screamed at me. It was so surreal. His eyes were the weirdest thing and not much can top a crazy guy screaming at you in the middle of the road, but I swear his eyes were black. I'm talking like no whites, just all black."
Adeline snaps her head towards Zarik, just before he gags on a Cheetoh. He picks up his water bottle and chugs half of it down in one breath, then slams the bottle back onto the table, conquering the light fluffily snack that threatened his life.
"Black eyes?" His brow furrows.
He sees my confused face and relaxes a bit.
"Yeah." I said slowly.
"It's probably just another druggie, Kaylee." He falters.
"No, this was something else entirely. I'm sure of it. The way this guy screamed. . . It was like he was battling something inside him, like a monster."
Zarik's jaw ticks. He quickly looks away from me and picks up his lunch, shoving it in the paper bag and stalks out of the cafeteria. He never once looks at me on his way out.
"What's his deal?" I ask Adeline flustered.
She shrugs her shoulders and continues to pick apart her sandwich in silence.
The rest of the day, Zarik was on edge and moody, making me moody also. Wonder what's up his crack. He can be the sweetest guy, but one wrong move and you get a glimpse underneath the seams. Adeline does her best to apologize for him, but I'm not having it. If he cares about me, he'd apologize himself. I didn't do anything wrong. I don't even know what I said to cause his drastic mood swing! And basically I don't know why his reaction is making me so damn agitated in the first place.
Zarik avoids my gaze the entire day.
Must be his time of the month.
I was trapped in my own prison cell
Couldn’t get out any other way.
Every night I tried to find the key for
What’s locked up inside of me.
When questions running through your head
No answers, everything is still left unsaid, still left unsaid.
How long will you ever pull through this?
How long will it take for me to relearn how to live?
Can we ever live again…
I sit on my bed listening to Blinded, by Dream On, Dreamer. My stereo close to combusting. I turn the volume up nearly all the way in an attempt to block out my pissy mood. But it only slightly makes a difference. I can feel the bass inside my body, slowly vibrating all the tension out. Music has always had a calming effect on me, even if it's not Mozart. I can fall asleep easily to my "angry white boy" music.
And that's exactly what happens.
Before I know it I'm passed out. Dreaming of Zarik.
A small light illuminates Zarik's face. I can't make out where we are, and I don't care. All I'm focussed on is Zarik. I hold his angular face between my small hands from where I sit on his lap, forgetting everything. His slight stubble tickles my palms as he leans closer into my touch, sighing. He tilts his head to the side, capturing my right hand firmly in-between his shoulder and face. I feel an undeniable urge to kiss him. Wanting nothing more but to feel his lips against mine. I lean forward. Just as I'm about to kiss him, he opens his eyes. I gasp and pull my hand away from his face. Black holes are all that remains of his once beautiful ocean eyes. A tear trickles down my face in anguish.
The alarm clock shrieks, pulling me out of the eccentric dream. I slam the button down groggily and wipe a hand down my face and feel something wet. I don't even have to ask, I know it's the tear I shed from my dream. My dreams are getting way too real, I think aloud. It's scaring the crap out of me.
I get my my things together and go downstairs to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms. The little marshmallow pieces are the best. Pure heaven. I save those for last. I empty the bowl and fling it into the sink. Time for Hell. I toss my bag over my shoulders and head out. Whatever mood Zarik's in this time, I vow to not let it get to me.
I turn into the high school heading towards the back parking lot. Zarik and Adeline are there already, and of course in my slot; again. Grrr.
"Ya know, you're really getting on my nerves, mister." I say to Zarik slamming my door shut.
His hand flutters to his chest. "Who, me?"
I glare back.
He jumps down from the jeep, Adeline following.
"Hey, Kaylee." Adeline says smiling.
"Hey." I smile back.
When she gets around the other side of the Jeep I crack up laughing.
"I didn't know you got that shirt!" She's wearing the hipster sweater, the one with the ridiculous kittens on the front.
She covers the kittens ears carefully, and frowns when she says, "Hey, they are cute. Don't be a bully."
I put my hands up in surrender and slide my arm through hers. "Come on, crazy." I laugh.
"Uh, actually, Kaylee. . . Can I talk to you?" Zarik asks from behind.
I look at Adeline surprised. She shrugs her shoulders and motions me with her eyes to go to him.
"We'll meet you inside." He calls after Adeline.
He waits till Adeline is out of hearing range and then looks at me. "Kaylee. . . I'm really sorry about yesterday. I know I must have seemed like a jerk, but I didn't mean to hurt you."
"What makes you think you hurt me?" I interject, folding my arms.
