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The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, Page 43

Jessica Sorensen

Page 43


  He grabs onto my shirt, desperate to gain control as he pushes his hand against my face, shoving me back against the cupboard. Digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands, I curve my fist upward and strike him in the side of the head, hard. He lets out a grunt as he shoves me back and I crash against the counter, banging my hip against the tile and knocking knives to the floor. I start to move forward, but he runs at me with his head down. I speed up, bending my knees to hop over the island, but he catches the bottom of my shirt and jerks me down to the floor. I fling my arm behind me, reaching for him, but he ducks down.

  I feel numb. Completely dead inside as I spin around on my heels and shove my hands against his chest. He refuses to let go of me, even when he trips to the floor, and he yanks me down with him. I try to roll on top of him, but seconds later I feel something sharp pierce through my side and everything stops.

  My dad rises to his feet, holding a blood-soaked knife. “Why can’t you ever listen?” He drops the knife onto the floor beside my feet and it clanks against the tile. His face is as white as a ghost as he backs away. “You fucking…” He drags his fingers down his face, before he takes off for the front door, leaving it ajar behind him and cold air gusts in.

  Every part of my body aches, like a thousand knives have been stabbed into me instead of one. Pivoting to the side, I crawl up, and lean against the counter, moving my hand away from my side. Blood coats my trembling fingers and leaks out of the hole in my shirt, filling the cracks in the tile floor below me. I shut my eyes as I fight to breathe, but the pain is winning.

  I think about Callie, what she’s doing, what she’ll do when she hears about what happened. It hurts, even though it’s not supposed to; the thought of me leaving her, of her leaving me, of never having her again. I can’t hold it in.

  Reaching to my side, I pick up a knife, my hand unsteady as I put the tip to my forearm. It’s what I’ve done for ages to shut it off. It started when I was seven when I realized that cutting myself helped me breathe—helped me live through the hell of life. It’s my fucked up secret; the darkness that lives within me. With every incision into my skin, the pain begins to subside as blood covers the floor.


  I wake up to an empty bed and panic erupts through my body. Where did he go? I grab my phone off the nightstand and text Kayden multiple times, but he doesn’t answer. I slip my shoes on and run out the door to go look for him. I need to talk to him about last night and let him know that we need to just let it go because with him in my life, what happened with Caleb isn’t as scary.

  Morning is clipping over the mountains and the sky is a bright pink, but the beauty of it is very misleading compared to what’s going on down below. The wind is raging, blowing in a storm and chilling the temperature.

  My father is at the kitchen table when I walk inside. His brown hair is parted to the side and he’s got his tie and slacks on, ready for Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon.

  When he peers up from his food, his eyebrows furrow. “Are you okay? You look like you’ve been crying. ”

  “I’m fine. ” I glance in the living room, before backtracking to the center of the kitchen. “Where’s mom? I need to ask her if I can borrow her car. ”

  “She’s taking a shower. ” He stands up from the chair and drops the bowl into the sink, observing me. “You look like you’ve lost some weight. Make sure you eat a lot today. There’s going to be a game after dinner and I want you to play this year. ”

  “Okay, fine. ” I can hardly hear him as I browse through the messages on my phone, but there aren’t any from Kayden. “Can I borrow your car for a little bit? I promise I won’t be gone for too long. ”

  He reaches for the keys in his pocket. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look really upset. ”

  “I’m fine,” I assure him, unnerved because normally he doesn’t notice these things. How bad do I look? “I just need to check up on a friend. ”

  He tosses me the keys and I catch them effortlessly. “Would this friend be one of my old quarterbacks?”

  I wrap my fingers around the keys, feeling the jagged sides cut into my palm. “Mom’s been gossiping, hasn’t she?”

  He shrugs, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his slacks. “You know how she gets. She just wants you to be happy. ”

  “I am happy. ” And at that moment it doesn’t seem like a huge lie. “I just need to find someone. ” I turn for the door.

  “Be back in an hour,” he calls out. “You know she’s going to want your help. Your brother never came home last night. He probably stayed out all night getting drunk, so he won’t be any help. ”

  “Okay. ” I step out into the cold, feeling something hit me in the chest, but I’m not sure what it is. My phone goes off in my pocket and I’m surprised to see Luke’s name flash on the screen.

  “Hello,” I answer as I run down the driveway and hop into my dad’s car.

  “Hey,” he says in an anxious voice. “Have you talked to Kayden at all?”

