“SARAH Nicole Blake!” I hear my mom yell from the kitchen. She used my middle name, so I knew I was in some serious trouble. I walked slowly to the kitchen, trying to delay the tantrum. I thought that if she waited for a while to yell, she might calm down a little bit.
I turn the corner into the kitchen, and see my mom drumming her nails on the kitchen counter. “Yes, Mom?”
“Why didn’t you tell me we were having company? The house is a mess! And what if I hadn’t been home yet? And it’s the first day that you meet this boy, and already he’s come to the house? I haven’t met half the friends that you’ve known for years!” And so the tantrum begins. This is why she doesn’t know half of my friends!
“Mom, I didn’t even know he was staying. It was kind of spur of the moment. And if you hadn’t been here, he would have left.” The last part was a lie, and I didn’t realize it until I said it aloud.
“Fine. Whatever.” She left the room, taking the storm with her. Every now and then she would just blow up, and I would never know when it would happen. It would just happen.
I storm up to my room, but stop half way up the steps. I turn to my side, and look at the picture of my dad and me. “I love you, Daddy,” I whisper. Suddenly, I feel much better. I calmly walk the rest of the way to my bedroom, and gently close my door.
As I walk towards my window, I feel like I am being watched. I dismiss the feeling as being my mind overreacting. I opened up my laptop, and turned it on. When it started up, a whole bunch of ads popped up. Most of them were for colleges. I exited out of all of them, and then clicked on my music. When the music started to play, I turned up the volume.
I laid on my bed, resting my head on my pillow. I thought about what had happened today with Dean. Everything that happened. The way he had touched me so gently, and held me so close to his chest when he picked me up. The way he had listened to everything I said like his life depended on knowing every little bit and piece of me.
Just being with Dean made me feel invincible. I remembered how we were in the cafeteria and Rachel had whispered that he would obviously choose me. And I remembered how Dean had looked at me after that. He had looked at me so intensely that I had fainted. I actually fainted because he looked at me! I had never fainted before today.
The thought of his deep, black eyes looking into mine lingered on the backs of my eyelids. My eyes flew open, making the images disappear. I had heard a knock at my door, and my door started creaking open. “Sweetheart? Can I come in?” My mom said through the widening crack in the door.
“Yeah,” I said as I ran across my room, and turned down the volume of my music. She opened the door, came in, and then closed it again. I sat back on my bed, and she sat next to me.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you like that, honey. I just wasn’t expecting to have company. He’s really a good kid, but I’m still wary. It’s just, the way he looks at you. It’s like he wants you to fall so he can catch you.” I laughed because just earlier, he actually had caught me when I fell. “Let me rephrase that. He already did catch you.”
“How did you know that?”
“You left him here with me when you went to pick up Jess, remember?” I nodded, wondering what else he told her. “Okay, rephrasing. He looks at you like his mission in life is to make sure you never so much as get a paper cut. Like he would stop a bullet for you.” Is that how he really looked at me? I hadn’t noticed. All I could remember is how he looked so intensely into my eyes.
“I, um, hadn’t really noticed,” I said. My cheeks warmed up, and I knew that they turned a bright red color. The blush didn’t disappear for a while, so I sat there, talking to my mom about Dean, with red cheeks. All of a sudden, there was a chuckling in the back of my head. Dean!
I recognized the chuckling from when I had fought him for my phone! “Sarah?” I stared blankly at my mother, not really seeing her. “Are you alright? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. You aren’t gonna-” And for the third time that day, I passed out.
✵ ✵ ✵
I woke to the sound of my alarm. Is it morning already? I hit the DISMISS button, and it turned off. I moaned and rolled over. In the doorway, I saw my mom watching me. I gasped because she had scared me. “Honey? Are you awake?”
“Yeah, Mom. I’m awake,” I said.
“Really? It’s not just a false alarm?” She sounded . . . concerned, almost. Had I been talking in my sleep? I only talk in my sleep if something bad happens. Like when my dad died, I talked in my sleep. And when Scott and I broke up, I talked in my sleep. But, I couldn’t think of anything bad that had happened.
“Mom, what do you mean false alarm? What happened?” My voice was raspy from just waking up. I wish I could just go back to sleep.
“Well, last night you looked like you had seen a ghost. Then you passed out. You never became conscious, and then I heard you snoring. And you were, um, talking in your sleep again. Are you sure that only happens after something bad happens to you?”
“I’m sure. Mom, what was I saying?” I was afraid to hear the answer, but I couldn’t help but ask.
“You kept saying, ‘Dean. Dean, don’t leave. Stay with me.’ ” I was humiliated as she said these words. Why did she have to be listening to me? “Don’t think about it. You have school in two hours. You might want to start getting ready.” Being reminded of having to go to school made me feel like someone was pushing down on my shoulders with all of their strength. I couldn’t breathe.
Mom came over and rubbed my back. “Breathe, Sarah. Breathe,” she said as she rubbed my back. I was comforted while she rubbed my back, and I could finally breathe. When I stood up to start getting ready for school, I started to run. I ran as fast as I could to the bathroom.
