Slammed, p.11
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       Slammed, p.11

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover
 

  That I dug from within, like a prisoner in

  An unlocked cell sitting in the deepest pits of hell

  Unencumbered he's not in his sweltering spot

  He could open the door 'cause he don't need a damn key

  But then again,

  Why would he?

  Circumlocution is his revolution.

  The silence in the room is deafening. No one speaks, no one moves, no one claps. We are in awe. I am in awe. How does he expect me to transition if he keeps doing things like this?

  "There you go," he says matter-of-factly as he walks back to his seat. The rest of the class period is spent talking about slam poetry. I try hard to follow along as he goes into further explanation, but the entire time I’m simply focused on the fact that he hasn’t made eye contact with me. Not even once.

  ***

  I claim my seat next to Eddie at lunch as we set our trays down. I notice a guy that sits a couple of rows behind me in Will’s class walking toward us. He is balancing two trays with his left arm, and his back pack and a bag of chips in the right. He positions himself in the seat across from me and proceeds to combine the food onto one tray. When that task is complete, he pulls a two-liter of coke out of his backpack and places it in front of him, unscrewing the lid and drinking directly from it. As he is chugging the soda, he looks at me and places it back down on the table, wiping his mouth.

  “You gonna drink that chocolate milk, New Girl?”

  I nod. “That’s why I got it."

  “What about that roll? You gonna eat that roll?”

  “Got the roll for a reason, too.”

  He shrugs and reaches across to Gavin’s tray and takes his roll just as Gavin turns around and swipes at his hand, a moment too late.

  “Dude, Nick! There’s no way you’re gaining ten pounds by Friday. Give it up!” Gavin yells.

  “Nine,” Nick corrects him with a mouthful of bread.

  Eddie takes her roll and throws it across the table. Nick catches it midair and gives her a wink. “Your girl has faith in me,” Nick says to Gavin.

  “He lifts weights,” Eddie is directing her comment to me. “He’s got to be nine pounds heavier by Friday to compete in his weight class, and it’s not looking good.”

  With that, I grab my roll and toss it on Nick’s tray. He winks at me as he dips it in a mound of butter.

  I’m thankful to Eddie for accepting me into her group of friends so easily. Not that I had a decision, it was done pretty forcibly. In Texas there were twenty-one people in my entire senior class. I had friends, but with such a limited pool to choose from I never really considered any of them to be my best friend. I mostly hung out with my friend Kerris, but I haven’t even spoken to her since the move. From what I’ve seen of Eddie so far, she’s intriguing enough that I can’t help but hope we become closer.

  “So, how long have you and Gavin been dating?” I ask her.

  “Sophomore Year. I hit him with my car.” She looks at him and smiles. “It was love at first swipe.”

  “What about you?” she asks. “You got a boyfriend?”

  I wish I could tell her about Will. I want to tell her about how when we met, I immediately felt something I have never felt about a guy before. I want to tell her about our first date and how the entire night seemed like we had known each other for years. I want to tell her about his poetry, our kiss, everything. Most of all though, I want to tell her about seeing him in the hallway when we realized our fate was not our own to decide. I want to tell her how much I am hurting, knowing I can’t talk to him. But I know I can’t. I can't tell anyone. So I don’t. I simply reply, “No.”

  “Really? No boyfriend? Well, we can fix that,” she says.

  “No need. It’s not broken.”

  Eddie laughs and turns to Gavin, discussing possible suitors for her new, lonely friend.

  ***

  The end of the school week finally arrives and I have never felt more relieved to pull out of a parking lot in my entire life. Even though he lives across the street from me, I feel less vulnerable when I’m inside my house than I do two feet from him in a classroom. He successfully achieved an entire week of absolutely no eye contact. Not saying I didn’t do my best to catch even a glimpse in my direction, I practically stared him down.

  I plan to tell my mother everything that happened. I just haven't found the right time yet. She's been leaving for work before dinner every night so we really haven't had a chance to talk about Will.

  During the drive home, I make a detour to better formulate my plan to spend the entire weekend indoors. It’s called movies and junk food.

  Mom is sitting at the bar in the kitchen when I walk through the front door. I can see by the stern look on her face that she isn’t particularly happy to see me. I walk into the kitchen and lay the movies and bags of junk food on the counter in front of her.

  “I’m spending the weekend with Johnny Depp,” I say, attempting to appear oblivious to her demeanor.