  “Not since last night. ” I slam the door and start the engine, not bothering to let the defroster warm up. “I don’t know where he went. He just took off and I can’t get a hold of him. ”

  “Me neither. ” He wavers as I crane my neck and back the car onto the road, squinting to see through the frosted rear window. “Listen Callie, last night he did something really bad. ”

  I align the car onto the road and shove it into drive. “What happened?”

  “I got this weird call from him,” he says. “Asking me to pick him up. He had me take him out to the lake and he… he beat the shit out of Caleb Miller. ”

  I press the gas pedal to the floor and the tires squeal. “Is he okay?”

  “He’s fine, I guess, but he got arrested and his dad had to bail him out. ”

  My heart stops. “His dad?”

  He pauses. “Yeah, his dad. ”

  I wonder if Luke knows about Kayden’s dad. “I’m heading over to his house right now to check up on him. ”

  “Me too. Where are you?”

  “Like a few blocks away… On Mason Road. ”

  “Okay, I’ll see you in a few,” he says. “And Callie, be careful, his dad’s…”

  “I know. ” I hang up and grip the phone in my hand as I drive up the hill that leads to Kayden’s house.

  The two-story mansion looks huge in front of the hills, towering toward the sky. By the time I park beneath the tree, the wind has kicked up and brown leaves blow through the air, nearly shadowing the forest that surrounds the house. I hop out of the car with my heart thudding inside my chest, and sprint across the lawn and up the stairs, swinging my arms to get the leaves out of my face.

  The front door is agape, swaying in the wind. When I step into the foyer, a nauseous feeling burns in my stomach. Something doesn’t feel right. I glance in the living room and then call up the stairway, “Hello?”

  The wind is my only answer, howling at the window, blowing leaves into the house, along the hardwood floor, and slamming the door against the wall. I walk into the kitchen and turn the corner. Nothing could ever prepare me for what I see.

  Time stops—everything stops. A part of me dies.

  Lying on the floor, in a pool of blood and a pile of knives is Kayden. His eyes are shut, his arms and legs slack, and there are fresh cuts tracking up his wrists. There’s a hole in the side of his shirt, where something sharp has punctured through it. There’s so much blood, but I can’t tell where it’s coming from—it looks like everywhere.

  My arms fall to my side as my knees give out and I crumple to the floor, landing on a knife. “No, no, no, no!” I pull at my hair, feeling the pain, and rip some of the strands out. “No!”

  I shake my head a hundred times, hoping the scene will vanish, like I hoped my twelfth birthday would. But it stays. It always stays. Tears veil my vision as I press down on one of the cuts on his wrists to stop the bleeding. His skin is so cold,
like ice, like death. I move my hand to his arm, his cheek, above his heart. With an unsteady finger, I dial 911 and sputter out the details.

  “Does he have a pulse?” the operator asks when I tell her the situation.

  My heart squeezes tightly in my chest as I press my fingers to his pulse and a faint murmur bumps against them. “Yes. ”

  “Is he breathing?”

  I stare at his chest, wishing for it to move—praying it will move. After a while, it slightly elevates and then falls down unsteadily.

  “Yes, he is. He is. Oh my God. ” I press my quivering lips together, sobbing as I hang up and wait for the ambulance. The phone falls from my hand as I run my fingers through Kayden’s hair, wondering if he can sense me.

  “Kayden, wake up,” I whisper, but he’s still. “Please, God, wake up. ”

  “Callie… what…. ” Luke steps up behind me.

  I don’t budge. I can’t look away from Kayden. If I do, he might disappear.

  “Callie, can you hear me?”

  “Don’t make a sound. It’ll be over quickly. You’ll barely feel a thing. ”

  “Callie!” Luke practically screams and I blink up at him as hot tears stream down my cheeks. “Did you call an ambulance?”

  I nod, feeling everything around me—in me—crumble. “I tried to save him… I-I did, but I couldn’t… I couldn’t…”

  Luke kneels down beside me, looking at his friend on the floor, his face draining of color, his brown eyes huge and horrified. “It’s not your fault. He’s breathing. He can get through this… he can. ”

  But it is my fault. All my fault. I wrap my arms around Kayden, breathing him in, never wanting to let him go. “Please, stay with me. ”

  “This is all your fault,” Caleb says. “If you tell anyone, that’s what they’ll think. ”

  Sirens flood the air as leaves sweep through the kitchen, swirling around with no other purpose than to go wherever the wind carries them.

  I should have done more. Said something. Stood up for him like he did for me.

  I thought I’d saved Kayden that night at the pool house, but I was wrong. I just bought him time until the next windstorm swept through.