As soon as I got there, I leaned over the toilet and gagged. My throat burned, and I felt terrible. I shut the door, and took a relaxing shower.
When I got out of the shower, I thought about not going to school today. But I knew why I was really avoiding school. It was Dean I was avoiding. I don’t think I can be around him, because I know that he’s speaking to my thoughts. And honestly, that scared me.
My hands were shaky as I turned the key in the ignition. My hands shook as I turned onto the highway, and I tried to calm myself. But it was useless. I pulled into my normal parking place at school, and sat in my car. I watched my hands shake, wondering if they would ever stop. I was about to take my key out of the ignition when I heard a tapping on my window.
I turned my head to the left and saw Rachel standing next to my car. I took the key out of my ignition, and opened the door. She grabbed my hand, and tried to pull me out of my car. “Come on, Sarah! You’re slower than a turtle!” Rachel shouted at me.
I grabbed my bag from the front seat, and swung it over my shoulder. I slowly stepped out of the car. Just as I was going to close my door, there was a roaring coming closer. I turned around just in time to see a motorcycle drive into the parking space next to mine.
The driver of the motorcycle was wearing a red helmet with a dark tinted lens. His hands went up to his head, and started to pull off his helmet. I briefly remembered the few times I had drove a motorcycle with Scott. I had been okay, but I never drove one after that.
The first thing I saw come out of the helmet was his perfectly formed chin. Then the long, black hair came out. And finally, the black eyes that bore holes in me. They looked sad to me, and I just wanted to go over to him and give him a hug. I stopped breathing. My palms grew sweaty, and my heartbeat sped up.
My hand was frozen on my car door, and it still stood open. Dean started to get off of his motorcycle, and I slammed my car door. He shoved his helmet under his arm, and ran his fingers through his hair. I wanted so badly to do the same thing. Then I remembered the voice in my head. I walked as fast as I could away from the parking lot.
Rachel was practically running to keep up with me. “Sarah! I didn’t mean that you had to run! Slow down a bit!” I just ignored her. I still walked as fast as I could to the school. When we got to the front doors, I finally slowed down. I tried to lose myself in the crowd of kids. I didn’t want to have to face him yet.
As I looked back to the front doors, all I saw were a few freshman coming into the building. Just as I turned my head turned back around, I ran into a big brick wall with a helmet under his arm. “Good morning,” Dean said.
I heard the sharp income of breath as Rachel saw him. I tried not to look into his eyes, but an unnameable force pulled my chin up. His black eyes were so deep that I thought I could swim in them. He looked at me as if he expected me to say something. “Good morning, Dean.” I pushed past him, hoping to get lost in the crowd of kids. But he just walked right next to me. Of course. “Go away,” I said to him.
“No thanks. Not until you tell me why you are in such a bad mood with me.” I looked up at him, and his face was serious. He looked down, and met my eyes. His expression turned from serious to cocky in a moment. “So are you going to tell me?”
I made an irritated sigh, and just walked faster. When he didn’t speed up to walk next to me, I turned my head around. He had stopped walking. Rachel was standing next to him, trying to talk to him. But he was ignoring her. He stared at me as I walked away.
I turned the corner, and ran right into Scott. “Hey, babe. Are you gonna come back to me now?” His words were slurred, and I knew that he was high. I try to walk around him, put he grabbed my arms. Hard. His grip was so tight on my arms that I couldn’t move. “You better come back to me, Sarah.” There was an angry flame in his eyes, and I was frightened.
“You better let her go. Now.” I squeezed my eyes shut, grateful to hear this velvet smooth voice.
“Dude, just walk away. This has nothing to do with you.”
“This has everything to do with me. Now let her go before this gets ugly.” He stepped right beside me, and I saw the look on his face. It was dangerous. Scott saw that, too. He let my arms go, and laid them at his side. Dean put his hand on my shoulder, about to lead me away from Scott. In the corner of my eye, I saw Scott’s hand swiftly come up, and then I felt the sting as it smacked against my face. It made a sickening sound, and I held my burning cheek when he finally dropped his hand.
Dean’s hand dropped from my shoulder, and it flew into the side of Scott’s face. It made a thud! sound, and Scott staggered back. When Scott raised his head back up, the flame in his eyes grew larger. Dean pushed me behind him protectively.
Punches and kicks were thrown between the two boys. I flinched every time the sound of skin hitting against skin went through my ears. “Stop it! Just stop!” I put myself between the two angry boys, and put my hands on each of their chests. They both had their fists ready to use, but they both stopped and looked down at me.
“Go somewhere else, Sarah.” Scott said to me.
“No, Scott. You go somewhere else. You aren’t wanted anymore. Just forget about everything that happened between us because it’s never going to happen again.” I dropped my hand from his chest. I slid the other one around Dean’s waist, and tried to pull him away from this fight. He drops his fist, and wraps his arm around my shoulder.
We had walked a few steps away from Scott when he yelled, “Don’t be so sure about that.” I didn’t look back at him, but those words kept floating in my mind. When I felt Dean relax, I took my arm back from around his waist and walked away from him.
