The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 2Jessica Sorensen
“I’m trying,” I tell him, but my frown still remains. It’s the same frown that’s been on my face since I found Kayden a little over a couple of weeks ago. The images hurt my mind and my heart like shards of glass. I know part of this is my fault. I’m the one who let Kayden find out about Caleb. I barely even tried to deny it when he’d asked me. Part of me had wanted him to find out and part of me was glad when Luke had told me Kayden had beat up Caleb.
He nudges me with his elbow and constricts his grip when I trip over my feet and stumble to the side. “Callie, you need to stop worrying all the time. ” He helps me get my balance. “I know it’s hard, but always being sad isn’t a good thing. I don’t want you going back to the sad girl I first met. ”
I stop in my tracks and step right into a puddle. The cold water fills my shoes and soaks through my socks. “Seth, I’m not going back to that. ” I slip my arm out of his and wrap my jacket tightly around myself. “I just can’t stop thinking about him… how he looked. It’s stuck in my head. ” It’s always in my mind. I didn’t want to leave Afton, but my mom threatened me, saying if I failed the semester she wasn’t going to let me stay at the house for Christmas break. I’d have nowhere to go. “I just miss him and I feel bad for leaving him there with his family. ”
“It wouldn’t have matter if you had stayed. They still won’t let you see him. ” Seth brushes his golden blond hair out of his honey brown eyes and looks at me sympathetically as rain drips down on his head and face. “Callie, I know it’s hard, especially when they said he did it to… when he did it to himself. But you can’t break apart. ”
“I’m not breaking apart. ” The drizzle of rain suddenly shifts to a downpour and we sprint for the shelter of the trees, shielding our faces with our arms. I tuck damp strands of my brown hair out of my face and behind my ears. “I just can’t stop thinking about him. ” I sigh, wiping away the rain from my face. “Besides, I don’t believe that he did it to himself. ”
His shoulders slump as he pulls down the sleeves of his black button-down jacket. “Callie, I hate to say it but… but what if he did? I know it could have been his dad, but what if it wasn’t? What if the doctors are right? I mean, they did send him to that facility for a reason. ”
Raindrops bead down our faces and my eyelashes flutter against them. “Then he did,” I say. “It doesn’t change anything. ”
Everyone has secrets, just like me. I’d be a hypocrite if I judge Kayden for self-infliction. “Besides, they didn’t send him. The hospital transferred him there so he could be watched while he heals. That’s all. He doesn’t have to stay there. ”
Seth offers me a sympathetic smile, but there’s pity in his eyes. He leans forward and gives me a quick kiss on the cheek. “I know, and that’s why you’re you. ” He moves back from me, turns to his side, and aims his elbow at me. “Now come on, we’re going to be late for class. ”
Sighing, I link elbows with him and we step out into the rain, taking our time as we head to class.
“Maybe we could do something fun,” Seth suggests as he opens the door to the main building on campus. He guides me into the warmth and lets the door slam shut behind us. He releases my arm and shakes the front of his jacket, sending raindrops everywhere. “Like we could go to a movie or something. You’ve been dying to see that one…” He snaps his fingers a few times. “I can’t remember what it’s called, but you kept talking about it before break. ”
I shrug, grabbing my ponytail and giving it a good wringing so the water drips out of the end. “I can’t remember either. And I don’t really feel like seeing a movie. ”
He frowns. “You need to quit sulking. ”
“I’m not sulking,” I say and massage my hand over my heart.
“My heart just hurts all the time. ”
His shoulders lift and descend as he sighs. “Callie, I—”
I raise my hand and shake my head. “Seth, I know you always want to help me out and I love you for that, but sometimes hurting is just part of life, especially when someone I lo—care about is hurting too. ”
He arches his eyebrows because of my almost-slip. “Okay then, let’s go to class. ”
I nod and follow him up the hall. My clothes are wet from the rain and there’s water in my shoes. Even though it’s cold and the water sticks my clothes to my body, it reminds me of a beautiful time full of magical kisses and I need to hold onto that.
Because for now, it’s all I’ve got.
* * * Time drags on. Classes are ending, wrapping up for winter break. I’ve been staring at my English book for so long it feels like my eyes are bleeding and the words look identical. I rub my eyes with my fingertips, pretending like the room doesn’t smell like pot and that Violet, my roommate, isn’t passed out in the bed across from mine. She’s been like that for the last ten hours. I’d be worried she was dead, but she keeps muttering incoherently in her sleep.
On top of studying for the English exam, I’m supposed to be writing an essay. I joined a creative writing club at the beginning of the year, and at the end of it, I’m supposed to turn in three projects: a poem, a short story, and a nonfiction piece. As much as I love to write, I’m struggling with the idea of putting truth down on paper for other people to read. I’m afraid of what might come out if I really open up. Or maybe it’s because it seems silly to write a paper about the truth of life when Kayden’s in an institution living the truth. All I’ve typed so far is: Where the Leaves Go by Callie Lawrence. I’m uncertain of where I’ll go with this.