  She doesn't smile.

  “I took Caulder home from school today,” she says. "He mentioned something very interesting.”

  “Oh, yeah? You sound sick Mom. Do you have a cold?” I try to sound nonchalant, but I can tell by the tone in her voice that what she’s really trying to say is, "I found out something from your little brother’s friend that I should have found out from you."

  “Anything you want to tell me?” she asks, staring daggers through me.

  I sip from a bottle of water and take a seat at the bar. I had planned on talking to her about everything tonight but it looks like it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

  “Mom. I was going to talk to you about it. I swear.”

  “He’s a teacher at your school, Lake!” She starts coughing and grabs at a kleenex as she gets up from the bar. After she regains her composure, she lowers her voice as she continues speaking in an attempt to avoid garnering attention from the nine-year-olds that are somewhere within our vicinity. “Don’t you think that’s something you should have mentioned before I allowed you out of the house with him?"

  “I didn’t know! He didn’t know!” I say in an overly defensive tone.

  She cocks her head to the side and rolls her eyes as though I’ve insulted her.

  “What are you doing, Lake? Don’t you realize he's raising his little brother? This can ruin his-”

  Both of our eyes dart to the front door as we hear Will’s car pull into his driveway. I quickly head to the front door in an attempt to block it so she'll let me explain. She beats me to it so I follow her outside, pleading.

  “Mom, please. Just let me explain everything. Please.”

  She is walking up Will’s driveway when he notices us bombarding him. He smiles when he first notices my mother, but his smile fades when he sees I’m right behind her. He has surmised that this is not a friendly visit.

  “Julia, please. Can we go inside to talk about this?”

  She doesn’t respond, she just marches toward his front door and lets herself in.

  Will looks at me questioningly.

  “Your brother mentioned you were a teacher. I haven’t had a chance to explain anything to her,” I say. He sighs as we make our way inside.

  It’s the first time I’ve been inside his home since I found out about the death of his parents. Nothing has changed, yet at the same time everything has changed. That first day when I sat at his bar, I assumed that everything in the house belonged to his parents; that Will’s situation was not unlike my own. Now when I take in my surroundings, it sheds a different light on him. A light of responsibility. Maturity.

  My mother is sitting stiffly on the sofa. Will walks quietly across the room and sits on the edge of the couch across from her. He leans forward and clasps his hands in front of him, his elbows resting on his knees.

  “I’ll explain everything.” He says this with a serious, respectful tone to his voice.

  “I know you will,” she replies evenly.


  “Basically, what it boils down to is that I made a lot of assumptions. I thought she was older. She seemed older. Once she told me she was eighteen, I guess I assumed she was in college. It's only September, most students aren't eighteen when they start their senior year.”

  “Most of them. She’s only been eighteen for two weeks."

  “Yeah, I…I realize that now,” he stutters, shooting a look in my direction.

  “She wasn’t attending school the first week you guys moved in, so I guess I just assumed. Somehow the topic never came up while we were together.”

  My mother starts to cough again. Will and I wait, but the coughing intensifies and she stands and takes a few deep breaths. I would think she's having a panic attack if I didn’t already know she was coming down with something. Will goes to the kitchen and comes back with a glass of water. She takes a sip and turns toward the living room window that faces the front yard. Caulder and Kel are outside now, I can hear them laughing. My mother walks to the front door and opens it.

  "Kel, Caulder! Don't lay in the street!" She coughs again as she closes the door and turns toward us.

  “Tell me, when did the topic come up?” she asks, looking at both of us now.

  I can't answer her. Somehow in the presence of the two of them, I feel small. Two adults hashing it out in front of the children. That's what this feels like.

  “We didn't find out until she showed up in my class,” Will replies.

  My mother looks at me and her jaw gapes open. “You’re in his class?” She looks at Will and repeats what she said. “She’s in your class?”

  God it sounds really bad coming from her mouth. She stands up and paces the length of the living room as both Will and I allow her time to process.

  “You're telling me that both of you deny having any knowledge of this prior to the first day of school?”

  We both nod in agreement.

  “Well what the hell happens now?” she asks. She has both of her hands on her hips. Will and I are silent, hoping she can magically come up with the solution that we’ve both been searching for all week.

  “Well, Lake and I are doing our best to work through this a day at a time,” he finally replies.

  She glares at him accusingly. “Lake? You call her Lake?”

  Will looks down at the floor and clears his throat.

 
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