Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.16
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.16

           Bailey Ardisone

  Crap, crap, crap. My clock said what time? Oh crap! I was so going to be late for school, and I really needed to get there early to drop off my sculpture. The two weeks we had to complete our projects flew by in a flash, and now that the day was here, my stupid alarm didn’t go off. I let out a loud groan showing my irritation—today of all days.

  I jumped out of bed, literally ran to the bathroom, and quickly hopped in the shower. I barely felt the hot water as it reached my skin, and in less than two minutes I was done in record time.

  I speed-dried my hair—if that was even possible—not caring if it looked terrible. I realized when my stomach grumbled that I didn’t have time for breakfast. I’d be starving by lunch, but it’d have to do.

  Hurriedly, I grabbed my jeans and threw on the nearest top. I took a quick glance in the mirror, and my eyes widened as I realized I put on the same shirt I had worn to school on Friday. I remembered because of the quarter-size stain on the light blue shirt. Mustard from my hot dog had squirted out the backside, and much to my dismay had Liam laughing at me all day because of it.

  I shrugged it off and tore through my dresser drawer, trying to find something. Didn’t everything match blue jeans? I was finally satisfied in a purple cotton V-neck shirt.

  I grabbed my jacket and took a deep breath, trying to remind myself that I had to go slow with my sculpture. It was very fragile, and I didn’t even want to think about anything happening to it.

  As I slung my backpack over my shoulder, I heard a familiar tune notifying me that I received a text message. I grabbed my art project in one hand, very carefully, and my cell phone in the other. I flipped the phone open and read the message as I walked out my bedroom door.

  'Don’t drop your sculpture. Be careful. Good luck today.'

  I smiled at Rydan’s words, and as I flipped my phone closed just about to go through the front door, Ray stumbled out of the kitchen.

  What the…? I was afraid he would see the cell phone that I wasn’t supposed to have, so I quickly put it in my coat pocket and grabbed my sculpture with two hands. Rydan had gotten me the cell phone and was paying for it as well, but we didn’t want Ray to know that.

  “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked me like it was two in the morning and I was sneaking out of the house.

  It took me a while to find my voice. I was shocked that he was home. He should've been at work already. “School,” was all I replied.

  He looked at me like I had grown an extra head and began to shake his back and forth, as if trying to clear his thoughts. He clutched his head with both hands and moaned. I didn’t want to stand there a second more, so I moved for the door when suddenly he walked toward me and tried to grab my arm.

  With the combination of me flinching away and him swaying, he started to fall at me. To protect not the falling drunk but my sculpture, I tried to step out of the way and grabbed onto the nearest object to steady myself, which happened to be the table beside the door. The falling drunk slammed against the door and managed to hurl his arm at my back, causing me to lose balance. At the same time, I watched a new bottle of unopened Jack go crashing toward the floor.

  My eyes widened in horror as the scene seemed to be playing in slow motion. Not only was I trying to save my sculpture, which I grasped tightly in my hands, but I was also aware that a stumbling, hungover Ray who was already furious, as I could hear him screaming obscenities, was about to become infinitely more furious. I watched the bottle of Jack hit the floor and burst open. I cringed, wondering where my next bruise would be.

  Time suddenly caught up and no longer moved in slow motion. I readied myself and gently put my art piece on the table to get out of harm’s way—a.k.a Ray’s way.

  “I…” I honestly didn’t know what to say. I didn’t think "I’m sorry" was going to cut it. I had just broken his new bottle of Jack, and the fact that he was still screaming words I would never repeat, I knew it was going to be a while before I made it to school.

  I backed up until I hit the couch when his awful gaze locked with mine, making my stomach instantly sick. I felt like throwing up.

  His angry eyes still locked with mine, he began to walk toward me. I tried with all my might to keep my emotions inside and not let it show how scared I was. That always made it worse.

  He abruptly stopped, closed his eyes, and used one hand to cover his face. He took his thumb and index finger and very roughly pinched the top of his nose. He took a loud deep breath as his body started to sway back and forth. He suddenly lunged at me, but as I quickly darted out of the way, he ended up hitting the couch. He grabbed the back with both hands and started to shout, “Clean it up!”