"You avoided me." He says blankly.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Guess I'm probably the first girl to ever do that." I take a step forward ready to walk away. His strong hand locks around my forearm turning me back to him.
I wasn't ready for the look of pain to great me on his face, I didn't actually mean what I said. I hope he realizes that. But I still don't see what the big deal is. Why can't he just tell me?
"Why'd you freak out on me, Zarik? All I did was tell you guys about that crazy "junkie" I saw and you got all weird. What was your deal? I didn't do anything wrong."
"I don't know how to explain it, Kaylee." He pleads.
"Well, I guess until you do know how, don't apologize." I tear my arm free and trudge my way to the front doors. I don't have time for this.
I have the door handle in my hand ready to open it, when I look around and see Zarik flip out. His back is to me, but because of the angle I'm standing at, I can see he's got his hands deep in his hair like he's ready to pull it out. His feet keep moving in a small circle, attempting to gain control. He lets out a frustrated cry. I open the door and walk inside before I give in and go to him. If he wanted to apologize he'd tell me everything, not some lame excuse. That's what friends do.
I meet up with Adeline in homeroom. She gives me a hopeful look like she expected us to have magically patched up the bumps between us. If anything the bumps have gotten bigger. She wants to know what he said. But I can't tell her. He didn't end up saying much of anything.
"He wanted to apologize." I say flatly.
"And?" She pushed, about ready to fall off the edge of her seat with anticipation.
"And I told him to shove it until he can tell me why he flipped out at lunch yesterday for no reason. Honestly, Adeline, can you even tell me that he wasn't being weird?"
"Kaylee. . ." She frowns and slides her back up against the chair again, no longer on the verge of falling. "Zarik's been having a rough time. Give him some slack. I know it wasn't right for him to lose it, but whatever made him do it I'm sure he's really sorry." She sees me cross my arms defiantly and pushes forward. "He likes you, I can tell he does. Just give him some time."
"Uggh." I let my arms slump to my sides and hang over the chair, ultimately defeated.
"I'm serious, Kaylee. I know it's gotta be hard to see all these girls look at him, but he likes you."
So she sees it too. Of course she does, it'd be hard not to.
"This isn't about intimacy issues, Adeline. It's about the fact that he doesn't trust me enough to tell me what had him freaked about."
All she can do in response is look at me sadly. I don't blame her. What could she possibly say to make any of this better? Precisely, she can't.
Zarik ended up skipping the first three hours of school, which made me feel even more horrible. If it wasn't for me he'd be here, in class, laughing and smiling and I wouldn't be able to look away. I miss him.
I was hoping to see him at lunch, but he was a no show. Adeline and I ate our lunches in silence, only exchanging a few words. I don't feel like talking. I feel like crawling under a huge boulder for the next three years. Maybe more, who knows.
After lunch we go our separate ways. She heads to her locker and I go to mine.
I walk with my shoulders slumped and head directed at the ground, watching the floor as it moves quickly beneath my angry feet. I stomp on it, taking all my frustrations out on the hard cement floor, imagining the face of Stacy, Zarik, and my Dad. I round the corner and see Josh Moore, pinned up against a row of lockers by. . . Zarik? Ah hell, what now!
Zarik's got his face inches away from Josh's, with a look on his face that clearly reads he's ready to punch his face in. This definitely can't be good. I race towards the two before fists get thrown and faces get bloodied, and before I royally freak the hell out.
"Oh my gosh, Zarik! Put him down." I gape, running to stand in front of them both.
Zarik's head whips at me so fast my eyes can't register the movement. One second he was totally focused on Josh, and the next he's looking at me. Very weird.
A tick works in his jaw, as he says, "He was talking crap about you, Kaylee."
Pshh, that's all? Who doesn't?
"Doesn't matter, Zarik. Just put him down," I plead, like a person talking to a suicide victim.
"Kaylee, you didn't hear the awful things he said, but I did. He deserves this." He faces Josh again, letting the weight of his scorching eyes bore into him. Josh looks frantically back and forth between Zarik and me, his arms stretched out against the lockers, shaking, not knowing what to do. I guess he's hoping I'll help him somehow. Now I really wonder what crap Josh was talking about me. Whatever it was it seems to have been pretty serious.
"And what exactly does he deserve?" I ask cautiously, focusing back on Zarik.
"He deserves the deepest, darkest cell in Hell imaginable," he explains darkly, eyes blackening. "Where no amount of light could ever come close to touching his worthless soul. He deserves all the pain in the world to be dumped upon his pathetic shoulders, until no hint of happiness or bliss remains. Only despair and agony for what he's done, and what he'll continue to do." Zarik shakes Josh with two quick movements and pushes him back up against the locker, making it groan and creak in protest under his weight. Then motions to me with his head. "Go on, tell her Josh," he spits.
