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The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden

Jessica Sorensen

Page 12


  The flash hit my eyes and I kept blinking, wishing she’d stop taking pictures that would forever mark this God damn day.

  “Make a wish, sweetie,” she said and the camera flashed again, lighting up the face of the people that surrounded the table.

  I stared at the pink frosting, the “Happy Birthday Callie” Make a wish?

  A red balloon floated over the table, slowly, up and down, up and down.

  “Make a wish, Callie,” my mom repeated as the balloon moved over her shoulder.

  Everyone was watching me, like they could see that I wasn’t whole anymore.

  Make a wish? Make a wish?

  The balloon popped.

  There are no such things as wishes.

  My roommate, Violet, enters the room as I finish writing the last line. She’s tall, with black curly hair streaked with red. Her nose is pierced and she has a tattoo of a star on the back of her neck. She has a pair of plaid pants on, a torn black t-shirt, and combat boots.

  “Have you seen my leather jacket?” she asks as she shuts the door and tosses a bag onto her unmade bed.

  I close my journal and slide the pen into the spiral. “I haven’t. ”

  She sighs as she collects her books from the desk in front of the window. “I think I might have lost it at the club. Fuck. ”

  “I’ll keep an eye out for it. ” I tuck the journal underneath the pillow and get up from the bed.

  She opens the drawer of the desk and glances over her shoulder at me as I slip my shoes on. “Are you heading out?”

  I nod, easing my arm through the sleeve of a grey hoodie. “I am. ”

  I hear a bottle of pills rattle as she shuts the drawer and holds up a red scarf. “I might have someone over tonight. I’ll put this on the doorknob if I do. ”

  Again? What does this girl do? “Alright. ” My fingers wrap around the doorknob. “I’ll make sure to check first. ”

  “You better,” she says, her hand hovering near the drawer. “Otherwise you’re going to see something you don’t want to. ”

  Sighing, I walk out the door, wishing I had my own dorm room.


  “I think I just got myself in over my head,” I tell Seth as he lets me in his room. “Like really bad. ”

  Seth pauses the television screen, sits down on the bed, and pats the spot beside him. “Come sit down and spill your problem. ”

  I let my bag fall to the floor and sink down onto the bed. “Kayden asked me to go to a club with him and Luke tonight, and I accidentally said yes. ”

  “How do you accidentally say yes to something like that?”

  I huff out a breath of frustration. “He kept smiling at me and getting me all flustered and I couldn’t think straight. ”

  Seth grins and a giggle escapes his lips. “Oh my God, you have a crush on him. ”

  I shake my head, getting flustered just by the thought. “No, I don’t. ”

  The mattress concaves beneath me as he bounces up and down like a little kid with too much sugar in their system. “Yes, you do. You have your very first crush, Callie. How exciting!”

  Still shaking my head, I sit up and smooth my hair away from my forehead. “I don’t have a crush on him. Is he good looking? Of course. And he’s known that since we were in third grade. ” I pause, getting agitated. “And I’ve had crushes before, just not for a very long time. ”

  “You so have a crush on him. ” He picks up the remote and turns off the television. “This will be good, and then we can cross number five off on the list. ”

  “I’m not dancing,” I argue, cringing. “Dancing equals touching and getting close to people. I just can’t do it. ”

  “Yes, you can. You’ve done it with me like a hundred times,” he encourages. “I mean, think about when we first met. You would barely talk to me and you always looked like you were going to stab me with a pencil or something. Now look at you. You’re sitting on my bed in my room, just you and I. You’ve come so far my little Callie Girl. ”

  “But you’re you. ” I sigh, discouraged. “I trust you. ”

  “Yeah, but I had to earn it. ”

  “I know and I’m so sorry for making you do that. I’m surprised you stuck around like you did. ”

  He hops off the bed and opens the top dresser drawer. “Whatever. You were so worth it. ”

  I swing my feet over the edge of the bed. “You seem really happy today. ”

  He takes out a green button down shirt with a front pocket and holds it out in front of him. “You remember that guy I was telling you about? The one in my Sociology class?”

  I nod. “The one with the really soft looking hair and pretty blue eyes?”

  “That’s the one. ” He walks over to the mirror, fussing with his hair as he inches his face closer to the reflection. “He talked to me today and I mean really talked to me for more than five minutes. ”

  I scoot off the bed and pick up a marker from a cup on his nightstand. “Do you think he likes you?”

  He shrugs, clamping his jaw shut to keep from smiling. “It’s hard to tell who he likes, but maybe if I talk to him more. ”

  I work to get the cap off with my teeth and then spit it out on the bed. “Are you going somewhere?”