  When I hadn’t moved fast enough he roared with enough force for the whole town to hear, “Now!”

  I ran to the kitchen and collapsed against the counter. I took a deep breath to stall the tears that threatened to escape. Hold yourself together, Nari. I took another deep breath as I searched for a rag, ran it under water, and grabbed another dry towel and the mop.

  Ray was lying on the sofa when I made my way back, and I only hoped that he would stay there and not take punishment out on me. I really didn’t want to show up at school with a black eye and try to explain it.

  I cleaned up the mess as quickly as I could. I tried not to make a single sound in case I alerted him to my presence. I grabbed the dirty towel and the one filled with glass and took it back to the kitchen before finally putting the mop away in a rush. I washed my hands of the stench of whiskey and just about jumped out of my skin when I heard him yell, “Take out the garbage too, you sorry piece of crap!”

  I closed my eyes and tried to calm my racing heart. I tied the garbage bag up and carried it to the front door. I couldn’t get out of there soon enough.

  “And you will, yes you will pay me back for that bottle you broke, you stupid worthless—”

  I stopped listening after that and quickly got out of there. I grabbed my project and tried very hard not to slam the door behind me, as much as I wanted to. I threw the garbage in the can and stormed down the driveway. When I reached the end, I came to a stop and tried to remember to breathe like a normal person.

  I held my emotions in check and put my jacket hood on since it was chilly out. I tucked my sculpture in one arm and clung to it like it was my lifeline. I didn’t care about time or school anymore, so I took my time walking, trying to forget everything that happened. Once seeing that I was already two minutes late for school, I finally decided to kick into high gear and speed up a little, running as fast as I could. Whether I was running to school or running from him, either way…story of my life.

  I tried to race down the street, but I had a hard time keeping my backpack in check while holding my sculpture steady. My day had started out bad, but the only thing that kept me together was the fact that I had to get my project to class.

  As I ran toward the next corner, still tightly holding the sculpture, I steered it around so that I didn’t drop it. I was almost there. I carefully went to pull out my cell to check the time just once more.

  And suddenly, my nightmare came true as I slammed into a hard body followed by the sound of loud shattering of broken clay on concrete.

  “Bloody h—You alright, love?” a clipped English accented voice rang in my ears, but I could barely register what was being said. The shock I experienced while staring at my broken sculpture was enough to give anyone a stroke. I immediately had fallen to my knees the moment my sculpture had started descending.

  “M…m…my art project, it’s…completely ruined!” I tried to speak, but could barely get the words out. I put both hands on my head and closed my eyes, trying desperately to shake away my tears. I really didn’t want to start crying in front of a stranger. “I can’t believe this! I’ve been working on it for two weeks. It was incredibly special to me!”

  As I began to pick up the broken pieces of my sculpture, I looked up into the guy’s eyes and realized I was yelling at him. Keep it togethe
r, Nari. I desperately tried to hold back tears that had been threatening to surface all morning.

  “Look, I am really sorry. Is there anything I can do?” He sounded sincere, but I was just too upset to care at the moment. And what was with all the foreign people with accents in Kennebunkport all of a sudden?

  “Please, just get out of my way; I’m really late for school.” I caught a glimpse of his beautiful blue eyes as I said this, but I was too angry to really notice something like that right then. I didn’t have time for this. I walked away and headed toward the school. I needed to get to a secluded place, and fast.

  As I came upon the entrance of school, I threw my sculpture into a nearby trashcan. I couldn’t turn in a broken sculpture. I took a second and stared down at my once beautiful tree….ruined. My eyes started feeling heavy and my chest hurt deeply. I needed some time before I went into school. I didn’t want to face anyone feeling like this.

  I began to walk around the building toward the back. I saw to my left about twenty feet away was a little alcove where the red brick structure jets out, then in, and then back out again, creating a little indent about three feet wide and five feet deep. I entered the little alcove, threw my backpack against the wall, and clutched the red bricks facing the building. Slowly, I turned around and slid my body to the ground.