“Sarah!” He followed after me, yelling my name until he came to my side. “Are you going to tell me what I did?”
“You lied to me. I’m tired of guys that try to get close to me and then lie!” I was screaming now.
“Sarah, I didn’t-” He was trying to lift my chin, but I just turned my head away from him. “Look at me.” He put his hand gently against my cheek, and puled my head up and made me look at him. My hands flew up to cover my open mouth. His face was a bloody mess. His right eye was swollen, and I wanted to be sick when I saw it. “I never lied to you.”
I grabbed his hand, ignoring his last comment, and led him towards the bathroom. Everybody was either in class or at their lockers, so the bathrooms were empty. I led him into the women’s restroom, and told him to sit on one of the toilets. I grabbed a paper towel, and ran it under some water. When it was fully wet, I rang it out so that it was only damp.
I walked over to Dean and slowly dabbed the paper towel against his face. He never flinched. Neither of us spoke. His face was finally blood free, and I threw the red paper towel away. His eye was still swollen, and there was nothing I could do. “Okay, I’m done.” Instead of standing up, he just stayed perfectly still and watched me.
“Thank you,” he said. “Are you still mad at me?” Not so much anymore, I wanted to say. I wasn’t so much mad at him, I was just afraid of him. But I wasn’t going to tell him that. Instead, I just turned around and walked out of the bathroom. As I turned out of the bathroom, I felt a hand gently caress my shoulder. “Sarah?”
I turned around, and looked him right in the eyes. “Go to class, Dean.” I shrugged off his hand, and walked away. And this time he didn’t follow me. When I walked into Science late, Mr. Semp gave me a dirty look. He motioned for me to take my seat, and he continued to speak to the class.
I ignored the teacher all period. This week wouldn’t be important. Everyone would be introducing their classes, so I really didn’t have to listen to them. All class I thought about Dean’s black eyes, the way they looked into mine. I thought about how protective he had gotten when he saw Scott grab my arms, and then slap me. I thought about his hand caressing my shoulder, and how it felt when his arm slid around my shoulders.
Well the bell rang, I practically ran out of the classroom. “Sarah, wait! I need to talk to you!” I heard Rachel screaming behind me, and I slowed down. When she caught up to me, she wanted to talk about the one thing I wanted to forget. “Was there really a fight between Scott and Dean.” She saw the look on my face, and knew the answer. “Okay, dish.”
“Scott was high. He was gripping my arms really tightly, and Dean got protective. Then Scott slapped me, and Dean lost it. They got in a fight, but I stopped it. That’s all there is, really.” I walked away, and into my health class.
As I entered the room, the bell rang. I quickly ran to my seat, and put my books on the table. “Hey, can we talk?” And while I was thinking in Science, I never thought about sitting by Dean this period. I slowly looked up, and met his gaze. I felt like someone had knocked the air right out of my lungs.
I quickly got out of my seat, and walked to Ms. Smith’s desk. “Ms. Smith?” She looked at me over the tops of her bathroom. “May I go to the restroom?”
“Make it quick, Sarah.” I grabbed the pass off of the door, and went to the bathroom.I walked to the bathroom, passing classrooms as I went. When I reached the bathroom, I went to the largest stall. I locked the door, and leaned over the sink. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I saw the tears that were threatening to fall over, and the beads of sweat on my forehead.
“Sarah? Open the door.” The voice outside of my door made me jump. When I didn’t open the door, Dean started to pick at the lock. It clicked open, and he walked into the stall. He locked the door behind him, and stayed over there. “I’m gonna make a deal with you. If you tell me why you’re acting so weird around me, I’ll let you out of here. If you don’t tell me, people are going to think I’m kidnapping you and then call the police.”
“That’s a little harsh, Dean. By the way, you aren’t supposed to be in the women’s restroom. And I already told you why I’m mad at you. You lied to me.”
“I was in here earlier, wasn’t I? And yes, you did tell me that. Now will you tell me what I lied to you about?” He walked towards me, and cupped my face in his hands. I couldn’t think with him this close. He was pressing his body against mine, and I was breathing in the same air as him. I couldn’t help it; I blurt it out.
“You’re talking through my thoughts. You told me that you weren’t but I know it was you.” He pressed his forehead against mine, and his lips were so close to mine. “Tell me the truth, Dean.” His lips moved along with mine as I talked. That’s how close he was to me. In one swift movement, he closed all the distance between us. His lips rested on mine, trying to make me forget about everything.
I searched for the pass that I had set on the sink. I gripped it in my hand in an iron grip. His tongue traced along my lips, trying to get me to part them. I swung my arm around, and hit him in the back of the head as hard as I could with the pass. He pulled away from me, and rubbed the back of his head. When he was far away and I saw his face, I felt bad. He had just gotten in a fight an hour ago, and here I was, beating him with a wooden pass.
The feeling lasted only a moment. I ran out the door, leaving him in the bathroom. I ran back to health class, and took my seat. Dean never came back to class.