  He tugs the shirt over his head, wiggling his arms through the sleeves and then rearranges his hair back into place with his fingers. “Yeah, with you to a club. ”

  My shoulders relax as I go over to the board on the back of the door with a very long list drawn on it, with very little numbers crossed off. “Are you going to be okay? I mean, I know how you feel about football players, considering what happened to you. ”

  He fastens a leather watch to his wrist. “That Luke guy seems pretty nice. At least he was during our ten minute conversation when we were out smoking and I think he knows about me. ”

  I put the tip of the marker up to the board. “Why would you think that?”

  “I just got a vibe,” he says. “It seemed like he didn’t care. ”

  I scratch off number five very slowly and the marker squeaks. “But I’m only dancing with you. ”

  “Sounds like a great plan to me. ” He offers me his elbow and I link my arm with his, feeling safe with him by my side as we saunter down the hall to go outside.

  It’s late, the sky is black, and the stars look like pieces of shimmering glass. Crickets chirp in the damp grass and there’s a couple sitting on one of the benches kissing each other fervently. It makes me blush a little because for a split second I picture Kayden and I in their places.

  “Why do you have that look on your face?” Seth wonders observantly.

  I look away at the road. “What look?”

  He sighs, but doesn’t press. When we reach the grass, he stops moving his feet and pulls me back, his eyes darting to my face. “Wait a second. ”

  I touch my hair self-consciously. “What’s wrong? Do I have something in my hair?”

  He slants his head to the side and then his hand snaps out, his fingers snagging my hair. With one swift yank, he’s torn the elastic from my hair and strands fall to my shoulders. “There we go. Let that freaking hair of yours down. ”

  I gather my hair behind my head and stick out my hand. “Give me that back, Seth. ”

  Batting his eyelashes, he raises his hand and stretches the elastic on two of his fingers.

  “Don’t,” I warn, lunging for him. “Please, Seth, don’t do this. ”

  He flicks his thumb so the elastic flings through the air into the darkness. “Whoops. ”

  I drag my fingers along my face as I hunch over and search the damp grass for the elastic. “Where the fuck is it?”

  Seth laughs. “Holy shit, the swear words are coming out. ”

  I stand up and glare at him with rage burning in my eyes as I work to tie the strands of my hair into a knot. “I need to get my hair up. Please help me find it. ” Tears sting at the corners of my eyes. “God dammit Seth,
where the fuck is it?”

  His expression falls and his skin drains of color as he realizes he might have pushed the wrong button. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to find it. ”

  I shake my head as tears bubble out of my eyes and trail down my cheeks. “I can’t breathe,” I gasp.

  “You’re hair smells so good, Callie,” he says, twisting a strand of my long brown hair around his finger. “Like strawberries. ”

  My chest constricts as I start to sob. In three short strides, he has his arms encircled around my shoulders and is drawing me into him. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize the hair thing was that big of a deal. I thought it was more of a complex. ”

  I wipe the tears away with my fingers and suck in a slow breath through my nose to regain control over my fear. “I’m sorry, it’s just… it brings back things I don’t want to remember. ”

  He leans away and threads his fingers through mine, squeezing my hand. “You’ll be okay, I promise. I’ll be right by you the whole time. ”

  “Maybe I have time to run back to my room. ” I glance at the doors, right as Kayden and Luke come strolling around the corner of the dorm building.

  Luke is a little smaller than Kayden, with shorter hair, and a face without scars. He has a plaid shirt on, a pair of faded jeans with a black leather belt and boots on his feet. Kayden’s hair is tousled with stray pieces hanging in his eyes and he has on a hooded black thermal shirt, with dark jeans that ride extremely low on his hips. I bet when he raises his arms above his head his stomach will show.

  “Callie, you’re staring,” Seth hisses under his breath and prods me in the ribcage with his elbow.

  “What?” I blink at him as I wipe the last of the tears away from my cheeks, surprised how calm I’ve become.

  He presses his lips together, containing a smile. “You were staring at a particular someone. ”

  “No, I wasn’t,” I deny. “Was I?”

  He nods his head once and then hisses through his teeth, “You were and your mouth was hanging open. ”

  “Hey,” Kayden says and his forehead creases at my tear-stained face. “Were you two just arguing?”

  I shake my head and glance at Seth. “No, we were just talking heatedly. ”

  “Okay…” He eyes me with skepticism. “Should we get going?”

  Nodding, I step aside so him and Luke can walk between us and lead the way.

  Seth pulls his cigarettes out of his pocket and pops one into his mouth as we trail behind them. “Are we riding with them?”

  “No. ” I swing my gaze over to the rusted single cab truck where no other vehicles are parked. “Not unless they want to ride in your car. ”

  “Well, let’s offer to drive then,” he says. “And then you can be our DD since you never ever drink. Although, you should try it tonight. It’ll probably calm you down. ”

  “I drank a beer that one time,” I protest. “And it didn’t relax me. ”

  “Oh, my naïve little Callie. ” He sighs, retrieving his lighter from his pocket. “One beer isn’t going to do much to you. You need something with a kick. Something potent. ”