  As I had done so many times in the past, I conformed my body to its usual pose. I lifted my legs up toward my chest, wrapping my arms around them, and lay my chin on my knees. I felt like I physically had to hold myself together.

  I then began to lose control. It started when a single tear slid down my cheek, and the next thing I knew, I was sobbing uncontrollably, letting out everything I had tried to hold in earlier.

  I cried about everything. My sculpture, my morning, my childhood, my life; everything came tumbling back to mind as I cried freely and unrestrained. I didn’t usually cry. I was used to dealing with my dreary life. However, once I started crying about one thing, I would cry about everything. It would build up inside me for so long that once I let loose, it was hard to stop.

  I sat there for about ten minutes, letting it all pour out of me. I was glad I was alone; I would be horrified if anyone saw me like this. I slowly lifted my head and looked at my surroundings. Last night I had been so content. I had finished my sculpture. Rydan had loved it; I had sent him a picture, and he even described it as one of my best pieces.

  And now it was gone, totally ruined. How did this happen?

  I should have been paying more attention. I had been so worked up over my run-in with Ray, I just wasn’t thinking. I should have taken my time. I would have been super late for class, but my sculpture wouldn’t be broken in pieces, and I would be sitting in Literature class right now.

  Literature! Oh, crap!

  I slowly unwrapped and made myself get up, letting the building rest against my back. My chest hurt. I tried to breathe deeply, and I realized my face probably looked a mess. I hesitantly walked into the school, going straight for the restroom to clean up.

  I sat in my usual spot toward the back of Lit class that had been left empty for me since I always sat there. I looked over at Zaylie and gave her a smile, hoping she wouldn’t ask me why I was late. I tried to pay attention to what Mr. James was saying—something about monsters and how they’re portrayed. I actually had no idea what he was talking about.

  The class went by fast, and as the bell rang, I realized I pretty much missed everything that was said. I thought I heard something about homework, but I didn’t catch it. I let out a long sigh; I’d just ask Zaylie about it later.

  As soon as the bell rang, I saw her make her way over to me and knew what was coming. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I was actually glad that she would probably care enough to ask me anyway.

  “Everything okay?” she asked with worry written on her face.

  I smiled at her genuineness. “Yeah, it was just a really bad morning.” I grabbed my books, and we both walked out. She gave me a silent one-armed hug and offered kind words about how she hoped my day got better before heading to her next class.

  I felt like a zombie as I sat down in Algebra. The scene I desperately tried not to think about kept replaying in my mind without my consent.

  I could not focus on a single word my teacher was saying, as I once again watched my treasured sculpture plunge toward the unforgiving concrete through my mind’s eye. I covered my ears instinctively, still hearing the shattering of clay ringing loudly.

  I jerked my head up at the sudden realization of something significant. That guy—the British guy I ran into—he was the same guy who stood outside the store the other night. I knew he was the same because of the exact strange tattoo on the left side of his neck. I didn’t know why, but suddenly my cheeks burned at the memory of him. He was gorgeous.

  I swore it felt like this day turned into weeks. Would it ever end? During lunch, I grabbed my salad and went to sit outside. It was a bit chilly, but I wanted to be alone, and it was nice to get some fresh air. I found a spot in the sun and sat down to eat. I wanted to call Rydan just to hear his voice, but decided I didn’t want to bother him.

  During my free period, I put my head down to rest and ended up falling asleep, awaking a few minutes before the bell would ring. I decided to go to Art class early and talk with Mr. Isaacson.

  The room was empty, so I walked in to wait. I collected my thoughts on what I wanted to say to him. I noticed along the wall was a table that held all the other student’s sculptures. I sighed, realizing mine wouldn’t be among them.

  I started to look at what was there. Gavin, a kid I had gone to school with for years, had sculpted a bee. It was a very simple concept, but it was detailed. Another kid named Marvin sculpted a…what was that? A flower? Well, I thought it was a flower—although I couldn’t really be sure. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

  I moved my eyes along the sculptures, and suddenly my eyes stopped on one in particular. My whole body froze and it felt hard to breathe. I walked closer to the table and sure enough, sitting there was my weeping willow tree.

  Chapter Ten

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