Tell me what? I think. Do I even want to hear this? Should I hear this? I have to fight the urge to cover my ears like a little girl. Whatever's going on here I can take it. Can't be that bad, right?
"You're a freak," Josh sputters, inches away from Zarik's face.
Zarik growls gutturaly, slamming Josh's back into the locker once again. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a huge hole in it by the time this is over. Zarik could likely plow throw a brick wall with his anger.
Zarik eyes me up and down, making my skin crawl. Where has my sweet valet attendant gone, the boy I had a crush on? He looks the same, but the words he utters seem foreign, too dark for the man I thought I knew.
He focusses back on Josh, who somehow has gained control over himself enough to stand a little straighter, stance somewhat defiant as he takes Zarik's next words freely, no longer flinching or shaking.
"Tell her," Zarik continues, "about your party habits. About how you find girls and slip drugs into their drinks and wait patiently to make a move."
Overwhelmed, I can't look away or cover my ears no matter how bad I want to. A part of me wants to know what Zarik's getting at, and the other tells me to run. I'm split down the middle in a deadly game of cat and mouse, tears threatening to burst from behind my frozen eyes.
"He was planning the same thing for you, ya know." Zarik implies looking at me with a hint of sadness. "He was going to make you feel special, make you feel honored-" he spits, "to be in his presence. He was going to invite you in on a party. You'd start off dancing and then when you got tired, he'd take you to a couch or somewhere secluded and slip you something. And well, I think you know exactly what comes after."
I gasp and cover my mouth from the revelation. Josh? The Josh I'd grown up with and had a crush on for the last five years? He's capable of such repulsive acts? I always thought he was sweet and kind. I never knew how wrong I could be about someone, but I guess this only proves how stupid I am. I was taught to never trust people too close, but see what I've done? I've waited like an idiot for all these years and now that he's finally looked at me, I wish he were blind. I feel dirty and tainted as he eyes me with a sneer. This is all too dubious. I move from where I've been standing and stop when i feel my back rest up against a locker, needing to have a solid structure behind me for stability before my knees give out and I drop to the floor like a rag doll.
"Josh?" I ask vacantly. I don't expect him to say something, but can't keep myself from being so obviously shocked.
"There's nothing innocent about him, Kaylee. No use trying to find it." Zarik interrupts, dropping his hands from where he had them tightly fisted in Josh's school jersey, letting Josh nearly drop to the floor before he can catch himself. I watch as most of the tension works its way out of Zarik and see his eyes return to the beautiful ocean blue I love and dream about. He steps away from Josh and looks at him with all the disgust he can conjure.
Josh stumbles slightly, but bravely gets up and stands in Zarik's nonchalant face. "You're a freak, Blake"
"And you're a pervert." Zarik retorts with a shrug of his shoulder.
The five minute bell chimes loudly, scaring the bajeezus out of me. Josh turns and walks away with what ever dignity he has left, never looking back.
I slump to the ground shocked. The floor is cold and hard, sending goosebumps over my skin. Stains and dirt are scattered everywhere on the cracked and busted floor tiles. I could be sitting on the edge of a cliff and it would't matter.
The lunch crowd rapidly scatters into the hallways, bringing with them their obnoxiously loud voices. All the friendly exchanges I've had with Josh erupts in flames in my mind. He's been playing me since the beginning. Probably when he saw how much I'd changed within the course of three months. If it wasn't for Zarik. . . Oh my God.
Tears finally erupt, pouring down my hollow face. I can't stop them. I have no energy to. A few people walk past and stare, scrutinizing me with their hawk eyes as they register that they've found new gossip to talk about.
I see Zarik's feet walk towards me, pushing his way through the crowd. All hint of destructive emotions are gone. All that's left behind is a mixture of sadness and guilt. My Zarik's back. He grabs my hand and pulls me to my feet, then slides a strong arm around my waist. It feels amazing to be this close to him finally. Any other day and it would have been perfect, but I can't revel in happiness right now. All I can think about is how dirty I feel. I had a crush on a monster.
In a haze, Zarik walks with me against the crowd, my knees too wobbly for me to stand on my own. A few shoulders knock into me and threaten to plow me over. Zarik grabs me tighter. "Let's get out of here."
He pushes us past the front doors and helps me into his Jeep. No one says a word. He starts the engine and we're moving. I have no clue where we're headed; I can't bring myself to care. Anywhere where Zarik is, is better then here.