The rain from earlier has frozen into fluffy snowflakes that sail from the sky and a silvery sheet of ice glistens across the campus yard. I tap my fingers on the top of my book, thinking about home and how there’s probably three or four feet of snow and how my mom’s car is probably stuck in the driveway. I can picture the snowplow roaming the town’s streets, and my dad doing warm-ups inside the gym because it’s too cold to be outside. And Kayden is still in the hospital under supervision because they think he tried to kill himself. It’s been a few weeks since it happened. He was out of it for quite a while from the blood transfusion and lacerations to his body. Then he woke up and no one could see him because he’s considered “high risk” and “under surveillance” (Kayden’s mother’s words, not mine).
My phone is sitting on my bed next to a pile of study sheets and an array of highlighters. I pick it up, dial Kayden’s number, and wait for his voicemail message to come on.
“Hey, this is Kayden, I’m way too busy to take your call right now, so please leave a message and maybe you’ll be lucky enough that I’ll call you back. ” There’s sarcasm in his voice like he thinks he’s being funny and I smile, missing him so badly it pierces my heart.
I listen to it over and over again until I can hear the underlying pain in his sarcasm, the one that carries his secrets.
Eventually, I hang up and flop back on my bed, wishing I could travel back in time and not let Kayden find out that it was Caleb who raped me.
“God, what time is it?” Violet sits up in her bed and blinks her bloodshot eyes at the leather-band watch on her wrist. She shakes her head and gathers her black-and-red-streaked hair out of her face. She gazes out the window at the snow and then looks at me.
“How long have I been out?”
I shrug, staring up at the ceiling. “I think, like, ten hours?”
She throws the blanket off herself and climbs out of bed.
“Fuck, I missed my chemistry class. ”
“You take chemistry?” I don’t mean for it to sound so rude, but the shock of her taking chemistry comes through in my voice.
Violet and I have shared a room for three months, and from what I can tell, she likes to party and she likes guys.
She gives me a dirty look as she slips her arm through the sleeve of her leather jacket. “What? You don’t think I can party and be smart?”
I shake my head. “No, that’s not what I meant. I ju
“I know what you meant—what you think of me, and everyone else thinks of me. ” She snatches her bag from the desk, sniffs her shirt, and shrugs. “But some advice: Maybe you shouldn’t judge people by their looks. ”
“I don’t,” I tell her, feeling bad. “I’m sorry if you think I judged you. ”
She collects her phone from the desk and tosses it into her bag, then heads for the door. “Listen, if some guy named Jesse comes by, can you pretend that you haven’t seen me all day?”
“Why?” I ask, sitting up.
“Because I don’t want him to know I’ve been here. ” She opens the door and glances back over her shoulder. “God, you’ve been a little snippy lately. When I first met you, I thought you were like a doormat. But lately, you’ve been kind of cranky. ”
“I know,” I say quietly, with my chin tucked down. “And I’m sorry. I’ve just been having a rough few weeks. ”
She pauses in the doorway, eyeing me over. “Are you…” She shifts her weight, looking uncomfortable. Whatever she’s trying to say seems to be hard for her. “Are you okay?”
I nod and something crosses over her face, maybe pain, and for a second I wonder if Violet’s okay. But then she shrugs and walks out, slamming the door behind her. I release a loud breath and lie back down on the bed. The need to shove my finger down my throat and free the heavy, foul feelings in my stomach strangles me. Damn it. I need therapy. I reach for my phone without sitting up and dial my therapist’s number, aka Seth, and my best friend in the whole world.
“I love you to death, Callie,” Seth says as he answers after three rings. “But I think I’m about to get lucky so this better be important. ”
I scrunch my nose as my cheeks heat. “It’s not… I just wanted to see what was up. But if you’re busy, I’ll let you go. ”
He sighs. “I’m sorry, that came out a lot ruder than I planned.
If you really need me, I can totally talk. You know you’re my first priority. ”
“Are you with Greyson?” I ask.
“Of course,” he replies with humor in his tone. “I’m not a man-whore skank. ”
A giggle slips through my lips and I’m amazed how much better I feel just from talking to him. “I promise I’m fine. I’m just bored and was looking for an escape from my English book. ” I shove the book off the bed and roll onto my stomach, propping myself up onto my elbows. “I’ll let you go. ”
“Are you really, really sure?”
“I’m one hundred percent sure. Now go have fun. ”
“Oh, trust me. I’m planning on it,” he replies and I laugh, but it hurts my stomach. I start to hang up when he adds, “Callie, if you need to hang out with someone, you could call Luke… You two are kind of going through the same thing. I mean, with missing Kayden and not really understanding. ”